Strategy International | Weekly Update - 27th July

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 27th July

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Dear Members and Friends,

As I start to write this week’s update it has just been reported that today has been the hottest day this year so far. We have also had elections in Pakistan and my old school friend Imran Khan is claiming victory. It was very sad to see the security incidents in Quetta as I have very fond memories of our time there as a family.

Both Houses have commenced their Summer break and London has a party atmosphere about it.

We have had a quieter week at Strategy International with the following events:

Julian Lewis, Chairman of the House of Commons Defence Select Committee. “A Defence Policy for the Next Generation, Not the Next Election.”
I can think of few men as well qualified and with the passion to fill this position as Julian. He was a Shadow Defence Minister in 2002 but was a Naval Reservist in the 1970s and for many years was actively involved as a leader of Anti-CND Campaigns. There was a lively debate on how much the Government should spend on Defence and we were reminded that in 1963 we spent 6% of GDP on Defence, Welfare and Health. Today there is a stark contrast to this. The Government’s primary role is to defend the Nation, and views were expressed as to whether or not we now have an appropriate insurance policy. We also discussed whether or not we should be prepared for The War or A War. The majority of those attending felt that the ‘A War’ argument was more appropriate.

DFID’s Work and Project Delivery in Nepal
Rurik Marsden, Head of DFID in Nepal shared an update on DFID’s work in Nepal and some insights on the closer cross government collaboration in Nepal between DFID and FCO on key policy priorities. With complex investment rules and processes, costly and unreliable energy supply, poor transport infrastructure, weak institutions and poor governance there is much work to be done and many opportunities for UK plc to support Nepal’s development efforts.
 
Beckett Rankine
Finally, amidst all the extreme heat, BEI member Beckett Rankine, one of BEI’s smaller – but world beating – consultants had, for a ports and maritime expert, a very landlocked but perfectly pitched summer reception. A great event and, amidst all the business discussion about Iraq, Qatar, China, the Thames Tideway, etc., a great reminder of just how much international business is out there and the degree to which UK professional expertise is sought after.

During August we will be finalising our D Group Programme of events out to July 2019 and ensuring that our Working Group meeting dates are finalised. We have the following events planned for September:

Wednesday 5th September – D Group Breakfast
Defence priorities and economic reality
Johnny Mercer MP, Member for Plymouth, Moor View, House of Commons
 
Tuesday 11th September – D Group Lunch
The biggest emerging concerns in the workplace?
The Rt Hon Alistair Burt MP, Minister of State, Foreign & Commonwealth Office
 
Wednesday 12th September – BEI Lunch
Lunch with the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Peter Cheese, Fellow of the CIPD, Fellow of AHRI and the Academy of Social Sciences
 
Thursday 13th September – D Group Lunch
Improving the living standards of the poorest and most disadvantaged in society – the Conservative strategy
The Rt Hon Esther McVey MP, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, HM Government
 
Tuesday 18th September – BEI Meeting (15:00)
UK Export Finance – Access to Export Finance
Louis Taylor, Chief Executive, UKEF & Gordon Welsh, Head of the Business Group, UKEF
 
Thursday 20th September – D Group Lunch
Building an effective modern-day security security
The Rt Hon Ben Wallace MP, Minister of State for Security and Economic Crime, Home Office
 
Tuesday 25th September – D Group Lunch
London & Brexit
Rajesh Agrawal, Deputy Mayor, Business
 
Thursday 27th September – D Group Lunch
Upskilling the Civil Service
The Rt Hon. The Lord Maude of Horsham
 
 
Have a wonderful weekend.

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Seumas Kerr CBE - Managing Director, The D Group

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 20th July

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 20th July

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Dear Members and Friends,

With World Cup fever starting to subside, we are left a country reacquainted with the feeling of national pride. The sterling efforts of our boys in Russia have also brought a much-welcomed distraction from the white noise of Brexit. Whatever the outcome next March, and that’s far from obvious right now, it is clear the UK must forge new global partnerships. In keeping with that theme, it has been an incredibly international week and busy here at Strategy as we strive to keep our members informed of the business opportunities both in the UK and overseas. Here are some of the highlights for you to enjoy. 

