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Richard Wood, Chairman Wood & Co, Prague

Richard Wood's agreeable daily commute consists of a stroll across Prague's Charles Bridge while he looks at the castle and swans and thinks about what he has to do that day. "It beats the tube," he says.

The last time Wood hunched his tall, slim figure onto the London Underground on his way to work was seven years ago, when he was a fixed-income derivatives salesman for Salomon Brothers. In early 1990 he quit and drove to Prague with a Christmas bonus and "curiosity about what was going on". He had little idea of what to do, and no connections bar a friend of a friend whose Czech family offered him a room in their house. "I was open to returning to the City after seeing what the other side looked like," he recalls. "It felt more like a good sabbatical."

After dabbling in this and that, in 1993 he set up Wood & Co, which is now the only locally based pan-eastern European investment bank, with 150 employees in Prague, Warsaw, Budapest and Kiev.

The son of a banker, Wood, 36, was born in Scarborough and grew up in London. He was educated at Dulwich College and read economics at Durham before working for Barclays Bank International in London, New York and Pittsburgh.

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