World’s most influential women at the Rosewood Hotel

Gabriella Griffith
Facebook’s Europe Middle East and Asia vice-president Nicola Mendelsohn
Some of the world’s most influential women descended on Holborn yesterday for the Fortune Most Powerful Women Conference in the Rosewood Hotel. Theresa May’s partially unexplained absence (due to a mystery scheduling conflict) did little to diminish the high level of inspiring chat.

Facebook’s Europe Middle East and Asia vice-president Nicola Mendelsohn touched on the Whatsapp and Oculus Rift acquisitions before being outed as a selfie addict. “Anyone you haven’t dared ask for a selfie?” someone wondered.

“I’ve never not dared to ask someone, but sometimes it’s embarrassing when they aren’t comfortable. Next I’d like Hillary Clinton… and Brangelina – of course!” replied Mendelsohn.

Baroness Shriti Vadera, former adviser to New Labour and non-exec director at Astrazeneca and BHP Billiton, took to the stage to talk about Global Hot Spots and took no prisoners in relation to the Scottish Referendum.

“There is no reason for us to lose this referendum, but it is true that the Better Together campaign is certainly testing that thesis to destruction, and I think it’s because it’s run by grumpy old men,” she said. Surely she can’t be referring to her old Labour colleagues Alistair Darling and Gordon Brown?

Another sadly absent speaker was Shire’s chairman (and ex-Credit Suisse banker) Susan Kilsby. “She rang me up last week and said, ‘when you see the news tomorrow you’ll understand why I’m pulling out’; with a hostile takeover bid to fight, she’s currently putting up the barricades,” said Fortune’s Pattie Sellers.

Fair enough, the room’s participants heartily agreed.

■ SINGING on the streets of the City is a rarity (disregarding Thursday night kicking out time, of course), but yesterday the pavement outside 1 St Martin’s Le Grand was alive with song as National Youth Choirs of Great Britain belted out a couple of tunes – including The Beatles’ “When I’m Sixty-Four”. The choral session was to celebrate Julius Baer’s newly shaken-on sponsorship of the choir. “What a fantastic way to kick-start our sponsorship of the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain with a lunchtime concert resounding through the streets of London in the summer sunshine,” said Adam Horowitz, chief of Julius Baer UK. “Someone asked me if I can remember ‘When I’m Sixty Four’ when first released by The Beatles. Luckily I can’t – but it’s a great song.” It was 1967, Adam.

■ CITY film buffs could have a treat on their hands tomorrow night, if they fancy a long stroll. Brainwave’s annual charity walk has a movie theme, taking in locations from classic British flicks such as Skyfall, Sherlock Holmes, Lara Croft, Love Actually, Harry Potter and Bridget Jones. Law firms Irwin Mitchell and Paul Hastings have signed up, as has Lloyd’s building resident Atrium Underwriters. At each location, participants will be given a clue to the next location’s filmic significance as well as a map. Urban orienteering meets Hollywood – what’s not to love? Get in touch with Brainwave if you’re interested...

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