Infrastructure Opportunities in Guinea
On Tuesday morning, Guinea’s Mining Minister Magassouba and Investment Minister Curtis, together with the British Ambassador to Guinea, H.E. Ms Catherine Inglehearn, and the Guinea Ambassador to the UK, H.E. Alexandre Cécé Loua presented a wide range of opportunities for British companies. The country requires both financial investment as well as project management expertise. Looking to diversify beyond mining, the country’s infrastructure prospects included: rail, roads, ports, energy, water, and agriculture to name a few. 

UK contribution to trade and investment in Asia and the Pacific
In the evening, FCO Minister of State Mark Field explained to us the meaning of “running Whip” when on a crucial day for the Government, with his mobile glowing and buzzing in his pocket, he none the less made time to give us a fascinating and encouragingly upbeat analysis of the potential for UK interests and business in the Asia and Pacific region, while also spreading the discourse rather wider. The FCO’s Director of Trade Diplomacy also joined us, and with him too a number of useful connections were made. Unsurprisingly we had a crowded table with participants from our members’ top levels. Mark spoke to us seriously and frankly and with good humour, and we very much hope to have him back again before long.

DFID Economic Development Programme in Uganda
On Wednesday, Paul Turner, DFID Regional Adviser, Cities and Infrastructure, East Africa did a great job of showing how the in-country team in Uganda is coordinating ever more closely to support development objectives recognising the centrality of urban planning and infrastructure development as key drivers. He highlighted how CDC, UKEF, DIT, FCO and DFID are improving the way they leverage their respective skills and resources in support of common objectives and trying to ensure UK plc sector can tap into that effectively to help HMG in delivering development and economic prosperity in Uganda. IMC Director, Nigel Penfold then provided a very complimentary and practical case study example of a feasibility study IMC were doing for DFID on urban infrastructure. 

Lunch with the British High Commissioner to India
On Wednesday, we had the pleasure to welcome The Honourable Sir Dominic Asquith KCMG, the British High Commissioner to the Republic of India, who spoke about the geopolitical overview of the country, the domestic scene and the financial situation. Whilst India is facing economic and political challenges, it still remains the third largest investor into the UK. The country as a whole is an open and competitive business destination. Opportunities for UK businesses range from hard infrastructure, automotive, pharmaceuticals to technology and artificial intelligence. There was an emphasis on relationship-building in the region to secure contracts. Sam Hoexter, UK Export Finance’s Regional Head of India, supported the High Commissioner’s message that commercial opportunities exist and highlighted that UK Export Finance together with the British High Commission in India are keen to support UK trade in the region.

The challenges and opportunities for modern service delivery
Bearing in mind all that is going on in Parliament at the moment, we were very fortunate that Secretary of State for Justice, The Rt Hon David Gauke MP was able to join us for supper on Wednesday evening. This was his third visit, the last one being when he was Chief Secretary to the Treasury. As the head of a spending Department he very succinctly laid out the challenges he faces, especially bearing in mind the 45% cut in the Department’s Budget over the last 8 years. We had a very interesting discussion on public expectations, the state of the economy and how going forward the State is going to have to take a holistic view of the whole person. The Beveridge Report of 1942 listed the 5 giants (Want, Disease, Ignorance, Squalor and Idleness) which ultimately led to our current Government Structure. Today we need to ensure that people do not fall between the cracks between Departments and ensure, as already alluded to, that we adopt this holistic approach.

Opportunities for Japanese-UK defence collaboration
Thursday morning saw a productive breakfast with Mitsuko Hayashi, Director of International Defence Equipment for the Japanese Acquisitions, Technology and Logistics Agency (ATLA). Ms Hayashi spoke passionately about the on-going opportunities for Japanese-UK collaboration in defence, through both government to government and industry-led initiatives. Outside of the US, the UK is Japan’s leading foreign defence partner, with five major joint research projects in progress and a clear appetite to strengthen that collaboration with a defined joint equipment platform in the future. And with Japan now one of a handful of potential partners for the UK’s Future Fighter programme, we look forward to this growing collaboration. 

DFID - Working and delivering in South Sudan
On Thursday BEI hosted an eye-opening event on DFID’s work and delivering impact in South Sudan responding to opportunities and challenges. Becks Buckingham OBE, Head of DFID in South Sudan, with support from John Shotton, Head of International Economic and Social Development Unit at Mott McDonald and Pia MacRae, Chief Business Delivery Officer at Crown Agents, shared some insightful details of experiences and challenges of working in this volatile part of the world. With a focus on humanitarian, education and health interventions, DFID is delivering some greatly needed support to one of the world’s most fragile countries that has been beset by conflict since it was created in 2011. 

Accelerating Indonesian Industry 4.0 Strategy
We were delighted to welcome Mr. I Gusti Putu Suryawirawan, the Director General of Industrial Resilience and International Access Development, Ministry of Industry, Indonesia and his team as they shared the Indonesian government’s industrial strategy, Indonesia 4.0. The meeting covered Indonesia’s integrated roadmap to implement several strategies to move Indonesia into the top ten global economies by 2030. 

All that remains for me to say is, have wonderful weekend and please do check our events calendar for what’s coming up in the second half of the year.

Warm regards,

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James Jones, Director, Account Management


Event highlights:

Tuesday 24th July – BEI Meeting
DFID Work in Nepal - Update
Rurik Marsden, Nepal Head of Office, DFID

Tuesday 24th July – D Group Lunch
A Defence Policy for the next generation, not the next election
The Rt Hon Dr. Julian Lewis MP, Chair, Defence Committee, House of Commons

Thursday 26th July – BEI Meeting
Inclusive Development Framework - Learning & Sharing
Michele Turner, Managing Director, World Learning Europe

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 13th July

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 13th July

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Dear Members and Friends,

We have discovered a fail-safe predictor of Cabinet resignations and reshuffles. They always take place days before a Secretary of State is due to speak at The D Group. True to form, with the talented Damian Hinds due to speak this Thursday, Messrs Davis and Johnson exited three days before. The next Sec of State is Justice’s David Gauke, next Wednesday..............

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The Sec of State Education, however, sailed through the recent cabinet shuffle, stuck to his appointment and sat down to discuss a number of key issues with an audience of some 30 education leaders, vice-chancellors and others with a strong interest in the sustainability, productivity and direction of UK education. Whether in terms of income, influence or research-based enterprise, the HE sector is a major player within Britain’s prosperity and role in the world. It was an excellent and thoughtful performance. Education looks as though it is in safe and very forward-looking hands. If only he could change the visa barriers to allow UK HE, worth over £11bn to the UK and inestimable amounts of soft power, to fully realise its potential. 

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The predominantly D Group themed week also saw The First Sea Lord discuss the future of the Royal Navy with 20 very committed members who prioritised listening to Philip Jones over watching the football. Not a furtive mobile phone was to be seen. It was both an exercise in iron self-control and a very useful insight into a challenging and exciting future for the RN. On top of that awesome RAF 100 fly past, it was a good week for matters Defence. 

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Our associated research group, British Foreign Policy Group, worked with the British Council and the City of London Corporation to assemble a highly relevant group of private sector and NGOs from across the UK in education, the arts, sports, commerce and HMG to discuss the role of Soft Power in a post-Brexit Britain. It was an excellent group discussion which has teed up some interesting possibilities to where and how it could help HMG enable greater progress and success.
 

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Next week there is, in addition to the Sec of State Justice, a full calendar comprising:

Tuesday 17th July – BEI Meeting
Guinea Infrastructure Opportunities
Minister Magassouba, Guinean Mining Minister and Ms Catherine Inglehear, British Ambassador to Guinea

Tuesday 17th July – D Group Lunch
UK Contribution to Trade and Investment in Asia and the Pacific
The Rt Hon Mark Field MP, Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific, Foreign & Commonwealth Office

Wednesday 18th July – BEI Meeting
DFID Economic Development Programme in Uganda
Paul Turner, Regional Adviser, Cities and Infrastructure, East Africa, DFID

Wednesday 18th July – BEI Lunch
Lunch meeting with the British High Commissioner to India, Sir Dominic Asquith KCMG
Sir Dominic Asquith KCMG, British High Commissioner to India

Wednesday 18th July – D Group Dinner
The challenges and opportunities for modern service delivery
The Rt Hon David Gauke MP, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Ministry of Justice

Thursday 19th July – D Group Breakfast
Opportunities for Japanese-UK defence collaboration
Mitsuko Hayashi, Director for International Defence Equipment and Technology Cooperation Division

Thursday 19th July – BEI Meeting
DFID – Working and delivering in South Sudan
Becks Buckingham OBE, Head of Office, Department for International Development

Friday 20th July – BEI Meeting
Accelerating Indonesian Industry 4.0 Strategy
Mr I Gusti Putu Suryawirawan, Director General of Industrial Resilience and International Access Development, Ministry of Industry, Indonesia

 

As always, if you are interested click here, find the relevant event and book.
 
Warm regards,

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Peter O'Kane - Executive Chairman, Strategy International

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 6th July

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 6th July

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Dear Members and Friends, 

The highlight of the week was a celebration of the England football team’s victory and progression to the 2018 World Cup quarter finals after a tense and anxious penalty shoot-out. A victory that united parliament, if only for a moment, as they all lauded praise on the team and wished them well for the next challenge against Sweden.

On Tuesday, Malcom Geere, DFID Deputy Head Europe Department provided the latest update on the UK/EU development relations post Brexit following June’s European Council. As politicians continue to negotiate on reaching agreement on financial obligations, citizens’ rights and the Irish border, limited progress has been made on the more technical components, and the deadline looms ever closer. The two DFID non-papers (NP1 + NP2) were circulated some time ago provide useful guide UK’s thinking on this topic.

Although Exchequer Secretary Robert Jenrick had to pull out of his Thursday engagement with The D Group at fairly short notice, he was more than ably represented by Philip Duffy, Director Enterprise & Growth at HM Treasury. Given the current debate, the inevitable but very balanced and insightful views on the Brexit process, there was extremely useful discussion around three areas which are giving D Group members major concerns. These include; a clear and consistent energy policy, without which any industrial strategy is vulnerable, access to talent and improving the quality and tone of business’s interaction with government, notably in upskilling in areas such as procurement. There was general recognition that, on the last point, both sides could do better and had to do so once the capacity-sapping task of Brexit had the clarity of direction, one way or another.

On Thursday, BEI also hosted DFID Chief Economist, Rachel Glennester for an open and refreshing discussion on evidence-based policy integration in development aid work. “Impact”, many suggested, was useful for learning rather than accountability in assessing projects delivery as in most instances attribution is not possible. It was agreed much could be gained from more interactive discussion between DFID and suppliers on this and other topics.

We were thrilled to welcome over 200 members, friends and artists on Thursday evening to our Summer Networking Reception which coincided with the opening of our in-house gallery D Contemporary’s showcase exhibition called SummerScapes. A great opportunity for networking – the reception was abuzz with chatter as people compared notes on the wide range of artwork offerings from 25 UK-based artists. I had my favourites, but in general the quality of work is exceptional, with something for everyone. The exhibition will be open for the next few weeks until 29th July, so we invite you all to come in for a viewing – you may find that picture you have been searching for.

Rounding up the week, today our team is in Sheffield, hosting the next event in our regional engagement series. Over the course of the last two years, The D Group has embarked on a sustained programme of engagement with the devolved cities and regions of the UK. With an economy of over £30bn and a strong public-private economic partnership in place, Sheffield City Region is in the vanguard of the transformational economic change that is underway in the North of England. We look forward to a fruitful and productive engagement that will lead to a desire from both sides to continue the conversation.

