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Week at the top

Christopher Oughtred is Chairman and Joint Managing Director of William Jackson & Son Limited, which was founded in Hull, England in 1851. Christopher is one of five fifth generation family members who work in the business and is a Trustee of the UK Chapter of the Family Business Network. He is married to Penny and has 2 children, Mark and Joe

This morning is our Group Insurance Renewal meeting with our brokers. William Jackson & Son Limited is a food company, an industry where premiums have rocketed upwards this year. My colleagues and I have had plenty of warning of this, so we expect the worst and will probably receive it!

Insurance is an interesting area for us in that our broker is another family business, having some cross-shareholdings with William Jacksons, so I need to be extra vigilant to ensure fair play on the one hand and commerciality on the other. I feel we have got both right this year.

Every Monday at 12.45 pm I have a meeting over a sandwich with my Group executive team – six of us. We look at last week's trading in each of our subsidiary businesses, look at the week ahead and deal with any issues that fall between our monthly board meetings. I find it useful, as sometimes it is the only time we all get together in a week. We try and finish for 2.30 pm but today it ended at 3 pm.

I have a meeting this morning with our PR person, who is employed in his own business. I suspect all of us need advice from time to time on how to cope with media interest and we have a 7-day 24-hour contact number in case of a "crisis". Family businesses are no different from public companies in this respect, except that it can get more personal! We agree to renew the contract for a further year.

Then I join an export strategy meeting with my cousin and the managing director of our Aunt Bessie's subsidiary, known for its pioneering work in inventing and now being market leader of frozen Yorkshire puddings. We discuss tactics for New Zealand, New England in America and whether we should attend the New York Fancy Food Show this July. I'm involved because exporting needs sponsorship at Group Board level and developing a presence overseas is a lonely and often frustrating task.  I think my cousin deserves some support.

This evening, our Company Recreation Club has taken 32 lanes at Hull's Megabowl for a Group competition, with the proceeds of a raffle going to our nominated charity. I am bowling for a head office team, but we are squarely beaten by an IT team from our Jacksons Stores subsidiary. It proves to be good fun, although I need to stop for fish and chips on the way home as I am so hungry!onday

I start the day by chairing a Teaching Company Scheme, which William Jacksons has set up with the University of Lincoln – the research that it entails into "food for busy people" is proving fascinating and it certainly helps confirm where our new product development should lie.

Then it's on to our annual 25 year club lunch in a hotel on the outskirts of Hull. There are 11 new members, whom I present with a clock and tie or scarf. They look nervous – I only became a member of the Club last year myself, so I am still a new boy on the block and a bit nervous, too. I make most of the presentations before lunch, as some of our members are quite thirsty and their concentration slips if I leave too much until the end of the meal!

At 4.30 pm I attend a meeting of our Development Advisory Group that our family established several years ago when we wrote our family constitution. The DAG is chaired by one of our non-executive directors and also has our personnel director, our joint managing director and my cousin on it – three non-family to one family! I am not a member, only an attendee. The DAG meets twice a year and looks at career planning for family members, whether they are within or outside the family business. We feel that we should be supportive of family members even if their career lies outside the company – we want them to be good shareholders, too!

This is our monthly board meeting which starts at 9 am. Our Board is comprised of two non-family non-executive directors, three family executive directors and three non-family executive directors. I manage to chair the meeting so that we finish at 1 pm (very unusual!) and we have a curry for lunch, on site.

Our Remuneration Committee meets in the afternoon, whilst our two non-executive directors are still with us.

I find that the non-executive directors bring a discipline to our Board Meeting and agenda that might not be present otherwise; they also have some interesting and challenging views!

I suspect of lot of family businesses have a 'non-core activity' in their midst. Ours is a public house and restaurant bought by my grandfather in 1943. It makes money and we're proud of it. I don't have direct responsibility for our trading operations – my joint managing director colleague handles this but I do have responsibility for our pub! I meet with the joint managers once a month at 9 am and go through the monthly figures and plan ahead. I enjoy it.

Afterwards, I have a day in the office catching up on correspondence and e-mails – something I'm not good at. I have to leave early to attend a dinner of the York Merchant Adventurers, where my sister's husband is soon to take up office as Governor.

I take my youngest son to school today, which my wife does on the other days. Then I cut our lawn, fasten a rose tree back against the wall of the house, and before I know it it's time to collect Joe from school again. He's doing a Business Studies AS level, so we often have a chat on what was covered in class.

I talk to my mother in the afternoon about the daunting process of her upcoming move. She 'shook hands' on the purchase of a large bungalow last week and my sister, brothers and I will need to help her move house in the autumn, after 52 years.

Our family and company solicitor is also warden of lay readers within the diocese, and today he takes our church service at 10.45 am. Living opposite the church in an old rectory, I can't escape. He preaches a powerful sermon and reminds me as I leave church that we have a meeting planned next Thursday!

In the afternoon, my wife and I drive to Beverley to have a cup of tea with my aunt, who has just had a hip operation. She is on wonderful form. At 6 pm we go to our 'non-core activity' (the pub) for a meal!

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