Our weekly guide to healthcare's most influential people

Name: Ken Jarrold Job: Chief executive, County Durham health authority Style: Doyen of NHS managers.Hugely experienced and highly respected career manager, whose proteges - Leadership Centre chief executive Barbara Harris and top man behind the NHS plan Mike Deegan, et al - are shaping the NHS of tomorrow.A strong advocate for NHS managers and the service, unafraid to criticise governments of any stripe.

Background: Joined the NHS in 1969 as a national trainee.

Became general manager at Gloucester HA in 1982 and had a 'wonderful'eight years with 'a really good team' including Pam Charlwood and David Walker, now heading Avon and Norfolk HAs respectively - their progress is 'a great source of pride and pleasure', he says.Went to Wessex HA - see also the early careers of Penny Humphris, DoH stalwart Kate Barnard and Ken Livingstone's health adviser Sue Atkinson - where he had to bring its 'big computer scandal'to an end.Became human resources director at the NHS Executive in 1994 - 'the unhappiest time of my career' - overseeing the late, unlamented local pay system.'God did not intend me to be a civil servant, 'says the man who happily returned to HA life at Durham in 1997.Trips to the gym and classical music help 'cope with the stress and all that'.He also loves food and 'falling asleep in the sun'.

Future prospects: Likely to find that he is not 'too much of an old lag or politically incorrect'to head a strategic health authority, the man who hasn't missed a week of HSJ in 32 years has plans to write, teach, mentor and do 'non-exec things'when he retires.'I do not think I'll want ever to live without the NHS.'