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
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Sport
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
News
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
people
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
News
i100
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
News
i100
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

Ashdown Group: Graduate Application Support Analyst

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Reach Volunteering: External Finance Trustee Needed!

Voluntary post, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Would you ...

Christine McCleave: FP&A Analyst

£36,000 - £40,000: Christine McCleave: Are you looking for a new opportunity a...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot