Birkbeck, University of London > News > Interview with the Lord Mayor of London

Interview with the Lord Mayor of London

The Lord Mayor of London praised Birkbeck and explained his role as “salesman for the City” in an interview for Birkbeck. He spoke about the benefits of education and careers in the City in the series of answers.

In November 2014, Alan Yarrow – a distinguished financier and alderman – became the Lord Mayor of London. The Lord Mayor of London automatically becomes the Vice-President of Birkbeck during his or her one-year term of office.

What is your reaction to becoming Vice-President of Birkbeck?

I am honoured to be taking up the position of Vice-President at Birkbeck. The greatest assets that we have in the City, and wider London, are the very people that work and live here. Making sure that we have world class education providers, like Birkbeck, offering opportunities for people to challenge themselves in an intellectually demanding environment is essential to the long term success of the UK.

What  is the role of Birkbeck in the capital?

By providing opportunities to study for students from diverse social and educational backgrounds, Birkbeck offers an inclusive and challenging environment for those wanting to learn and acquire new skills. In fact I am particularly keen on Birkbeck since your Master, Professor David Latchman CBE, advises the City of London Corporation on the fantastic Mansion House Scholarship scheme, which supports overseas students studying at British universities.

Given your distinguished career at Kleinwort Benson and your chairmanship of prominent financial organisations, including the London Investment Banking Association, what advice would you give to students planning to establish careers in the City?

My advice would be to throw yourself into whatever area of work you have an interest in, meet as many new people as possible and bring an infectious enthusiasm with you every day. Those attributes, combined with hard work and dedication, will mean students see first-hand how the City offers up so many possibilities and opportunities.

Could you please summarise the role of the Lord Mayor?

My role is to act as an ambassador for the City and promote it as the leading financial centre in the world. I champion not just the Square Mile, but the whole of UK plc, as the number one destination to do business.  I am able to pull the right people into the right meetings – presidents, prime ministers, governors of central banks and finance ministers.

Travel is an integral part of your role as the global ambassador for the City. What are your travel plans in 2015?

I’m going to spend around 100 days overseas so it is going to be a busy time. This will take in India, China, the Gulf, South America, South East Asia and Central and South America to name but a few. There is also an extensive domestic schedule set up as well where I will be visiting a number of cities across the UK including Manchester, Liverpool, Bournemouth, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

What are you most looking forward to during your year as Lord Mayor?

As the 687th person to hold the position as Lord Mayor of the City I will be following a long and illustrious list of predecessors. Being part of that tradition and history is something I will really enjoy.

With my background in investment banking I’m also looking forward to taking on the role as salesman for the City. I will look to do all I can to help the world’s leading financial district go from strength to strength.

But I also want to make this the year of the volunteer – celebrating the City workers who create wealth, give time and support people. In addition, being able to support two charities close to mine and my family’s  heart – Scope and Mencap – is something that I am thrilled about. They will be the main beneficiaries of my Appeal and I have a jam packed programme of events and opportunities to help raise funds. My hope is that we raise over £1.5 million for this year’s Appeal, which is an ambitious but achievable target.

Published: 16 December 2014