Amy Reeve 8 Jan 2018 05:58pm

Ones to watch 2018

From Zimbabwe to China via the UK and the US, we’ve selected 20 men and women from the world of business and finance worth keeping an eye on this year. Words by Amy Reeve

Caption: Several business and finance professionals worth keeping an eye on

Stacey Cartwright

Deputy chair, Harvey Nichols
Portfolio career

“It’s an interesting move for the former CFO and executive VP at Burberry. The flexibility of a portfolio career has become more attractive for senior executives as they seek diversity and balance”

To begin the new year, chartered accountant Stacey Cartwright steps into the part-time role of deputy chairman at Harvey Nichols, the upmarket department store owned by Sir Dickson Poon. Her CEO position will be replaced by two COOs, which means she retains oversight of the brand and continues to report to Sir Dickson, while also pursuing other non-executive interests. It’s an interesting move for the former CFO and executive VP at Burberry, at a challenging time for UK retailers. The flexibility of a portfolio career has become more attractive for senior executives, though,
as they seek diversity and balance.

Edward Griffith

Co-founder, LoveCrafts
Special interest

In 2012, Edward Griffith asked university friends Cherry Freeman and Nigel Whiteoak to give up their jobs and help him launch a business for “makers” with no obvious place online to find both inspiration and materials for their craft activities. What a decision. The company, part-social network, part-ecommerce marketplace, raised £26m in funding in 2017 from Scottish Equity Partners, joining Balderton and Highland Europe, and the FT listed it as one of Europe’s fastest-growing companies. They plan to expand internationally and invest in technology – the company has a development office in Kiev, Ukraine – as well as look at diversifying into quilting and sewing.

Dara Khosrowshahi

CEO, Uber

“The public still loves Uber and Khosrowshahi’s management style – transparency, integrity – is winning hearts and minds”

We’ve included the new CEO of Uber out of morbid curiosity. Can Dara Khosrowshahi turn around the beleaguered ride-hailing company? Last year saw a data hack and ransom paid; former CEO Travis Kalanick ousted and the culture of the company in the spotlight; five Department of J

ustice investigations in the US; disputes with regulators in London, Sao Paulo and Copenhagen, as well as its own drivers and investors. And then growing losses in the third quarter of 2017, a sign of its mounting litigation costs. The public still loves Uber though.

And Khosrowshahi’s management style – transparency, integrity – is winning hearts and minds. It better: the SoftBank-led deal to invest between $7bn and $10bn into the company 
is precarious.

Jeremy Darroch

Chair, Business in the community
Social purpose

The chartered accountant joins Business in the Community as chair this month, replacing Antony Jenkins. Jeremy Darroch stepped up to the CEO role at Sky in 2007, having joined as CFO three years before. He’s credited with transforming the business from a straight UK satellite pay TV operation
into a diverse entertainment company that now has 22.7 million customers across Europe. His biggest challenge as CEO is perhaps yet to come: the proposed merger between Sky and 21st Century Fox, owned by Rupert Murdoch, is being investigated by the Competition and Markets Authority. He may welcome the respite at BITC, where he will help the charity mobilise business to “build a fairer society and a more sustainable future”.

Sir Damon Buffini

Chair, the Patient Capital Review

In November 2016 the Treasury launched the Patient Capital Review, chaired by Sir Damon Buffini, former head of a private equity firm, to identify barriers cutting-edge companies may face in gaining access to long-term, supportive finance in order to scale. Sir Damon can now consider his job done. Chancellor Philip Hammond used his Budget to announce a 10-year action plan to unlock over £20bn of “patient” capital investment, including a £2.5bn investment fund incubated by the British Business Bank. Sir Damon is also chair of the National Theatre and the Social Business Trust, on the board of the PGA European golf tour and a governor of the Wellcome Trust.

Masayoshi Son

Founder and CEO, SoftBank

“Son wants to build a massive energy ‘super-grid’ stretching across South Korea, China, Japan, Mongolia and Russia to supply power to tens of millions of people”

The Japanese billionaire and tech titan is known for investing in tech companies and, more recently, exploring opportunities in AI, the Internet of Things and robotics. More intriguing is his switch to energy. As reported in the FT, Son wants to build a massive energy “super grid” stretching across South Korea, China, Japan, Mongolia and Russia to supply power to tens of millions of people. Endorsed by the CEO at South Korean utility firm Kepco, the plan is to connect the electricity networks of the five nations and let them share supplies, particularly in the event of a natural disaster. South Korean President Moon Jae-in hopes the project can be used as a stepping stone towards “forming
a north-east Asian economic bloc and a multilateral security system”.

Guy Hands

Founder and chair, Terra Firma

Could Guy Hands be 2018’s comeback kid, 10 years after the collapse of music label EMI, which was bought by his private equity firm Terra Firma for £4.2bn? According to the FT in August 2017: “A 
US regulatory filing shows Mr Hands is asking investors, including some of the world’s largest pension funds, for $3.4bn as he seeks to benefit from a buoyant fundraising environment… the fund is expected to raise money to invest in assets ‘that are in need of transformation, companies that have been under-invested and have potential for the future’.” It surely must depend on the Four Seasons situation? At the time of print, talks between Terra Firma and H/2 Capital, the main lender for the care home operator, were blocked by a bitter £136m legal row.

Mathew Duncan

Finance director, Crossrail

The Elizabeth Line will pass through 40 stations from Reading and Heathrow in the west to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east, and is set to fully open in December 2018. The Crossrail project is on time and within budget. Mathew Duncan’s job is to make sure Europe’s biggest public infrastructure project stays that way. The former FD and interim CEO of Balfour Beatty Support Services has been in position for two years and now that the supply chain management part of the role is finished his focus is on scaling up operations. He told the Global Government Forum: “We have some chunky handover risks to manage over the next six to 12 months."

Qi Yin 

CEO, Megvii

It’s not hard to see why China Daily has identified Qi Yin as one of the country’s defining young entrepreneurs. The CEO of Megvii (short for mega vision) is involved in an industry that excites investors (it has raised $607m to date) and is actually exciting (it works on face recognition and mobile gaming).

China is way ahead of most countries on using facial recognition: employees at Alibaba, for example, show their faces to enter their office building. Megvii powers Face++, the enabling technology behind much of the face recognition activity in China. You only need to look at Apple’s new iPhone, or listen to the noise the financial services industry is making about identity authorisation, to understand how bright Yin’s future looks.

“The CEO of Megvii is involved in an industry that excites investors (it has raised $607m to date) and is actually exciting (it works on face recognition and mobile gaming)”

Gary Partridge

Managing director, Lexington Corporate Finance

Flagged by ICAEW’s Corporate Finance Faculty as a rising corporate finance boutique, Lexington Corporate Finance is challenging the bigger firms in Wales and the south-west – “not traditionally the easiest of UK markets for M&A advisers”. The firm was co-founded by chartered accountant Gary Partridge (who led an MBO last year to provide an exit for fellow founder Nigel Greenaway) and has attracted a team that has acted on significant deals such as the multi-million MBO of building and refurbishment contractor A&N Lewis. They could follow in the footsteps of Catalyst Corporate Finance, says the faculty. Founded 20 years ago in the Midlands by an ex-Big Four team, Catalyst has just sold to Spanish group Alantra in a £30m deal.

Penny Power

Co-founder, the Business Café

If the crowdcube campaign to raise £350,000 is successful, the first of Penny Power and business partner Gail Thomas’s Business Cafés will open in Peterborough in March this year. Power made her name with online networking platform Ecademy, which she launched in 1998, receiving an OBE in 2014 for services to entrepreneurship in social and digital development. Now she’s returning to bricks and mortar, hoping to open a network of cafés where business owners “can share problems and help each other over a coffee”. Free to register, with digital skills training onsite, the pitch has attracted investment from Xero, Sage, FreeAgent, Yell, O2, 9Spokes, Vonage and ReceiptBank.

Jerome Powell

Chair, Federal Reserve
Monetary policy

After president Trump decided not to offer Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen a second term, Jerome Powell, who has been on the Fed board since 2012, was announced as her successor. In her resignation letter (she decided not to stay as a board member until 2024) Yellen wrote: “I am gratified that the financial system is much stronger than a decade ago, better able to withstand future bouts of instability. I am also gratified by the substantial improvements in the economy since the crisis.” It will be Powell’s job to maintain the normalisation of monetary policy. Things will get trickier, said The Guardian, “if it proves harder than the Fed thinks to steer the US economy between recession and inflation, or if a crisis arrives from an unexpected quarter”.

John Connolly

Chair, Cogital Group

John Connolly’s new firm has private equity backing from HG Capital, he’s armed with the experience as the former Deloitte chair and CEO, and the Group has acquired more than 20 businesses since it launched in 2016, with the aim of bringing smaller similarly-minded entities under one roof. Connolly told City AM that Cogital is targeting more than £1bn of revenues and a potential IPO in the next few years. The big news in 2017 was entry into the Scottish market via the Group’s UK regional business, Baldwins, which acquired Campbell Dallas and Springfords.

