Sir Michael Bear
Pavior Michael Bear was elected Lord Mayor of London by City Liverymen at their Common Hall in the Guildhall on 29 September 2011. Michael was the 683rd Lord Mayor and the seventh Pavior to hold this position since the beginning of the 20th Century.
Prior to taking office, Michael required the Approbation of the Monarch. This was granted on 18 October 2011 at the House of Lords, and celebrated that evening at Cutlers’ Hall with a Presentation Dinner. This Dinner was attended by the Sheriffs, Aldermen and other City dignitaries, as well as the Rt Hon Kenneth Clarke QC MP, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice. Also present were the hosting Master and Wardens of the Paviors, Engineers, Chartered Surveyors and Security Professionals, all Livery Companies of which Michael is a member. Michael took office officially at the Silent Ceremony, held in the Great Hall, Guildhall, on 12 November 2011 and swore the Oath of Allegiance at the Royal Courts of Justice during the Lord Mayor’s Show the following day.
Role of the Lord Mayor
The modern Lord Mayor is the Head of the City of London Corporation, which provides business and local government services to the City. He presides over the City of London’s governing bodies: the Court of Aldermen and the Court of Common Council. He resides in the Mansion House during his term of office. The Lord Mayor’s principal role today is as an ambassador for all UK-based financial and professional services. The Lord Mayor represents City business and advises the government on the functioning of the financial services sector. The Lord Mayor spends some 90 days abroad representing the City and is treated overseas as a Cabinet-level Minister. The role is apolitical and, despite being unpaid, is exceptionally demanding. The Lord Mayor addresses some 10,000 people face-to-face each month, and Michael made 927 speeches during his year of office.
Michael’s chosen theme for the year’s Lord Mayor’s Appeal was ‘Bear Necessities: Building Better Lives’. The Appeal aimed to help 10,000 children and their families, and train 4,000 relief workers, through the children’s charity ‘Coram’ and the Register of Engineers for Disaster Relief ‘RedR’. The appeal raised over £4 million.
Michael Bear was admitted as a Liveryman of the Paviors Company in 2002, and was Master in the year following his term as Lord Mayor. He was knighted in the 2012 New Year Honours for services to regeneration, charity and the City of London. Professionally, he is a civil engineer, currently holding the positions of Managing Director of Balfour Beatty Property and non-executive director of Arup.
Michael’s career has been anything but traditional. The son of a South African geologist working for the British Colonial Service, Michael was born in Kenya, went to primary school in Cyprus, boarding school in Bristol, and obtained his first degree at a South African university. His civil engineering career started with airport design and construction, initially throughout Southern Africa and subsequently in Northern Ireland with Sir Frederick Snow & Partners. He took a year out in 1980/81 to study for an MBA at Cranfield University and then joined Balfour Beatty. Here he developed renewal energy projects in China, Nigeria and Cameroon. He then moved into property development with London and Edinburgh Trust, but subsequently moved back to Balfour Beatty as Managing Director of property. Here, he worked on PFI/PPP projects and was responsible for a large development portfolio, including acting as Chief Executive for the Spitalfields development in the City of London, now owned by Hammerson. Michael is a Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers, a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and a Founder Member of the British Council of Offices. Just prior to his term as Lord Mayor, he was elected as an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering.
The Spitalfields development whetted Michael’s appetite for regeneration and community involvement, and in 1993 he was appointed chairman of the City Challenge public/private sector partnership for Tower Hamlets. This focused on improving a run-down inner-city area adjacent to the City of London. His role then extended to board positions on successor companies and charity work in Bangladesh. These activities brought him into contact with many residents of Bangladeshi origin living in the Portsoken Ward of the City of London. In 2003, Michael was elected a common councillor for the predominantly residential Portsoken Ward, where he put his regeneration skills to work in tackling the inner-city problems that beset local residents. The following year he was elected Deputy Alderman for the Ward, and made Alderman in 2005. This required him to sit as a magistrate on the City Bench. Michael served as a Sheriff of the City of London in 2007/8 - a role that also involved, on a rota, unlocking the Royal Courts of Justice at the Old Bailey.
Michael’s other voluntary work has included charity projects in Africa, Bangladesh and throughout the UK. He is a Director of CRASH, Spitalfields Market Community Trust, The Drinking Fountain Association, and is a Governor of the Sir John Cass Foundation and primary school, Thomas Coram Foundation for Children, Clifton College, Hackney City Academy, the City Arts Trust, and of the London South Bank University.
Michael is married to Barbara, who is a Liveryman of the Musicians Company, a qualified teacher, musician, artist and therapist in complementary medicine. They have two teenage children, Amy and Marc. Michael lists his hobbies as wine, opera, rugby, tennis and theatre.