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Q&A: Lord Mayor of the City of London

An interview with the Chancellor of City University London and the Lord Mayor, Alderman the Lord Mountevans

by Nicola

Over the last five decades, City has had the privilege of appointing the Lord Mayor of the City of London as Chancellor. In taking office, Alderman the Lord Mountevans is the 688th Lord Mayor of the City of London, an office that has endured for more than a thousand years through 36 different Kings and Queens, two Lord Protectors and was in existence 600 years before the first British Prime minster. During the January graduation ceremonies, City is delighted to recognise the Lord Mayor for his contributions to the City of London and to mark his installation as the Chancellor of the University.

How are you finding the role of Lord Mayor?

The role of Lord Mayor is in some ways exactly what I was expecting. Everyone is so welcoming and wants you to do well in office. However, to use the cliché, no two days are the same. One minute you can be meeting the ambassador of an emerging market in Asia, and the next you’re giving a speech in front of hundreds of City figures and business leaders. Every function I attend, dinner I host, speech I give, all have a different audience and message I am trying to give. It means that each and every one of my days in office will be different in some way or another. But the enthusiasm for the City and for me to do well are some of my early reflections to take away so far.

What are your priorities for your time in office?

I’ll spend much of the year abroad, almost 100 days, selling the expertise and experience of the UK’s financial and professional services firms. But I am also looking forward to touring the regional powerhouses across the UK. I have already been to Belfast, with Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, York and Durham still to come in the next 12 months. Getting out to these place is essential and not just because they are so important for the UK’s economy, as over two-thirds of the jobs in the financial and professional services sector are found outside of London. But equally important, when I travel abroad, trying to drum up business for the UK, I want to be able to talk about the whole of the UK’s offer – not just London. It is why I am a big advocate of the Northern Powerhouse proposals. A strong economy outside of London does not come at a cost for London – on the contrary it helps supports jobs and growth in London as well.

The greatest asset that we have in the City, and in wider London, are the very people that work and live here.
Alderman the Lord Mountevans, Lord Mayor of London and Chancellor of City 

With a background in maritime – having worked at the ship brokers Clarksons for over 40 years – I am keen to strengthen the links between this sector and City. Maritime supports almost half a million jobs and contributes over twenty billion pounds to our GDP. And finally my motto for the year, “Innovate Here, Succeed Anywhere”, will be a constant theme. In essence it means that whoever you are, whatever your business, regardless of the markets you operate in or the scale of your ambition, the UK is your incubator. We have some of the best, brightest, fastest-growing companies in the world, and they’re found right here on our doorstep. I will support and encourage their growth on the global stage.

What have you learnt about City University London since becoming Chancellor?

The greatest asset that we have in the City, and in wider London, are the very people that work and live here. Making sure that we have world class education providers, like City, offering opportunities for people to challenge themselves in an intellectually demanding environment is essential to the long term success of the UK. As a nation we have a long and proud history of excellent educational institutions and City is another prime example. 

Do you have any advice for students graduating this year? 

The City is a land of opportunities for people who want to build their careers and get experience in different areas of business. 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 be enthusiastic every day. Those attributes, combined with hard work and dedication, will give you the best possible chance of success.
How could we strengthen the links between the University and City?

I think we already have a great relationship between us and I am honoured to become Chancellor of this fantastic educational institute. Students graduate at their ceremonies within the magnificent surroundings of Guildhall and I will be looking forward to hosting a dinner for friends, supporters and staff of the University at the Mansion House later this year. I would like to encourage graduates from the University to give serious thought to the City. Don’t just assume the Square Mile is full of people working in banks! There is a wealth of opportunity across different sectors and especially working for SMEs (which make up 98 per cent of firms in the City). Have a good look at what the City can offer, as I think what you might find could surprise you.

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City, University of London is an independent member institution of the University of London. Established by Royal Charter in 1836, the University of London consists of 18 independent member institutions with outstanding global reputations and several prestigious central academic bodies and activities.