People & Business: Scardino presents the prizes and receives one

It has been a busy few days for Marjorie Scardino, the Pearson boss. Yesterday she presented the prizes to the winning analysts in the annual Extel Survey. Then last night she hosted a reception for Pearson staff at the National Gallery, London, which is holding an exhibition dedicated to Seurat, the painter.

Today la Scardino receives an honorary fellowship from the London Business School in recognition of her "outstanding contribution to business".

Other winners of this accolade today include Lord Blyth of Rowington, chief executive of Boots, and Peter Sutherland, chief executive and managing director of Goldman Sachs International.

The gongs are being presented by the Princess Royal, who is Chancellor of the University of London.

Two former faculty members of the LBS receive Fellowships, Sir Alan Budd, a member of the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee, and Sir James Ball, professor of economics at the LBS.

Ewen Macpherson, chief executive of 3i, bags an Alumni Achievement Award, "to mark his success in business since graduating from LBS in 1970".

Alarming news from the accountancy profession: "Ernst & Young's entrepreneurial services practice grows two heads." Does this press announcement mean E&Y's auditors have spent too much time in nuclear power stations?

Happily, it concerns David Wilkinson, who has been appointed national head of entrepreneurial services at the firm, and Patrick Stevens, who takes over the London side of the division. The operation, as its name implies, provides auditing and consultancy services for owner-managed businesses.

Mr Wilkinson comments: "I am taking over the helm ... at a time when many in the outside world probably think that the enterprise boom peaked under Mrs Thatcher.

"Nothing could be further from the truth, as some of the work I have been in involved in over the past year demonstrates, and I believe the upward trend is set to continue." So there.

My faith in a rational universe has taken another knock. We keep hearing that the new era of digital television will soon see us choosing from "500 channels". In a new book on Bill Gates and Microsoft, Overdrive, by James Wallace, we learn that John Malone, head of Tele-Communications Inc (TCI), the American cable giant, originally coined the term "500 channels" quite by accident.

"In an announcement by Malone on 2 December 1992, to reveal that TCI was going to build digital compression technology into its cable operations, Malone had picked the hypothetical number out of thin air. But it was a good round number and it stuck."

Smokers in the US might enjoy the latest marketing wheeze from Glaxo Wellcome. The company's new pill to help people quit smoking and declare their independence from cigarettes is making its way to drug stores in time for 4 July.

Forget those old-fashioned patches and nicotine gum. Glaxo's Zyban tablets offer smokers a nicotine-free way to quit the weed. Dr Michael Fiore, director of tobacco research at Wisconsin University, is gung-ho about the marketing idea. "There is no better time to declare your independence from nicotine," he declares. Zyban sounds like an altogether good thing. Compared to gum and patches, patients taking Zyban are less cantankerous than your average ciggy quitter and crave less.

Perusing the acres of economic analysis of Gordon Brown's first Budget, it is refreshing to turn to William Davis's latest book (his fourteenth) called Great Myths of Business. The veteran City journalist takes a flail to the dismal science in an acidic chapter: "The myth that economics reflects reality."

Mr Davis, a former head of the British Tourist Board and ex-editor of Punch, writes: "This is certainly true of the people who call themselves economists. They have great influence but few seem to know how to make a fortune or run a company."

Mr Davis writes that during his years as a financial editor of the Guardian in the 1960s he saw how badly economists served Harold Wilson, himself a former Oxford don. Wilson set up a Department of Economic Affairs to revitalise Britain, and put the colourful George Brown at its head. It soon ended in tears, and was scrapped. Let us hope Gordon Brown's Wise People are better value.

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