The Financial News Extra Mile 40 was set up to recognise the achievements of those who make the biggest contribution to helping others, not just in terms of money, but also in terms of time and innovation in the City.
Nominations poured in – there were more than 100 in all – with the good deeds taking a rich variety of forms, ranging from incredible fundraising feats to bankers using their finance skills to help charities grow. Some had harnessed the power of capital markets, while others had given up lucrative careers in the City to take leading roles in the voluntary sector.
The resulting list, judged by a panel of leading philanthropy figures, is incredibly diverse.
The nominees came from across all the sectors that FN covers.
James Thomas, from private equity firm Phoenix Equity Partners, has helped establish a remarkable charity that rescues women and children from slavery; Natasha Kirby, from HSBC, rode a pedalo 500 miles around stormy Scottish waters to raise funds to fight cancer; Guy Gibson, the co-founder of brokerage Aviate, set up a trading day that raised more than $500,000 after being moved by the plight of children in war zones.
A Young Achievers category was added to the list after a swathe of candidates in their 20s emerged, such as 29-year-old Adeola Onasanwo, who set up her own female mentorship programme called P!nk Dynasty to bring a new wave of women into finance.
Ultimately, the message of the FN Extra Mile 40 is one of hope and optimism, especially in the huge numbers of those who have not let a lack of experience or severe obstacles in life stop them from pursuing groundbreaking initiatives.
Narrowing down the list to just 40 from the dozens of worthy nominations was a difficult task – “all are worthy of mention,” said one of the judges Harvey McGrath – but, hopefully, the resulting list will prove an inspiration to others and a well-deserved pat on the back for these remarkable individuals.
And, maybe, it will provide just a little shot in the arm to those who believe that generosity, and indeed diversity, are more a part of life in the City than many tend to assume.
• How the list was decided
From more than 100 nominations, the FN editorial team chose a shortlist of 60, which we presented to judging panel of philanthropy figures from the City at a meeting in September. From those discussions, the final 40 were chosen. It was a tough task – the nominees included three Everest climbers, a host of multimillion-pound donors and dozens of fundraisers who had generated mind-boggling amounts for charity.
For the categories, they deliberately set wide parameters to include:
Givers – who donated large sums to good causes.
Doers – who donated skills or had done great voluntary work. Campaigners – who achieved a law change or raised awareness. Pioneers – who were responsible for groundbreaking initiatives. Fundraisers – who raised large sums for charities. Role models – who set an example to others. Young achievers – who were under 30, behind innovative projects.
Appropriately for the finance community, impact and leverage became key themes, with the ideal candidates showing not just that they had donated their time or money, but were also committed to making a long-term difference.
BNP Paribas is delighted that Maya Mehta, capital finance lawyer is recognised in this report for her significant personal and professional contributions to corporate social responsibility and philanthropy.
Capital Markets Lawyer, BNP Paribas
Mehta has long used her legal skills to help others. When she was based in Hong Kong with her previous law firm, Clifford Chance, she helped migrant workers abused by employers. She also established a long-running weekly surgery offering free advice for Asian women suffering from domestic violence in Newham, London.
“I realised that by simply using my professional skills, by listening and offering support, I could help give victims of abuse a voice.”
Maya developed a strong interest in microfinance when at Clifford Chance, launching a global microfinance group offering free legal support to schemes that make small loans to help the rural poor develop businesses to support their families. Since joining BNP Paribas in 2011, Mehta has helped set up the UK arm of MicroFinance Sans Frontieres, a group that provides pro bono aid to microfinance institutions in developing countries.
For further information:
BNP Paribas CSR
BNP Paribas Micro Finance Sans Frontiers
Financial News Extra Mile 40