Sir Colin Southgate, businessman who ran both EMI and the Royal Opera House through stormy weather – obituary
Her first change, the departure of General Manager Mary Allen, was swift. His second, mastering finances, took longer. “There was no financial control at all,” he said. Eventually, he secured additional government funding and began recruiting a new management team.
“I quickly came to the conclusion that none of them was [financially] digitize, ”he said of his long list of candidates. “So I ended up going with the idea of the troika. After a few false starts, Tony Hall (now Lord Hall of Birkenhead) was appointed general manager while Monica Mason took over the Royal Ballet and Pappano the opera company.
Although day-to-day stability was restored, the council chamber remained turbulent. Southgate’s most notable clashes came with philanthropist Dame Vivien Duffield, who was not only vice-president but one of the opera’s biggest fundraisers, raising an extraordinary £ 100million for her renovations , in large part thanks to its own resources. She left in January 2001, declaring that her president was “not a shrinking violet and neither was I. We clashed. There were rows. I was a thorn in his side.
Colin Grieve Southgate was born in New Malden, Surrey on July 24, 1938, the younger of two children to Cyril Southgate, a fruit merchant from Covent Garden, and his wife Isabelle (née Nichol). As a child, he went to the City of London School, where he hated sports but loved math.
After high school, he took his grandmother’s advice and spent two and a half years as an actuarial intern, but found the job “extremely boring”. One day he snuck out of the office with a visiting calculator salesman for a beer and a growl. “Why not give IT a try? Was the seller’s advice. Southgate spent a day of aptitude testing with ICT, the UK computer manufacturer, and spent the next 10 years with them as a computer programmer.
He left at the age of 32 to form Software Sciences, earning his first million nine years later by selling it to British Oxygen and becoming general manager of BO’s IT services division.