It may seem strange to say, but I never had any ambition,” admits Peter Wyman. “If I’m honest I still don’t. But I do believe that if you do what you’re currently doing to the best of your ability, opportunities will always come along.”
When I got the CBE they sent a letter telling me I could have a coat of arms and a motto. I chose Vive Atquae Vivat
For a man with such a relaxed attitude, Wyman has achieved an impressive share of success. During his 32 years at PwC and its predecessors he became ICAEW president, co-founded the Institute’s Tax Faculty, led the UK profession through the Enron debacle and is the inspiration for the Institute’s annual Wyman lecture – all of which, for good measure, earned him a CBE.
And since retiring from PwC in 2010, he’s as busy as ever. “I only left so I’d have the time to do something completely different,” he says. “I am 63 now but never had any intention of stopping working. As long as people feel I can make a contribution, I see no reason why I won’t be just as occupied in 10 years’ time.”
His business interests include serving on bodies as wide-ranging as the City of London Sinfonia, Yeovil District Hospital, Sir Richard Sutton’s Settled Estates, the University of Bath and former US Secretary of State Madeleine Allbright’s futures market group Allbright Stonebridge.
“I do have the great luxury of being able to choose,” he says. “I have always been fascinated by public policy, so it’s a tremendous honour to have a front row seat in debates about health, or about the arts, or about education. And I have quickly learned how much experience you can bring from one sector and apply to another.”
Wyman’s new life isn’t all work and no play. “This new lifestyle enables me to go to jazz clubs until one o’clock in the morning. I couldn’t do that when I was at PwC – I always had to get up for work the next morning.”
And even when he is at his Somerset home with wife Joy, he keeps himself busy.
“We are renovating our farmhouse, part of which dates from 1420. And then there’s the garden. I find growing vegetables very therapeutic. I find problems often sort themselves out in my mind when I’m digging up potatoes.
“Joy also shows horses so I get a bit involved in that, too, and I’m chairman of the local Somerset Community Foundation. Somerset is an idyllic part of the world and I’m very grateful to live here.”
Indeed, Wyman seems like a man who takes time to count his blessings. “My generation is the luckiest in history – lucky with our technology, our health, our prosperity. It puts an obligation on you to put something back in.
“When I got the CBE they sent a letter telling me I could have a coat of arms and a motto. I chose Vive Atquae Vivat. A simplistic translation is ‘live and let live’ but what it actually means is ‘live your life to the full and enable others to do the same.’
“That’s what I hope I’m doing.”