Putting things in Order: Geoff Burton Remembered

Geoff Burton was a member of what I think of as Manchester Business School’s international brigade, whose home base was the School

by Tudor Rickards

When on home duties, Geoff would be found at breakfast at the start of another day’s work, often through to a late-night shift using the bar as his office. These activities gave him high visibility, but even these were perhaps eclipsed by his time spent in recent years with a platoon of smoking companions close by reception, driven outdoors by legislation.

The international brigade

The international brigade tends to be regarded as mercenaries, paid to take on tough assignments, often discretely, around the globe. They become comrades in arms, outside the scholarly pecking order of the research-active elite.

Resourceful

Geoff’s resourcefulness in action was legendary. I experienced it on a trip we shared on assignment in the beautiful region around Gujarat, some years ago. On arrival, we found ourselves in India’s alcohol-free State (a legacy of the Mahatma).

There the matter would have rested, except for Geoff’s resourcefulness involving the sort of mega-queuing and dealing with bureaucracy for which the country was famed. He returned to base camp as triumphant as a politician, waving a ‘peace in our time’ document permitting the platoon members access to their vital supplies.

The submariner and the funicular railway

The trip also had a special treat involving a visit to a local (i.e. a hundred mile away) beauty spot. Geoff set off to enjoy the trip but returned in need of some of the supplies he had obtained. He confessed that he had never had claustrophobia as a submariner in an earlier existence, but suffered from vertigo which the funicular railway had induced (“white knuckle stuff” he recalled afterwards).

Consultant and entrepreneur

Geoff was knowledgeable and ably taught a range of topics around entrepreneurship, HR (in the days it was called Industrial Relations) and general business topics. He rarely required a microphone, even in the largest auditorium. His skill as a mentor and consultant is remembered by 3 sheep’s warm obituary notice.

Putting things in order

Learning unexpectedly of the prognosis for his illness, he typically and courageously set about putting his not uncomplicated personal affairs in order. Shipshape, you could say.

Fitting

It was also appropriate that a group of his friends and fellow-members of the international brigade commandeered a car and squashed themselves into it for the journey to Lytham last week to pay respects to a fallen comrade.

Geoff Burton, March 19th, 1945 – August 20th 2011

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