AWARDS ceremonies, as many in the City will know, are all too often worthy but slightly dull affairs, with tables full of gnarled luminaries guffawing at bad jokes after numerous glasses of lukewarm Sauvignon Blanc. But Friday afternoon’s Square Mile 30 Under 30 London Talent Awards could not have been further from that disheartening stereotype, as thirty of the City’s young bright sparks gathered with colleagues and friends to celebrate their achievements.
For starters, the pack of promising young talent launched into their networking with gusto, pouncing upon each other, champagne in hand, as if socialising were going out of fashion. The music was loud and sexy; the rugby-playing host Will Greenwood suitably irreverent; the celebrations enthusiastic and raucous. Hell, even the voice-over guy was a cut above the norm, with Greenwood introducing Alan Dedicoat as “the National Lottery dude”. (“That’s the nicest thing I’ve ever been called,” chuckled a familiar, throaty voice from behind the scenes. “I’m loving this gig already!”)
Speaking of former England international Greenwood, it appears the event itself wasn’t the only thing making a strong impression. After guest speaker Julie Meyer – chief executive of venture capital firm Ariadne Capital, City A.M. columnist and online Dragon – had left the stage, he was positively smitten.
“Can I just say, Julie, you’re smoking hot!” Greenwood roared, licking his chops enthusiastically at the thought of cornering her in the bar later on. “Crumbs, when they mentioned Dragon’s Den, I thought it’d be that other one coming...”
Names to watch out for in the future include the law category winner Alan Mak, a fun-loving solicitor at Clifford Chance; politics winner Neil Mahapatra, who works as a commercial assistant to Lord Rothschild and is also contesting Tony Blair’s former seat Sedgefield for the Conservatives at the general election; Vikram Kumar, who won the finance award after leaving UBS to run TT International’s midcap European hedge fund; and entrepreneur winner Stephan Williams, the co-founder of investment banking recruiter Empiric Solutions.
Also spotted at the ceremony, held at the Park Lane Hilton, was Philip Wicks from Legal and General, who is renowned for storming to victory in virtually any City running race you care to mention.
Wicks lost out in the sport category to 28-year-old Naomi Prasad from Allied Irish Bank, who is running ten marathons in ten days in May and is aiming to become the first UK woman to run 100 marathons before turning 30 (ouch). But he tells me life is rosy at the moment, since he’s hoping to represent Great Britain in the marathon at the London 2012 Olympics and is also preparing to marry his sweetheart, fellow runner Emily Adams from professional services group Punter Southall, in August. Congratulations to the happy couple.
Finally, it’s happy days for those attendees yearning for the next blowout, now that most have hopefully recovered from the debauched Whisky Mist afterparty.
I hear Square Mile magazine is in the early stages of mulling another, quite different, event – this time a tongue-in-cheek celebration of the “bad bankers” and naughty financiers of the year. No prizes for guessing who the smart money’s on, after last week’s juicy insider trading raids…