CLIVE BATES is director of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH). After gaining an engineering degree from Cambridge University he worked for IBM. In 1992 he joined Greenpeace as a volunteer, working in campaigning and lobbying before taking up his post at ASH last June.

What is the first thing you do when you arrive at work?

Lock up my bicycle, download the overnight e-mail and have a 15minute meeting with the team at ASH.

What do you like/dislike about your job?

Like: arguing with the tobacco industry on radio.

Dislike: precarious finances and fundraising.

What do your colleagues think of you?

Something different to what they tell me.

What is your proudest achievement?

Having the nerve to leave a highly paid job in business in 1991 to become a volunteer for Greenpeace and thereby start a career as an activist which has brought me to ASH.

What is your tip for success?

Don't be intimidated by the self-importance or reputation of others and speak your mind - but try to think about it first (I learned the last bit more recently).

What has been your worst business mistake?

I have just bought a mobile phone and I think it may ruin my life.

What do you do to relax?

Cooking, running, mountaineering and, because I love it so much, working.

What book has influenced you?

Small is Beautiful by EF Schumacher. Subtitled: 'Economics as if people mattered'.

How would you like to be remembered?

Loathed and hated by the tobacco industry.

Which person in the NHS do you most admire?

Can't answer that, don't know enough NHS people.

What would make the single biggest improvement to the NHS?

A pervasive philosophical shift in the NHS mission away from the treatment of illness towards the provision of health.

Who is your ideal health secretary?

Someone who has been successful year after year on account of unerring commitment to excellence and a determination to find the best new talent available. It has to be Alex Ferguson, manager of Manchester United.