Purpose ‐ The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate how key strategic decisions are made in practice at successful FTSE 100 companies. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The paper is based on a semi-structured interview with Ms Cynthia Carroll, Chief Executive of Anglo American plc. Findings ‐ The interview outlines a number of important factors on: the evolution of strategy within Anglo American, strategy execution, leadership at board and executive levels, and capturing synergies within the company. Originality/value ‐ The paper bridges the gap between theory and practice. It provides a practical view and demonstrates how corporate leaders think about key strategic issues.