European Personality of the Year

European Personality of the Year nominees:

1. Mohed Altrad

Life for Syrian-born Mohed Altrad did not have the easiest of beginnings. He was disowned by his Bedouin father shortly after the death of his mother when he was just four-years-old, and forbidden from attending school by his grandmother. Nevertheless, he taught himself and moved to France in 1969 to study on a scholarship. In 1985, he bought a near bankrupt company in his adoptive country which he successfully transformed into one of the world’s leading firms in scaffolding and cement mixers. In 2005, the billionaire received the Legion d’Honneur, France’s highest accolade. Find out more:  

2. Florin Badita 

Romanian Florin Badita founded Corruption Kills, a civic group fighting corruption, after the 2015 fire at the Colectiv nightclub in which 64 people died. The twenty-nine years old campaign also helped put an end to the decriminalization of Romanian corruption cases where damages total less than €45,000 and uncovered several cases of embezzlement. Earlier this year, he was named as one of Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe, Law and Policy. Find out more: 

3. Edie Campbell 

At just 27, British model Edie Campbell has become a fashion powerhouse, having walked for and been the face of some of the world’s biggest designers including Chanel, Dior and Yves Saint Laurent. But with a first class degree in History of Art and several horse racing titles under her belt she has proved than she is more than just beauty. In November 2017, she also penned a powerful open letter to the fashion industry denouncing the ill treatment and sexual exploitation of models. Find out more:  

4. András Fekete-Győr 

András Fekete-Győr was only 26 when he shook up the establishment in his native Hungary by founding a new political party, Momentum. Two years later, he already has a significant victory to his name, having forced the government to back down from its bid to host the 2024 Olympics Games after successfully organising a campaign calling for a referendum on the issue. Now the lawyer, activist and politician hopes to get his party into parliament. Find out more:  

5. Michaël Gillon

In February 2017 NASA announced that seven exoplanets - planets outside our solar system - had been discovered. At the forefront of that discovery was Belgian astronomer Michael Gillon from Liege University. He was then awarded the prestigious Balzan prize for his “innovative and fruitful searches for planets”, which were described as a significant “milestone on the way towards finding life signatures beyond our solar system.” Find out more:  

6. Xavier Niel 

Xavier Niel first disrupted the French technology sector at just 25, when he launched the country’s first internet provider. He continued to do so with his Free company, which slashed the price of telecom services. Nowadays, the 50-year-old maverick is nurturing the next generation of tech disruptors through his venture capitalism firm - the "42" IT school he created - as well as Station F - the world’s largest start-up incubator he founded in Paris. Find out more: 

7. Barbara Nowacka 

Barbara Nowacka is a Polish politician and activist. In 2015 she became the co-leader of United Left, a broad coalition of left-wing parties she was instrumental in creating. A strong feminist, she helped organise mass protests against the Polish government’s proposal to ban abortion without exception. Her involvement was recognised by the Foreign Policy magazine, which included Nowacka on its annual list of the 100 most influential global thinkers in 2016. Find out more:  

8. Emma Watson

Emma Watson burst onto the world stage at just 11 when she took on the role of Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter film franchise. Since then, the British actress has worked her magic in many other enterprises, including modelling and fashion designing. But Watson also endeared herself to many through her unrelenting activism: she was named UN Women Goodwill Ambassador in 2014, launched the HeforShe campaign to advocate gender equality and more recently donated over $1 million to tackle sexual harassment. Find out more:  

9. Marcia Willis Stewart 

Throughout her career, lawyer Marcia Willis Stewart has carved herself a reputation as a strong champion for civil rights, taking on several high profile cases against the British state for which she has won a slew of awards. She represented the families of 77 victims of the Hillsborough Disaster as well as the families involved in the Grenfell Tower Fire. Willis Stewart is also a keen advocate for diversity. Find out more: