The SMART Interview with Peter de Savary

entrepreneur_peter_de_savaryPeter de Savary is an international entrepreneur, cracking the oil, shipping, property and hospitality industries. But he’s more than just a savvy suit; de Savary is a philanthropist and international yachtsman, who’s even led the British team for the America’s Cup Challenge.

At Heathrow Express we like to celebrate doing things that bit smarter. Each month we seek out someone who really exemplifies this approach to work and life and we ask them some questions. This month: Peter de Savary.

You started your business career with import/export agency Afrex and have been incredibly successful in oil, shipping and hospitality. Are people born entrepreneurial or is it a skill they can they learn?

I think you are born entrepreneurial and it’s in you from a young age. I started aged 16. I don’t really think it’s possible to learn to be entrepreneurial successfully.


Thinking smarter and being creative are things many people want to be but sometimes struggle with. Any tips for unleashing creativity?

In my experience people are born with creativity. You can learn to be creative to a degree but you will have a limited success – I think that, if it’s not in your DNA, you will be less creatively successful.

Business leaders we talk to here have a variety of different ways when it comes to unblocking their creativity and solving problems in a smarter way. Some walk the dog, some paint, how do you get clarity?

If I have an issue to solve I wake up very early, for example at 5am, make a cup of tea and light a cigar. I find my brain to be much sharper with no other distractions at that time of the morning.

You are used to leading and motivating teams in different parts of the world and of different sizes – from just a few to several thousand people. What’s your leadership style and does it change depending on sector?

My leadership style has been the same over the years: it’s carrot and stick! I focus on fairness, encouragement and the odd four letter word – but at all times, no matter which sector, I try to motivate staff and colleagues to be enthusiastic and proud of what they do. I try to lead by example and always from the front.

You’ve had an incredible career, won numerous awards, and in 2012 you were made an International Ambassador by the government of Grenada. What’s been the secret to your success?

It’s simple – lots of hard work, persistence, lateral thinking and a passion for what I do. And I focus on motivating others to play their part successfully.

You have worked and lived all over the world and now reside in Grenada. Travel must be very important to you – what role has it played in your life and how do you feel about travel now?

Travel has been essential to my success in reaching those parts of the world where I have identified entrepreneurial opportunities – and for most of my life travel was always an excitement and something I enjoyed immensely. However more recently, with the increased congestion, hassle and mediocrity, it has lost much of its allure. My ultimate luxury now is to fly in a private jet.

Peter de Savary

Peter de Savary

What do you always take with you when you travel?

Monty, my long haired Chihuahua!

You have built luxury hotels in many different countries – including the famous St James Clubs which are now in London, Paris, Los Angeles, New York and Antigua. What’s your favourite hotel in the world?

The Cary Arms, in Devon. It sits in Babbacombe Bay on the South Devon coast and the views are breathtakingly beautiful all year round.

Finally is there anywhere on the planet that you would still love to visit?

I have yet to visit Southern Chile – I hope to explore its coast one of these days.

This article originally published on Smart Interviews