Stephen Allen: Seven Bedford Row

Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with and why?
Lord Falconer, because I’d have to listen to how it wasn’t his fault that the lift got stuck.

What was your first-ever job?

I had a weekend job in the local Chinese takeaway.

What was your worst experience as a trainee?
Doing a 70-hour week, my first week.

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

What time do you usually leave the office?
I try to leave by 7pm, which I achieve about once a week.

What do you do at weekends?
Spend time with my wife and my two sons.

What’s your favourite restaurant?
The Gramercy Tavern in New York.

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

Who’s your hero and why?
A libertarian MP named Josiah Wedgwood, whose marathon 26-hour filibuster prevented the UK passing a eugenics law.

What’s the best thing about your job?
It is the chance to create some order in the brave new ‘Clementi’ world.

What’s the toughest thing about your job?
Is there any order in the brave new ‘Clementi’ world?

What’s your biggest work/ career mistake and what did you learn from it?
Not speaking up when a director with whom I worked proposed something that was, in my view, morally unacceptable. For better or worse, since that day I have always voiced my thoughts.

What car do you drive?
A Mini.

What book are you currently reading?
Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes.

What’s on your iPod at the moment?
Mose Allison.

What’s your favourite children’s book?
My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell.

What’s the most exciting deal/case you’ve worked on and why?
Offshoring part of Freeserve’s business when everyone said it just couldn’t be done.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what two luxury items would you take?
A digital radio and a case of good red wine.

What’s the worst conference location you’ve attended?
At Freeserve we once had a conference in Dunstable.

What’s the longest you’ve worked without sleep?
56 hours – with Clifford Chance.

If a movie was being made about your life, which an actor would play you and why?
Steve McQueen, because at least we share a first name, if nothing else.

Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with and why?
Lord Falconer, because I’d have to listen to how it wasn’t his fault that the lift got stuck.

Name: Stephen Allen


Chief executive officer


Seven Bedford Row


Chislehurst, Kent


The Grammar School for Boys, Wilmington; Kensington Business School

Work history:

1991-93: Researcher/assistant, Cooperative Insurance Society

1993-95: Legal assistant, Direct Line Insurance

1995-96: Senior legal assistant Elliott & Company

1996-98: Team manager, legal team, RAC Insurance

1998-2000: Head of corporate support, Clifford Chance

2000-01: Head of corporate support and company secretarial services, Olswang

2002-03: Managing director, Freeserve-Servicos de Internet Lda, Madeira

2001-04: Deputy company secretary, Freeserve

2004-05: Company secretary, Wanadoo

2005-07: Managing director, broadband, Orange (UK and Portugal)

2007: Chief executive, Seven Bedford Row