Dame Nemat “Minouche” Shafik

Director, London School of Economics

“All of those principles which universities are supposed to abide by – and which good, independent technocratic institutions are supposed to abide by – are under threat”.

The City was disappointed to lose the deputy governor of the Bank of England just two years into her five-year role (she was responsible for markets and banking after the scandals around the rigging of benchmark interest rates and foreign exchange prices). Why did the potential successor to Mark Carney leave one of the most prominent central banking roles? To explore how universities can confront disinformation and division and restore trust, she says. She told Fortune: “All of those principles which universities are supposed to abide by – and which good, independent technocratic institutions are supposed to abide by – are under threat. And I think society will be much poorer if we don’t reassert the importance of those principles.”

Anne Boden

CEO, Starling Bank

When Anne Boden started her career at Lloyds Bank she helped architect CHAPS, before moving to Standard Chartered, UBS, RBS, ABN Amro and Allied Irish. She started Starling Bank, a mobile-only challenger, in 2014 to make sure the technology would be nothing less than cutting edge. It’s a financial services business that relies heavily on engineers because it’s digital, all geared towards making everyday transactional banking seamless. She told CNBC: “The big banks will try and copy everything we do. The issue is, can they copy it and maintain and deliver it with small teams of people – hundreds of people – rather than with 10,000 people?”

Tom Blomfield

CEO, Monzo

A Silicon Roundabout company (digital bank) that actually walks the talk, Monzo has successfully raised millions through a combination of venture capital (from Eileen Burbidge’s Passion Capital, as well as Thrive Capital and Orange Digital Ventures) and crowdfunding campaigns. Founded in 2015 by Tom Blomfield and Paul Rippon (Baroness Denise Kingsmill is chair) to help people make better decisions with their finances, it was given a banking license in 2017 and has half a million users and 200-plus employees. Its annual report revealed a £6.7m loss in the year to February 2017, which could be why Blomfield said in November that they want to raise a further £30m from the public ahead of a potential float.

Fiona Kilkelly

Head of creative industries and Immerse UK, Knowledge Transfer Network
Immersive technology

British entrepreneurs, technologists and VCs are beginning to make waves in augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), says ICAEW’s Corporate Finance Faculty, and Immerse UK is a rapidly growing joint initiative set up by Fiona Kilkelly to discover how it can help drive productivity and social and economic growth. Supported by Innovate UK, Rolls-Royce and the National Theatre among many others, this network of big hitters ensured that immersive technologies made it onto page one of Philip Hammond’s Budget. The government’s Industrial Strategy white paper, which aims to make the UK the “the most innovative nation by 2030”, has since committed to investing a further £275m into the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild

Founder and CEO, Coalition for Inclusive Capitalism

“The project goes to activities that are at the very heart of value creation”

How does business create value in the 21st century? Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild set up the Coalition for Inclusive Capitalism to help answer this question and to try and transform how society sees business. In response to the low levels of trust and optimism in society, the Coalition has made headway with a framework corporations can actually use to understand, measure and compare the investments they make by purpose, brand, intellectual property, products, employees, environment and communities. It’s called the Embankment Project for Inclusive Capitalism and is in collaboration with EY. Lady Forester de Rothschild says: “The project goes to activities that are at the very heart of value creation, but are not now fully captured on a company’s P&L or balance sheet.”

Faraimose Kutadzaushe  

Investment specialist

The Stanford graduate’s star is blazing. Currently on the team responsible for growth capital and buy-out investments in established mid-market companies in Africa at Investec, he also runs Supreme Brands Zimbabwe, a toilet paper manufacturer, which he founded in 2010 and which now employs more than 100 people. It has a manufacturing plant in Harare, and plans a new factory in Bulawayo – his mission is to promote and support local. “We have employed vendors so they can sell our products in every town and it’s working for us. We want to create employment. Our motto is that there shouldn’t be a shortage of local products anywhere.”

Melanie Hawken

CEO, Lionesses of Africa

Lionesses of Africa is an online community that supports, inspires and connects. “Women entrepreneurs supporting and mentoring one another can accomplish amazing things and accelerate the progress of women entrepreneurship in Africa,” says founder Melanie Hawken. The site includes inspirational start-up stories, access to a business incubator at Standard Bank, and events. The hope is that these combined will help promote social change and encourage more women entrepreneurs to contribute to the economic progress of the continent.