Manfred Pagel, Strategist
Monday 12 February 2024
In 1985, near the end of five years in Paris as editor, France, I asked Manfred if I could come to London to discuss my next posting. I had my eye on an editor post in a region of which until then I had no experience.
There had been no big disasters in my time in Paris - in part due to my very supportive no. 2 and economic and financial brain Humphrey Hudson, and I was confident enough that I would get the new job to have been privately trying to teach myself a, for me, totally new language and alphabet.
In London, Manfred took me to lunch in one of the better restaurants around Fleet Street, which I thought was a good sign. But we had hardly sat down when his expression darkened. “I’m not sure we can send you anywhere else. You haven’t done very well in Paris,” he pronounced. “Perhaps a job on the Desk would be best.”
My appetite disappeared, and in fact it didn’t really recover for three months. I spent a fairly miserable final period in Paris waiting to know my fate. But finally after that lunch in London I got the news, relayed by Humphrey to me on holiday from the local manager John Stephens that Manfred wanted me to go back to Moscow for my third Reuters posting there.
Manfred already knew I was not keen, my wife even less so, to return, but I greeted the news with some relief. The depression lifted and off I went a few days later. It was some time later that I learned that returning me to Moscow at a time of the dawning Gorbachev period had been Manfred’s plan all along. “He was holding you in reserve,” a source in management confided. ■