Features
7 Jan 2016 01:30pm

Global Finance 50

Celebrating the influencers shaping the world of business and finance, supported by Reed Finance

JeanStephens130JEAN STEPHENS, CEO, RSM

Joining in 2006 as the first female chief executive of RSM International, currently the seventh largest global network of independent audit, tax and advisory firms, Jean Stephens had a successful 2015. RSM’s presence in Europe was strengthened by the appointment of new member firms in France and Belarus and more than 110 network member firms around the world rebranded as RSM, including UK-based mid-tier firm Baker Tilly. Stephens said that her firm’s current positioning hasn’t come easily but that “uniting under one brand is an important step in our long-term growth strategy”. She told economia: “I’m CEO and I love it. This is a big moment in our history so I’m just enjoying it and looking forward to the next stage of our growth. Business is going well; everyone is very positive, very dynamic. We have a clear direction on how we are building and where we are building and the expectations on our firms. In five years’ time we will be significantly larger and more active internationally.”

GUY RIGBY, HEAD OF ENTREPRENEURIAL SERVICES, SMITH & WILLIAMSON

By partnering with Reid Hoffman and Sherry Coutu on The Scale-Up Institute to boost high-growth UK businesses, Guy Rigby and his team are marking their territory as the accountancy group for entrepreneurs. The Scale-Up Institute is the first organisation devoted to scale-ups rather than start-ups. Rigby built and sold his own accountancy firm, has been a director and part-owner of a number of different companies and is now an adviser and mentor to many entrepreneurial businesses and their owners.

 

AMANDA CLACK, HEAD OF INFRASTRUCTURE ADVISORY, EY

Named as one of the most influential women in construction and engineering, Amanda Clack will this year become only the second female president of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). A regular contributor to reviews of diversity in construction, Clack was a partner at PwC for nine years before switching sides.

 

"I come from an intellectual tradition where public policy is important, it can make a positive contribution, it’s our social obligation to do this. We can help to make the world a better place. And so the notion of having the opportunity to serve in a high-level public-policy position, especially the Fed — this was really very attractive to me. It was something I couldn’t say no to, as long as my family was willing to support me”

Janet Yellen, chairman, Federal Reserve, US

 

CHARLES BOWMAN, SHERIFF OF THE CITY OF LONDON AND SENIOR PARTNER, PWC

Originally appointed by and responsible to the monarch, the post of sheriff was unlikely to have helped promote London as a global centre for financial and professional services, but that is what Charles Bowman will be doing. A senior corporate reporting partner and lead for PwC’s Building Public Trust programme, he is also chairman of the Audit Quality Forum. Rebuilding public trust in business will be key to London’s future success, he says.

PAUL MARSHALL, CO-FOUNDER, MARSHALL WACE

Last year was fruitful for investor, political activist, author and philanthropist Paul Marshall (co-founder with Ian Wace of London hedge fund Marshall Wace, which manages $22bn of assets). In October 2015 the London School of Economics and Political Science announced the creation of The Marshall Institute for Philanthropy and Social Entrepreneurship, founded by Sir Thomas Hughes-Hallett with a £30m endowment from Marshall to ensure the sustainability of social enterprise. Marshall Wace firmed up its long-term plans by selling a 24.9% stake to New York-based private equity giant KRR. The FT reported that KKR paid for the stake using 7.4m of its shares, worth $147m, and an undisclosed cash total from its balance sheet.

PROFESSOR RAY BALL, SIDNEY DAVIDSON DISTINGUISHED SERVICE PROFESSOR OF ACCOUNTING, CHICAGO UNIVERSITY

New ICAEW honorary member Professor Ray Ball, described by president Andrew Ratcliffe as “the biggest and greatest name in accounting”, is co-author of An Empirical Evaluation of Accounting Income Numbers, an article published in the Journal of Accounting Research in 1968 that won the American Accounting Association’s inaugural award for seminal contributions in accounting literature. Delivering a lecture at ICAEW in October 2015, Professor Ball said that although IFRS is a truly historical innovation in accounting, the worldwide implementation of one standard is not necessarily the best development in accounting. “I’m a believer in competition,” he explained. “One of the features of economic history is that we have had competing economic models over a very long period of time. They learn from each other, they compete with each other.”

JULIAN FAGGE, GROUP FINANCIAL OFFICER, SMITHS

After qualifying at PwC, Fagge moved to Proctor & Gamble, rising from finance analyst to EMEA finance manager over the course of a decade. After a spell as FD at Royal Carribean he moved to technology firm Smiths Group, where he has been group financial officer for two years and acting FD for the last few months. While revenue in 2015 was down at £2.9bn, operating profit was up to £511m, a resilient performance in the tough trading conditions that continue to exist across many of its markets and at a time during which both its CEO and FD stepped down.

JON LISBY, CEO, KRESTON

According to LDF, the number of accountancy firms in the UK is falling due to increased M&A activity, from 6,962 to 6,622 in the year to December 2014. Jon Lisby, head of international network Kreston International, is a key contributor to this consolidation. In 2015 the firm expanded into Ethiopia, Singapore and Thailand and hit the jackpot in the UK when Reeves and James Cowper adopted the global brand. Lisby, who was managing partner for Burnett Swayne and Numerica LLP before joining Kreston in 2005, says he feels positive about the “renewed energy” in the accounting profession.

PROFESSOR CRAIG CALHOUN, DIRECTOR, LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS & POLITICAL SCIENCE

This social scientist is on the list for two reasons: attracting economist Thomas Piketty to LSE’s International Inequalities Unit as centennial professor and for increasing the School’s funding for scholarships for asylum seekers to nearly £500,000. Professor Calhoun said: “In the 1930s LSE responded when refugees were driven out of central Europe and it responded again after the Second World War. Educating such students is part of our commitment to be Britain’s most global university and our mission to bring knowledge to making a better world. We are proud to join others in the UK who say ‘refugees welcome’.”

SIMON DINGEMANS, FD GSK, AND CHAIRMAN, THE 100 GROUP

When economia spoke to the finance director of GSK back in May 2015, he identified the pharma company’s contribution to the fight against Ebola as one of the things he was proudest of. In July the firm won Business in the Community’s International Disaster Relief award for the “extraordinary ability to adapt and innovate to meet urgent needs in an evolving disaster”. Since then, Sierra Leone celebrated the end of the epidemic. Dingemans said in August 2015 that, after what he described as a transitional [read, difficult] year, “we expect to return the group to growth in earnings per share at rates that, in 2016, should reach double-digit levels.”

PAUL JOHNSON, DIRECTOR, INSTITUTE FOR FISCAL STUDIES

Since 2011, Paul Johnson and his team have scrutinised the Treasury’s every fiscal move with balanced analysis. Responding to George Osborne’s Autumn Spending Review in November 2015, he said: “He’s going to need his luck to hold out. He has set himself a completely inflexible fiscal target – to have a surplus in 2019/20. This is not like the friendly, flexible fiscal target of the last parliament. If he is unlucky – and that’s pretty much a 50/50 shot – he will either have to revisit the spending decisions, raise taxes, or abandon the target.”

DANIEL DABOCZY, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, FUNDEDBYME

One of Sweden’s hottest start-ups, FundedByMe says it has funded nearly 500 companies from 25 countries since it launched in 2010, while 83% of equity crowdfunding deals in the Nordics go through its platform. Co-founded by Daniel Daboczy and Arno Smit, Daboczy says the aim is to give entrepreneurs access to a wide network of investors (currently 52,000) ready to boost their business. Grant Thornton Sweden clearly rates the firm: in 2015, it partnered with FundedByMe to develop start-ups. Carl-Johan Regell, partner at Grant Thornton Sweden, said: “FundedByMe’s digital service is completely in tune with the times and that crowdfunding will continue to grow fast, both in Sweden and internationally and especially among young entrepreneurs.”

ALEX OKOSI, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT AND MANAGING DIRECTOR, VIMN AFRICA

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Responsible for launching Viacom International Media Network’s first bespoke channel for Africa in February 2005, Alex Okosi brought brands including MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon to Africa. Born in Nigeria and growing up in the US, his work has taken him to New York, Los Angeles and London and Okosi has become an ambassador for African music and youth culture, creating events, programming and initiatives that showcase the best of Africa’s talent and creativity. He told Forbes last year: “The marketplace is dynamic with deregulation sweeping across the continent and there are more players coming into this space. We are constantly upping our strategy and executing to stay ahead.”

