The evening of Tuesday 4th November saw the 2014 Odgers Berndtson annual dinner for Chief Financial Officers and Audit Chairs at London’s Plaisterers' Hall. The city venue was a suitable place to welcome some of the world’s top CFOs.
The hall was completely full with some 250 distinguished guests attending.
Kester Scrope, Chief Executive of Odgers Berndtson welcomed everyone as they sat down to dinner. He pointed out that the CFO Practice at Odgers Berndtson is now 45 years old and emphasised the ever-increasing importance of the role of the CFO in these changing and risk-laden times.
Mark Freebairn, Head of the CFO Practice followed with a warm welcome and he briefly summed up the philosophy of the Practice, being totally involved in the financial management space and he underlined how well the Practice is doing. He also updated the guests on an important football score, which, on my table, was a popular addition to the welcome addresses.
After dinner had been served, Virginia Bottomley enthusiastically introduced the guest speaker, Lionel Barber, Editor of the Financial Times. Lionel addressed the audience with a wide-ranging speech, which began by underlining the global reach and success of the FT. He went on to cover some of the tactics of being a successful editor and light-heartedly covered tricks of the trade in keeping costs under control. He said that world politics were at their most volatile since 1989 and spoke about the geo-political forces of fragmentation. The speech was challenging and insightful on the topic of the breakdown of simplistic organising principles commenting frankly about policy and behaviour of Russia, the USA and the UK. Globalisation, he believes, is in retreat. The theme echoed the introductory remarks of Kester Scrope in emphasising the changing times in which we live.
The event was remarkable for its animated conversation and warm, connected atmosphere. Speaking to guests during the event, one guest said told me “this is the one time where the financial community can come together and really talk to one another.” Another said, “The CFO Practice at Odgers Berndtson occupies a key position in financial management and this dinner is always a good occasion. I get a lot of invitations but I always say yes to this one.”
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