London's Lord Mayor gets in gear for Cancer Research

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The Independent Online
The indefatigable Sir Roger Cork, Lord Mayor of London, is cycling from John O'Groats to Land's End to raise money for the Cancer Research Campaign. There's something about the obvious relish with which the Mayor, pictured here with Sheriff of Nottingham Tony Robinson, throws himself into these public activities which belies his career as an insolvency practitioner.

Happily, the only thing he will be winding up on his forthcoming escapade is his speedometer.

Mike Jackson, chief executive of Birmingham Midshires Building Society, dislikes being called "Michael" by people for the understandable reason he doesn't fancy being associated with the heavily remodelled yodeller.

Executives at Royal Bank of Scotland, which is swallowing the society, might like to know that Mike is also dead set against offices. The headquarters of the society are so open-plan they would scare agoraphobics witless, while the chief executive swishes around the place with a mobile phone in one hand and a Psion personal organiser in the other. "He can't stand the sight of paper," says one underling.

Earlier this year the society appointed a firm of head-hunters to look for a managing director, a new figure to run the society day-to-day while allowing Mr Jackson to concentrate on strategic issues.

The headhunters haven't come up with anyone yet, which is perhaps just as well. What a cost-cutter like George Mathewson, chief executive of RBS, would make of this extra layer of management is anyone's guess. It would probably have been the shortest appointment in history.

The folk at British Airports Authority take a refreshingly basic approach to the business, according to a book published this month called Property Management by BAA's group director of property, Gordon Edington. In the first chapter, "Property Traditions", Mr Edington speculates on the origins of the business: "Who is to say that Neolithic man did not allow a member of his tribe to share his cave in return for a haunch of venison each week?"

It's nice to see that John Major isn't going short of work. According to the latest issue of Business Week, Mr Major will be speaking at the Tenth Annual Business Week Symposium of Chief Executive Officers in Washington DC in October.

The mag says that CEO2000 is a "premier gathering of America's business leaders [which] will feature the CEOs of the nation's largest corporations as well as some of today's leading commentators and historians".

So which is our John - commentator or historian?

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) has a new chief executive, Dr John Hooper, and new director of business development, Julie Catherall. The duo plans to increase RoSPA's lobbying for changes in law, policies and practices, as well as focusing more on safety in education and in the home.

Perhaps this is connected with Dr Hooper listing his favourite hobby as DIY. You can get into all sorts of trouble with a wallpaper scraper.

SmithKline Beecham has poached Dr David C U'Prichard from Zeneca to be its new chairman of research and development, a prestigious appointment in the drugs industry. Dr U'Prichard (pronounced "You Prichard") joins on 1 September.

The doctor is a 49-year-old Scot. He succeeds Dr George Poste, who was recently named SmithKline's chief science and technology officer. Dr Poste is known for almost masochistic levels of hard work - reading through up to 2,000 pages of research a day, according to industry legend. He's currently giving his grey matter a rest, with a two-week holiday in Arizona.

There are scurrilous rumours circulating in the telecoms world that a group of BT bigwigs flew in to Washington recently to probe MCI's various profit warnings, only to be blocked by immigration officials. The immigration guys decided that the BT party needed "lengthy stay" visas rather than the temporary documentation they had arrived with. Does US Immigration know something about MCI we don't?

Alan C Greenberg became chairman of Bear Sterns, the Wall Street investment bank, in 1978, and since then he has helped transform it into a global player. Now he's written a book, Memos from the Chairman, which is just that: a collection of his more pungent memos to staff and fellow directors spanning the past 20 years.

"Ace" Greenberg frequently quotes his guru, a "famous philosopher" called Haimchinkel Malintz Anaynikal. One such quote: "Thou will do well in commerce as long as thou does not believe thine own odour is perfume."

Sound advice. Mr Greenberg also mentions another guru in the book, intriguingly named "Nookie". A racy place, Wall Street.