Professor Michael Mainelli
Director, Z/Yen Group Limited, PhD BA FCCA FCSI(Hon) FBCS CITP FIC CMC MEI
Professor Michael Mainelli FCCA Chartered FCSI(Hon) FBCS co-founded Z/Yen, the City of London's leading commercial think-tank and venture firm, in 1994 to promote societal advance through better finance and technology. Z/Yen boasts a core team of respected professionals as well as numerous associates, and is well-capitalised due to successful spin-outs and ventures. A qualified accountant, securities professional, computer specialist, and management consultant, educated at Harvard University and Trinity College Dublin, Michael gained his PhD at London School of Economics where he was also a Visiting Professor. His research in aerospace (rocket science) and computing (architecture & mapping), led to him starting Swiss companies in seismology, cartography and energy information. He became a senior partner with accountants BDO Binder Hamlyn directing global consulting, and Corporate Development Director for Europe’s largest R&D firm, the Ministry of Defence’s 14,000 strong Defence Evaluation & Research Agency, leading to two privatisations.
Michael's career summary is a decade of technology research, followed by a decade in finance, then two decades at Z/Yen combining research and finance. His thematic focus is increasing certainty applied to technology, economics, and finance. He is a recognised expert on strategy, R&D, financial risk, and global competitiveness, particularly of cities. Career highlights include:
Creating Z/Yen's Long Finance, Global Financial Centres Index, London Accord, Global Intellectual Property Index, Farsight Award and other initiatives;
Developing a £100 million business within the UK Ministry of Defence operating as a senior civil servant (military 2-star equivalent) commercialising defence technology;
Growing an accountancy consultancy, BDO Consulting, profitably to 100 people with global privatisation, finance, technology, government, services and NGO clients;
Conceiving and producing the first complete digital map of the world in 1983, Mundocart, as well as the $20 million Geodat consortium cartography project (a 1980's Google Earth).
Michael is Emeritus Professor and Honorary Life Fellow of Gresham College, the Tudor ‘Open University’ home of the Royal Society; non-executive Director of the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (national standards body) and AIM-listed Wishbone Gold plc; Alderman for Broad Street Ward of the City of London Corporation; City & Guilds Council; Trustee of Morden College; Fellow of Goodenough College, Honorary Fellow of King's College London, and Visiting Professor at the UCL Bartlett School of Construction & Project Management. Michael has advised numerous governments, including UK departments and the Taoiseach’s Office. Awards include a UK Foresight Challenge Award for the Financial Laboratory; UK Smart Award for prediction software; British Computer Society Director of the Year; Technology Strategy Board Challenge Award for financial avatars; Gentiluomo of the Associazione Cavalieri di San Silvestro; Consigliere del Senato Accademico of L’Accademia Tiberina; ‘Hons’ award from the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment; Member of the Order of St John. Michael was elected Sheriff of the City of London 2019-2021 (the first two-term Sheriff since 1228).
At Z/Yen, Michael's speciality is enhancing the performance of profit-making, charitable, and government organisations and investments in conditions of high uncertainty. Michael has worked in the public sector on privatisations and strategy; in the private sector in a variety of industries (banking, insurance, manufacturing, media, retail, utilities, television, distribution, IT) on problems ranging from strategy through information systems, quality, human resources, environmental systems and R&D; and in the voluntary sector on a number of assignments to improve performance. For example, Michael has led our studies of global investment banks' operations & IT strategy, worked as Chief Technology Officer for a successful machine-learning cancer detection technology firm, built a global website to aid young people's understanding of financial markets through an innovative game, and helped the UK Cabinet Office Strategy Unit develop sustainable UK fishing policies.
He lectures widely around the world and frequently in the UK on our work, e.g. at LSE on IT & Innovation, at Royal Holloway on statistics, at the University of Edinburgh on operations research, at UCL on quantitative finance. Michael is a Freeman of the City of London, Past Master of the Worshipful Company of World Traders, and a Freeman of the Company of Watermen & Lightermen, as well as an Honorary Liveryman of the Furniture Makers, Water Conservators, Marketors, Tax Advisers, and International Bankers.
Michael has published over 50 journal papers, 200 professional articles, and four books. Michael's humorous risk/reward management novel, Clean Business Cuisine: Now and Z/Yen, written with Ian Harris, was a Sunday Times Book of the Week in 2000; Accountancy Age described it as 'surprisingly funny considering it is written by a couple of accountants'. Their third co-authored book, The Price of Fish: A New Approach to Wicked Economics and Better Decisions, won the 2012 Independent Publisher Book Awards Finance, Investment & Economics Gold Prize. Michael loves skiing, dicing with bagpipes, dabbling in languages, and racing modern or classic sailboats. From 1996 to 2017, Michael and his wife Elisabeth undertook the restoration of the Thames Sailing Barge S B Lady Daphne, while he still lectures on, and supports, sailing barges and their history, and sits on the world's oldest sailing racing body, the Thames Match.
He speaks English, German, Italian, and French poorly, but much worse Spanish and Chinese.