Work Life Quiz: Ann Buxton, Hardwicke

What was your first-ever job? Wrapping chocolates in Fortnum & Mason’s basement. It’s supposed to put you off chocolate for life but it failed.

What was your worst experience as a trainee?

Calculating the RSPCA’s pension fund value by hand (computers hadn’t quite caught on at Lazards in 1972). I never got the same answer twice and I’m not sure who got more exasperated, me or my unfortunate manager.

Where’s the best place to go if you want to find out what’s really going on in the office?

The practice room.

What time do you usually leave the office?

About 7pm so I can catch The Archers on Radio 4.

What do you do at weekends?

I disappear to a cottage in Gloucestershire where I don’t know any barristers but do go to Slimbridge a lot. (Shh – birdwatching.)

What’s your favourite restaurant?

Judging by the amount I spend there it’s Eat in Chancery Lane. Otherwise, the Bleeding Heart.

If you weren’t a lawyer what would you have been?

Well, as a non-lawyer, that’s a tricky ­question. Not a lawyer for a start, but being a ­publisher has always appealed.

What’s your favourite film?

Les Enfants du Paradis. Much weeping as lovers Baptiste and Garance fail to meet up in the throng at the end of the film.

What was the first record you ever bought?

Bridge over Troubled Water by Simon and ­Garfunkel. Funny, as that’s what I am in my job.

Who’s your hero and why?

Can I have three? Alexander the Great, a visionary, action man and achiever; Buddha, a ­visionary, contemplative and achiever in a different sphere. Finally, Machiavelli – he’d have made a great chief executive of a barristers’ chambers.

What’s the best thing about your job?

Endless variety.

What’s the toughest thing about your job?

Endless interruptions.

What’s your biggest work career mistake and what did you learn from it?

Taking the first job offered to me in banking. Lesson: do what you want to do.

What car do you drive?

Prius. Turn it on and steer, like a bumper car.

What book are you currently reading?

A History of the World in 100 Objects by Neil MacGregor.

What’s your favourite children’s book?

Little Women by LM Montgomery.

What’s the most exciting deal/case you have worked on and why?

A financial ­reconstruction project in Albania as the country opened up in the early 1990s. We won the contract partly because the only language any Albanian spoke – other than Albanian and Russian – was Italian. I dusted mine off for the pitch – result. I then spent a ­couple of years in and out of Tirana and it was fascinating to see the
country waking up after decades of oppression.

If you were stranded on a desert island what two luxury items would you take?

A comfy bed and a pair of binoculars so I could check out the local bird life.

What’s the worst partner conference location you’ve attended and why?

Hurrah. None.

What’s the longest you’ve worked without sleep?

I can tell you how long I have danced without sleep. I was up north and flew back to get to the office by 9am, then worked all day. That’s probably why the portfolio valuation didn’t cross-check.

If a movie was being made about your life, which actor would play you and why?

No contest – Helen Mirren as she’s effortlessly cool. Okay, I’ll have to rethink.

Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with and why?

No name, no pack drill. Luckily, he left chambers a few years ago.

Tell us two truths and one lie about yourself (in any order)

I had dinner in Tirana with a Kalashnikov-toting mafioso; I voted for ­Wagner in The X Factor; I really wanted to be an opera singer.


Name: Ann Buxton
Title: Chief executive
Chambers: Hardwicke
Lives: Shepherd’s Bush (or Chiswick if I’m trying to impress)

1969-73: French and Italian, Somerville College, Oxford
1976-77: MBA, Insead

Work history:
1973-76: Graduate trainee, Lazards Bank
1993-2001: Marketing director, Barkers Norman Broadbent
2001-present: Chief executive, Hardwicke