Strategy International | Weekly Update - 17th May

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 17th May

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The UK will take to the polls again next week, this time for more unexpected reasons, as we vote on our next assembly of MEPs. An academic result or not, the government has made it clear they will be expected to take their seats this summer - interpret that how you will! From the unexpected to the worst kept secret in politics and Boris Johnson’s admission that he will be running for Conservative Party Leadership. The rumour mill is already beginning to turn on the other riders and runners in the race to be PM and we’re all just hoping for a quick and clean fight. The events this week have been as follows:

On Tuesday, BEI hosted a meeting on Migration and Modern Slavery with DFID’s Deputy Director and Head of the Migration and Modern Slavery Department, Paul Whittingham providing useful insights on the work of this relatively new focus area. The term “modern slavery” needs to be used sensitively and takes many forms, and drivers include; poverty, criminality/recruitment channels and value distribution in supply chains. It is thought there are over 40 million people living in slavery globally, with numbers in UK pegged at more than 10,000.

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On Wednesday lunchtime Gareth Rhys Williams, the government’s Chief Commercial Officer, took us through the government’s plans to make its commercial function the UK’s best. Gareth has overseen major improvements to the capability of government procurement staff by hiring 500 new senior Civil Servants, as well as introducing a new set of cross-cutting behaviours and practices designed to standardise the government’s approach across all its departments. The Government Commercial Function is in the process of training 50,000 Civil Servants in contract management to further develop capability, and in February it released the ‘Outsourcing Playbook’, a set of 11 new policies that represent a near-complete redesign of the outsourcing process.

Later that afternoon, BEI hosted an ICAI review presentation on CDC’s investments in low-income and fragile states. It was felt that whilst CDC has made progress in redirecting investments to low-income and fragile states, the building of in-country capacity to support a more developmental approach has been slow. In addition, more needed to be done to monitor development results, or to progress plans to improve evaluation and apply learning. CDC’s Chairman was available to respond to the report findings and highlight how some of the key findings were already being attended to.

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On Thursday, The D Group hosted a lunch with Sarah Keeble, Partner at Mishcon de Reya, who led a discussion on ‘The Gender Pay Gap’. Two years ago, the UK was one of the first countries in the world to introduce it; now, employers with more than 250 employees have to report once a year on the average difference of remuneration between men and women across the organisation. Although this gap has been narrowing since the late 1990s, there is still a lot to do to reach equal pay. Sarah Keeble suggested more unbiased training, flexible working hours, mentoring and work experience from an early age for children: just like a company cannot see the gender pay gap without producing figures, a child cannot see equal opportunities without being presented with examples.

For those who will be tuning in enjoy the FA Cup final, as a United supporter I will be spending the weekend celebrating the end of the season!

Best Wishes,

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James Jones, Director of Account Management


Event highlights:

Tuesday 21st May 2019 – BEI
DFID Work on Governance, Open Societies and Anti-Corruption
Charlotte Hull, Head of Governance, Open Societies and Anti-Corruption Department

Wednesday 22nd May 2019 – BEI
DFID Global Funds Department Update
Niall Fry, Deputy Head, DFID Global Funds Unit

Wednesday 22nd May 2019 – BEI
Argentina Infrastructure Opportunities
Inbound UK-Argentine Mission Delegation

Wednesday 22nd May 2019 – The D Group Dinner
My Vision for Defence People and Veterans
The Rt Hon Tobias Ellwood MP, Parliament Under Secretary of State and Minister for Defence People and Veterans, Ministry of Defence

Wednesday 29th May 2019 – BEI
DFID Work in the Middle East and North Africa 
Emma Donelly, Deputy Director of DFID’s Middle East and North Africa Division

Wednesday 29th May 2019 – The D Group Dinner
The Future of Air Power 
Air Chief Marshall Sir Stephen John Hillier, KCB CBE, DFC, Chief of the Air Staff

Thursday 30th May 2019 – The D Group Dinner
Dealing with the Russians 
Dr Andrew Monaghan, Director of Research on Russia and Northern European Defence and Security, The Changing Character of War Centre, Pembroke College, University of Oxford

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 10th May

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 10th May

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Dear Members and friends,

A short but full week. Two speaker events, a very energised art opening, two new members. More on Liverpool and Spurs later…

The CEO of the civil service, John Manzoni, reviewed progress with us since his visit a year ago. It’s an encouraging report card. Alongside an intensive programme to successfully set in place contingency arrangements for most of those ‘no-deal ‘ challenges under the UK’s control, the focus on upskilling civil service commercial capability has continued apace. The priority has been to drive hiring and structure very much towards enhancing civil service strengths around the how, not the what. Prioritising delivery not policy. Certainly from Strategy’s point of view we see more improvements than frustrations. So still very much ‘work in progress’ but definitely heading in the right direction - and achieved amidst a really demanding period.

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On Thursday veteran Search expert Peter Felix gave a talk on the role and importance of Advisory Boards. Their role and potential have received little attention but with increasing pressure on main Boards to improve their performance and handle fast-moving marketplace, regulatory and compliance challenges (Data Protection, Cyber Security, Digital Disruption, etc) they offer a useful and flexible way of attracting valuable experience. The point was emphasised that to be effective, they must have a very clear mandate. Peter has written an extensive report which can be viewed here.

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Tuesday saw the opening of a mixed painting and sculpture exhibition by Carolyn de Rothschild and Long Ly. It was very well attended but I’d still take the opportunity to remind members that the art events, often built around countries and themes very relevant to what we do, are open to all and offer a very relaxed and congenial surrounding for making contacts on a weekday night.

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We welcome two leading players in the communications world to the membership. Inmarsat, the UK’s leader in satellite communications and the major US company, Leidos (previously SAIC) a global leader in providing technological solutions to the civil, defence, health and intelligence sectors.

Finally, as a committed Leeds fan it takes a lot to praise Liverpool and Spurs but if ever we wanted an example of how leadership can turn an apparently hopeless position this was it. Westminster take note…

Best wishes,

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Peter O'Kane - Executive Chairman, Strategy International


Upcoming Events:

Tuesday 14th May 2019 – BEI
DFID Work on Migration and Modern Slavery
Paul Whittingham, DFID Deputy Director & Head of the Migration and Modern Slavery Department

Wednesday 15th May 2019 – BEI
CDC’s Investments in Low-Income and Fragile States – an ICAI Review
Richard Gledhill, Lead Commissioner, ICAI

Wednesday 15th May 2019 – The D Group Lunch
Lunch with Gareth Rhys Williams
Gareth Rhys Williams, Government Chief Commercial Officer and Non-Executive Director, Crown Commercial Service

Thursday 16th May 2019 – The D Group Lunch
The Gender Pay Gap
Sarah Keeble, Partner, Employment Department, Mishcon de Reya

Tuesday 21st May 2019 – The D Group Lunch
The UK-Canada Bilateral Relationship
Janice Charette, High Commissioner for Canada to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Permanent Representative of Canada to the International Maritime Organisation

Tuesday 21st May 2019 – BEI
DFID Work on Governance, Open Societies and Anti-Corruption
Charlotte Hull, Head of Governance, Open Societies and Anti-Corruption Department

Wednesday 22nd May 2019 – BEI
DFID Global Funds Department Update
Niall Fry, Deputy Head, DFID Global Funds Unit

Wednesday 22nd May 2019 – BEI
Argentina Infrastructure Opportunities
Inbound UK-Argentine Mission Delegation

Wednesday 22nd May 2019 – The D Group Dinner
My Vision for Defence People and Veterans
The Rt Hon Tobias Ellwood MP, Parliament Under Secretary of State and Minister for Defence People and Veterans, Ministry of Defence

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 3rd May

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 3rd May

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Dear Members and Friends,

We have had an extremely busy and stimulating week at Strategy International and we have another long weekend ahead of us! On the sporting front, the cricket season has started with a vengeance, the Football Leagues are drawing to a close (Manchester City to win?!) and Andy Murray may be fit for Wimbledon. The General’s Golf Team also had its first outing and drew with the Royal Variety Club. We also, as I write this, have the election results still coming in and it will be very interesting to see the final results at the end of the day. The events this week have been as follows:

Future Group Update: Understanding Corporate Finance and Diversity and Inclusion.
On Monday Olivier Beroud took the Group through the intricacies of profit and loss, how to read a Balance Sheet, Cashflow, Accounting Principles and Liabilities and Assets, plus many other topics. The golden thread of Strategic Leadership was retained with the overall message being that Cash is King and the CEO can never abdicate responsibility.

On Wednesday the Future Group addressed the sensitive area of Diversity and Inclusion Policies that is a prerequisite for any Company these days. Millennials now frequently look at Company Policies before deciding whether or not to apply for a role. In the morning I chaired a Panel Discussion in conjunction with Caroline Noblet, an Employment Lawyer and Partner from Squire Paton Boggs and Charlotte Bennett, an HR Director from the Middle East. All forms of Diversity (Cognitive, Gender, Ethnicity, Geographic, BAME, LGBTQ, Mental Health and many more) were discussed, but what came through loud and clear was the importance of Inclusivity – and success should flow straight to the bottom line. In the afternoon the Group produced new Policies for their Companies. This was a quite excellent day. I would like to say a huge thank-you to Caroline and Charlotte for giving up so much of their time

Tuesday 30 April: Baroness Dido Harding. Chair NHS Improvement. Bringing Business Sense to the NHS.
On Tuesday lunchtime, we welcomed Baroness Harding to share her thoughts on bringing business sense to the NHS. Only 18 months into her role as Chair of NHS Improvement and still on a self-confessed steep learning curve, Baroness Harding set out a clear mandate for change. At the centre of which was the use of technology and greater collaboration as key elements in addressing some of the challenges she has identified in leadership, culture and efficiency, whilst also driving the NHS towards a more personal, patient led service of fully integrated care. There is still work to be done with some worrying statistics to digest such as, 10% of patients in hospital are there due to NHS error and 30% of all UK hospitals are still without electronic records. Nevertheless, the overarching message was one of pride in a globally coveted National Health Service and with the key support of business, hope for a more digital future.

Tuesday 30 April: Key Themes for West Africa 2019
BEI hosted an engaging discussion on West Africa’s outlook and panellists shared insights on doing business in the Region, and how political, economic and other factors would impact growth in West Africa. Many thanks to panellists Leo AdekoyaRobin Gwynn and Segun Osuntokun for contributing to such a rich discussion. Some of the key takeaways, and many not new to all of us, include: investing in the Region is for the long term, there may be governance issues to contend with – but being resolute and principled eventually delivers results, developing human capital is vital, building local relationships is key to business success, and this Region was likened to a sleeping giant, with Nigeria the next "big thing". 

Wednesday 1 May: Safeguarding Network – Next Steps
BEI hosted a meeting of the DFID private sector suppliers Safeguarding Lead Network. The meeting marked 6 months since DFID hosted the International Safeguarding Summit in 2018. DFID private sector suppliers met to discuss progress and developments since the summit, with additional updates from DFID, NGOs represented by BOND and UK research institutions represented by UKCDR. Open discussion followed around experiences, challenges and barriers to progress. The Group will continue to meet regularly and engage across the different sectors in International Development to ensure effective approaches to Safeguarding.

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Perspectives
Strategy published the fourth edition of Perspectives, a monthly publication, taking a positive and outward-looking stance on the UK’s overseas trade and policy interests. We distribute Perspectives via email each month, you can subscribe here,  and this edition includes an interesting and wide-ranging podcast discussion on the Middle East with leading Panorama reporter, Jane Corbin. An invaluable 15 minutes for anyone wanting a tour of the region and its complexities.

I think that this is more than enough for now. Have a wonderful long weekend and we look forward to seeing you all soon in 23 Grafton Street.

Best wishes,

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Seumas Kerr CBE - Managing Director, The D Group


Upcoming Events:

Wednesday 8th May 2019 – The D Group Lunch
Procurement – aligning business and the civil service
John Manzoni, Chief Executive, Civil Service

Thursday 9th May 2019 – The D Group Lunch
Advisory Boards – Their relevance in a changing society
Paul Turner & Peter Felix CBE, Principals, Turner Felix Associates

Tuesday 14th May 2019 – BEI
DFID Work on Migration and Modern Slavery
Paul Whittingham, DFID Deputy Director & Head of the Migration and Modern Slavery Department

 Wednesday 15th May 2019 – BEI
CDC’s Investments in Low-Income and Fragile States – an ICAI Review
Richard Gledhill, Lead Commissioner, ICAI

 Wednesday 15th May 2019 – The D Group Lunch
Lunch with Gareth Rhys Williams
Gareth Rhys Williams, Government Chief Commercial Officer and Non-Executive Director, Crown Commercial Service

 Thursday 16th May 2019 – The D Group Lunch
The Gender Pay Gap
Sarah Keeble, Partner, Employment Department, Mishcon de Reya

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 26th April

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 26th April

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Dear Members & Friends,

No slow start to post-Easter week for us, in fact it’s been non-stop at 23 Grafton Street as we packed five days resolutely into four.

Straight into business Tuesday morning with a BEI hosted session. Simon Penney, Her Majesty's Trade Commissioner for the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan joined us to share insights on; his role, the market and opportunities for UK Business including political and economic updates. While there was broad agreement that the region offers many opportunities and potentially great rewards for UK business, it was generally accepted that doing business in the region has its challenges. Discussions outcomes included requests for enhanced and increased DIT support for the SME entering and operating in the region by providing more direct access to government resources.

That evening, the D Group welcomed Richard Threlfall, Global Head of Infrastructure at KPMG International, for a discussion around the Future of Transport. As our transport systems evolve beyond recognition there are many clear socio-economic benefits. The private sector’s desire to invest in new technology has aligned with the public good, the potential to stop road deaths, deliver cuts in carbon pollution and provide accessibility to everyone. Debate covered a wide range of issues, from government regulation of movement (especially in cities, where capacity is constrained), to the loss of low-skilled jobs and to the impact of human enhancement (Human 2.0). We look forward to picking up some of these themes in our future events.

The first in a series on Key Themes Africa 2019 was held on Wednesday with a focus on East Africa. According to many economic outlook reports, the region’s economic performance is set to outperform much of the rest of the world at around 6.3% growth. To unpick some of the themes around the expected performance, explore the potential bright spots as well as points of risk, BEI hosted a very engaging discussion with a panel of experts on the region including; Tara O'Connor, Founder and Director at Africa Risk Consulting, Joel Kibazo Managing Partner at JK Associates and Thomas Wheatley from Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner’s Africa Group.

Breakfast time yesterday provided two options. Away from the office Seumas Chaired a Mishcon de Reya/FT Leap 100 Breakfast on key issues for fast growing young companies exploring new International Markets. The panel interacting with a dozen impressive growth enterprises comprised senior executives from Strategy International members. Along with Mishcon’s Commercial and IP Partner, Lewis Cohen, were Albert Maasland (CEO, Crown Agents Bank), Jillian Moore (Head of Digital, Atos) and Robin MacKenzie (Marketing Director, De La Rue). There was an excellent discussion and both practical and cultural ‘musts’. The importance of mining multiple private sector and government networks for insights and contacts before making any market move, having a very clear strategy and plan, ensuring the plan is in line with local regulation and law, to working capital and prompt payment and having diversity in your local management team whilst not compromising your own brand culture and values as you adjust for a new market. It was an excellent breakfast session and shows the value to ‘UK Inc’ of bringing together dynamic growing companies with those that have ‘been there, done that’.

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Those of us who remained in Grafton Street were joined by the Chief Executive of Public Health England Duncan Selbie who offered a fascinating window into the critical, and not widely known roles Public Health England plays in managing a range of health issues to the UK. These include helping identify and isolate individual severe man-made and natural health threats entering the UK, as well as providing the data and strategies local and national government depend upon to make well informed public health decisions. Duncan made clear how well respected and globally interconnected England and the UK’s approach to public health is, including on data collection, but also how fragile this status is at a time when policy makers and others are so distracted by exiting the EU.

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We wrapped up the week as BEI hosted a DFID procurement focussed team including, Juliet Chua - Director General for Finance and Corporate Performance, Rob Shooter, Deputy Head of DFID’s Procurement and Commercial Department and Tracey Tulloch - Head of Compliance and Risk within the Procurement and Commercial Department. The meeting, designed for the micro and SME company not already engaged with the Department introduced DFID, UK Aid services and overseas working with an overview of recent DFID Procurement Reform. Tracey presented on “Myth Busting” some of the perceptions on working with DFID and an interactive session where participants could engage and ask questions enabled companies to hear first-hand from organisations already busy in the sector. Some 70 companies attended what was a very engaging and lively session.

And then it was Friday! Have a wonderful weekend all.

Best wishes,

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Tracey Smith
CEO, British Expertise International


Upcoming events:

Tuesday 30th April 2019 – The D Group Lunch 
Bringing business sense to the NHS  
Baroness Dido Harding, Chair, NHS Improvement  

Tuesday 30th April 2019 – BEI 
Key Themes for 2019: West Africa   
Olusegan Okubanjo, Founder & Chief Executive Officer, OBSIDIAN  

Thursday 1st May 2019 – BEI 
Safeguarding Network – Next Steps
Karen Eeuwens, DFID Safeguarding Unit   

Wednesday 8th May 2019 – The D Group Lunch
Procurement – aligning business and the civil service
John Manzoni, Chief Executive, Civil Service

Thursday 9th May 2019 – The D Group Lunch
Advisory Boards – Their relevance in a changing society
Paul Turner & Peter Felix CBE, Principals, Turner Felix Associates

Tuesday 14th May 2019 – BEI
DFID Work on Migration and Modern Slavery
Paul Whittingham, DFID Deputy Director & Head of the Migration and Modern Slavery Department

 Wednesday 15th May 2019 – BEI
CDC’s Investments in Low-Income and Fragile States – an ICAI Review
Richard Gledhill, Lead Commissioner, ICAI

 Wednesday 15th May 2019 – The D Group Lunch
Lunch with Gareth Rhys Williams
Gareth Rhys Williams, Government Chief Commercial Officer and Non-Executive Director, Crown Commercial Service

 Thursday 16th May 2019 – The D Group Lunch
The Gender Pay Gap
Sarah Keeble, Partner, Employment Department, Mishcon de Reya

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 18th April

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 18th April

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The sun is shining, Easter is just around the corner and everyone here at 23 Grafton Street are basking in the glow of another fantastic British Expertise International Awards. A truly inspiring display of the exceptional projects and impact UK infrastructure is having across the globe. We would like to take the opportunity to congratulate all of the winners, but equally those companies short listed for what was another keenly contested awards.

View the 2019 BEI Award Winners →

On a more sombre note we must acknowledge the sad events in Paris this week. A huge loss to the whole country, but in time and with generous donations already pouring in we know they will repair and rebuild.

Next week we look forward to debating many important subjects including the future of transport, hearing from Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner for the Middle East and finding out from the Chief Executive of Public Health England about what “Good Health” really means.

All that it leaves me to do is to wish everyone a great weekend and a fabulous Easter!

