The year gone by: an A to Z of 2022

What a year it has been! After two years defined by the pandemic, we can’t have been the only ones hoping for a quiet 2022… But in twelve short months, we’ve had three UK prime ministers, a new monarch, serious geopolitical crises, supply chain disruptions, labour shortages, the devaluation of the pound, widespread strikes and record inflation. It has certainly been an eventful year.

Amid this whirlwind, leaders in our consumer industries should be immensely proud that they have once again responded to disruption with agility, strength, and a determination to do the right thing.

For the last Weekend Edition of the year, we’re taking the time to reflect on 2022 – the highs, the lows and everything in between. As has become tradition, we’re doing so with an A to Z, looking back on our sector’s many successes, some highlights of the MBS calendar, and the trends that defined our year.

A is for anniversary. One of the real high points of 2022 was celebrating thirty-three years of The MBS Group. On a warm and sunny evening in July, we were joined by dozens of industry leaders for a buzzy drinks reception, with an address from Archie Norman, Chair at M&S. From humble beginnings – as a team of one, with a paper bag full of names and numbers – MBS has grown into a 40-strong collective of partners, directors, consultants, associates, researchers and assistants: the biggest, most unified, and most informed consumer executive search team in Europe.

B is for Boards of the Future, the manifesto on which our Board practice is built. This year, it was wonderful to continue developing our philosophy, through in-depth research into FTSE 350 Boards, columns looking at future challenges for NEDs, and an event for first-time non-executives, chaired by Lord Stuart Rose, Chair at Asda.

We celebrated our 33rd Anniversary in July.

C is for our clients. We are proud to have partnered with our sector’s most exciting and innovative businesses this year. In 2022, we’ve worked in 22 markets, successfully placing more than 24 CEOs, more than 20 CFO, FD or Audit Chairs, and more than 25 Non-Executive Directors. It has been a true privilege to work alongside forward-thinking companies as they address today’s biggest talent challenges, from digitalisation to putting ESG at the heart of a business.

In particular, we’re proud to have worked closely with leaders as they improve on their diversity and inclusion efforts. This year – as outlined in our reports – we’ve seen real progress, but the pace of change is still too slow. In the hospitality sector, for example, it will take more than eleven years to reach an equal gender split at the top three leadership levels.

More positively, it’s been encouraging to see energy poured into previously underserved areas of D&I. So, F is for fourteen million – the number of days lost to the economy every year as a direct result of menopause symptoms. Today, the businesses that are serious about supporting their staff and closing the gender pay gap are talking openly about menopause in the workplace. And G is for grandparents leave, one of the innovative policies put in place by businesses in our sector to drive up age diversity.

Insurance-to-cruises business Saga has introduced grandparents leave.

H is for our dedicated Healthcare Practice, which continued to grow this year, making business-critical placements in some of the most forward-looking organisations in the space. Innovation in healthcare has been high on the agenda in 2022, and a particular highlight for us was hosting a dinner for healthcare leaders in March, chaired by Lord David Prior, then Chair at NHS England.

J is for the Jubilee, which we celebrated in June to mark 70 years of Queen Elizabeth’s reign. Our late sovereign deserves her own entry on this list… but for now, K is for King Charles III, who became our new monarch in September.

L is for the Lionesses, who inspired us all with their Euros victory in August. The tournament got us all talking about women’s football, and championing women as players, coaches, match officials, commentators and fans like never before. And on the topic of football… M is for (Lionel) Messi – and the most nail-biting World Cup Final match we’ve ever seen.

N is for normality. After two years of Covid disruption, it was wonderful this year to go back to the office, attend in-person meetings, and enjoy physical events. Over the past twelve months we’ve loved bringing clients, candidates, industry leaders and friends of the business together for lunches, dinners, drinks receptions and launch events.

Indeed, one highlight was the Inclusion Summit at ODEON’s flagship Leicester Square cinema, where more than 700 people from across hospitality, travel, leisure and retail gathered to share learnings and reflect on the importance of D&I.

MBS presented the results of our latest D&I research to 700 industry leaders at the Inclusion Summit.

The event was hosted by WiHTL and DiR, two of our long-standing partners that we’re proud to work alongside to support our consumer communities. Across industry reports and events, it’s been a pleasure to once again partner with our sector’s most critical industry bodies this year, including WiHTL, DiR, British Retail Consortium, British Fashion Council, IGD, and CEW.

Q is for Queen Elizabeth II, whose death in September saddened us all. As a leader, she embodied dedication, adapted deftly to change, and carefully balanced modernisation with an unwavering commitment to her values. She was the ultimate role model.

S is for strikes, the latest development in what has become a highly challenging labour market this year.

T is for turmoil… of the political variety. In 2022, we’ve had three prime ministers, four chancellors, seen thirty lawmakers resign in under twenty-four hours, and been presented with a mini-budget which devalued the pound to a 37-year low. Here’s hoping for a smoother 2023!

U is for Ukraine. In February, Putin’s horrific invasion of Ukraine shocked the world. In our consumer sectors, it was humbling to witness businesses mobilise to condemn the actions of Putin and support the Ukrainian people. By rapidly shuttering operations in Russia, rolling out aid for citizens in need, providing sizable donations, and auditing supply lines to eliminate Russian-sourced product, leaders showed us that they would not be bystanders in situations of injustice.

The Valuable 500 is a global business collective made up of 500 CEOs and their companies.

V is for The Valuable 500, a global business collective made up of 500 CEOs and their companies, innovating together for disability inclusion – a topic that has risen up the corporate agenda this year. In May, we sat down with Caroline Casey for our Weekend Edition, who contended that equality will only be achieved with the buy-in from corporate leaders: “What business includes, society includes; what business values, society values,” she said.

X is for SpaceX, and its founder Elon Musk, who made headlines this year after he bought Twitter for $44bn. Who knows what the future holds for the tech entrepreneur and the social media site, after 57.8% of Twitter users voted ‘Yes’ in a poll from Musk to determine whether he should stand down as CEO.

And finally, Z is for Volodymyr Zelensky, who this year was an example of how to lead through the most challenging of conditions – with clarity, hope and strength.

Lastly, from all of us at The MBS Group, we wish you all the very best for the festive season, and a Happy New Year. Here’s to a bright, happy and healthy 2023!

The MBS News will return on Tuesday 3rd January. The next Weekend Edition will be published on Saturday 7th January.