The 2009 President's Award was awarded to George Iacobescu for his contribution to the office industry.

a"George Iacobescu is living proof of the power of determination and self-belief. 20 years ago in Canary Wharf, he defied naysayers who laughed off the idea that the derelict site could ever be anything other than a wasteland to transform it into one fo the world's greatest financial landmarks. Still going strong after two recessions, it is more than just a financial success. It is an inspiring space for office workers and the local residents too who flock there on weekdays and weekends."

Michael Hussey
BCO President 2009-2010

George Iacobescu has come a long way since his first job designing pump-stations. This quiet, modest man has helped create some of the world’s greatest financial landmarks.

George still calls himself an engineer, which is essentially true. When he arrived in the UK 20 years ago, Canary Wharf was a derelict wasteland. Most people laughed at suggestions it could become more than a huddle of sheds. Yet George had already overseen construction of similar projects - the Neiman Marcus Buildings in Chicago and the World Financial Centre in New York - for the Reichmann family’s Olympia & York.

George was born in Romania the only child of a doctor. He trained as a structural engineer at Bucharest University of Civil and Industrial Construction before emigrating to Canada in 1975. He was headhunted by Olympia & York, then brought to the UK in 1988 to oversee construction of Canary Wharf. He rose to become chief executive of Canary Wharf Holdings in 1997 when the company formally listed on the London Stock Exchange.

Today, Canary Wharf rivals the City of London as a financial district and has attracted names such as the Financial Services Authority, HSBC, Barclays, Morgan Stanley, Clifford Chance and Citigroup. It has survived two recessions but it is not just a financial success. It has a wonderful retail complex and inspiring open spaces not just for the office workers but for the local residents who flock there weekdays and weekends. George is passionate about creating sustainable workplaces and Canary Wharf Group has recently been judged by the Sunday Times as the second most environmentally friendly property developer in the UK.

Others to recognize George’s qualities include the Estates Gazette, which awarded him the accolade for Outstanding Contribution to Property last year. He was also shortlisted as Property Week’s Personality of the Year and won Deal of the Year for enticing JP Morgan out of the City to Canary Wharf.

The highest accolade, of course, was being made a CBE in 2003 for services to regeneration and inward investment. Others include an honorary Doctorate of Business Administration from the University of East London, being appointed co-chairman of Teach First, directorships of London First and Gateway to London and a seat on the advisory board of the UK Academy of Finance. He was also recently appointed a trustee of the British Museum.

However, George Iacobescu is more likely to judge his success by the impact his company and personal contributions have made to one of the most deprived areas in the UK. Industry recognition for the brilliance of Canary Wharf is one thing, this award is personal – it is for George and all he has given to London.