Meet Lord Westbury MBE,

Chairman of the Chelsea Group
‘Dynamic minds create a dynamic business.’

What has been the most interesting moment of your career? Tomorrow – you’re only as good as the next day.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? I don’t think I’ve got there yet.

Who inspires you? The monarch, Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher – all for different reasons. And Napoleon and Wellington, again for different reasons. The thing that I admire about Churchill is his tenacity; Queen Elizabeth II her unbelievable grasp of virtually every situation; Thatcher had a great clarity of vision, she knew what she wanted to achieve; Napoleon nearly conquered the whole of Europe from a very meagre background and Wellington nearly got caught out but managed to win the day.

How do you describe the Chelsea Group’s purpose? To provide services to people who need them on a global basis. We have the scope to provide integrated solutions, if that’s what people want.

What was your vision for the Chelsea Group (then called the Hart Group) back when it all started? I’d always envisioned that Hart, as a security company, would be well placed to become the nucleus of a much wider group. Today the companies are very strong components within their own rights, hence the rebranding in 2014 to give a greater feel of the breadth of the group. But the vision is the same as when it all started in 1999.

Is there any special meaning behind the Chelsea Group logo? The stag is an animal that protects itself and its hinds; it provides its own self-protection and it’s non offensive. It operates within a group. And it also happens to be the family crest.

What are you most proud of with regard to the Chelsea Group? The ability to diversify and to meet the challenges of the environment or environments in which we work.

What do you believe makes the Chelsea Group unique? That it has a very broad and increasingly innovative portfolio.

Did you always imagine the offerings would be so broad? No, but that’s because of the quality and the dynamism of the CEOs and senior executives within the group. And the group has the ability to support those people and their visions.

What do you believe is the common thread that runs through the group? The common thread is the recruitment of excellent CEOs; dynamic minds create a dynamic business.

The world in which we live continues to change. How will the Chelsea Group continue to service its clients’ needs? With regard to the modern threats we are facing, to try and be in front of them and to develop companies that can meet those threats. Adaptation is another key component… I looked through my grandmother’s photograph album of the war recently and, apart from seeing the family home having been bombed, the complexities of life then were very different to the complexities of life now. It’s therefore crucial to have a considerable amount of youth within the group (which we have), because the older one gets, the more out of touch one becomes with the risks that today’s world faces.

How important is giving back? Essential and corporate social responsibility is key to any company but I don’t think it’s necessarily appreciated; yes it’s appreciated by the people who benefit from it, but governments aren’t necessarily as supportive as they should be of outside help given to their neediest citizens.

Five years from now, what do you imagine the Chelsea Group to be like? It’s impossible to imagine! The opportunities are endless. The world is changing so fast, the requirements are changing so fast, the markets are changing so fast…

What makes you optimistic? Not a huge amount. I think that the world is in its most serious state since the Second World War. I don’t think people have woken up to that yet.

What is the most important thing that you’ve learnt during your tenure as chairman? Woeful inadequacy.

  • Educated at Harrow School and Sandhurst Royal Military Academy, Richard was commissioned into the Scots Guards in 1970 and subsequently joined the SAS in 1975.
  • He served four operational tours, was decorated for bravery in 1978 and appointed MBE in 1979. During his time in the SAS he worked on every continent, being intimately involved in many international incidents during the 1980s.
  • Richard was Deputy Chief Executive of the Leadership Trust from 1988 to 1991.
  • In 1991, Richard was invited to join Defence Systems Ltd., a company providing security services mainly in Africa. He became a director and Deputy Chief Executive in 1993 and Chief Executive Officer in 1995. During this time, the client base was increased from 8 to over 200 multinational companies and supra-national agencies.
  • In 1996, Richard and the Chairman of Defence Systems led a successful management buyout from Hambro Group Investments with the support of NatWest Ventures and DLJ Phoenix and merged with a U.S. public company.
  • In 1999 he formed the Hart Group, providing specialized security services on a global basis before going on to form a number of other businesses. Today this family of companies is called the Chelsea Group.
  • Richard Westbury is a Vice President of the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA) and an Officer in the Order of St John.