I was honoured last night to celebrate The MBS Group’s 25th anniversary with many of our clients, candidates, colleagues and friends and, of course, The Weatherman, incognito as always! Justin King gave an inspirational address, proving that Archie Norman is correct when he says that Justin is the most articulate CEO in the FTSE 100.
When I look back and remember myself sitting at my dining room table in the late 1980s only a few years after arriving from Port Elizabeth, South Africa, with a phone, a Joseph paper bag of candidates and a Filofax, it is simply unbelievable to think that MBS could host a party at The Serpentine and celebrate it with leaders in consumer industries from around the world. This is the result of 25 years of work. Back in the day, I did not own a mobile phone, I did not have a computer or a database and there was no such thing as LinkedIn! Right from the start, I wanted MBS to be about personal relationships and about finding the stars where others wouldn’t look.
I was lucky enough in the late ‘80s to meet Geraldine Flax, owner of a successful fashion and lifestyle PR company, who generously gave me space in her office in Little Venice. It was great fun working in the office with the most glamorous journalists coming in and out all day. From those days of mostly having fashion clients, though, today MBS is a full-spectrum consultancy with fashion & luxury only one part. Our retail, FMCG, digital, travel & leisure and private equity practices are all of equal importance.
All our clients and candidates are also equally important to us, and we have been extremely fortunate to work with some of the most influential and important figures in the consumer sector over the last two decades. 25 years later, we have been in contact with 40,000 candidates, made 1500 placements in 32 countries, which is really quite something!
As well as the seismic developments and upheavals we have all seen since 1989, there are certain facets of life – and business – that remain reassuringly unchanged. For instance, the qualities of tenacity, resilience, commitment and creativity that have defined MBS since its first day are still as vital to success as ever; perhaps even more so now. I like to think that the companies we have worked with over the years share these qualities, and it has been a delight to grow alongside them.
In 1992, I did an assignment for Derek Lovelock at Sears, and he introduced me to my first FTSE 100 CEO of a plc, Liam Strong. I will never forget the first time that I went to meet him. Liam had a quote up on his wall, which today is framed behind my desk: “Tell me and I will forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I will learn.” This motto is something I’ve set a lot of stall by over the years, and I think that today, 25 years after MBS was founded, it’s truer than ever.
I would like to thank everyone from clients, to candidates, colleagues past and present, friends and family for the support over a wonderful 25 years.