JUST when you thought things couldn’t get any worse for disgraced banker Sir Fred Goodwin, The Capitalist hears the former RBS CEO was once snubbed in favour of a company that had recently given half of Glasgow diarrhoea.
The story starts in 2003, when BBC Scotland’s head of news Atholl Duncan, needing a change of scene after exhaustively covering the Lockerbie and Dunblane tragedies, called in the headhunters to explore his career options.
As luck would have it, two individuals required some public relations assistance at that time. One, a little-known Edinburgh banker called Fred Goodwin; the other, Jon Hargreaves, the CEO of Scottish Water, then Scotland’s most unpopular company after infecting thousands of civilians with a virulent bug.
Deciding to pursue both leads, Duncan visited Goodwin in the RBS HQ in St Andrew Square – but left distinctly unimpressed by the “shy” banker with “no charisma”. Even worse, Goodwin’s PR brief was rather vague: all he was concerned about was “keeping his remuneration out of the press”, recalled Duncan, who turned down the now-infamous financier to become corporate affairs director under Hargreaves.
Of course, it’s all (Scottish) water under the bridge now – but the moral of the story still stands. “Only work with chief executives you can empathise with,” said Duncan. “You have to be able to spend more than an hour in their company.”
BEANS MAKE TOASTS
AND SO to the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS), where Duncan is now global comms chief for CEO Anton Colella, the former religious studies teacher who made his name leading the Scottish Qualifications Authority.
ICAS wants to become “world class”, said Colella at the annual CA Dinner at The Savoy on Monday night, where top-level beancounters such as KPMG chairman John Griffith-Jones and “the world’s most influential accountant” Sir David Tweedie raised toast after toast between lashings of haggis and single malt.
Stealing the show, however, was ICAS president Iain McLaren, who held his own against comedian Dara O’Briain with his joke at the expense of the BBC’s business editor Robert Peston. “The difference between Robert Peston and God, of course, is that God doesn’t think he is Robert Peston.” Although Peston, who yesterday announced his Speakers for Schools initiative to help disadvantaged students, is in fairness rather saintly at the moment…
SUPPORT from the corporation that hired him for Alessio Rastani (right), the day trader from Kent who created a media storm with his “dreaming of recession” remarks.
According to a BBC mole, the “refreshing” Rastani, who admitted traders “don’t really care that much” about economic collapse, was “simply saying what everyone else was thinking”. “Traders only make money when there are peaks and troughs in the market. If the general public understand the City a bit better as a result [of Rastani], that is a good thing.”
TO THE British Museum for the launch of The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman: the exhibition curated by cross-dressing celebrity artist Grayson Perry (above).
The display marks the first arts sponsorship by business adviser AlixPartners, whose MD Pippa Wicks said the collection knocked her sideways and made her blush. “This is the first time the British Museum has sponsored an exhibition of this kind,” Wicks told The Capitalist on regaining her composure.
And with Polynesian fetishes and a bust of a bearded Queen Victoria on display, possibly also the last.