« Back to posts


Mars - 'The University of Management'

by Claire Martinsen on Mon 18th Jan 2010 19:42

Saw a great article in one of the Sunday Financial sections a few weeks back about ‘the Men from Mars’, leading with Allan Leighton who has described his former company Mars as ‘The University of Management’.  Full article below:



The alumni of food giant Mars become famed and increasingly sought-after in the boardrooms of Britain once Allan Leighton and Archie Norman had executed on of the most striking business turnarounds ever – at Asda.  Experts said Leighton and others out of the Mars stable combined ‘striking self-belief with humility’.  They were renovned for an ability to keep things simple and for their focus on their staff.  The Men from Mars believed that their staff would treat customers in the way they were treated by their bosses.

At Asda Leighton and Norman were the first to talk about employees being ‘colleagues’.  Both wore the same first-name badges as did their shopfloor staff.  Rather like management consultancy McKinsey or investment bank Goldman Sachs, the Men from Mars believed they were the best – and tended to hire others from their alma mater.  Amongst the Mars alumni are Sainsbury’s chief executive Justin King and Argos managing director Sara Weller, who arrived at the company on the same day.  Ex-Asda boss Richard Baker, who became the Alliance Boots chief executive, and Paul Mason, former operations director of Asda and most recently at Somerfield, also learnt their trade at Mars.


Not sure about the term ‘Men from Mars’, as there are some pretty awesome ‘Women from Mars’ too – Angela Spindler, Penny Coates, Katherine Paterson, Fiona Dawson to name but a few.  Allan is right though in respect of it being an amazing University of Management – I can honestly say there is no better place to learn, grow and develop and no better brands to work with!  I was with Mars for 12 years, and had an amazing career making lots of friends along the way.  Would recommend it to anyone as a great company to work for!

Many of the ex-Martians have cut their teeth in retail after leaving, so I guess I am ploughing a slightly different furrow in respect of going into food production…..but with some great role models out there, I am hoping to be  just as successful!



Posted in: The Magic of Mars


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *