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Buy-Side Technology Awards: In the Presence of Greatness

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Everyone present at the fifth annual Buy-Side Technology Awards function, held at Le Méridien in London on November 4, is likely to remember it for one reason: Sean Fitzpatrick. He was on hand to do the honors and present the awards to the winners in 22 categories, the first 20 of which were announced prior to the event. The final two—best buy-side product for 2011 and best buy-side technology provider for 2011—were announced on the day. Write-ups by Victor Anderson (VBA) and Anthony Malakian (AM)

I know many of our European and US readers might not be familiar with the name “Sean Fitzpatrick," much less the aura that surrounds the former captain of the New Zealand All Blacks, but from a rugby union perspective, he is right up there with the NFL greats like Jerry Rice, Joe Montana, Walter Payton and Barry Sanders.

And what a show he put on for us: “Fitzy” spoke for about 20 minutes without so much as a brief pause, took questions from the audience, and even complied with a request to explain the haka—YouTube has many examples of the haka—before treating us to his rendition of the now-famous All Blacks challenge issued to an opposing team before every international match. Needless to say, he had even the most battle-hardened industry veterans eating out of his hand by the end of the afternoon, signing autographs and posing for photos well into the early evening. (He joined all award recipients in their winners' photos on the following pages.)

I was lucky enough to sit adjacent to Fitzy for the entire awards lunch, something that I will remember for a long time (I’m an ex-sports journalist, don’t forget, having specialized in rugby-union coverage during my time in that industry).

The one thing that struck me about him was just how normal he is, a quality that I’ve often encountered when meeting our industry’s CTOs and CIOs. He seemed completely at ease speaking about every subject I grilled him on, and he even appeared to show genuine interest when I took it upon myself to explain to him how the buy-side and sell-side communities differed, and that most categories covered by the BST Awards could be grouped under the front-, middle- or back-office monikers. (Quite why I felt it necessary to explain this to him is, now, beyond me.)

As usual, I am extremely grateful to this year’s judges, the same four who have officiated for the last number of years—Paul Miller (Knadel); Sang Lee (Aite Group); Clare Vincent-Silk, assisted by Catherine Doherty (Investit); and Jonathan Clark (Citisoft). This year, Anthony Malakian stepped into Stewart Eisenhart’s considerable shoes, and proved invaluable to me as a sounding board and confidant.

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