Business supremos get the gongs…

Unless you attended a two-day party in an underground bunker over New Year, you will have struggled to miss the media hype that is the New Year Honours List.

While it is often well-known actors and celebrities who capture the majority of attention, which is understandable as they add a dollop of spice and razzmatazz to proceedings, the Queen’s honours are really about highlighting ‘ordinary’ people who are doing great work.

Over the next few weeks we’re going to showcase some of these outstanding individuals who were named at New Year.

Lots of gongs are quite rightly given to business people, in fact, Business and Economy receives the second highest allocation of honours each year only exceeded by Community and Voluntary related recipients. Coupled with Philanthropists, who are often successful business people too, they play a key role in the make-up of the Honours Lists.

Having drafted well over 500 nominations, we’ve noticed a definite pattern when it comes to super successful business people. They start to channel their skills and wealth in to community and charitable ventures. They want to make the world a better place. So many successful entrepreneurs don’t get a gong just for their business achievements, they have often done a great deal to help others and that’s what the honours system is all about. Not only have they generated copious amounts of tax revenue for the Government coffers and employed lots of people, but they have also made a real difference to people’s lives. Some misguided people love to knock these ‘uber rich givers’ who play a key role in making society a better place.

The three examples below, are truly outstanding individuals who have received a knighthood or damehood.

Sir Clive Cowdery

Sir Clive (pictured above) is a highly successful insurance entrepreneur. One of the companies he founded, Friends Life — formerly known as Resolution — was sold to Aviva in the UK insurance sector’s largest transaction in 15 years. The deal netted Mr Cowdery and his business partners £220m.

Alongside Clive’s business successes, he has also been a key Philanthropist. Founding the Resolution Foundation, a social and economic research organisation which is considered to be one of the UK’s leading authorities on raising the standards of low earners in this country. Clive donated a staggering £50m to the Resolution Trust back in May last year and continues to build on his fantastic charity work. Interestingly, Clive had not been given an honour before receiving his knighthood at New Year. It is often the case that individuals have a lower honour bestowed before being awarded the top gong however Sir Clive went straight to the top of the charts.

Dame Natalie Massenet 

Fashion entrepreneur and Chairman of the British Fashion Council, Dame Natalie started her career as a journalist in the early 90’s and launched the website magazine Net-a-Porter at the turn of the Century. The business has gone from strength-to-strength and as of 2013 employed over 2,600 people worldwide and is an established £350m company.

It is well known that Natalie has played a huge part in the way designer fashion is retailed and has been described by The Observer as “fashion’s favourite self-made success story”. She received an MBE in 2009 before being made a Dame at the turn of the year for her services to the fashion and retail industries.

Sir Jack Petchey

Sir Jack, 90, born into a working class family in the East End of London, made his fortune through various business ventures. He set up the Jack Petchey Foundation in 1999, which aims to support young people, raise their aspirations and help them to play a full part in society. Over the 17 years Jack has invested over £90 million in a range of schools and youth organisations but what he gives is more than money; he brings communities together by supporting the younger generation, parents, carers, teachers and youth workers.

Jack was awarded an OBE in 2004, went on to receive a CBE in 2011 for charitable services and then was knighted in the 2016 New Year Honours for services to young people in East London and Essex through the Jack Petchey Foundation.

Congratulations to Jack, Natalie, Clive and everyone else included on the New Year’s Honours List. 

Please note: individuals profiled above are not necessarily clients of Awards Intelligence.