Nursing an ambition to succeed on the buses

People & Business
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The Independent Online
Ann Gloag may now preside over the pounds 1.4bn Stagecoach transport empire which she co-founded with her brother Brian Souter, but she spent most of her earlier life as a nurse. So it is entirely appropriate that she should donate pounds 180,000 to the Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, to found a new academic chair in nursing.

Mrs Gloag says: "I remember my 20 years in nursing, years I greatly enjoyed. It was always my intention to succeed in business and when I did to do something positive to help young people who have chosen a career in nursing."

The Ann Gloag Chair of Nursing (Development) will reside in the University's associate faculty of nursing, midwifery and community studies. Mrs Gloag's donation will fund the chair for three years.

While most of us may be expecting a reasonably healthy UK economy for another two years or so, the insolvency profession is already gearing up for the next crash. This month's issue of Legal Business magazine carries the following blood-curdling full-page job ad: "Liquidation. Receivership. Bankruptcy. (A few cheering words for insolvency lawyers.) What goes around comes around. When the next recession arrives our client, one of London's most profitable and progressive law firms, will be more than prepared to take advantage of it."

Jonathan Brenner, whose recruitment consultancy, Zarak Macrae Brenner, placed the ad, says the law firm involved is "banking on a dip in the economy in about 18 months' time". You heard it here first. And the lucky lawyer to get the job will be paid up to pounds 300,000. It's an ill wind, and all that.

My heartiest congratulations go to Mark Herbert, an old pal of mine who has just been appointed director of communications at TI Group, the international engineering business.

Mr Herbert, 38, has already racked up considerable experience in corporate spin-doctoring. He managed corporate communications for Lucas Industries, and had stints at two consultancies, Shandwick and Lowe Bell Financial.

But those of us who attended Birmingham University with Mark 17 years ago think of him in quite different terms; primarily as a songwriter for a rock group called the Struggling Artists, a beat combo of note in the early 1980s - well, in the Selly Oak area, anyway. Mark penned the lyrics for "You want to know" and other campus classics.

"It was all a long time ago," Mark murmurs, modestly. Well a pedigree like that is nothing to be embarrassed about. Tony Blair, after all, is famous for having played in a rock group called Ugly Rumours while at university, and it didn't do him any harm.

The London Investment Banking Association (LIBA) has just published its annual report, and interesting reading it makes. Under the heading "Regulatory Developments," LIBA mentions the collapse of Barings, the miss-selling of pensions and the Maxwell affair.

It observes: "It must, nevertheless, be questioned how far any of these failures was the result of the structure of the regulatory regime, and whether a shuffling of that structure is the best way to give assurance that the next decade will be freer of such episodes."

I see that LIBA does not mention certain other recent episodes, such as the aborted bid for the Co-op by Andrew Regan, which drew down such furious criticism upon the head of Sir Chips Keswick, chairman of Hambros. As it happens, Sir Chips is also a member of LIBA's chairman's committee, and himself chairs LIBA's banking committee. Alas, LIBA may see some "shuffling" of regulatory structures yet.

Lord Alexander is nearly ready to unveil the newly refurbished NatWest Tower in the heart of the City, four years after the Bishopsgate bombing. NatWest's chairman has decided that the tower's floors are too small for the demands of modern banking, which requires large dealing floors.

He is therefore offering to rent the landmark office building out as a "sophisticated multi-tenanted office complex" where NatWest will supply all sorts of state-of-the-art services and amenities. Makes a change from traded options, I suppose.