2017 in business: A year in review

On the 12th day of Christmas, my true love said MT... here are our picks of 2017.

by Arun Kakar
Last Updated: 19 Dec 2017

Well, what a year. ‘From Brexit to fake news, from the plunging pound to the Paradise Papers, 2017 has lacked many things – political direction, economic stability and common sense – but one thing no one can accuse it of is lacking interest,’ wrote Andrew Saunders in the introduction to Britain’s Most Admired Companies.

Here, we’ve compiled a Christmas dinner’s worth of our most interesting and thought-provoking pieces from the last year for you to feast on. We’ve even carved it up into monthly installments, leaving a few trimmings at the end for those wanting seconds.

We hope you enjoy them and wish you all a happy Christmas and prosperous 2018.

January - Vicki Maguire, Grey London: 'Most ad agencies are misogynist, shitty places'

Vicki Maguire is the bright, ballsy executive creative director at ad agency Grey London and the first female chair of the ad education/ award body Creative Circle. MT’s Kate Bassett sat down with Maguire to see how she was planning to disrupt the ‘pale, grey and stale’ world of adland and bring in more ‘outsiders – and more women.’

February - Google's Max Brittin on tax, Brexit and the future of the internet

MT grilled Google’s EMEA president Max Brittin on tax, tech and all the the challenges that being a boss at one of the world’s biggest companies brings. Just don’t mention his salary...

March - Why is career advice still sexist?

‘I’m from a generation that believes being at work doesn’t mean you stop being who you are,’ wrote Jo Allison, behavioural insights editor at Canvas8. Unfortunately, not everyone got the memo (or should that be calendar invite?).

April - It’s time to end the cult of the CEO

Worshipping the CEO has some seriously negative side effects, argued CEO Ab Banerjee. The antidote? Why, a healthy dose of effective communication, of course.

May - Will AI make us redundant?

Our spring cover story took on one of 2017’s defining themes: What is AI and what does it mean for business? ‘To hear the disciples of Silicon Valley talk, technology will take us to the Promised Land, a world of abundance, connection and progress that we've never seen before,’ wrote Adam Gale. ‘But right now they are taking everyone there, whether they want to go or not.’

June - Dear Ivanka...

‘You’ve written a book that is only relevant for women stuck in towers,’ said Christine Armstrong in her review of Ivanka Trump’s book, Women Who Work: Rewriting the Rules for Success. ‘We get that you’ve already talked to some of the most successful and privileged people alive. (Hi Ralph Lauren, do you want to give me fashion advice? No? Really, just for Ivanka? Ok, no worries.) The next stop, then is "normal people": the ones who live at ground level and for whom food is up there on the priority list.’

Spoiler alert: this is not an endorsement.

July - Introducing MT’s 35 women under 35

‘This year's 35 Women Under 35 list blows myths about millennials apart,’ wrote Kate Bassett. Indeed, 2017’s list of rising female stars includes bankers, police officers and bedroom empowerers (you’ll have to read it to find out what exactly that means) in a celebration of dynamism and diversity. MT invited a panel of speakers on the list to our Inspiring Women in Business event in London to talk about how they are rewriting the rules of work:  It’s safe to say the future is in capable hands.

August - Why I hid my disability from my bosses

Caroline Casey is legally blind but worked as a top consultant without her bosses ever realising. She shared her story about how covering up her disability led her to live life under a false persona, and why it is so important to put disability on the business agenda.

September - Bell Pottinger: PR’s final curtain?

PR heavyweight Bell Pottinger generated the wrong kind of buzz in 2017 with unfortunate tales of South African meddling. In this article, reformed spin-meister Robert Phillips said some of the company’s peers wouldn’t be far behind. ‘In an industry that has been sleep walking over the cliff, something like this was bound to happen’, argued Phillips, who ran the EMEA branch of the world’s biggest PR firm Edelman. ‘The Public Relations industry needs to take a long hard look at itself; decide on whether it is a genuine profession or a diminishing cottage industry.’

October - What did Monarch do wrong?

When Monarch fell into administration in October, many were more surprised at the fact it had been able to go on for as long as it had before meeting its inevitable demise. MT explored the airline’s troubled history to diagnose what exactly caused its final descent.  

November - Why is Amazon paying $1bn for Lord of the Rings?

The entertainment landscape continues to shift rapidly, with Disney’s acquisition of Fox topping off an eventful 2017, filled with deals and scandals for the industry. All-conquering tech behemoth Amazon resorted to an unusual tactic as it attempted to strengthen its foothold in the fertile realm of streaming. Hint: It involves the Shire.

December - Britain’s Most Admired Companies 2017: Why reputation really matters

‘In uncertain times the value of a good name is greater than ever,’ wrote MT. ’It's strong and stable businesses like these that will see the UK through the perils of Brexit and beyond.’ Britain's Most Admired Companies is MT’s annual celebration of the companies that are most respected by their peers. In a year of tumult and change, our outstanding firms again showed why a solid reputation is needed now more than ever.  

Special Mentions

Donald Trump’s leadership style in 5 words

No, we still can’t believe he’s President either.

Counting the real cost of dieselgate

Breaking down the challenge faced by the car industry as EU pollutant tests and heavy regulations threatens the mettle.

Inside Britain’s Private Prisons

With low margins, a monopoly customer and volatile users, Britain's private jails are a tough business to run. Has the system reached breaking point?

Diversity: Is ageism the last taboo?

‘In a society that worships youth, older workers are often unfairly overlooked. But as we live longer, it's time for recruiters and employers to think again,’ wrote MT.

Muscle Money: how protein powder got pumped up

Sports nutrition supplements, shakes and bars have gone mainstream, with brands muscling in on the action. But do these products really deliver on their promises?

 Image credit: geralt/pixabay

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