Best Wishes,

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James Jones, Director of Account Management


Event highlights:

Tuesday 23rd April 2019 – BEI 
Simon Penney Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner (HMTC) for the Middle East, Afghanistan & Pakistan

Tuesday 23rd April 2019 – The D Group Dinner
The Future of Transport
Richard Threlfall, Global Head of Infrastructure, KPMG International

Wednesday 24th April 2019 – BEI
Key Themes for 2019: East Africa
Veronica Bolton Smith, Strategy & Development, Invest Africa

Thursday 25th April 2019 – The D Group Breakfast
Good health and what we mean by this
Duncan Selbie, Chief Executive, Public Health England

Thursday 25th April 2019 – BEI 
Myth Busting with DFID for SMEs 
The UK Department for International Development 

Tuesday 30th April 2019 – The D Group Lunch 
Bringing business sense to the NHS  
Baroness Dido Harding, Chair, NHS Improvement  

Tuesday 30th April 2019 – BEI 
Key Themes for 2019: West Africa   
Olusegan Okubanjo, Founder & Chief Executive Officer, OBSIDIAN  

Wednesday 1st May 2019 – BEI 
Safeguarding Network – Next Steps  
Karen Eeuwens, DFID Safeguarding Unit

Wednesday 8th May 2019 – The D Group Lunch
Procurement – aligning business and the civil service
John Manzoni, CEO, Civil Service

Thursday 9th May 2019 – The D Group Lunch
Advisory Boards – Their relevance in a changing society  
Paul Turner & Peter Felix CBE, Principals, Turner Felix Associates

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 12th April

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 12th April

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Dear Members and Friends,

We exist in parallel universes. One in which we watch, with an increasing sense of detachment, the endless loop of repeated arguments in and between parliament, the government and Brussels. The other, the real world where we are all just trying to get on with things. In the latter we had three stimulating events this week, whilst one of our most important annual events takes place next Wednesday.

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First up was Dick Elsy CBE , the CEO of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult. The top line was that UK Manufacturing is in good heart and we are still the tenth largest manufacturing nation in the world and more than capable of remaining so. Jointly funded by government and industry the Catapult runs research centres across the UK across the country helping over 3000 businesses to bring new technology to the market. A key current focus is Digitalisation. Upbeat, positive.

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On Thursday D Group member Atos and hosted a session on “The Rise of a Decentralised Energy and Utilities World”. A great panel included Dermot Nolan, Chief Executive of Ofgem, and Anthony Walker, Deputy CEO of techUK. Key takeaways? First, the current energy market change neatly parallels those in telecoms twenty years ago and we should not underestimate the pace and scale of disruption. Scaling up its recent positive decarbonisation progress will need the UK to implement substantial changes to its underlying infrastructure, which will come at a cost. Finally, if we are to create a sustainable energy future it must be one that is inclusive and available to all. Much of it, such as electric vehicles, is currently price prohibitive for the less well-off.

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Next was a robust BFPG round table on China/ UK relations. This event was in part prompted by concern from BFPG’s connections across UK regional trade about a more confrontational HMG line; one based on domestic security concerns and increasingly combative noises around the UK’s defence posture in the South China Sea. One key takeaway emerged from a fascinating discussion between UK, Chinese and Asia-Pacific expert commentators, businesspeople and leading UK institutions; the need for a coherent UK policy towards China. One that recognises that firmly defending the national interest and values need not be incompatible at all with positive and consistent trade engagement. We did a D Group podcast with the ex-head of MI6 which touched on this subject. Worth a listen.

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Next week is the 10th annual BEI Awards where, with royalty, international diplomats and ministers, we will celebrate exceptional British-based achievement in landmark social and physical infrastructure around the world. If anything is Brexit-unaffected it is the unstinting engagement by our many member consultants in trade and aid around the globe. Neither a major new port in Iraq nor a post-conflict nation needing expert consultants to deploy life-changing DFID programmes are Brexit-constrained. More important, they remind us of the extraordinary impact our members have on life chances and quality of life around the globe.

We look forward to welcoming HRH The Duke of Gloucester, Baroness Fairhead and 200 guests next Wednesday.

Have a good weekend.

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Peter O'Kane - Executive Chairman, Strategy International


Event highlights:

Tuesday 23rd April 2019 – BEI 
Simon Penney Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner (HMTC) for the Middle East, Afghanistan & Pakistan

Tuesday 23rd April 2019 – The D Group Dinner
The Future of Transport
Richard Threlfall, Global Head of Infrastructure, KPMG International

Wednesday 24th April 2019 – BEI
Key Themes for 2019: East Africa
Veronica Bolton Smith, Strategy & Development, Invest Africa

Thursday 25th April 2019 – The D Group Breakfast
Good health and what we mean by this
Duncan Selbie, Chief Executive, Public Health England

Thursday 25th April 2019 – BEI 
Myth Busting with DFID for SMEs 
The UK Department for International Development 

Tuesday 30th April 2019 – The D Group Lunch 
Bringing business sense to the NHS
Baroness Dido Harding, Chair, NHS Improvement  

Tuesday 30th April 2019 – BEI 
Key Themes for 2019: West Africa   
Olusegan Okubanjo, Founder & Chief Executive Officer, OBSIDIAN  


British Expertise International Awards:

Wednesday 17th April 2019 – BEI Awards
Last few tables remaining – book here →

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 5th April

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 5th April

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Dear Members and Friends,

Another wild week in Britain’s collective political meltdown which saw a Prime Minister’s promised resignation become background noise to nightly crisis votes and a continuous stalemate on the way forward. Now the news of 10,000 riot police readying for a no-deal Brexit suggests that we may only be at the beginning of this political Greek Tragedy. Looking beyond the horse-trading in Westminster, it has been another great week here at Strategy International with discussions on the UK’s long-term plan for infrastructure, the future of defence and an update on Indonesia.

On Tuesday, The D Group hosted Sir John Armitt CBE, Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission at a dinner. The NIC works to set out a long-term vision for the UK's infrastructure planning and preparing the country for its infrastructure needs in the future. Discussion was aimed around six themes of telecoms, transport, water, waste, energy and Cities. Clearly, investing and delivering major projects throughout the country will send a strong message to the rest of the world and inspire confidence. We thank Sir John for his insight into the infrastructure world of 2030 and beyond.

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On Wednesday evening we welcomed General Sir Chris Deverell to share his thoughts on the future of defence and the Joint Forces Command as he prepares to leave the Army in the summer. He reflected that we find ourselves in an age of competition, not conflict, with China increasingly prominent as both a partner and a threat to the UK’s international intentions. He drew attention to the UK’s increased presence in the Asia-Pacific, with three ships conducting manoeuvres in the South China Sea and the Army drilling with the Japanese Defence Force, as a demonstration of the type of power projection that may be increasingly important as the situation develops.

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On Thursday, we had the pleasure to welcome Dr Scott Younger OBE. Scott is Strategy International’s International Advisor for Indonesia, supporting our members in the region. During the event, Scott briefed us on the political and economic environment in Indonesia, highlighting the country’s appetite for infrastructure. Among the priorities are smart transportation systems, renewable energy and the development of urban infrastructure. With Jakarta joining the 100 Resilient Cities project, there is an increased need for incorporating resilience systems which will address issues such as inefficient public transport, flooding and chronic food and water shortages.

Good luck to those with their sweepstake on the Grand National and a restful weekend to all as we digest the happenings of this week.



Best Wishes,

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James Jones, Director of Account Management


Event highlights:

Tuesday 9th April – The D Group Lunch 
New horizons for UK manufacturing? 
Dick Elsy CBE, CEO, High Value Manufacturing Catapult

Tuesday 23rd April 2019 – BEI 
Simon Penney Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner (HMTC) for the Middle East, Afghanistan & Pakistan

Tuesday 23rd April 2019 – The D Group Dinner
The Future of Transport
Richard Threlfall, Global Head of Infrastructure, KPMG International

British Expertise International Awards:

Wednesday 17th April 2019 – BEI Awards
British Expertise International Awards 2019
Last few tables remaining – book here →

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 29th March

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 29th March

Derrick Sanyahumbi in Manila this week leading a successful British Expertise mission to the Asian Development Bank – a full report next week.

Derrick Sanyahumbi in Manila this week leading a successful British Expertise mission to the Asian Development Bank – a full report next week.

Dear Members and Friends,

It is a beautiful sunny morning and the Brexit story still has some way to run. We have had a tremendous week and some great events but before I run through these please note:
 

  • Time is quickly running out to book your place at the BEI Annual Awards Celebration Dinner.  Held at the Royal Garden Hotel, Kensington on Wednesday 17 April attending this event will provide a great start to your Easter weekend.  Our Awards celebrate the best in international infrastructure and development and the event is a fantastic opportunity to meet colleagues you don’t always see and to catch up with Government stakeholders from around the world.  This year our top prize, International Business of the Year, will be a three-way battle between last year’s winner Turner & Townsend and two industry giants – Bechtel and Mott MacDonald.  Join us on the night to hear first-hand who the winner is!

  • Tuesday 26 March Lunch with His Excellency Umit Yalcinn, Ambassador Embassy of Turkey
    The Ambassador commenced his talk by describing Turkey’s Pendulum Relationship with Russia, the USA and Europe over the last 30 years. The country sits in a key geostrategic position but aligns itself very closely with Europe and NATO. The abiding principles for Turkey are that it remains Democratic, Secular and Non-Arab. Turkey will also ensure for Europe; Energy Safety, Security and the security of Israel. He also stressed how much Turkey valued the UK’s support during the last coup attempt. There is an increasingly close relationship between our 2 countries with £18.5 worth of trade between the 2 countries last year and the UK is now the 4th largest investor in Turkey. There are also some very large Infrastructure opportunities in Iraq where Turkey is planning to spend $5 Billion.

