Celebrating Britain's 101 Most Influential Asians 2024

© Asian Media Group - 2024


Lord Karan Bilimoria


OUR subject was in the air when we called. Not literally – Lord Karan Bilimoria was in between business trips. He had just come from South Africa and was on his way to France via a post-Davos (January) meeting in Switzerland. If that does not tell you how influential this crossbench peer is, then consider this. The past year – 2023 – was awful for the Confederation of British Industry (CBI). Remember that the CBI is considered the body which represents the country’s bosses. It was hit by a scandal after allegations of rape and sexual assault.

Dozens of its corporate bluechip members left. The organisation asked Bilimoria, who had served as its president between 2020 and 2022, to stay on as its vice president for an extra six months. He finally stepped down last December. “It was a severe crisis, an existential crisis, for the CBI,” the peer told the GG2 Power List. “We had weekly board meetings taking place, and I could have said, ‘Look, I’m not in the driving seat anymore. This is not on my watch.’ But I felt an absolute obligation to help save a national organisation and a Royal Charter institution, and we had to get the confidence back.” There were meetings, discussions, investigations, reviews – a new director general, and new senior staff and LordBilmoria felt like it was all going somewhere. “We had to take some very tough decisions,” he told this publication. Things have turned around, he argued.

The government and others had come back on board. He had to speak to old university friends to get the government back. “The members that have suspended, lifted their suspension. Even Birmingham University, where I’m chancellor had suspended their membership, members which resigned have re-joined.” He accepts not everything is back to what

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