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A wide-ranging discussion with Lord Levene of Portsoken KBE, former UK Chief of Defence Procurement, as he launches his autobiography, Send for Levene.
In this discussion, Lord Levene will recount his early career and how he grew a small company into a prime contractor to the Ministry of Defence. Then, how out of nowhere, came a phone call from Michael Heseltine’s office, that resulted in him turning from poacher to gamekeeper, as Chief of Defence Procurement (1985-1991), having worked previously to reorganise the Royal Navy Dockyards. He will tell of his struggle to win value for money from the industry and learning to navigate through the Whitehall and Westminster labyrinth.
He will describe his negotiations on the international scene, as National Armaments Director, and trying to bring better value for money into NATO. From the Ministry of Defence, he finds himself in the investment banking world, but is once more summoned by Michael Heseltine to sort out and chair the underperforming Docklands Light Railway (DLR), into which he injects some MOD rigour. The DLR led geographically and commercially into rescuing the Canary Wharf development from the administrators.
Lord Levene will also share his experience on becoming the 671st Lord Mayor of London in 1998 and Chairman of Lloyd’s of London in 2002, where he stayed for nine years. In between, came yet one more request to return part-time to the MOD for a spell of ‘Defence Reform’, from which he left behind the name ‘Levene’ to describe another set of principles for the department and the Armed Forces.
- The Lord Levene of Portsoken KBE; former Chief of Defence Procurement, UK Ministry of Defence;
- The Rt Hon the Lord Heseltine CH, former UK Secretary of State for Defence;
- Professor John Louth, Director, Defence, Industries and Society Programme, RUSI.
Signed copies of Lord Levene’s autobiography, Send for Levene, will be on sale.
“Lord Levene played a major role in winning the Cold War. He was one of the few very successful business leaders who also possessed the skills and personality to lead and transform in government. By instilling discipline, blocking gold-plating and forcing competition he enabled Britain to build train and deploy forces that were among the best in the world. His dramatic reforms provided an example that transferred rapidly to the much larger Pentagon and enabled the NATO alliance to field naval and land forces that were the major factor in winning the Cold War. His memoir is a page-turner and a timely cook book for our current security challenges.”
John Lehman, US Secretary of the Navy 1981-1987
A drinks reception will be held, prior to the panel discussion, from 1730 to 1815.
Please note that places are limited and will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.
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For more information please contact Jack Haines, JackH@rusi.org