Celebrating Britain's 101 Most Influential Asians 2021

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Karan Bilimoria


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LORD KARAN FARIDOON BILIMORIA, founder of Cobra Beer and crossbench peer, made history when he became the first person from an ethnic minority background to be elected president of the Confederation of British Industry on June 16, 2020 – right in the middle of the pandemic.

The CBI, which has 190,000 members and employs seven million people, is regarded as “the voice of British industry”. Its membership includes FTSE100 and FTSE250 companies, as well as SMEs.

“We’re obviously helping our members and our businesses to survive and to get through to the spring and then, with the help of the government, providing the bridge to get through the crisis and the pandemic to when we can bounce back,” he pledges. “So I’m very confident that when the pandemic is behind us – as it will be – we will be able to bounce back. And I have that confidence for a number of reasons.

“One is the vaccine should work. Secondly, I believe that the treatments (for Covid patients in hospital) are getting better and better.”

He is greatly encouraged that the British Swedish company, AstraZeneca, which has partnered the development of the Oxford vaccine, is “headquartered in Cambridge”.

He was confronted by nothing short of a war situation but then Bilimoria is sustained by the memory of his late father – Lt-General Faridoon Noshir (“Billy”) Bilimoria – who rose to become the General Officer Commanding-in Chief of the Central Army Command of the Indian Army.

“One of my father’s favourite sayings, which is so appropriate was, ‘Stay cool, calm and collected in a time of crisis.’ And that’s exactly what we’ve had to do,” recalls the general’s son.

His father’s words have come back to him: “The true test of leadership is not in the good times – it’s

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