JO BERTRAM, REGIONAL GENERAL MANAGER FOR UK, IRELAND AND THE NORDICS, UBER

US taxi-hailing app Uber, valued at $51bn, continues to be favoured by the consumer. The five-year-old San Francisco company now operates in 311 cities in 58 countries. Jo Bertram read physics at Cambridge University before studying for an MBA, joining Accenture and then McKinsey as a management consultant. Since winning the job heading Uber’s Europe business, she has turned her focus to the business market. She told Wired: “Our mission is to make getting anything in your city more convenient, affordable and reliable than picking it up yourself. We already provide the ability to get a car at the touch of a button. Imagine if you could use that same network of drivers to allow you to get other things.” For businesses, on-demand delivery provides a competitive edge that bigger rivals might not be able to match, she said.

DARREN BRAHAM, CO-FOUNDER AND CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER, FIRST UTILITY

After training at Arthur Andersen, Darren Braham moved into telecoms as CFO of First Telecoms before co-founding spin-out First Utility, now one of the largest energy companies outside of the Big Six. A vocal force for industry reform by advising the government, Ofgem and the DECC on policy and the need for more competition, the company is considering a flotation on the LSE and is the frequent target of takeover requests.

SACHA ROMANOVITCH, CEO, GRANT THORNTON

She has long been a big name in the accountancy profession: she’s an avid Twitter user, she’s been vocal about encouraging diversity and flexible working, she’s risen quickly up the ladder. But Sacha Romanovitch came into her own in 2015 when she took up the role of chief executive (the first female to head a top six accountancy firm) at Grant Thornton and made a massive change, introducing a John Lewis-style profit share scheme and capping her pay. She told economia: “The only way we can fully harness the potential of all 4,500 of our people is through shared enterprise – a sense that we are all in this together sharing our thinking and ideas, sharing the responsibility to drive the business forward and sharing in the resulting rewards.”

ANGUS DEATON, PROFESSOR OF ECONOMICS AND INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY

The Scottish economist best known for his work on health, wellbeing and economic development won the prestigious Nobel Prize in Economics 2015. The Nobel Committee said Angus Deaton had, more than anyone else, enhanced the understanding that to design economic policy that promotes welfare and reduce poverty, we must first understand individual consumption choices. “More than anyone else, Angus Deaton has enhanced this understanding. By linking detailed individual choices and aggregate outcomes, his research has helped transform the fields of microeconomics, macroeconomics, and development economics.”

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Sajid Javid, secretary of state, Department of Business, Innovation and Skills

Before public service, Sajid Javid was a senior managing director with Deutsche Bank, having started his career with Chase Manhattan Bank in New York in 1991. Fearing that he would have to call on all his commercial nous after the Autumn Statement (his department was predicted to be the worst hit for cuts), Javid must have breathed a sigh of relief when the cut was just 17%. The challenge now is to make sure his budget actually does create and protect jobs, encourage innovation and drive economic growth. Javid says: “In the next five years we will create even more opportunities for businesses to grow. By increasing productivity and competitiveness we will make Britain the best place in Europe to do business.”

MIKE KELLY, HEAD OF LIVING WAGE, KPMG UK

Also head of corporate social responsibility and professor in accounting at Strathclyde University, Mike Kelly is chair of the Living Wage Foundation and KPMG’s first ever head of living wage. His role is to develop the firm’s advocacy and influencing roles in support of the eradication of low pay. Under his direction KPMG has been ranked first for Corporate Social Responsibility by the Financial Times as well as a Platinum Plus ranking with Business in the Community, its highest level – the only professional services firm to achieve this accolade on a European basis. Kelly says: “With the cost of living still high the squeeze on household finances remains acute. It was easy for businesses to hide behind the argument that increased wages hit their bottom line, but evidence suggests the opposite – in the shape of higher retention and productivity. It is not impossible to explore the feasibility of paying the Living Wage.”

