As a teenager I was torn between wanting to follow in my father’s footsteps as commercial artist and becoming a rock star. I attempted to follow both paths while at art school but inevitably my art teachers concluded that travelling around the country playing gigs did not mix well with my studies. I left art school but the rock star illusion barely lasted two years but during that period – the late 1960s - I had a whale of a time playing support to some of the world’s leading bands and travelling all over the country.
Eventually the growing gap between expenditure and income brought my feet back to earth and I joined a consultancy, W S Atkins as an illustrator. To their credit they sent me to study part-time at the London College of Printing and having completed a couple of courses in the graphic arts it was suggested that I should study for a HNC in business studies. It was this course that awakened my interest in economics and two years later armed with an HNC and two A levels I was privileged to be accepted to study for a BSc in economics at the London School of Economics.
By this time I was 25 and married with two children so when my studies ended in 1976 I needed a job. I became a professional economist and in the evenings studied for an MSc at Birkbeck College, London University. Some years later I answered an advert for an economist at the National Farmers Union and you might say, the day I started with the NFU defined my subsequent career.
No sooner had I left the NFU than companies and organisations associated with farming and food pursued me. I was still an employers´ representative on the Agricultural Wages Board and I was soon appointed to the Minister of Agriculture's Think Tank on future agricultural and rural policy. I wrote the draft for New Labour's agricultural manifesto and became an academic adviser to the government.
In the following years I worked on many reports and studies relating to food and farming; I became a regular speaker at industry conferences and was regularly interviewed on radio and television; not just about food and farming matters but also general economic issues. More to the point I developed a reputation for outspoken views of the future of agricultural policy which at first attracted much criticism but now seem to be increasingly gaining traction.
As an academic I redesigned and developed the core microeconomic module for the MBA programme which students seemed to greatly enjoy and provided me with the framework for my book The Economics of Organisations and Strategy. I also designed the Decision Science module, and electives on Globalisation and Pricing Strategy. In 2011 I set up my consultancy Sean Rickard Ltd and retired in the same year to concentrate on its development. The many people I have worked with over the years repeatedly come back to me – always a good sign – and I relish the challenge of providing advice and solutions to economic problems whether they relate to food and farming or more general to business and the macro economy.
From 1987-1995 I was Chief Economist with the NFU and as Head of the Economics Department I directed research into a wide range of issues relating to the agricultural and food industries in the UK and the European Union. Not surprisingly I developed an expertise in the areas of agricultural policy, food supply chain relationships, world trade issues and an understanding of the working methods of the European Union. I became a member of a number of prominent UK and EU committees and working parties, including the influential CBI's Economic Trends Committee and an important part of my job as Chief Economist was commenting publicly on a wide range of issues relating to farming and food.
In 1995 I left the NFU and became a senior lecturer in business economics at the Cranfield School of Management. During my time at the NFU I had taken a keen interest in raising the academic status of the NFU’s economics department and by the mid-1990s I welcomed the challenge of a new career. One of the advantages of becoming an academic at Cranfield was that it afforded me the opportunity to continue to write and research into areas – not just food and farming – that interested me. It also afforded me the scope to develop my leadership skills and I was appointed successively the Director of the Executive MBA Programme and the Director of the Full Time MBA Programme while also holding down the post of Director of MBA Admissions.