Meet ENO’s axeman

We have been reading the LinkedIn profile of Gary Smith, the HR consultant who has been hired by English National Opera to decimate its payroll – meaning, its chorus and orchestra.

Here’s his past form:

Notable Career Highlights:

HR Consultant
Royal Shakespeare company
2000 – July 2015 (14 years 8 months)

HR Consultant
Welsh National Opera
2003 – 2004 (1 year)

HR Consultant
Glyndebourne Productions
2004 – 2004 (less than a year)

HR Consultant
Scottish Opera
2005 –February 2011 (6 years)

HR Consultant
Scottish Ballet
2006 – 2008 (2 years)

HR Consultant
English National Opera
2006 – 2006 (less than a year)

Like the present ENO chief executive, he worked at McKinsey & Co last year, though just for two months. He also spent a year at Rentokil.

Interestingly, Gary does not post a profile picture. He does not like to be recognised at work.

coliseum eno

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  • That makes eight ‘golden handshakes’, for not one of these clueless buggers fails to make sure that’s written into the contract.

      • Why is it a surprise, Norman Lebrecht? I’ve written twice in comments that it’s worth a dekko for the unintentional humour and the ‘Screw-up of the Day’. Or screw-ups on some days, of course.

          • What happened to my reply to this, NL? Censoring now, are we? My words must be hitting home, methinks. When the censoring starts, you most surely know you’ve hit on the truth of the matter. But as Bishop Berkeley might have said, “No matter, never mind”, which pretty well describes your blog.

  • I think we all know who’s going to be on Richard Suart’s ‘list’ the next time Koko comes to Titipu?

    And he never will be missed! No, he never will be missed!

  • I cannot for the life of me understand why performing arts companies have been appointing senior management executives who are obviously not able to undertake all the human resources functions without resort to an outside “expert” – in several cases for quite a number of years. Is this not yet more evidence of major Board and management failings?

    • It seems Smith’s ‘appointment’ was foisted upon ENO as an ‘offer they couldn’t refuse’, by the Arse Council.

      He has arrived at the Coli to do the the same job he did at WNO and SO previously – that of slaughterman.

      Readers will recall that SO has been reduced to shadow of its former self through the services of this vile individual.

      • As far as SO is concerned, is it not the case that the company had received 10 or more deficit bailouts from the Scottish Arts Council and then the Scottish Executive in the two decades preceding its emasculation by Smith and its Board? And around the time he was there during Richard Armstrong’s reign as MD, did the company not throw financial caution to the winds with, for example, a hugely expensive Luc Bondy Macbeth and the Tim Albery Ring cycle? Both were seemingly major artistic triumphs; yet how much did they add to annual deficits?

        I am sure the company’s leaders would have been saying virtually the same as John Berry was quoted in an earlier post about the ENO, that the level of funding was only equivalent to what it had been many years earlier. Yet the funders had clearly had enough and the axe came down – viciously. Reading recently in another blog, though, it appears in its present incarnation, SO is now presenting less than a third of what it did in the mid-1970s with a permanent administration staff that is roughy double. If that is true, how come the axeman did not look at administration staffing when he decided the chorus and orchestra had to go? Something distinctly odd with his priorities it would seem.

  • You obviously don’t know the meaning of ‘spammed out’. But if you are trying to suggest my comments constitute ‘spamming’, be very careful. I think you have some experience of how the libel laws operate in Britain, and I’m very litigious when it comes to slurs.

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