12 to watch in 2012

As the world of big business braces itself for another tumultuous year, these are the 12 rising stars who are set to take the City (and, in one case, Wall Street) by storm. Mark Leftly profiles the soon-to-be big names

Liv Garfield

Chief executive, BT Openreach

Fast-talking, 36-year-old mother of two, Garfield is responsible for BT's "last mile" – the copper wire that links business and homes to the phone network. She has also been charged with connecting UK homes to superfast broadband.

"We have an opportunity to transform how people live their lives; if that doesn't motivate you then nothing will," says the staunch Everton fan, who took over the £5bn-turnover division in April. "Five years from now, we could have 90 per cent of the country fibre-enabled, maybe more."

The Cambridge University graduate describes herself as "a resilient little character". But her heady success for one so young is down to a work ethic that has seen her travel all over the country for six-to-eight roundtables with staff each week.

Those meetings have resulted in a 30-point plan to improve the business, including making sure the senior team follow her lead and get out at least six times a year to "meet with the frontline".

Tom Enders

Chief executive, Airbus

Barring a major shock, Enders should soon be confirmed as chief executive of pan-European aerospace group EADS.

Insiders suggest the board will ratify his position as Louis Gallois' successor in March or April. Enders gave up the co-chief exec role in 2007, but was given Airbus to run to compensate for the political decision to move to one boss.

Alex Vanselow

Outgoing finance director, BHP Billiton

It's a brave man who quits arguably the world's most celebrated mining group after 23 years.

But, with chief exec Marius Kloppers not going anywhere soon, Vanselow leaves in February in search of a top job. His links with the credit markets means he won't be idle for long, with mutterings he could succeed Cynthia Carroll at Anglo American.

Katie Bickerstaffe

Group director marketing, people and property, Dixons Retail

Bickerstaffe is on the verge of landing one of the biggest jobs in UK electricals.

She is one of two internal candidates in the frame to lead Dixon Retail's UK business early in 2012, which will free up the group's chief exec John Browett to focus on strategy. Bickerstaffe played a key role in refreshing the Currys and PC World brands and she is spearheading the cut in its UK stores from 600-plus to about 450 shops.

Nick Cooper

Chief executive, Ophir Energy

Successful flotations were not a feature of 2011, but Lakshmi Mittal-backed Ophir raised £300m on its stock market debut.

Cooper stuck to a realistic price, earning praise from fund managers, sick of companies overvaluing their assets and business models. Ophir's prospects in Africa are already rumoured to have interested BP, unsurprising given that Cooper insists the company's assets could propel it into the FTSE 100.

Simon Dingemans

Finance director, GlaxoSmithKline

Dingemans will leave 2012 as either a hero or villain in the eyes of GSK's institutional investors.

The former Goldman Sachs rainmaker is overseeing the sale of GSK's non-core, over-the-counter healthcare brands and is under pressure to get big money: the cash will be returned to shareholders. The 48-year-old has agreed the $660m sale of North American brands, but shareholders want well over $2bn for what remains. His dealmaking savvy could see him recognised as a chief exec in the making.

Bruno Guillon

Incoming chief executive, Mulberry

Frenchman Guillon joins Mulberry from Hermes in March, and he knows his priority will be to expand the British luxury handbag maker into global markets.

Expectations are high, with analysts talking about Guillon growing revenue from £120m to more than £1bn. The 46-year-old was once international director of LVMH's watch and jewellery division. Luxury brands are all the rage among the elite in the Asia Pacific, so expect Guillon to build on agreements signed by predecessor Godfrey Davis in the region.

Sheryl Sandberg

Chief operating officer, Facebook

Across the Atlantic, one of the most eagerly anticipated listings of any year is expected in 2012: Facebook.

The flotation is expected to value the social media phenomenon at $100bn and will force reclusive founder Mark Zuckerberg into the public more often than he would like. However, Sandberg, the 42-year-old former Google star should be the big winner, having made the operation profitable. Users will look to Zuckerberg; Wall Street to Sandberg.

Ari Mervis

Chief executive, Foster's

Foster's is precious to SABMiller, having spent a cool £6.5bn on the Australian amber nectar in one of 2011's most spectacular deals.

Shortly after getting regulatory approval for the deal in November, SAB replaced Foster's boss John Poellars with 46-year-old Mervis, one of the company's most trusted lieutenants.

For the previous four years, Mervis headed up SAB's Asia empire, a role he retains on top of his responsibility to integrate Foster's with the rest of the $28.3bn-turnover giant.

Nathan Bostock

Head of restructuring and risk, RBS

Already off with stress, Lloyds Banking Group boss Antonio Horta-Osorio's mood surely darkened when Bostock decided to stay at RBS.

The toxic loans specialist changed his mind about heading up Lloyds' wholesale banking in November amid claims, since denied, that RBS stumped up extra cash to keep him. Some analysts have tipped Bostock to succeed the man who recruited him to sort out RBS's bad assets, chief executive Stephen Hester.

Martin Wheatley

Chief executive designate, Financial Conduct Authority

Wheatley, the former head of the Hong Kong stock exchange watchdog, will become arguably the UK's most powerful regulator this year.

The FCA will be one of two successors to the oft-criticised Financial Services Authority. Wheatley's tasks will be to restore confidence in financial services, protect consumers and regulate the retail and wholesale markets. The Prudential Regulation Authority will oversee banks more directly.

Andrew Owens

Chief executive, Greenergy

Greenergy is the UK's least-known big company: it supplies 10bn tonnes of diesel, petrol and biofuel every day, is part-owned by Tesco – also a customer – and has the third-highest revenue among private firms.

In the firm's 20th year, 49-year-old founder Owens is finalising future plans, after speculation that he wants to take it public. Bankers are reviewing options, including building through acquisition or issuing bonds. But staff will be offered share options before the company's year-end in April, suggesting listing is still the preferred choice. "A flotation is a growing-up stepping stone for a business," admits Owens. The problem is that Greenergy runs on thin margins – just £17m profit off a £9.8bn turnover in 2010/11 – so it will struggle to get a strong valuation in a volatile market. "The company is in good shape for public markets, but markets are not in good shape for the company," sighs Owens.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister
TVSPOILER ALERT: It's all coming together as series returns to form
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Neil Pavier: Management Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you looking for your next opportunity for ...

Sheridan Maine: Commercial Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ACA/ACCA/ACMA qua...

Laura Norton: Project Accountant

£50,000 - £60,000: Laura Norton: Are you looking for an opportunity within a w...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine