Interview with Stuart Fletcher, ex CEO of Bupa

Denise Raw has recently interviewed Stuart Fletcher, ex CEO of Bupa. Stuart addressed topics including his time at Bupa, IR35, integrating care and his advice for interims in the sector.

A snapshot is included below, click below to download the full interview.

Read interview here

Stuart Fletcher

Tell me how you became CEO of Bupa. What was your career path from Diageo PLC to Bupa? 

After 26 fantastic years at Diageo and its predecessor company Guinness, the International business I was leading as President was ready to evolve into three separate businesses. Given this I had some great discussions with the then CEO, Paul Walsh regarding “what next” 

There were some good options but finally I concluded if I was going to be a CEO (which was my intent), I needed to move as time was likely to work against me, given that Paul understandably wasn’t in any hurry to leave. So, I resigned in the spring and left at the end of September 2011; then began to look for a great CEO role.

I had eight criteria that I was looking for in a CEO role, including: an international business, strong brand, in the consumer “space”, a significant growth agenda, people being central to success and of sufficient scale to ensure it was a big enough challenge. I didn’t want to work in the drinks sector again as I felt I had already worked for the best!


What was the hardest part of the role at Bupa? 

Making choices. I think there were so many areas in which Bupa had the “permission” to participate and where we could develop the ability to succeed.

The hardest part was choosing where we were going to expand our footprint and why, and in what sequence. Making those choices was challenging whilst working with potentially constrained resources in areas like financial capital, experience and skillset - especially when moving into areas adjacent to operational strength.


Right now, we have price capped challenges in the NHS, coupled with the IR35 rules which are affecting interim executives. Do you agree with these and what are your thoughts?

Frankly this is a really difficult one for me to comment on. Obviously, the NHS is an area we interacted with a little bit in Bupa, but not a huge amount. Furthermore, given my role at Bupa was global CEO, and whilst the UK was our second largest market, I had many areas to focus on.

So…. I think the best way for me to answer this is from my personal perspective as a UK citizen and resident. The NHS is clearly in a funding crisis. The sources of that are far more complex than some people like to portray. Is it a funding shortage? You can simplify it as that. Is it an efficiency issue? Is it a cost driven issue? Is it a demand and expectation issue? I think it is perhaps all of those and more besides. But is there a “funding” crisis? I have no doubt there is.


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