WENDY PARRY, FD, ON THE BEACH

After a successful €132m IPO in 2015, it won’t all be plain sailing for this award-winning travel company, but in the capable hands of its KPMG-trained FD Wendy Parry the company is on an upward trajectory. ICAEW’s head of corporate finance David Petrie says: “The IPO of On the Beach, a holiday company from the PE house Inflexion, is the kind of deal we like to celebrate. We like an IPO as an exit route for PE and an opportunity for wider public investment in fast-growing companies. It looks as though the offer was well-priced at 205p, leaving something for investors and climbing towards 220p. However, global terrorist incidents don’t help holiday companies and On the Beach is now trading at 180p. These stocks are trading at significantly below their listing price but On the Beach ought to recover if future terrorist threats don’t materialise. How companies manage bad news and circumstances beyond their control are important points and On the Beach seems to have weathered the storms well.”

 

"I have been a central banker for longer than I would like to admit. First in Canada, then here in Britain, and I have worked with governments of the right and left. The correct answer in all circumstances is to stick to your mandate. As a central banker you take fiscal policy as a given, except in the most extreme cases where a particular policy was going to imperil your objectives as a central bank. You will never find me commenting on what a government should or shouldn’t do with fiscal policy. The quid pro quo is we would not expect it to comment on monetary policy. That has been very clearly delegated to us by Parliament”

Mark Carney, governor, Bank of England

 

NICHOLAS CADBURY, GROUP FD, WHITBREAD

Nicholas Cadbury was CFO at two multinational PLCs – Premier Farnell and Dixons Retail – before joining Whitbread and is a chartered accountant (PwC). With new CEO Alison Brittain at the helm, he is preparing the firm for expansion while fending off competition for Costa from the independents. The Premier Inn part of its business is thriving but its restaurants business is subdued. Where he will be tested is if Whitbread demerges Costa into a standalone business. The firm has acknowledged the potential for such action, but has always said international operations need greater scale.

TITUS SHARPE, CEO, MVF

Named the Smith & Williamson Entrepreneur of the Year at the 2015 Lloyds Bank National Business Awards, Titus Sharpe was described as achieving “sustained levels of growth and financial performance through a culture of innovation, market knowledge and talent development.” Founded in 2009, MVF is one of the UK’s fastest-growing tech firms. Sharpe said: “MVF is going to be a global powerhouse in customer acquisition. We are planning two overseas offices and some new sector launches. When you look historically at our growth we’ve always pretty much achieved what we set out to do year on year. There is no reason this can’t continue.”

ANTONY BARKER, DIRECTOR OF PENSIONS, SANTANDER

When Antony Barker joined Santander UK as director of pensions in 2012 he says he was shocked to find out just how much pensions risk the bank was running (pensions was the second biggest risk the bank faced in the UK after mortgages). But by 2014, the £9.5bn Santander UK Group Pension Scheme had seen an investment return of 17.7% as its commitment to real assets proved successful and the scheme lowered its risk. Barker, who was Pensions Manager of the Year in 2014, says: “Our target returns have fallen and the funding level at risk has declined. We don’t need to take as much investment risk now, and we should still be able to deliver on the initial plan.”

ANNE MARIE SLAUGHTER, PRESIDENT AND CEO, NEW AMERICA

The first ever female director of policy planning for the Department of State under secretary of state Hillary Clinton, Anne Marie Slaughter says: “We really have to change the way women work and the way men work. You can’t fix that by confidence. You have to fix that by making room for care.” A Princeton professor and CEO at think tank New America, Slaughter says: “We talk about ‘working mothers’ all the time. We never talk about ‘working fathers’. There are so many ways in which we are constantly making clear that it is the job of the woman to balance work and family.”

FABRICE ALOMO, FOUNDER, MY ACONNECT

Fintech entrepreneur Fabrice Alomo set up his business to increase the ease with which the 17 million unbanked people in Cameroon access financial services. Eighty per cent of Africans don’t have a bank account – let alone a credit card; My AConnect provides AMoney, an electronic currency managed through charge cards. Alomo says his business will provide intelligent, flexible, low-cost solutions. There is real opportunity for fintech in Africa, and early disruptors such as My AConnect could see huge growth.

CHANDA KOCHHAR, MANAGING DIRECTOR AND CEO, ICICI BANK

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Described by McKinsey as an executive just as able to embrace the big picture as tackle the nitty-gritty, Chanda Kochhar is CEO of India’s largest private sector bank. She made her mark in 2001 when she helped ICICI Ltd launch its bank. Identifying volatility as one of the biggest challenges leaders face – “anything you need to implement has to be done in 90 days, and sometimes in 60 days or even 30 days, or it risks becoming irrelevant” – Kochhar oversees nearly $125bn in assets, recently announced a 14% increase in profits over last year, and ensures her business stays relevant by embracing change: its focus on mobile banking has engaged the burgeoning middle class and it has reached out to the nation’s masses with branches in remote villages where banks simply didn’t exist before.

SIR RONALD COHEN, CHAIRMAN, BIG SOCIETY CAPITAL

Sir Ronald Cohen is a big believer in finance as a force for good. The chairman of Big Society Capital opened a new social justice and human rights centre in London in December, saying: “This magnificent facility showcases the marriage of foundations and new sources of investment. It is a fantastic achievement to create a social justice hub. We have seen the power of hubs in technology investments where it was all about bringing people together who approached similar issues from different angles; who were driven by a powerful motive to succeed and by co-operating to create new things to transform lives. I think it is about to happen in the social arena.”

DES DEARLOVE AND STUART CRAINER, FOUNDERS, THINKERS50

As champions of the best new management ideas, Stuart Crainer and Des Dearlove are frequently called upon on to advise organisations on how to maximise their strategic impact. The appetite to learn across different cultures is heartening, they say. “There are people in the UK who have a message and shtick that goes down well here but don’t do anything outside the region. On the Thinkers50 list, we feature people like Kjell Nordström from Sweden, who’s hugely popular in Scandinavia and Russia and the Baltic countries. There are a lot of Canadians: Don Tapscott, Roger Martin, Richard Florida, Syd Finkelstein. The clusters used to be at Harvard Business School, Stanford… Now they’re more freewheeling. There’s a young generation of interesting thinkers at INSEAD in France and at IE in Madrid.”

EILEEN BURBIDGE, PARTNER, PASSION CAPITAL

UK prime minister David Cameron must have been delighted when the venture capitalist, angel investor and diversity evangelist Eileen Burbidge agreed to join his business advisory panel as special envoy for fintech. The University of Illinois computer science graduate worked in Silicon Valley with big brands including Apple and Sun before coming to the UK and setting up Passion Capital for early-stage entrepreneurs looking for finance. She told the Guardian in November 2015: “With regards to fintech, I don’t merely think the UK can ‘take on’ Silicon Valley. I know for certain that we can lead it and the rest of the world – and that we are in fact already doing so. There is no question that most technology innovation in financial services is coming from London.”

NICK BEIGHTON, CEO, ASOS

As the right-hand man to ASOS founder Nick Robertson, finance director turned chief operating officer Nick Beighton was a natural successor to replace Robertson when he decided to step away from his business. Seen as a safe pair of hands from an investor’s perspective, Beighton will nevertheless have to woo those same shareholders, who have put up with a series of profit warnings as the online firm’s competitors catch up. He will have the confidence to do so: a chartered accountant, he joined ASOS from Luminar, the nightclub operator, where he was finance director. Before that he had held the same post at Matalan. He will stick to Robertson’s Peter Pan strategy of appealing to a young clientele. He told the Evening Standard in October last year: “We will not be growing up with our customers and will remain forever young.”

SOPHIE GUIBAUD, VICE PRESIDENT EUROPEAN EXPANSION, FIDOR BANK

Given the task of overseeing European expansion at Fidor, an award-winning German bank that has now launched in the UK, Sophie Guibaud has already achieved a lot in a short space of time. She started her career in investment banking in New York before joining TIME Equity Partners, a growth capital fund in Paris. Following that she moved to London to help launch HelloFresh UK before making another move, this time to Bankable, to take charge of product strategy. She has also managed to fit in mentoring for Seedcamp and UKTI and says she is passionate about improving the fintech sector and making it more accessible to women. She says: “The end goal is to make sure the right candidates are selected, promoted and retained, irrespective of gender.”

