George Iacobescu is chief executive of Canary Wharf Group, expanding London’s financial centre in the Docklands. He has spent 20 years pushing governments to deliver on promises for transport improvement.
A self-confessed fan of Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London, Mr Iacobescu’s agenda is now on Cross Rail, after the extensions of the Jubilee tube line and the DLR line to City Airport and Woolwich – without which Canary Wharf’s vision for growth would have been stymied.
The only child of a Romanian doctor, Mr Iacobescu, 61, trained as a structural engineer at Bucharest’s University of Civil and Industrial Construction. His first job was designing pump stations for a state-run business. He left Romania in 1975 for a job at a German-Canadian construction company in Montreal, helped by friends and family overseas, who secured a $5,000 cash deal with communist government officials.
He had already proposed to Gabriela, a fellow Bucharest university graduate, but she had to stay in Romania until 1977, when Romanian law allowed citizens who had left to return and marry their partners and for her move to Canada to be approved.
The Reichmann family then hired Mr Iacobescu to join Olympia & York, the forerunner to Canary Wharf, where he built in Chicago’s Financial Centre and then in New York. When Paul Reichmann bought into Canary Wharf, Mr Iacobescu was his deputy working on the scheme. Now in charge, Mr Iacobescu is busy planning the next 20 years.