LIFE Chairman's Annual Letter 2017
20 Jan 2017
Dear LIFE members and friends,
Thanks to your efforts and continued support, 2016 was an exciting year for LIFE which finished on a high with the successful investment summit in Beirut on December 22nd.
I would like to mark the beginning of the year by reflecting on our progress and achievements during 2016 and highlight what lies ahead.
Our members enjoyed a rich event programme during 2016 with over 100 events globally, offering everyone opportunities to network and to discuss relevant industry topics. These events ranged from local mixers with juniors and seniors, dedicated events for junior careers, talks among senior LIFE members, to very exclusive events for VPMs and seniors such as the private dinner with John Mack. The first LIFE Global Quiz was a particular highlight, connecting our ten chapters simultaneously and brought together members and friends from Hong Kong to Montreal.
LIFE’s 4th Gala Dinner at the Natural History Museum in London was another remarkable achievement of the year. More than 400 guests attended and we raised US$1.1m to support our Nurture Programme. We are already working on the organisation of the 5th Gala which will be held in London in the autumn of 2017 and promises to be the best yet.
2016 witnessed significant growth in our senior membership (+30%, from 350 to 444) with our plan calling for us to exceed 500 for 2017. Going forward, our priority is to continue to sharpen the value proposition and to continue to grow our membership base while maintaining our membership standards. We feel this can be achieved by reaching out to more systematically in finance-related areas such as Strategic Consulting, Capital Markets and M&A Law and Insurance.
In addition, following the recent launch of our Sydney chapter, we plan to explore the establishment of a Washington D.C. chapter and activating further our Montreal and Toronto memberships.
We also plan to implement the LIFE Ambassador initiative through the designation of a dedicated senior representative within each of the top 12 financial institutions globally, in order to create synergies within the organisation across the sector industry and engage more members within and across these organisations.
Finally, we are thrilled to confirm that our Leadership Offsite will take place in London from 21st to 23rd April 2017. During this event LIFE’s most senior members meet every two years to network and, through constructive debates, set the tone for the key strategic vision and direction of our organisation.
Our Nurture pillar has reached the important milestone of 150 scholarships awarded since LIFE inception! This past year we awarded 36 scholarships, the largest pool of LIFE scholars to date.
Mentors have been assigned to each scholar and those based in Beirut are benefiting from our Social Skills Training programme, designed to polish and sharpen their abilities in a professional context.
Looking ahead, we will focus on building a strong sense of community amongst our Alumni group.
A series of events will be scheduled worldwide across LIFE’s chapters to encourage those students who have benefited from LIFE’s support to give back to the community in order to continue the cycle of giving. I was particularly moved when attending a recent event for LIFE in Washington DC where I met a young man who had graduated as a LIFE scholar, secured a job at a financial institution and has now become a LIFE junior member!
Thanks to our 20 Academic Partnerships, our scholarship programme is now promoted within the most renowned business schools in Europe, the USA and Lebanon, increasing our visibility tremendously. In 2017 we are planning to further develop our relationships with our existing partners to create additional value to our scholars and members.
Our Career Advancement programme has also grown significantly, tackling the difficult job market conditions in the financial services industry globally. We have created more than 150 targeted networking opportunities on career questions, sourced and posted close to 100 vacancies on our website which in turn allowed for 35 members and scholars to find a job or an internship.
In 2017 we will carry on developing this programme with targeted career events that will cater for our members’ needs in light of the challenging job market conditions.
2016 was a breakout year for our promote activities with important progress made across a number of initiatives.
Lebanon for Entrepreneurs (LFE) has continued to deliver important milestones such as mentoring and fundraising for a batch of start-ups, co-founding Accelerator Speed@BDD and successfully lobbying for the passing of 3 essential laws for the local ecosystem. We are now establishing an Entrepreneurship Resource Center that will serve as a one-stop shop for Lebanese tech entrepreneurs and a focal point for expatriates’ involvement in the local start-up ecosystem, notably in partnership with Lebnet, the network of Lebanese-American hi-tech professionals.
Our partnership with Moody’s Copal Amba aiming at directly creating jobs in the Lebanese economy, is now giving Lebanese and Lebanese-owned financial services businesses globally an opportunity to tap into local talent in Lebanon through investment banking and financial institution outsourcing services, while providing a new employment and training opportunity for young Lebanese.
The Invest in Lebanon initiative, created to encourage the diaspora to invest in SMEs and Lebanese start-ups, held the 3rd edition of the Global Business Summit this past December which proved to be a resounding success in terms of participants and content quality. Media coverage was extensive and most favourable to LIFE. In the immediate wake of the summit, LIFE received an invitation to establish a permanent communication channel with the Prime Minister’s office in order to advise on solutions to some of the most significant problems the country is dealing with: Public Finance, Infrastructures, Investments and Business Regulation.
After a successful 2016 of scaling up and staffing, our Promote pillar is well primed for strong growth in 2017. For example, in addition to the above ongoing work, we intend to launch a Capital Market Advisory Sounding Board whereby LIFE would advise the Capital Market Authority (CMA) on regulatory and development issues by putting at its disposal LIFE’s substantial expertise and experience in capital markets, wealth and asset management.
Marketing & Communications
Our Marketing and Communication platform aims to bring to you our messages and services in an easy and clear manner. We have been active in showcasing our activities on our website and social media platform where followers have increased in number and engagement at a steady pace. We have streamed live the LDE North American Conference during which we have received The Orphalese Outstanding Achievement Award from the hands of the Lebanese Minister of Foreign Affairs and put online the pictures of more than 30 events through our #lifepics initiative. Our PR activities resulted in positive attention from the media, particularly after the 3rd Global Business Summit.
None of this progress would have been possible without our members and donors, the organisations, foundations and individuals who make it possible for LIFE to exist. In order to strengthen and preserve LIFE, we have recently enlarged the Fundraising Committee and raised US$1.8m of our US$3m Cushion campaign announced last year. We are also delighted to announce that LIFE Generation USA, our new entity established for charitable purposes, has been awarded 501C3 status, enabling our donors in the USA to make tax effective contributions to our Nurture Programme.
During 2016 we welcomed a new member to the Advisory Board, Raymond Debbane, President and CEO of the Invus Group.
We also saw Paola Barbarino stepping down as LIFE’s CEO in September. In this transition phase, my gratitude goes especially to those members appointed by the Board to the Search and the Operating Committees for their time and dedication to the selection of the successful candidate and for running the day-to-day activities of LIFE.
It is thanks to your commitment that LIFE is becoming the pre-eminent organisation for the Lebanese in the diaspora, enriching our lives and changing for the better the lives of so many young Lebanese!
With my best wishes for the New Year
Marc on behalf of the Board