Personality of the year

Mark Carney has been the most talked about central banker for many years, and he’s only been in situ at the Bank for a few weeks. Maybe that makes it hard for the judges to hail him so soon but he has made a big claim to this award. Needless to say there is strong competition from Sir Richard Branson, Mike Ashley and Carolyn McCall.

It’s been a banner year for EasyJet, and much of its success can be credited to Carolyn McCall. The former media executive has piloted the airline to record sales and profits by introducing reserved seats and launching ambitious new routes that are snatching passengers away from the flag carriers. McCall manages all this while working with one of the most vocal shareholders in the FTSE, Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou. This year she negotiated a unique deal with Airbus that offered a steep discount on EasyJet’s order for 135 new planes, and helped persuade investors to vote the purchase through.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells, the first record to be released on Sir Richard Branson’s debut business foray Virgin Records. Since then, the secondary school dropout turned business magnate has diversified somewhat, taking up planes, trains and space travel along with cosmetics, gyms and television – and even a high street bank. Sir Richard shows few signs of slowing down, and plans to be one of the first passengers on Virgin Galactic’s maiden space trip next year.

With his black and white Newcastle United scarf and penchant for drinking pints at football matches, Mike Ashley epitomises the buccaneering dealmaker happier on the terraces than in the boardroom. But behind the everyman image lies a corporate genius who this year has transformed a sports good chain into a FTSE 100 company – ­ all against a backdrop of a high street retail bloodbath. With sales and profits soaring, and Ashley’s collection of brands firing on all cylinders, it would take a brave person to bet against Ashley this year.

The governor of the Bank of England entered the City with a bang this summer, bringing a new openness to policymaking at the Old Lady as well as new policies. His forward guidance to markets has shifted expectations of how the Bank will react to the recovery, and the City will look to Carney for leadership as he unwinds the unprecedented position built up since the crisis struck. On top of that the glamorous Canadian has added a hit of star dust to proceedings, wowing MPs and charming financiers for a strong start to his five years at the top.

A few words from our headline sponsor:
Lexus is delighted to once again sponsor the City A.M. Awards 2013, providing Lexus with the opportunity to be associated with the best businesses and leaders in the City.
The Personality and Innovation of the year categories, sponsored by Lexus, epitomise the characteristics shown in the Lexus range of hybrid vehicles, particularly the new IS launched in 2013.
All car manufacturers like to think of themselves as innovative , but Lexus can truly stand up as a pioneering brand. Over 90 per cent of our sales in the UK are of hybrid models, which are both more environmentally friendly than our competitors, but also deliver significant financial benefits to owners in form of lower vehicle tax and lower benefit in kind tax, as a result of class leading CO2 levels. We wish all entries to the Awards the best of luck and look forward to seeing you on the evening.