Attention-seeking strategies were the order of the day at Mipim – from Twittering to leaping from moving buses – but if you find yourself in Bogotá, it’s probably best to keep your head down...
Confessions of a Mipimer
Vaughan Burnand, the outspoken former chief executive of Shepherd Construction, seems to have found a new lease of life online. The jovial Burnand’s Twitter updates from Mipim were a ray of light for those of us trapped in London. “This is rubbish,” went one. “We are being treated like cattle!” “This cocktail party is poo”, went another.
He even wrote about being kicked out of the Turner & Townsend dinner. A setback certainly, but not the end of the night for Burnand. “I took two lovely ladies for dinner,” he tweeted, intriguingly. You can follow his refreshingly honest updates at @Vaughan Burnand. Full marks, we say.
If your name’s not down...
Passions ran high when the top brass of the Homes and Communities Agency held an exclusive dinner in one of Cannes’ very nicest restaurants. Scandalised sources inform me that the heads of some London-based regeneration bodies did their best to crash the party, but were turned away by the maitre d’. “Let us in!” one chief executive was heard to scream. “That’s taxpayers’ money they’re spending in there, and we have a right to eat!” Meanwhile the Greater London Authority dinner taking place at the same time across town was, we hear, as quiet as the grave.
Mayor in Playfully Ironic Mood
Does anyone actually know what Mipim stands for? Apparently not, according to Boris Johnson, who claimed to have conducted a thorough investigation into the issue on his flight to France. But true to form, the mayor had a few suggestions – “Meet Me in the Pool in a Minute?” and “May I Push You Into the Mediterranean?” were firm favourites. His final idea – “Multitudes of Investors Prepared to Invest Millions” – was just too far-fetched.
A giant leap for man
An edge of desperation was in the air at this year’s Mipim. Shmoozing took on a manic quality as delegates competed to grab what little work there was. But one consultant took the whole thing to unlikely, and dangerous, extremes. On the way back from an out-of-town dinner hosted by Hurley Palmer Flatt, a guest spied a contact walking along the nearby pavement and promptly leaped from a moving minibus to seize him and five minutes of his time. The kamikaze-style feat attracted few raised eyebrows from the rest of the group – it was all in a day’s work it seems.
More overseas news, but this time from even further afield than the Cote d’Azur. Nicholas Thompson, chief executive of architect Aukett Fitzroy Robinson, is responsible for more than 30 global offices. But there is one, it seems, where staff can escape the boss’ scrutiny altogether: Bogotá. “I haven’t been and I’ve no plans to go until the kidnap rate falls below one a day,” he says. He has instead left the Colombian patch to Raul Curiel, chairman of the company’s European operations, because of his Hispanic background. “He’s much less likely to get kidnapped than me.” That must be a great comfort for you, Raul.
Back on British soil, one of my colleagues had an embarrassing run-in with the Unite trade union this week. Having been invited to a crunch meeting in central London, our intrepid reporter attempted to keep a low profile – not easy when you’re at least 20 years younger than everyone else in the room, and even harder when you’re the only female attendee. Despite a hearty welcome from the more friendly brothers, one of the union leaders swiftly descended on the Building’s hack, propelled her towards the exit in front of the entire room, and even slammed the doors shut behind her. And I thought these union chaps were gentlemen. It’s almost as if they had something to hide, isn’t it?
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