While Nick Land, the bullish chairman of Ernst & Young, was cracking open
the bubbly after the collapse of the Equitable case, two candidates were quietly
being put forward in the race for his successor.
Jock Lennox, global leader for industrial products, and Mark Otty, managing
partner of the London industrial and commerce office, have both been nominated
to run in a rather grand election process reminiscent of political leadership
elections. The winner will be announced in December.
It will be no surprise that both Lennox and Otty are E&Y men through and
through, serving the firm for nearly fifty years between them. But their choice
as candidates for the top UK job has raised eyebrows among Big Four watchers,
with neither having a major political profile nor serving on Land’s executive
The fact that none of Land’s three right hand men was chosen as a candidate
suggests the 400-plus UK partners, and perhaps Land himself, are looking for a
different, more youthful style of leadership to move the firm forward after his
Otty, just 41, is already thought to be the frontrunner and, if appointed,
would be the youngest-ever E&Y chairman, which would sit well for the firm’s
image as cutting edge. He is a known high flier, describing himself as someone
who likes to ‘win and be part of a winning team’. He has already served as
deputy chairman in his native South Africa before moving to the UK five years
Perhaps more crucially, Otty has demonstrated an ability to move between
practices – a useful trait for the electing partners and council. He is now the
managing partner of E&Y’s London industrial and commercial office, which is
split into audit and tax and has 1,000 staff.
Lennox, 49, is perhaps the more traditional choice for chairman. After
joining E&Y in 1977, Lennox has a long track record of working closely with
business, first as head of owner-managed services in the 1990s and then as UK
and global leader for industrial products.
Lennox may not have demonstrated as much adaptability as Otty, but he has
mastered his brief well, helping to create E&Y’s entrepreneurial services,
acting as industry spokesman for business on areas such as the economy, and
maintaining the firm’s multinational clients such as AstraZeneca, BAE Systems
and Hanson. In this respect, and his global position, Lennox does have a higher
profile and a proven record in keeping the big business names on track.
But both candidates will first have to endure a few stints on the hustings,
which will no doubt sift out the obvious choice. Partners have already been
consulted, apparently choosing both of them, but there will now be a series of
meetings, before Land and his council make their final decision.
As a painful, but finally victorious saga for E&Y comes to a close with
Equitable Life, all eyes will be on the next chairman who will lead the firm
onto a new chapter.
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