Professor Michael Mainelli

Michael co-founded Z/Yen, the City of London’s leading commercial think-tank and venture firm, in 1994 to promote societal advance through better finance and technology. Z/Yen boasts a core team of respected professionals as well as numerous associates, and is well-capitalised due to successful spin-outs and ventures. Michael’s career summary is a decade of technology research, followed by a decade in finance, then nearly two decades at Z/Yen. Educated at Harvard, Trinity College Dublin and the London School of Economics, where his PhD was in the application of risk/reward methodologies involving chaotic systems, Michael’s early scientific research in aerospace (rocket science) and computer graphics led to him starting Swiss companies in seismology, cartography and energy information. Michael spent seven years as a senior partner and board member of the leading accountancy firm, BDO Binder Hamlyn, directing global consulting projects. Michael served as a Director of Europe’s largest R&D organisation (DERA) leading to two privatisations. Career highlights include:

  • creating Z/Yen’s Long Finance, Global Financial Centres Index, London Accord, Global Intellectual Property Index, Farsight Award and other initiatives;
  • developing a £100 million business within the UK Ministry of Defence operating as a senior civil servant (military 2-star equivalent) commercialising defence technology;
  • growing an accountancy consultancy, BDO Consulting, profitably to 100 people with global privatisation, finance, technology, government, services and NGO clients;
  • conceiving and producing the first complete digital map of the world in 1983, Mundocart, the as well as the $20 million Geodat consortium cartography project (a 1980’s Google Earth).

Michael’s speciality is enhancing the performance of profit-making, charitable and government organisations and investments in conditions of high uncertainty. Michael has worked in the public sector on privatisations and strategy; in the private sector in a variety of industries (banking, insurance, manufacturing, media, retail, utilities, television, distribution) on problems ranging from strategy through information systems, quality, human resources, environmental systems and R&D; and in the voluntary sector on a number of assignments to improve performance. For example, Michael has led our studies of global investment banks’ operations & IT strategy, worked as Chief Technology Officer for a cancer detection technology firm, built a global website to aid young people’s understanding of financial markets through an innovative game and helped the UK Cabinet Office Strategy Unit develop sustainable UK fishing policies.

A qualified accountant, securities professional, computer specialist and management consultant, Michael was designated a Gentiluomo of the Associazione Cavalieri di San Silvestro in 2011, won a 1996 UK Foresight Challenge award for the Financial Laboratory, a 2003 UK Smart Award for our PropheZy prediction software, and was British Computer Society Director of the Year in 2005. Michael’s biggest honour was the Mercers’ School Memorial Professor of Commerce chair (2005-2009) at Gresham College, founding home of the Royal Society. Michael remains Emeritus Professor, Fellow and Trustee of Gresham College. Michael is a non-executive Director of the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UK’s national body for standards and laboratories), Sirius Minerals plc, Wishbone Gold Plc, an Almoner for Christ’s Hospital School, and Trustee of International Fund for Animal Welfare. Michael has held numerous advisory posts, for example with LSE, Hitachi UK, City University and HM Treasury, as well as sitting on editorial boards for the Journal of Strategic Change and Journal of Business Strategy. Michael is a Freeman of the City of London and a Liveryman of the World Traders. Michael has published over 40 journal articles, 150 commercial articles and four books. Michael’s humorous risk/reward management novel, Clean Business Cuisine: Now and Z/Yen, written with Ian Harris, was a Sunday Times Book of the Week in 2000; Accountancy Age described it as “surprisingly funny considering it is written by a couple of accountants”. Their third co-authored book, The Price of Fish: A New Approach to Wicked Economics and Better Decisions, won the 2012 Independent Publisher Book Awards Finance, Investment & Economics Gold Prize. Michael loves skiing, dabbling in languages and racing modern or classic sailboats. With his wife, Elisabeth, he is restoring the 1923 Thames Sailing Barge Lady Daphne and sits on the world’s oldest sailing racing body, the Thames Match. He speaks English, German, Italian and French poorly, but much worse Spanish and Chinese. Michael’s articles can be read here. And a bit of fun – travels over time (in red):

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