  • Wednesday 27 March Lunch with James Kirkup Director of the Social Market Foundation
    James Kirkup spoke to The D Group on the positive economic case for immigration and the political debate around the subject. As the Brexit referendum showed, it’s a topic of deep emotional resonance in modern Britain, but as James showed, when one focuses on the practical arguments, the case in favour is unequivocal. He also traced the development of Government policy on this position through the referendum campaigns to the present day to demonstrate how what was once the primary issue for Brexit has been relegated to lesser importance and the corresponding changing of attitudes to it throughout the UK.

  • Wednesday 27 March Lunch with Mohammed Nafees Zakira High Commissioner for Pakistan
    The High Commissioner hosted lunch for all British Officers who had attended the Pakistan Staff College in Quetta (the old Indian Army Staff College). I am President of the Association and we could not have been made more welcome. Pakistan is one of the largest recipients of DFID funding and there is an increasingly close relationship between our 2 countries. We stand by to assist any of our Members who wish to do business in Pakistan.

  • Thursday 28 March Breakfast with Geoff Hoon
    Despite the depressing ‘Groundhog day’ aspect of discussions around the likely direction of Brexit we restarted our Brexit Briefing series on Thursday. Geoff Hoon, variously a previous Chief Whip, Europe Minister, Secretary of State for Defence and Leader of the House, walked us through the evolving Westminster and Brussels permutations with great clarity; plus, having spent 10 years in Brussels, bringing a realistic dose of how the EU sees things and acts into a conversation that is too often overly focused on the UK’s preoccupations. We were delighted to be joined by Embassies from Asia, Latin America and Europe.

  • Thursday 28 March British Water BIM Conference
    I spoke at the British Water BIM Conference in Birmingham on Strategic Leadership along with other key speakers from the CITB, PWC and several engineering companies. Nine of our Member Companies were present and the key message was that technology and people are key to the future of the industry.

  • 26 to 29 March, 2019 ADB Business Opportunities Fair (BOF) Manila
    BEI in partnership with DIT Manila led a delegation of UK Companies on a mission to Manila, to coincide with the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) annual Business Opportunities Fair(BOF). In addition to the BOF, the delegation participated in a workshop on “Navigating Aid Funded Business”. The British Embassy in Manila also hosted a lunch at the ADB for the UK delegation with other guests. The UK Board Director at the ADB, Philip Rose and the British Embassy Deputy Head of Mission in Manila, Alastair Totty welcomed the delegation. It was a packed itinerary, with meetings covering; doing Business with ADB, an update on the ADB procurement system, opportunities by Sector, thematic opportunities and more.


As I finish this Newsletter the next Brexit vote has yet to take place and who knows what will happen. However, it is a glorious day and do not forget that the clocks go forward this weekend. It is also Mothering Sunday. Have a great weekend.


Best wishes,

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Seumas Kerr CBE - Managing Director, The D Group


Event highlights:

Tuesday 2nd April – The D Group Dinner
Dinner with Sir John Armitt CBE
Sir John Armitt CBE, Chair, National Infrastructure Commission

Wednesday 3rd April – The D Group Dinner
Reflections on the future of Defence, including the strategic role that Joint Forces Command will play in that future
General Sir Chris Deverell KC MBE ADC Gen, Commander, Joint Forces Command UK

Thursday 4th April – BEI Meeting
Indonesia: Infrastructure roundtable with Scott Younger
Dr Scott Younger OBE, FICE, President Commissioner of Glendale Partners

Tuesday 9th April – The D Group Lunch
New horizons for UK manufacturing?
Dick Elsy CBE, CEO, High Value Manufacturing Catapult



Wednesday 17th April 2019 – BEI Awards
British Expertise International Awards 2019

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 22nd March

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 22nd March

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Dear Members & Friends,

During a week which started with the terrible events in Christchurch and then saw Cyclone Idai devastate large parts of Southern Africa, you will forgive us passing over Brexit, notwithstanding its progressed to a whole new level of political contortion.

We are conscious that Strategy International and some of our members have a presence in the affected countries, including New Zealand, Mozambique, Malawi, Zimbabwe. UK aid has been visible in its efforts to deliver humanitarian aid but there is a long way to go. Our thoughts go out to everyone involved. Link to Cyclone Idai Appeal here →

We have had something of a Central Asian focus over the last couple of weeks. Our mission to Kyrgyzstan last week has returned after a very successful trip. One company, which attended last year’s mission and secured business, attended this time too and managed to generate significant new orders. On Tuesday, we hosted a 20-strong delegation from Uzbekistan with over 40 guests for a comprehensive update on the economy and a view of some of the many business opportunities in the country. On Thursday evening, we celebrated Nauryz, a Central Asian holiday signifying not only the spring equinox but also the renewal of nature, symbolising fertility, friendship and love. The Reception also marked final day of our art exhibition featuring contemporary art from across the region which has been so well received by the many people visiting.

The next meeting of the Turkmenistan-UK Trade and Industry Council (TUKTIC) will take place in Ashgabat on 24-26 April 2019. British Expertise are running a pre-visit briefing meeting in London, where attendees will have the opportunity to put their questions about the upcoming TUKTIC directly to the Co-Chair of TUKTIC, Ronald Nash, as well as the British Ambassador to Turkmenistan, Thorda Abbott-Watt and Head of Trade at the British Embassy, Arslan Garryyev (via video link). We would encourage you to attend this event even if you have not yet registered for TUKTIC this year - there is still time to decide.

At BEI’s invitation, we hosted the Independent Commission for Aid (ICAI)’s new chief commissioner, Dr Tamsyn Barton as she consulted with senior level participants on developing the third phase of planning ICAI’s future work. A dynamic discussion ensued, providing an invaluable opportunity for insights and suggestions from members attending.

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On Wednesday evening Adrian Gregory, CEO of our member Atos, returned to The D Group for an update on the real-world applications of A.I. Adrian’s approach was very much focused on cutting through the current hype surrounding the sector and examining the ways that automation is already being used in our everyday lives, as well as some of the ethical questions that this raises. Whether automated vehicles, image recognition technology, online translation or indeed Netflix recommendations, A.I. is already changing the lives of consumers around the world and no doubt will soon be having the same widespread effect on the business community.

I wish you all a happy weekend, and hopefully a little sunshine.

With best wishes,

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Tracey Smith
CEO, British Expertise International


Event highlights:

Monday 25th March – British Expertise
Turkmenistan: Briefing with British Embassy ahead of TUKTIC
Ronald Nash, Co-Chair, TUKTIC
HE Thorda Abbott-Watt, British Ambassador to Turkmenistan
Arslan Garryyev, Head of International Trade, British Embassy in Ashgabat

Tuesday 26th March – The D Group Lunch
UK-Turkey Relations
H.E Ümit Yalçınn Turkish Ambassador, Embassy of Turkey, London

Wednesday 27th March – The D Group Lunch
Immigration is an economic necessity and we urgently need honest political leadership
James Kirkup, Director, The Social Market Foundation

Tuesday 2nd April – The D Group Dinner
Dinner with Sir John Armitt CBE
Sir John Armitt CBE, Chair, National Infrastructure Commission

Wednesday 17th April 2019 – BEI Awards
British Expertise International Awards 2019

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 15th March

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 15th March

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Dear Members & Friends,

Although I’m not a fan of inclement weather, as Storm Gareth, or Hannah depending on when you read this, gathers momentum I am grateful for the welcome diversion it provides to UK politics. Though like you I am really conscious of the sea of uncertainty and tumult it brings to the delivery of business on a daily base at the moment. In planning terms the political storm’s track is unhelpfully not clear – whether it will bring destruction or the worst veer away.

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At home in Grafton Street on Wednesday, The D Group welcomed Charles Gibbons of The Francis Crick Institute to discuss '5G'. Until very recently, Charles was the Chief Domain Architect at BT and was at the forefront of their 5G roll-out. Clearly, the applications of 5G will transform the way society operates as it allows greater penetration and coverage of data. It is not about speed as many of us thought. There was much blue sky thinking of the application of this technology and what future applications will involve. We wish Charles all the best with his new role at The Francis Crick Institute.

In a similar vein I met with Pearson, the UK education giant and new BEI member, this week. We discussed some of the possible implications of an increasingly digital approach in the classroom and what might be some of the challenges related to that. How much technological delivery should we embrace and who makes the judgement on when to draw a line? To this end we will be developing a series of events with this topic in mind and hope that many of you will join us to explore and debate a subject that impacts our own families as well as the communities many of us work with in developing parts of the world. There are potentially some really significant opportunities here as many of you know.

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Due to Parliamentary commitments, the D Group lunch with Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for the Department of Transport, due to take place on Thursday was postponed. An efficient transport system based on a coherent long term plan must be an essential plank of a post- Brexit domestic policy . Whilst we work to get the SoS back we look forward to both the chair of Transport for the North in June and the DEPT of Transport Permanent Sec in September.

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At times of certain uncertainty, it is good to have something positive to look forward to. The 2019 BEI Awards Dinner is next month and certainly one such event. Our President, His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester will help us present the winners their awards, assisted by Baroness Fairhead CBE, Minister of Export and Trade Promotion at DIT, who will deliver our keynote speech. Collaboration and positive social impact are just two key themes of the awards showcasing successful projects that straddle neighbouring countries, and overcome cultural, legal and economic differences as well as obstacles such as challenges in security, poor healthcare and immense poverty. Booking is open and we look forward to seeing you all. Last year’s event was fabulous which, we of course, are aiming to repeat and take to the next level.

Best wishes for a weekend of decent rugby and some solid R&R.

With best wishes,

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Tracey Smith
CEO, British Expertise International


Event highlights:

Wednesday 20th March – The D Group
What is AI actually being used for today? – A discussion on real case studies
Adrian Gregory, CEO UK & Ireland, Atos

Thursday 21st March – Strategy International
Networking Reception: Celebrating Nauryz
Strategy International & D-Contemporary – Drinks Reception

Monday 25th March – British Expertise
Turkmenistan: Briefing with British Embassy ahead of TUKTIC
Ronald Nash, Co-Chair, TUKTIC
HE Thorda Abbott-Watt, British Ambassador to Turkmenistan
Arslan Garryyev, Head of International Trade, British Embassy in Ashgabat

Tuesday 26th March – The D Group
UK-Turkey Relations
H.E Ümit Yalçınn Turkish Ambassador, Embassy of Turkey, London

Wednesday 17th April 2019 – BEI Awards
British Expertise International Awards 2019

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 8th March

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 8th March

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Dear Members & Friends,

Taken during my 3 week ‘Brexit escape strategy’ in Antarctica; a suitable metaphor, I thought, for public boredom with the ‘B’ word.

Business must go on and amidst the uncertainty I’m glad to see Strategy and its members producing highly informative events. It was a very busy week.

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BEI’s Middle-East Access Group (MEAG) hosted Khaled Al Khulifah, First Secretary – Head of the Political Section at the London Embassy of Kuwait, on Tuesday. Anglo-Kuwaiti relations have been strong for many years and 2019 marks the 120th anniversary of the first treaty signed between the two countries. This treaty, kept secret at the time, was enormously significant for both countries and, according to records, was the first formal engagement ever executed between a ruler of Kuwait and the government of any country. The First Secretary brought things up to date with an overview of the strategy for New Kuwait 2035 and commented on a number of areas for collaboration and opportunity during a Q&A session.

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Cardiff University’s Dr Pete Burnap addressed key themes in the UK’s cyber-projection strategy and the important role of 17 UK universities in general, and Cardiff in particular, in combining to give the nation a high degree of protection. The main takeaways, other than Cardiff clearly being a highly relevant leader in the sector and a useful touchpoint for the membership, were a need for the constant challenges posed by cyber (and AI), not just in companies but also within their supply chains, to be represented at Excom and main board level.

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Wednesday also saw a packed launch of an exhibition of outstanding art art mainly from Central Asia. Business people and diplomats from across the region attended. BEI’s Central Asian unit combined with D Contemporary and the Britain-Kazakh Society to deliver an evening with real buzz. This followed on from a similar event for Belarus. Showcasing cultural offerings from many of the emerging countries that we deal with will be a growing part of D-Contemporary’s calendar of exhibitions.

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The retiring Vice Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Gordon Messenger, discussed the outlook for the UK’s Armed Forces with some 20 business leaders and defence specialists. Alongside an impressive reminder of why, despite a frequent press depiction of a degraded UK defence presence, the UK with its entrenched Transatlantic relationship remains second only to the US in terms of Western defence capability, there were a number of key points for business. The main was a growing commitment to cross-cutting (across the three services) functional authorities to iron out duplications, maximise cost efficiencies and value for the taxpayer.

On Thursday morning BEI, hosted a round table discussion with a visiting team from the World Bank on Enhanced Remedies against Gender-Based Violence (GBV), a very productive and insightful engagement which brought to light some of the innovative thinking around the whole safeguarding agenda, a topic high on the DFID’s priorities. Policy and management mechanisms for GBV and other safeguarding related issues will need broad engagement with many actors, here there is an opportunity for greater collaboration to ensure global standards are established and effectively implanted.

The afternoon brought an honest and candid discussion on DFID’s “No Deal Preparations”, very welcome by BEI members who joined the meeting with Chris Carter, DFID’s Deputy Head of the EU Department. DFID reiterated their commitment to ensure that their ability to deliver essential business in a “value for money and impactful way” is maintained. There are still a lot of uncertainties for suppliers, with financial and operational risks to be managed and mitigated, but the engagement provided some useful insights and information.

The next few weeks sees a very active calendar. It is set out below.

This week also saw the publication of the second edition of our international magazine and podcast, Perspectives.

I wish you all a relaxing weekend.

Regards,

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Peter O'Kane - Executive Chairman, Strategy International


Event highlights:

Wednesday 13th March – The D Group
Lunch with Charles Gibbons
Charles Gibbons, Chief IT Architect & Head of Engineering, The Francis Crick Institute

Thursday 14th March – D Group Lunch
Lunch with the Rt. Hon. Chris Grayling MP, Secretary of State for Transport
The Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP, Secretary of State for Transport

Tuesday 19th March – BEI Meeting
ICAI’s Future Work Plan – a Consultation
Tamsyn Barton, ICAI Chief Commissioner

Tuesday 19th March – BEI Meeting
Uzbekistan: Meeting Senior Government Delegation
Laziz Kudratov, Deputy Minister of Investments and Foreign Trade

Tuesday 19th March – The D Group
Dinner with Barry White, CEO, Transport for the North
Barry White, CEO, Transport for the North

Wednesday 20th March – The D Group
What is AI actually being used for today? – A discussion on real case studies
Adrian Gregory, CEO UK & Ireland, Atos

Thursday 21st March – Strategy International
Networking Reception: Celebrating Nauryz
Strategy International & D-Contemporary – Drinks Reception

Monday 25th March – British Expertise
Turkmenistan: Briefing with British Embassy ahead of TUKTIC

Tuesday 26th March – The D Group
UK-Turkey Relations
H.E Ümit Yalçınn Turkish Ambassador, Embassy of Turkey, London

Tuesday 26th March – BFPG
Sheffield City Region: International Perspectives & Ambitions Post-Brexit
British Foreign Policy Group

Wednesday 27th March – The D Group
Immigration is an economic necessity and we urgently need honest political leadership
James Kirkup, Director, The Social Market Foundation



Wednesday 17th April 2019 – BEI Awards
British Expertise International Awards 2019

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 1st March

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 1st March

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Dear Members and Friends,

What a glorious sunny week which is hopefully a sign of things to come. The English Cricket Team has had some good results and Brexit rolls on. It has been a comparatively quiet week, but we have had some exciting, thought provoking events:

Tuesday 26 February. Opportunities for UK Plc in Eastern Europe and Central Asia
BEI hosted a UK DIT Trade Team who presented on the opportunities for UK Business in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Whilst challenges to doing business in the region exist, UK plc has some unique capabilities to offer and there are great opportunities with a good return on investment for those companies looking at long term engagement and working with local counterparts with local insights and experience.

Wednesday 27 February. Future Group Interacting with Whitehall
The Future Group was treated to an outstanding session on how Whitehall and Business can work more effectively together to help create greater value for the country. Robert Gardener explained the structure of the Cabinet and how it operates, the 25 Government Departments, the role of Special Advisors and the political, economic and social prism through which all issues are considered. Tushar Prabhu, a Member and CEO of Pell Frischmann then talked us through the issues but looking through the lens of a Chief Executive.

Wednesday 27 February. Presentation of the first Defence Working Group Paper to Doctor Julian Lewis Chair of the House of Commons Defence Select Committee
On Wednesday afternoon Michelle Howard and I went across to the House of Commons to see Dr Julian Lewis MP who Chairs the House of Commons Defence Select Committee. We presented our first Paper from the Defence Working Group; “Planning Ahead: Towards a Resilient British Defence Industry”. The Paper was well received and we will soon be publishing it. Our follow up work will cover:

  • The Prosperity Agenda.

  • Further study of the Cole Commission recommendations on Education.

  • Strengthening the Defence Sales Organisation (DSO)

  • Launching a workshop between industry and DSO staff to identify points of contact for export support.

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Thursday 28 February. Martin Plaut, South Africa
We had an illuminating lunchtime discussion on with Martin Plaut, South African born journalist and author, a former Africa Secretary for the Labour Party and Africa Editor for the BBC World Service, and now Senior Research Fellow at London University's Institute of Commonwealth Studies in London. Martin observed the earlier disadvantages that many African countries faced having had in the post-colonial period few leaders with any business experience. However, he proposed that there is huge potential in Africa. In pursuit of which, he noted the key importance of long-term presence and involvement, whatever the occasional short-term downsides. He argued for a much more engaged approach by HMG Ministers on behalf of UK business in the face of Chinese initiatives across the continent.

Thursday 28 February. Western Balkans Panel Discussion
On Thursday, we were treated to a private-sector panel discussion on a region that we don’t often cover – the Western Balkans. This is an area rich with opportunity, however it receives less government support than some other territories. The discussion moved to how we, our members and HMG can all work together to support British business working in the countries of Albania, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Serbia and Croatia, to support good governance and deliver much needed infrastructure projects.

Finally, I have just been reminded that there is no rugby this weekend and therefore it leaves plenty of time for other activities. Have a relaxing weekend.

With best wishes,

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Seumas Kerr CBE - Managing Director, The D Group


Event highlights:

Tuesday 5th March – BEI Meeting/MEAG
Middle East Access Group Reception with H.E. Mr Khaled Al Duwaisan GCVO, Kuwaiti Ambassador and Dean of the Diplomatic Corps
H.E. Mr Khaled Al-Duwaisan GCVO, Kuwaiti Ambassador

Wednesday 6th March – D Group Lunch
A.I & Cyber Security
Dr Pete Burnap, Data Science & Cyber Analytics, Cardiff University

Thursday 7th March – BEI Meeting
No Deal Preparations at DFID
Chris Carter, DFID Deputy Head Europe Department and EU Exit Team Leader



Wednesday 17th April 2019 – BEI Awards
British Expertise International Awards 2019

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 22nd February

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 22nd February

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Dear Members and Friends,

Another unprecedented, but also increasingly typical week of UK politics. No matter what the new Independent Party might mean for Mrs May’s government, it is safe to say that it is another bump in the road to Brexit. The timing of this extraordinary news certainly added an extra dynamic to our events this week, in particular Philip Rycroft’s update on exiting the EU, full details of which follow below. 

A busy week kicked off on Tuesday with a flurry of BEI events. Firstly, H.E. Chris Rampling MBE, British Ambassador to Lebanon shared his economic and political updates on Lebanon, as well as on potential opportunities for UK Business. He pointed to some evidence of Lebanon working to improve the business environment through fiscal reforms, a capital investment plan, power sector restructuring and oil and gas exploration. He referred to the McKinsey report on Lebanon for some additional insights on the state of the economy and doing business.

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We were then joined by Nepal Minister for Finance, Dr Yuba Raj Khatiwada, for a briefing on opportunities for UK Business in Nepal, where he highlighted some of the sectors of interest for UK companies including Infrastructure, Energy, Tourism, Industry, Transport, ICT and Agriculture. The Honourable Minister also emphasised some of the recent efforts the Nepal government had made in improving some policies, procedures, business practices for doing business. This London visit comes ahead of the upcoming ‘Nepal Investment Summit 2019’ from 29 to 30 March 2019 in Kathmandu. 

Wrapping up a jam packed day, BEI’s Central Asia and Transcaucasus Business Information Group (CATBIG) hosted Georgian Ambassador to the UK, H.E. Mrs Tamar Beruchashvili where she shared an insightful presentation on why Georgia is an attractive country to invest and do business in. It is a strategic bridge between Europe and Asia, with rapidly developing infrastructure and great human capital. Georgia has an attractive economic narrative and its government is implementing a comprehensive reform agenda which includes a focus on governance and SME reform. Current developments include a flagship project to develop the Anaklia deep sea port and the wider region. Following the presentation, members enjoyed a networking reception with the Ambassador featuring wine from a range of Georgian producers.

On Wednesday night Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, reminded us that any economically thriving city depends on having guaranteed safety and security. In her discussion of ‘Keeping London safe’, she stressed that above all the police are civilians in uniform, and despite inevitable changes in the technology, it is essential that the Met maintains its personal, face-to-face approach to policing. The Met has undergone a remarkable transformation over the last twenty years, with 30% of its 30,000 regular constables now women (a percentage that rises to 50% in specific, higher-level roles) and 30% from BME backgrounds. With the capability and connectivity to open more doors internationally than many other UK public bodies, the Met is one of London’s greatest assets, and is held in the highest regard around the world.

We concluded the week last night when we welcomed Philip Rycroft, Permanent Secretary for Exiting the European Union, back to the D Group almost 12 months to the day since his last visit. He gave us a tour de force of where we are, the 320 Policy Domains that have to be addressed, what is being stockpiled by the Government and various other high-level activities. We are now at the end of the beginning and Phase 2 (post 29 March) is now being thought through. We will have to renegotiate our position with the European Union and life will be very different as a third country. We will also need to learn a whole new skill set to influence the EU from without the EU, in addition to renegotiating our trade relationships around the World. Philip said that when he assumed his appointment his department had 40 staff: now it has over 750.

Here’s wishing you all a peaceful half-term weekend and we look forward to seeing you soon.

With best wishes,

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James Jones, Director of Account Management


Event highlights:

Tuesday 26th February – BEI Meeting
Opportunities for UK Plc in Eastern Europe
DIT Eastern Europe and Central Asia representatives

Wednesday 27th February – BEI Meeting
Roundtable with Martyn Warr OBE, Consul General to Kurdistan
Martyn Warr OBE, Consul General to Kurdistan

Wednesday 6th March – D Group Lunch
A.I & Cyber Security
Dr Pete Burnap, Data Science & Cyber Analytics, Cardiff University

British Expertise International Awards:

Wednesday 17th April 2019 – BEI Awards
British Expertise International Awards 2019

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 15th February

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 15th February

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In a break from recent tradition a relatively quiet week on the Brexit front. I suspect merely the calm before the storm and with 43 days to go it won’t be long before the clouds start gathering again over Westminster. Whatever the shape of the deal on the 29th March, the reoccurring and ultimately encouraging theme from our events this week was that innovation, be that electric vehicles or the digital economy, could be the key to guiding UK Plc through an unknown future.

On Tuesday we heard from Andrew Burgess, Deputy Director for Energy System Transition at Ofgem. Andrew addressed a range of themes, in particular the extensive work being done through the Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan to make sure the regulatory environment and consequently power networks are fit for purpose to meet the exponential demand and supply risks of electric vehicles. A true tour de force of the many challenges and opportunities arising from this burgeoning sector and a fascinating insight into the future of the energy market.

On Wednesday afternoon, BEI was delighted to host the newly appointed ICAI Chief Commissioner, Tamsyn Barton and Review Team Leader Paul Harvey as they presented their finding on the ICAI review on the UK’s approach to funding the UN humanitarian system looking at relevance, efficiency and effectiveness. With a more than 200% increase in demand for assistance since 2011, the review found that DFID has successfully used its funding and influence to strengthen UN humanitarian agencies but needs to do more to deliver on its commitments to ensure effective accountability to affected populations and to stream line its own reporting requirements. Some recommendations were put forward to DFID and the response from government was received a few days ago.

On Wednesday evening we also had the pleasure of welcoming Dr Ian Campbell, Executive Chair of Innovate UK. Innovate UK is an industrial strategy fund providing financial assistance and connecting together the best of the UK’s R&D and Infrastructure organisations. During the evening Ian shared with us the 4 Global Challenges that Innovate UK see as critical to address within the next few years: Artificial Intelligence and Data, an Ageing Society, Clean Growth and Future Mobility. In order to tackle these challenges, cross-sector engagement is needed more than ever. Bringing business, government and organisations across the country together will be crucial if we are to make a real difference to the nation’s future quality of life.

An interesting and topical programme of events next week. On Tuesday afternoon we welcome the Georgian Ambassador to the UK, HE Tamar Beruchashvili who will be briefing us on commercial opportunities for UK companies in Georgia. On Wednesday we will hear from Met Police Commissioner, Cressida Dick CBE, on “Keeping London Safe” and on Thursday Philip Rycroft CB, Permanent Secretary to DExEU, will be updating us on where we stand with just a over a month to go!

With the first signs of spring in the air and a rest week in the Six Nations, I’m off to tend to the roses. Hope to see you at one of our events soon.

Have a good weekend,

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James Jones, Director of Account Management


Event highlights:

Tuesday 19th February – BEI Meeting
Meeting with H.E. Chris Rampling MBE, HM’s Ambassador to Lebanon
H.E. Chris Rampling MBE, HM’s Ambassador to Lebanon

Tuesday 19th February – BEI Meeting
Meet the Georgian Ambassador to the United Kingdom
H.E. Tamar Beruchashvili, Georgian Ambassador to the United Kingdom

Wednesday 20th February – D Group Dinner
Keeping London safe
Commissioner Cressida Dick CBE QPM, Metropolitan Police


British Expertise International Awards:

Wednesday 17th April 2019 – BEI Awards
British Expertise International Awards 2019

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 8th February

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 8th February

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Dear Members and Friends,

We have had an exceptionally busy and stimulating week in Strategy International with some outstanding high quality speakers. As a backdrop Brexit rolls on but I do detect an urgency that has not always been apparent.

Monday 4 February – The Honourable Jake Berry MP, Minister for the Northern Powerhouse and Local Growth, Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government.

The Minister took us back in History prior to the First World War when the Northern Powerhouse was the economic Centre of Gravity of the Empire. Two World Wars had seen more and more centralisation of power in Westminster and this was now being unwound. Four years ago George Osbourne reinvented the term ‘the Northern Powerhouse’, and over that period we have seen the introduction of Metro Mayors and devolution across the North. Manchester is now one of the fastest growing cities in Europe and there has been a 200% increase in exports between Manchester and Beijing over the last couple of years. In the last year alone the D Group has held lunches in Newcastle, Sheffield and Liverpool and there are great business opportunities across many Sectors. The Government has also realised the education attainment disparity between the North and the South and an extra £70 million is being invested in Northern Schools.

Tuesday 5 February – HM Trade Commissioner for China, Richard Burn.

Richard Burn has lived and worked in China for many years both in the private and public sector. He has now been the Trade Commissioner for a year and has a Team of 200 staff, spread across five Consulates, who are there to get market access across all Sectors for British Companies. 2017 saw a 28% growth in British Business with China but this has not been sustained in 2018. Percentages have held up but in the first 9 months of 2018 there was only 1% growth. The UK/China Golden Era that was started by David Cameron and President Xi is now firmly in its second stage but talks that were meant to have taken place last November have been delayed due to a couple of high level issues that are being worked through.

Tuesday 5th February – Meet the Ambassador: HE Mr Robin Ord-Smith MVO, HMA Kyrgyzstan

On Tuesday afternoon, BEI’s Central Asia and Transcaucasus Business Information Group (CATBIG) hosted an event with the British Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan, HE Mr Robin Ord-Smith MVO, ahead of the cross-sector trade mission we are running there in March. Kyrgyzstan offers many business and investment opportunities for UK plc – especially in extractives, education, agribusiness and tourism. While there has been some political uncertainty there in recent years, the British Embassy remains poised to support UK companies in their business development efforts and is often instrumental in ensuring success. The Ambassador highlighted the importance of strong stakeholder networks and personal connections when doing work in the region. To find out more about the upcoming mission, please click here or get in touch with Alexandra.

Thursday 7th February – Richard Harrington MP, Permanent Under Secretary for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Unlike many MPs, the Permanent Under Secretary has worked in Business for over 24 years and this experience shone through in his talk. He explained the role of his Department and how disruptive technology such as Artificial Intelligence was transforming UK business. There was also agreement from all those present that Brexit is currently overshadowing every part of business and what was needed was as frictionless a transition as possible. Looking beyond the current intense political activity a key theme was the need for the UK to up its game converting many more of it’s outstanding younger, high-growth companies, including the many coming out of the UK’s leading University research base, into successful commercial enterprise. The Minister agreed to see several of our Members, which is a great example of what Strategy International aims to achieve in furthering dialogue between the public and the private sector.

Have a great weekend and we look forward to seeing many of you next week.

With best wishes Seumas.

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Seumas Kerr CBE - Managing Director, The D Group


Event highlights:

Tuesday 12th February – D Group Lunch
Electric Vehicles – Current developments and future initiatives
Andrew Burgess, Deputy Director, Energy System Transition, Ofgem

Wednesday 13th February – BEI Meeting
UK's approach to funding the UN humanitarian system
Dr Tamsyn Barton, ICAI Chief Commissioner

Wednesday 13th February – D Group Dinner
How UK business can encourage innovation
Dr Ian W Campbell, Executive Chair, Innovate UK



Wednesday 17th April 2019 – BEI Awards
British Expertise International Awards 2019

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 1st February

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 1st February

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Dear Members & Friends,

A week full of fascinating events, growth in the membership and the launch of some new international content - Strategy International’s ‘Perspectives’ platform.

The Brexit soap opera continues, although perhaps Tuesday evening’s votes have, at last, pointed the way to a (slim) majority parliamentary position; that of the deal agreed with the EU, but sans/ohne backstop. We may be approaching the end game. One of a particularly absorbing but high stakes game of chicken.

EVENTS. This week/Next week.

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D Group delivered three absorbing events during the week.

The Japan/UK relationship is assuming increasing importance, despite Brexit. On the debit side there is a Japanese business community in the UK deeply concerned about the uncertainties posed by Brexit. The Japanese response to the UK’s decision to leave the EU, led by their supremely able ambassador and trade expert, HE Koji Tsuruoka and supported by a highly coordinated leadership group of Japanese businesses has been a case study in how business and government should work together. On the credit side is a closening security and cooperation relationship between the two countries with clear potentials for Trade. Ambassador Tsuruoka led a valuable discussion covering Trade, Defence and Aid.

On a security theme, ex Mi6 Chief, Sir Richard Dearlove, surveyed the challenges to World security in general and the UK in particular. China and Russia loomed large, as did trenchant concerns about certain forms of EU exit for the UK. A high-level discussion of these can be found in the Perspective’s podcast. Listen to the podcast →

GE’s Rob Evans took us away from geo-politics and the ‘B’ word and into the very real challenges to business of the Internet of Things. Rob reviewed how just about every sector is becoming transformed by the digital revolution, and Asset Performance Management (APM) systems are becoming ever more widely used. As suppliers increasingly transition to the “power by the hour” model, efficient asset life tracking is becoming essential and the introduction of fully autonomous ‘dark factories’ may be on the horizon.

Next week we welcome, in sequence, the Northern Powerhouse minister, the Beijing based UK Trade Commissioner to China, our ambassador to Kyrgyzstan and welcome back the Secretary of State for BEIS. The latter, Greg Clark, speaks to a title agreed months ago but now positively heaving with expectation-“What next for British business?”.

NEW MEMBERS.

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These are tough times for companies to commit to adding to variable costs and so the arrival of new members is even more noteworthy an event than usual. D Group was delighted to welcome the major energy company SSE and British Expertise welcomed the great name of Pearson plc and ABT, who work to improve the quality of life and economic well-being of people worldwide.

NEW CONTENT.

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Strategy has an active international footprint. In addition to a wide range of British Expertise and D Group briefings on international themes and markets we engage with and support the efforts of HMG’s FCO, DiT and Dfid departments and we have our own representatives around the world. Not to mention two other overseas D Groups. We interact frequently with missions here in London from multiple nations. We have now launched a pilot edition of ‘Perspectives’, a platform which hopefully adds to our networks’ insights into a range of topical matters. You can access it here →

Regards,

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Peter O'Kane - Executive Chairman, Strategy International


Event highlights:

Tuesday 5th February – D Group / BEI Lunch
China – the view on the key opportunities and challenges for British business in 2019
Richard Burn, HM Trade Commissioner for China, Department for International Trade

Tuesday 5th February – CATBIG Meeting
Meet the British Ambassador to the Kyrgyz Republic
H.E. Mr Robin Ord-Smith MVO, British Ambassador to the Kyrgyz Republic

Tuesday 12th February – D Group Lunch
Electric Vehicles – Current developments and future initiatives
Jonathan Brearley, Executive Director, Ofgem



Wednesday 17th April 2019 – BEI Awards
British Expertise International Awards 2019

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 25th January

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 25th January

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Members & Friends,

As we conclude another week in politics, I’m afraid I remain confused on how Brexit will be achieved and therefore have decided to ignore it entirely and focus on our in-house activity.

The week kicked off when Justine Greening MP joined us and tackled the difficult topic ‘How Reform of HM Treasury Can Unlock Britain’s Potential’. She gave an inspirational talk on Human Capital, barely utilised and possibly resulting in fewer of us feeling that we have a ‘real’ stake in Britain. There was an interesting discussion on the long-term viability of whether or not it was sustainable for public finances to be run over a 5-year period or longer. We have in front of us a monumental opportunity to run our public finances differently and no country has yet cracked effective social mobility. If the UK could achieve this first, it would create a real opportunity for us.

Accessibility to higher education as a way of maximising social mobility is a particular interest of Justine’s and she also shared innovative university and student funding ideas which were being prepared before she left the Department for Education. These sought to both maintain the fee structure paid by HMG to the universities whilst replacing the current form of student education and maintenance loans with a non-regressive, post- graduation payment programme. These ideas were actively advanced by Justine later in the week and picked up across the national press.

Tuesday was the highlight of my week, judging the vast number of entries to the British Expertise International Awards 2019 (#BEIAwards19). A challenging afternoon of debate chaired by our President, HRH The Duke of Gloucester has, I’m delighted to announce, produced a shortlist of projects and achievements that UK PLC should be very proud of. Specific company and project details can be found in the BEI newsletter.

View the 2019 Awards shortlist →

Whether you have entered the competition or are waiting for next year, the Awards Dinner showcases the best of the British professional services sector and is an excellent networking event. This year His Royal Highness and I will be joined by Baroness Fairhead CBE, Minister of Trade and Export Promotion at the Department for International Trade to present the winners their awards in the company of members and guests from around the world. Booking is open so please do join us.

Concluding the week on Thursday, the D Group lunch focused on Russia. The speaker, MD of CrossBorder Capital Michael Howell, shared his views on why the Russian economy has been doing rather well in recent years, all things considered. Higher oil and gas rates, large-scale exporting of military goods and a surplus agriculture production were all named as factors in Russia’s current resilience. Michael drew comparisons with the situation in the Soviet Union in the years before its collapse, as well as modern China – where a basic economy producing capital goods works but can run into problems where it begins diversifying into consumer goods.

Have a wonderful weekend all, we hope to see you soon and look forward to hearing your news.

With best wishes,

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Tracey Smith
CEO, British Expertise International


Event highlights:

Tuesday 29th January – BEI Meeting
How to Design Better Development Programmes in Complex Systems
Andrew Koleros, Director of Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning, Palladium
Mark Oldenbeuving, Senior Expert, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning, Integrity

Wednesday 30th January – D Group Lunch
IoT disrupting the way industries are delivering their product & services
Rob Evans, Director Ecosystems and Channels, GE Digital

Monday 4th February – D Group Lunch
Is the Norther Powerhouse needed more than ever?
Jake Berry MP, Minister for the Norther Powerhouse and Local Growth, Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government

Wednesday 17th April 2019 – BEI Awards
British Expertise International Awards 2019

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 18th January

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 18th January

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Members and friends,

Nearly two and a half years ago I invited Markus Kerber, the then head of the BDI, the German CBI equivalent, to come over, meet our members and tell them what he saw as the way forward. Justin Webb came to our office to interview him for the BBC ‘Today’ programme. His prescient advice as someone who represented the might of German industry but who had worked many years in The City? The 27 would not be divided, special “bespoke” deals were not going to be on offer and the UK had to realise it was completely out, start with a clean sheet and look to what would be plentiful Teutonic pragmatism, goodwill and mutual interest to build a new relationship before the exit date that would ensure minimal disruption to trade for all. One can only reflect on where we’d be now if the UK had gripped that common-sense reality as the starting point and HMG and business sector representatives had not drawn early battle lines and instead worked much more effectively together, sector by sector, to assess and address the major issues.

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Meanwhile, back in the real world, much is going on and will continue to go on regardless of Brexit. An excellent event held by the UK-Vietnam network at the House of Lords, at 7pm right in the middle of ‘the meaningful vote’, reflected what we hear time and time again from missions in London; that there is a long and valued relationship with the UK and, regardless of Brexit, massive trading opportunity across a range of sectors. Vietnam specifically has a population of 100 million, repeated 6% + growth, an excellent Ambassador and opportunities in infrastructure, education, business services. Strategy and its members will visit later this year.

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Also, at the same time as the Commons were busy on the ‘meaningful vote’, Strategy International hosted the impressive DFID Permanent Secretary, Matthew Rycroft, for a very engaged discussion around how, with the 0.7% supported across the political spectrum, the UK can maintain its position as a development aid “super power” beyond Brexit. There was active debate on how to deploy funds with the primary aim of reducing poverty but also to see them work in the national interest. As part of this, DFID are looking to enhance engagement with the private sector, both via its own, direct channeling of ODA funds but also increasing cross-government ODA spend. This desirable objective is, however, up against what participants felt were increasing costs of doing business with DFID. There is no quibble with the need for transparency, to deliver value for money and be accountable to the highest standards but the commercial relationship has to be a sustainable one.

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On Wednesday RUSI’s Director General, Dr Karin von Hippel, took us away from the Westminster parallel universe to that of ‘The Donald’; one where a wall may not be a wall and where American taxpayers find that they are in fact the ‘Mexicans’ who will pay for it (once government re-opens for business). One can’t deny the apparent short-term effectiveness of some of his strident positions but at what level of erosion of the US’s influence? The main issue is one of leadership style. If it’s repeatedly obvious in any hierarchy that only the boss’s opinion matters and criticism, however constructive, is repeatedly and publicly rejected then it descends into conformist group-think that does nothing until he decides.

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HM’s Trade Commissioner for Africa Emma Wade-Smith visited on Thursday and led a candid and constructive discussion on how HMG engagement in Africa is evolving. This covered the challenges and opportunities UK businesses face doing business in different countries and practical ideas for improving and fine tuning the support businesses receive from the UK government. Particular areas of specific follow up? More coordinated UK engagement in East Africa and integrating the important role of CDC more effectively within wider HMG engagement in the region. The upcoming UK-Africa Investment summit previously announced by the Prime Minister was also flagged as a great opportunity for members to engage early to shape a key initiative for the UK and Africa in 2019.

We look forward to a great programme for the rest of January, the remaining events being listed below.

Wishing you all an enjoyable and Brexit-free weekend.

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Peter O'Kane - Executive Chairman, Strategy International


Event highlights:

Monday 21st January – D Group Lunch
Human Capital: How reform of HM Treasury can unlock Britain’s potential
The Rt Hon Justine Greening MP, Member of Parliament for Putney

Thursday 24th January – D Group Lunch
Why is Russia doing so well?
Michael Howell, Managing Director, CrossBorder Capital

Monday 28th January – D Group Lunch
UK-Japanese co-operation; Trade, Defence, Aid
H.E. Koji Tsuruoka, Ambassador of Japan to the UK

Tuesday 29th January – BEI Meeting
How to Design Better Development Programmes in Complex Systems
Andrew Koleros, Director of Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning, Palladium
Mark Oldenbeuving, Senior Expert, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning, Integrity

Tuesday 29th January – D Group Dinner
A new international order. How profound is the change?
Sir Richard Dearlove KCMG OBE, Former Chief of MI6

Wednesday 30th January – D Group Lunch
IoT disrupting the way industries are delivering their product & services
Rob Evans, Director Ecosystems and Channels, GE Digital


British Expertise International Awards:

Wednesday 17th April 2019 – BEI Awards
British Expertise International Awards 2019
Submission deadline extended to 1st January 2019

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 11th January

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 11th January

A very Happy New Year to everyone!

As the world emerges from its seasonal slumber, though some of us have been back a week already, we return rested, re-energised and ready to put into practice those lofty New Year’s resolutions we swore to uphold two weeks ago. The resolutions may well fall by the wayside, along with your “Dry January” or new gym membership, but what should remain constant for us all is the ambition to seek out new opportunities for growth and prosperity in 2019. Those opportunities may well be harder to spot and even trickier to close, but with the right insights, and connections to the key decision makers we hope we can help all of our members shorten those odds to success.

With our events programme not swinging in to top gear until next week, I thought this would be a good time to draw your attention to some of the other activities we have coming up over the next few months.

Firstly, we invite you to join us next Wednesday, 16th January, for the Private View of the next exhibition in D Contemporary’s calendar, 'step BY step', featuring a showcase of contemporary artworks by artists from Belarus. Please click here to view the exhibition catalogue, and RSVP here to attend.

In March we are running a cross-sector trade mission to Bishkek, capital of Kyrgyzstan (11-13 March 2019). Kyrgyzstan is an early transition country with significant investment needs in professional services, information technology, renewable energy, education, infrastructure, tourism, mining and agri-business sectors. All meetings will be targeted and relevant to the delegation. Our last trade mission there, in February 2018, featured meetings at the Ministry for Economy; Ministry of Education and Science; State Committee of Industry and Subsoil Use; State Agency for Architecture, Housing, and Communal Services; Agency on Banks Reorganisation and Debt Restructuring; and Ministry of Culture, Information and Tourism. Please find the flyer here and for more information please contact Alexandra.

Finally, our biggest event of the year, the annual British Expertise International Awards. In just 10 weeks we showcase the Best of British Infrastructure at this year’s ceremony on the 17th April. Celebrating over 21 years of British excellence in global infrastructure, the Awards provide a one of a kind platform convening government and the private sector as we come together and move forward in a post-Brexit Britain. This year, the ceremony takes place just three weeks after the UK may leave the EU and is the perfect time for HMG and the private sector to come together and affirm their partnership in exporting the best of the UK’s professional services and engineering skills.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all our partners for their outstanding contribution to this year’s Awards. The calibre of the entries has been unprecedented and we cannot wait to showcase your outstanding work.

Have a good weekend,

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James Jones, Director of Account Management


Event highlights:

Monday 21st January – D Group Lunch
Human Capital: How reform of HM Treasury can unlock Britain’s potential
The Rt Hon Justine Greening MP, Member of Parliament for Putney

Thursday 24th January – D Group Lunch
Why is Russia doing so well?
Michael Howell, Managing Director, CrossBorder Capital

Monday 28th January – D Group Lunch
UK-Japanese co-operation; Trade, Defence, Aid
HE Koji Tsuruoka, Ambassador of Japan

Tuesday 29th January – BEI Meeting
How to Design Better Development Programmes in Complex Systems
Andrew Koleros, Director of Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning at Palladium
Mark Oldenbeuving, Senior Expert, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning at Integrity


British Expertise International Awards:

Wednesday 17th April 2019 – BEI Awards
British Expertise International Awards 2019

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 14th December

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 14th December

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Dear Members and Friends,

I am writing this letter on a crisp, sunny Friday morning after an exciting, stimulating, highly entertaining Christmas Party. It was good to see so many of you present. Jeremy Cape of Squire Patton Boggs produced another stellar performance on the piano and I was unaware how well our Members can sing! I have now completed nearly a year as the MD of the D Group and as I look back, I reflect on a hugely enjoyable year that has been demanding, yet fun. I would like to thank all our Members for their support and I am optimistic as we look forward to 2019. This is notwithstanding our current political situation. This has been another busy week in Strategy International with the following activities taking place:

Tuesday 11 December BEI’s Central Asia and Transcaucasus Business Information Group (CATBIG)
BEI’s Central Asia and Transcaucasus Business Information Group (CATBIG) hosted a traditional end-of-year Christmas reception with a Tourism briefing. Guests included representatives from the Embassies of Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. We were treated to presentations from a range of experienced travel industry specialists. George Smith, Marta Mills, Marat Akhmedjanov, Nathan Rumgay and Sergey Gritsenko shared their thoughts on the development of the tourism sector in the region covered by CATBIG and offered practical travel advice. The region lends itself very well to exclusive and customised holidays, and we were reminded that Eco-tourism is not only about conserving nature and wildlife but must make a positive impact on both the Ecology and Economy of a given destination.

Wednesday 12 December Kurdistan Chambers of Commerce
BEI hosted a visiting delegation from the Kurdistan Chambers of Commerce led by Mr Dara Al-Khayat, Chairman of the Kurdistan Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry and H.E. Karwan Jamal Tahir, KRG UK High Representative. With better relations between the Iraqi government and KRG which has also led to improved safety and security, the delegation felt that UK Business should look at the many opportunities available in a wide range of sectors including education, agribusiness and tourism.

Wednesday 12 December Hash Tag Me Too. Where do we go from here?
Caroline Noblet who is the Company Global Head of Labour and Employment for Squire Patton Boggs gave an outstanding presentation on Sexual Harassment and the Hash Tag Me Too phenomenon. She deftly steered us through the moral maze of the modern day work place and what is and is not acceptable behaviour. As Companies we should all have in place our Sexual Harassment Policies and understand the difference between Clumsy, Creepy and Criminal behaviour. We also had a very interesting debate on the use of NDAs.

Wednesday 12 December Reception for His Majesty, the Emperor of Japan.
The highlight of the diplomatic year in London, the reception for His Majesty, the Emperor of Japan’s birthday, took place on Wednesday. The Japanese embassy in London is a much valued member of The D Group. There was an added frisson to the packed evening as it coincided with a certain vote of confidence in the Palace of Westminster but the B word did not creep into the evening. Instead there was much focus on an enduring UK/ Japan relationship and growing ties between our respective defence and security expertise. That, plus a short speech from Eddie Jones confirming that England will be in the Rugby World Cup Final at 6pm, November 2, the Nissan stadium, Yokohama (with such inspiring confidence & clarity can he be lent to the B negotiations?).

I suspect that many of us have a very busy year ahead of us next year but for those that are breaking for Christmas, Happy Christmas.

With warmest regards,

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Seumas Kerr CBE - Managing Director, The D Group


Event highlights:

Tuesday 18th December – BEI Meeting
Opportunities for UK business in Myanmar (Burma)
Douglas Barnes, DIT Director

Wednesday 16th January – D Group Lunch
Implications of the US mid-term elections on the Trump Administration’s Foreign Policy
Dr Karin Von Hippel, Director-General, RUSI

Thursday 17th January – BEI Meeting
Africa Business Today and Tomorrow: Reality, Opportunities and Potential
Emma Wade Smith OBE, Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner for Africa