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Seven years on from the onset of the global financial crisis, the world is recovering, but only slowly. The scars left by the credit boom — reckless lending, a spectacular bust in real estate and a sovereign debt crisis in Europe — are still present. And political risk has returned, with a vengeance.
The Middle East is ablaze from Iraq to Libya and Syria, each the breeding ground for radical Islam. To the east, Vladimir Putin’s Russia has redrawn the borders of Europe by force, fuelling a stealth war in Ukraine. China’s spectacular economic growth is slowing down. The spectre of deflation stalks the world economy.
Alongside these geopolitical and economic risks, a broader debate is unfolding between “secular innovation” and “secular stagnation”, between optimists with faith in the power of technology and the pessimists worried that technology is destroying jobs and fundamentally changing the way we work. Inequality has become a rallying call across the European continent, where populist parties are on the rise.
Disruption provides the context for the 2015 Boldness in Business Awards, jointly sponsored by the Financial Times and ArcelorMittal, the international steelmaker. Now in their seventh year, these awards are pre-eminent in their field, drawing on businesses in a variety of sectors, from banking to manufacturing and high technology.
The good news is that we have once again spread our net across the world, from the advanced industrialised west to faster-growing emerging markets in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The winners — rigorously sifted and selected — emerged from a strong field in the categories of Drivers of Change, Corporate Responsibility/Environment, Technology, Entrepreneurship, Developing Markets, Smaller Company and, finally, our Person of the Year.
I would like to thank the panel of judges for their expert contributions. Their accumulated knowledge and expertise in the world of business and finance have once again proved indispensable. Finally, my thanks go to Lakshmi Mittal, co-chair of the judges, for supporting this important set of awards.
● Lionel Barber, editor of the Financial Times since November 2005
● Lakshmi Mittal, chairman and chief executive of ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steelmaker
● Edward Bonham Carter, vice-chairman of Jupiter Fund Management
● Leo Johnson, PwC partner and co-author of Turnaround Challenge: Business and the City of the Future
● Anne Méaux, founder and president of Image Sept, a Paris-based public affairs and media relations consultancy
● Luke Johnson, chairman of private equity group Risk Capital Partners
● Peter Tufano, professor of finance and Peter Moores dean at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford
● Robert Armstrong, head of the Lex column at the Financial Times