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 over two decades at Z/Yen combining technology and finance.
Educated at Harvard, Trinity College Dublin, and the London School of Economics, where he was also a Visiting Professor. His PhD in 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 accountancy firm, BDO Binder Hamlyn directing global consulting projects. In the 1990’s Michael served as a Director of Europe’s largest R&D organisation, the Ministry of Defence’s Defence Evaluation & Research Agency (DERA), leading to two privatisations. During a spell in merchant banking with Deutsche Morgan Grenfell, he co-founded Z/Yen, the City of London’s leading commercial think-tank. Career highlights include:
- creating Z/Yen’s Long Finance, Global Financial Centres Index, Global Green Finance 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 (grade 3, 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);
- investment successes, e.g. charitable foundations, building Sirius Minerals plc to £450M+ valuation, floating US$160M medical imagery firm, several large UK privatisations.
A qualified accountant, securities professional, computer specialist and management consultant, 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 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.
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 PropheZy prediction software, was British Computer Society Director of the Year in 2005, made a Fellow of Goodenough College in 2016, and given Hons by the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment in 2018. 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 accreditation body for standards and laboratories), Sirius Minerals plc, Wishbone Gold Plc, an Almoner for Christ’s Hospital School, Council Member at City & Guilds, and Trustee of Morden College, and represents City SMEs and industrial strategy on HM BEIS Professional & Business Services Council. Michael has held numerous advisory posts, for example with Hitachi UK, City University, HM Treasury, and the London Waterways Commission, 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, a Liveryman of the World Traders where he was Master 2017-2018, a Craft-Owning Freeman of the Company of Watermen & Lightermen, an Honorary Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers, Worshipful Company of Water Conservators, Worshipful Company of Marketors, Worshipful Company of Tax Advisers, Worshipful Company of International Bankers, as well as President of Broad Street Ward Club, member of Lime Street Ward Club & Farringdon Ward Club, and a former Chairman of the Real Time Club.
Michael has published over 50 journal articles, 200 commercial articles and Six 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, woodcarving, dabbling in languages and racing modern or classic sailboats as a member of the Royal Offshore Racing Club. With his wife, Elisabeth, he restored the 1923 Thames Sailing Barge Lady Daphne from 1996 to 2017 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: