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5 business leaders who worked their way from bottom to top

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4. Philip Clarke

1974 – present

Philip Clarke began working at his father’s branch of Tesco at the age of 14, stacking shelves during school holidays. Clarke places great importance on the lessons his father taught him during that time.

“He knew about shop management and knew about the importance of a clean store. He said the shop should be like your home. It should be like the best room in your house, the front parlour your mum keeps for special occasions and visitors on Sunday afternoons.”

Though he went on to study economics and thought of becoming a banker, Clarke kept working at Tesco. Upon graduating, Clarke joined Tesco’s management trainee scheme. In 1994 he became a stores director, then a regional managing director for 200 stores in the Midlands in 1995. After a brief stint as head of supply and IT, and head of international in 2004, he finally became CEO in 2013.  

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