First Week As Master

I intend to write a regular blog during my year as Master of the Worshipful Company of Marketers but I don’t intend to write it as a diary. I would prefer to concentrate on major themes and topical issues as they arise, rather in the style of my regular weekly blog that I have published on my personal website since 2009.

However, as this is my first week as Master I thought I would make an exception to give readers a flavour of what one does as Master.

Monday 25th January. I met Elizabeth Corley CBE who has kindly agreed to be our guest speaker at our next Great Event, the Spring Lunch to be held at Grocers’ Hall on 18th April. Elizabeth is a Liveryman of the Company and one of our most distinguished members. She has had a remarkable career starting immediately after school with Sun Alliance where she spent ten years rising to deputy head of broker sales, then eight years as a consultant and then partner with Coopers & Lybrand Management Consultants. In 1993 she joined Mercury Asset Management, later to become Merrill Lynch Investment Management, as Managing Director and head of distribution for Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific. In 2005 she joined Allianz Global Investors Europe as CEO and became Global CEO in 2011. In March she will step down from this role and continue in a part time capacity as Vice Chair. This will allow her time to take on a portfolio of other Non-Executive roles and so far she has joined the boards of Pearson PLC, BAE Systems PLC, the British Museum and the Financial Reporting Council. She will speak on my theme ‘Marketing for Good is Good Marketing’ at what is our only day-time Great Event. It is thus a wonderful opportunity to entertain business guests, though of course family and friends are still very welcome.

Tuesday 26th January. I met the Clerk and Assistant Clerk for lunch as the three of us will be working very closely in running the Company. Our learned Clerk John Hammond is a solicitor by profession though has a passion for modern languages and gained invaluable experience in running a membership organisation in that space. Our Assistant Clerk Doreen Blythe is a Liveryman in her own right and the widow of Past Master Ian Blythe. Ian interviewed me when I applied to join the Company.

In the evening I hosted a reception for chairs of our committees and other key officers. The work of the Company is almost entirely conducted through the chairs and their committees and so it is vital that they work together in a cohesive way. We have an excellent team in place for this year and I am looking for great things from them all.

Wednesday 27th January. I was invited to Mansion House by The Lord Mayor and The Lady Mayoress together with Freeman Stephen Christou to thank us for our work as Float holders in the 2015 Lord Mayor’s Show. In the Lord Mayor’s speech the Rt Hon the Lord Mayor of London, Alderman The Lord Mountevans told us of the concerns they had about the Lord Mayor’s Show after the terrorist atrocities in Paris the day before. The Pageantmaster Dominic Reid and the security agencies worked through the night to plan to make sure not only that the parade was safe but that it was also conducted in the right tone. The Lord Mayor took the decision to cancel the fireworks. That evening he had to explain that to a group of tourists who turned out to be French and they all shed tears.

But the reception is also used as an opportunity to promote this year’s show. The prospective Lord Mayor Alderman Andrew Parnley therefore gave a speech outlining his plans and theme for the year. His theme will be “Encourage – Support – Celebrate“ but as a musician he really plans this to relate to music and so wants lots of bands in his show. This gave me ideas which I will develop during the year.

Thursday 28th January. I met the Immediate Past Master Andrew Marsden at his club for him to conduct a handover to me of administrative issues. Of course the ceremonial handover took place last week but this handover was to ensure that I was well informed about all outstanding issues. I have known Andrew for many years and have found working with him a joy and so this handover was conducted efficiently and in good spirit and culminated in sharing a good bottle of Chilean Sauvignon Blanc. Chilean wine will feature frequently in this year.

Friday 29th January. I was invited to the City University Graduation Ceremony at the Barbican Centre. This was my first invitation of the year at which I was required to wear my formal regalia because I and 24 other Livery Masters would process in with the Chancellor, Vice Chancellor and other academic leaders of the University. The University and the City have had a very close relationship since its foundation as an educational institution in 1894 and its founding as a University in 1966. In our case we have a close relationship with its business School, Cass, and sponsor an important Award to a student each year.

This ceremony was special in that it also marked the admission of the Lord Mayor as Chancellor. Uniquely the University always has the current Lord Mayor as Chancellor and since the Lord Mayor changes every year, then so does the Chancellor. However, over a splendid lunch in the Garden Suite the Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Paul Curran told us that the Lord Mountevans would be the last Chancellor because this year the City University will become part of the University of London joining UCL, Queen Mary, King’s, LSE etc. As such that University can only have one Chancellor, but the Lord Mayor will retain his position under a new title.

It was good to meet a number of Masters for the first time as one of them. I am currently the newest Master but this evolves during the year as every Company has a different Installation date. At any one time there are always 110 Livery Masters but during the year it is possible that I will meet 218 other Masters if I meet two from each other Company.

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