IT’S NOT every day The Capitalist finds herself talking to a senior banker as he shelters from the wind halfway up the world’s tallest mountain.
But yesterday that was exactly the scenario for an interview with David Tait, managing director of macro directional trading at UBS Investment Bank, as he prepares to embark on his most “stupid and dangerous” mission yet – climbing Everest without oxygen.
“I only take calculated risks, but this one is more ludicrous than calculated,” said Tait, speaking from Base Camp at 5,250m in Nepal ahead of a four-stage ascent to acclimatise him for tackling the 8,950m summit in late May.
Tait has scaled Everest three times before in a hat-trick for his two charities the NSPCC and the Child’s i Foundation – but without supplementary oxygen, the climb is “harder to the power of ten”, with a greater chance of developing hypothermia or cerebral edema, the potentially fatal swelling of the brain.
Despite the risks, Tait insisted he had to up the stakes to “capture people’s imagination”, not to mention the personal challenge of pitting himself against “virtually impossible odds”.
No corporates are willing to be associated with the oxygenless expedition however – even though Tait has tried “all the people who wouldn’t mind if I died up there”. “Even B&Q sponsored Ellen MacArthur when she sailed solo around the world,” he complained.
THE entire Cabinet and most of the Shadow Cabinet have signed up to Robert Peston’s new matchmaking service, but he won’t be happy until he has 1,000 “leaders in their fields” on his books.
The BBC business editor had the idea for his new introductions venture after noticing that none of the requests he received to speak to schoolchildren came from “the kind of comprehensive school I went to”. He said: “State schools don’t have the time, the resources or the contacts to approach prominent people, so I decided to make things easier for them.”
The result is the Speakers for Schools scheme, due to launch this autumn, which will matchmake experts from the arts, science, humanities, politics and business with schools in disadvantaged areas. So far, 203 members of Peston’s contacts book have agreed to give at least one talk per year, including Carphone Warehouse boss Charles Dunstone, Stuart Rose, the former chairman of M&S, and his successor Robert Swannell (pictured below left).
So what will Peston talk about? “Globalisation and the economic challenges facing the UK,” he said. “The point is to encourage kids to aim a bit higher.”
HERE’S Paul Farrant, director of JM Finn & Co as you haven’t seen him before (above), batting above his average with the former England wicket keeper Alec Stewart.
Farrant, known as one of the City’s biggest cricket fans, assures The Capitalist the signing of the Surrey and England professional as the wealth management firm’s new brand ambassador had nothing to do with securing free tickets for Lords this summer and everything to do with “championing the firm’s values of a strong team culture and independence of thought”. Whatever you say, Paul.