Personalities making a mark doing it their way

Carolyn McCall, easyJet’s chief executive officer, won last year’s City A.M. Personality of the Year Award
PERSONALITY of the year

Mark Carney has been the most talked about central banker for many years, and he’s only been at the Bank for just over a year.

For some, that might just be enough time to get the feel of the job. But he has made huge decisions at the Bank of England.

There is stiff competition from Helena Mor­rissey, who has seen women break through the glass ceiling at Glencore, where the last bastion of an all-male board at a FTSE 100 firm fell.

Tidjane Thiam continues to grow the Prudential, while Peter Cruddas has laid down the law at CMC Markets, where profits have grown strongly since he returned to the fray.

And there’s Nigel Wilson, who has taken L&G out of the insurers’ trade body – and wouldn’t mind seeing Britain out of the EU.

A tough choice, as ever, for our judges.


It’s been the year when City analysts have been playing Watch the Governor, trying to discern when – and possibly even if – Mark Carney will start to endorse a rise in interest rates from 0.5 per cent. Every statement and speech he makes is analysed to within an inch of its life. Although in the second half of the second quarter it looked as though a rate rise was imminent, his later pronouncements have made it clear that Eurozone woes and weak wage growth might delay any increase until next year. By all accounts, he runs the BoE with a rod of iron, and only recently has there been any dissent from the Monetary Policy Committee on rate rises.

Helena Morrissey is the founder of the 30% Club, which wants to see more women on company boards. This year, she saw the fall of the last bastion of male dominance on the board of a FTSE 100 company when mining and commodities group Glencore Xstrata appointed Canadian mining veteran Patrice Merrin. Early-riser Morrissey – she gets up at 5am every day – was appointed chief executive offier of Newton Investment Management at the tender age of 35, at a time when she already had five children. Now she juggles having nine children, with managing 400 employees and a huge turnover.

The Prudential chief executive has a knack for being first. Ivory Coast-born Tidjane Thiam was the first person from the west African country to pass the entrance examination to the prestigious Ecole Polytechnique in Paris. And he is the first black person to be CEO of a FTSE 100 company. This year, under his stewardship, the Pru revealed 29 per cent growth in new business in the first three months of the year, at £529m, with UK new business up 90 per cent to £91m from £48m in 2013 thanks to three large bulk annuity deals – despite a shakeup in the pension market that has seen many insurance firms scrambling for cover.

The founder of CMC Markets is a bit of a stickler for the old fashioned ways. Peter Cruddas has decreed that his employees at the spreadbetting group will not get free fresh fruit and cornflakes when they come into work. And this son of Hackney believes that people cannot be focused on their work if they turn up wearing informal clothing, such as flip flops and jeans. Under Cruddas’ stewardship, CMC Markets has this year reported a pretax profit of £32.8m after a year of cost cutting and efficiencies. This helped it return to profitability after posting a £4m loss the year earlier.

Nigel Wilson has hardly put a foot wrong since succeeding Tim Breedon, his predecessor, as chief executive of Legal & General just over two years ago. He’s ruffled a few feathers in the insurance industry. Geordie-born Wilson led the move to terminate L&G’s membership of the Association of British Insurers, arguing that stakeholder engagement “will have to be more individually tailored to individual company situations… [and is] less suited to uniform representation through one trade body”. He also believes that Europe is too big to be effective and the UK should seek a complete renegotiation or consider leaving the bloc entirely.