Our Vibrant Capital week made me reflect on my 53 years in London since i was born near the site of the London Stadium on a cold winter's day in February.
The way my life and career have evolved, I have never spent more than 2 weeks out of London in that time. I have lived in four boroughs, been to school/university in three boroughs, worked with fifteen boroughs and I think that gives me some perspective, albeit not one from an objective distance.
I was brought up and went to school in the suburbs "Sound of the Surburbs" by the Members was the soundtrack to my early life. It wasn't very diverse or very radical in its thinking.
My working career started in a dark era of the late 80s with London losing population, the Kings Cross fire and the Clapham rail crash.
Things really started to change with the deregulation of the City of London and the beginning of the digital era. London started to grow and boom and hasn't really looked back. This has led to lots of achievements and lots of challenges.
What always struck me from my first day at working in 1986 was our diverse the workforce was even back then - very few colleagues were born in London like me but they were attracted by its glamour, its hope and opportunity and above all its opportunity to be the person you wanted to be.
There are many communities in London, but no uniform, no expectation of conforming to a particular model or way of thinking. London has always welcomed immigrants - the link between this and his success are so numerous and it’s difficult to single out individuals or groups, rather randomly i will name Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde and Mo Farah, all of immigrant background but all making such a contribution.
For London to continue to thrive, there are many things to address, travel, stress, housing and infrastructure, but to me - the real strength of London as been the people we have welcomed here, the people who grow our businesses and our cultural life and the people who are London. We will always thrive, as long as we always welcome new people and new ideas.
Find out what Londoners really think of our capital city As part of our drive to shape a Vibrant Capital, we've been investigating what it’s really like to live and work in London. To do this, we created an online forum and held workshops with Londoners and London-based Grant Thornton employees, from different ethnicities, socio-economic backgrounds, occupations, and locations (including outside of London to incorporate the commuter experience). We also surveyed 2,000 Londoners for more in-depth insights into the reality of living and working in London. These activities helped us to identify six qualities that we believe will shape London into a vibrant capital city. Here are the highlights from the workshops... “London is exciting. Diverse. Forever changing. You will always find a place to fit in.” The key theme that emerged from the workshops was how London is a place where we can all be individuals, but with an overall sense of togetherness. It was this diverse and inclusive culture that made the people we spoke to most proud of our capital city. They also thought it was unique – a dynamic, modern city of innovation and opportunity, steeped in a rich history that’s visible to all, with places like Big Ben and Buckingham Palace sitting alongside the world of business. People also highlighted the wide range of leisure activities and the availability of jobs as things that make London a great place to live and work. “London cannot survive on just the bankers, lawyers and the like. A healthy city needs all…people need to have a comfortable and decent life here.”