 

"Today most central banks are independent, headed by non-elected officials, and quite powerful. This is acceptable only if independence is limited by the mandate. That’s why we are so keen about respecting the mandate, because that’s the true guarantee of our independence which, especially in the euro area set-up, is crucial for our credibility. And credibility is essential for delivering price stability”

Mario Draghi, president, European Central Bank

 

NICK D’ALOISIO, FOUNDER, SUMMLY

He founded Summly, the news aggregation app that Yahoo! acquired in 2013 for a reported $30m, at the age of just 17 (having secured funding aged 15 from tycoon Li Ka-Shing and Horizons Ventures). Now, the 21-year old D’Aloisio is going back to his studies at Oxford University, but don’t expect him to stay undercover for long. After a frenetic few years – he was named Innovator of the Year by the Wall Street Journal, won the 2014 Apple Design Award for leading Yahoo!’s News Digest and has been “Entrepreneur in Residence” at Airbnb – TechCrunch says D’Aloisio is considering starting a new business and has been spotted talking to Alibaba CEO Jack Ma. Speaking at TechWorld last year he said: “I’ve no idea where I’ll be in five years but wherever I am, I want to innovate and create companies or ideas that I’m super-passionate about.”

STEVE EASTERBROOK, GLOBAL CEO, MCDONALD’S

The first Brit to run global operations for American fast food giant McDonald’s, the PwC-qualified Steve Easterbrook has turned the business around, increasing sales and the share price and improving long-term confidence in the company. He introduced healthy options, improved service, redesigned restaurants and brought in all-day breakfasts in the US. The former Wagamama and Pizza Express boss told thisismoney.co.uk: “When an opportunity comes like that you have to grasp it. To get a shot to be part of the team to get the business on track and deliver meaningful growth for the next generation is a once in a lifetime shot.”

ANDY HALFORD, GROUP FINANCIAL OFFICER, STANDARD CHARTERED

After 15 years in charge of finances at telecoms giant Vodafone, news that Andy Halford was moving to the struggling Asia-focused investment bank Standard Chartered was met with some surprise (his lack of banking experience and the Asian market seemed to count against him). The former chairman of The 100 Group and a chartered accountant, he certainly has his work cut out: the bank reported a 22% drop in profits in the first quarter of 2015 as losses from bad loans jumped 80% from a year ago and trading conditions remained challenging. But the bank is trying to turn around its performance and, by all accounts, Halford is doing a good job. His understanding of technological innovation and running a complex multinational business across different tax jurisdictions stands him in good stead. As he told economia back in 2012: “Just because people have a view, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right view. You’ve just got to do what you believe in.”

JAMES MACK, CFO, ALDERMORE

The KPMG alumni held senior roles at the Co-operative Banking Group and Skipton Building Society before taking on the top finance role at challenger bank Aldermore. Profits were a respectable £44m for the first half of 2015, beating expectations for £40m and since floating on the London Stock Exchange back in March, its share price had been growing steadily until it was downgraded after George Osborne’s Autumn Spending Review announced tax increases in the buy-to-let market. While savers are benefitting from the battle between challenger banks, employees are less certain. In October last year the bank announced a round of compulsory redundancies. So Mack’s mettle will be tested this year as he’s asked to focus on growing Aldermore’s share of the market while taking on the Competition and Markets Authority, whose competition proposals it considers inadequate.

JONATHAN HILL, COMMISSIONER, FINANCIAL STABILITY, FINANCIAL SERVICES AND CAPITAL MARKETS UNION, EUROPEAN COMMISSION

Tasked with reducing risk in the banking sector, building a stronger banking union and advancing the European Commission’s capital markets union, a set of plans aimed at freeing up capital to give the European economy a boost, Jonathan Hill is an influential figure for the UK government, especially with the EU referendum on the horizon. As the FT described it, Lord Hill presents a proudly workmanlike agenda, something he possibly picked up as an adviser to then prime minister John Major. When he accepted the role he told the BBC: “The fact is that having thought about the importance of this job, the pivotal role that it will play, the crucial time in the history of the EU and also of Britain, it is a fantastic opportunity to be involved and I would be mad not to do it.”

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INDRA NOOYI, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, PEPSICO

The transition from CFO to CEO is common but not without its challenges, as Pepsico’s Indra Nooyi will confirm. She told the Wall Street Journal in 2014: “Being a CEO is like leading a jazz orchestra. You improvise. CFOs tend to be good at [a structured role, like playing in a traditional symphony], and [when CFOs become CEOs] you move to a jazz structure.” Having worked her way to the top spot at the $1bn food and drinks company over the course of two decades, she says finance executives are prized for their understanding of complexity, regulations, discipline and consistency. As CFO, analysts credited her with transforming the company’s global strategy when both Coke and Pepsi faced a challenging sales environment. As CEO she is responsible for the company’s recognition as a sustainability leader by Dow Jones, which has put Pepsico on its Sustainability World Index for commitment to sustainable growth.

LOUISA SYMINGTON-MILLS, FOUNDER AND CEO, CITYPARENTS

Having spent 10 years in the City as an investment analyst for firms including the Royal Bank of Scotland and Jeffries International, Louisa Symington-Mills can tell you all about the challenges of work-life balance. Her experience working at the coalface in a male-dominated industry is the reason she set up Cityparents, a network for working mums and dads who want a great job without sacrificing family life. The network is now 7,000 strong. As chief operating officer at LPEQ, an association of listed private equity companies, as well as a columnist for The Daily Telegraph, she has learned that “with routine and practice I am able to handle it better as time passes.” She told Red magazine: “The best way to widespread acceptance is to normalise flexible working, so the more people that ask and get, the more ordinary the process becomes, and the easier it will be for others to do the same in the future.”

TAN ZHENG, CEO, ANTVR

Hold on to your hats, virtual reality (VR) is about to explode. As one American techie told the FT in December: “VR is happening here on a scale and with an energy you can’t believe. Universities are pouring millions of dollars into it. This is going to change everything.” Beijing-based ANTVR recently released a headset, camera and set of VR goggles which are compatible with smartphones. CEO Tan Zheng has sought crowdfunding, open-sourced some development so that his products work with gaming consoles, and reportedly secured eight-figure dollars of Series A financing from Sequoia Capital.

 

"We can build a multilateral system – one in which rather than competing on the ground, the multilateral institutions know that they have to co-operate… the needs are so great, the disasters in the world have become so severe, the requirement for joint action is so high that every staff member in the World Bank and the UN has to understand that we expect them to work together”

Dr Jim Yong Kim, president, World Bank

 

RICHARD PENNYCOOK, CEO, THE CO-OPERATIVE GROUP

“Pennycook to the rescue” ran the headlines when the so-called “ungovernable” Co-operative Group announced its interim boss would become permanent in 2013. The chartered accountant has been variously described as a nuts-and-bolts operator, serial turnaround guy, crisis manager and seasoned retailer, but above all, Richard Pennybrook is seen as a trustworthy, quality finance operator with the patience to pursue a long-term vision. With the group now focused on its grocery shops and funerals business, Pennycook told the BBC in May 2015: “Just applying good management disciplines and taking out costs can improve profitability. We can absolutely compete with the best.”

KATHERINE GARRETT-COX, CEO, ALLIANCE TRUST

The embattled investment firm CEO faced all sorts of trials and tribulations but her defence of the Dundee-based fund against activist investors rarely faltered. Having eventually bowed to pressure from US hedge fund Elliott Advisers to step down from the board but retain a chief executive role, she’s unlikely to have been impaired by the fight. Her work elsewhere is valued: she is a member of the supervisory board of Deutsche Bank and is vice- chair of the Baring Foundation. She is also a member of the government’s Minister’s Business Advisory Group and a UK Trade and Industry business ambassador for financial services.

SEAN GLITHERO, CFO, AUTO TRADER

After qualifying with EY, Glithero became group finance manager at Dolphin Telecom before moving to BPB as chief accountant and then to Trader Media Group. After steering the company through a tricky transition from print to purely online, Auto Trader is now delivering. In November 2015 it released its maiden dividend after sales accelerated in the first six months of the year to £138.2m, while underlying operating profit jumped 17% to £83m. The company, which listed on the London Stock Exchange in March last year, continued to cut its cost base while good cash flow allowed it to continue to slash its debt pile. All done, as is the way of a good FD, quietly and without fuss.

Amy Duff and Raymond Doherty

 

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