The week ahead promises some interesting events, with Admiral Sir Philip Jones KCB ADC, First Sea Lord, addressing The D Group on the subject of “The Role of the Royal Navy in the 21st Century”, setting the scene by giving his views on the current complex World Geo Political Situation, the Defence Budget and the future equipment programme. We are also delighted to welcome to The D Group for the first time Damian Hinds, the newly appointed Secretary of State for Education. Along with the Treasury, it is this department which most directly touches all corners of our membership whether as employers of the UK education system’s output or as parents. 

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend of hot weather and sport; for the tennis lovers Wimbledon is on, and for the football supporter, the England match against Sweden is sure to be a nail-biter.

With Best Wishes,

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Derrick Sanyahumbi, Director, Government - Prosperity and International Development


Event highlights:

Wednesday 11th July – D Group Dinner
The Role of the Royal Navy in the 21st Century
First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Philip Jones KCB ADC

Tuesday 17th July – BEI Meeting (09:00)
Guinea Infrastructure Opportunities
Minister Magassouba, Mining Minister, Republic of Guinea
H.E. Catherine Inglehearn, British Ambassador to Guinea

Tuesday 17th July – D Group Lunch
UK Contribution to Trade and Investment in Asia and the Pacific
The Rt Hon Mark Field MP, Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific, Foreign & Commonwealth Office

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 29th June

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 29th June

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Dear Members and friends,
 
What a wonderful week of sunny weather and football we have had. With Henley and Wimbledon next week, it looks as if we are set for a memorable Summer. We now just need the Prime Minister to deliver a Brexit Master Stroke. We too have had a memorable week at Strategy International, with the following events:

Jim O’Sullivan, CEO Highways England.
Jim and four of his leadership team, plus 30 of our members participated in a quite outstanding event on Tuesday evening. For those who do not know Jim O’Sullivan, it is safe to say that he was born for this role. He is the son of a contractor and his grandfather worked on the roads in Cork. Jim started his career in BA and has also worked for National Grid, Welsh Water, Eon and Heathrow Airport Holdings.
 
The reason I mention this is that Jim is a professional engineer, who has worked at the sharp end and can see issues through the lens of both a Contactor and a CEO who has successfully run large companies. During his talk, he highlighted the importance of creating an environment which enables efficiency, service, and delivery to increase and provide supply chain certainty.

Jim has also put in place a watchdog regime to provide both assurance to road users and Government. He talked us through the Highways England 2020-2025 Vision which covered:
    •    greater automation of vehicles;
    •    increasing road to vehicle and vehicle to vehicle interaction;
    •    improved safety and increasing mobility.
 
He also talked us through the benefits of Connected Vehicles, Autonomous Vehicles, Freight Convoys and Connected Corridors. In sum, while our road building schemes and our maintenance work are fundamental to enabling people and goods to move around the country, these things, to a certain extent, are a given. The new technology will enable Highways England to manage our roads and road space and concurrently enable drivers to manage their journeys.

Chile
Tuesday morning saw us welcome the first of the Prime Minister’s new Regional Trade Commissioners, Joanna Crellin, to headline our panel of speakers for our session on Infrastructure and Smart Cities opportunities in South America. The fact (as each and every speaker made clear) is that Chile is something of an open goal for British companies; from the incredibly high esteem in which the British are held in the country to the immensely impressive planning and regulatory practices that they deploy, it is a world leading location in terms of the ease of doing business. Add into this already tempting mix the potential Chile offers for expansion into the rest of a region of 600 million people, as well as the newly created government infrastructure fund and a number of upcoming projects, and it is hard to see an argument against pursuing opportunities in the Region. We will be following up on the event around Chile Day on September 7th, and we welcome your input into the areas that you would like to see us pursue further.

UK-Africa Strategy Post-Brexit
On Tuesday BEI also co-hosted a very engaging and topical event on the future of the UK’s relationship with Africa post-Brexit. The three sessions focused on the UK’s priorities as they relate to prosperity, security and influence, with an imaginative and inclusive approach to identifying what assets the UK could draw on in securing its interests. While it was clear that the UK still has a lot to offer in many areas and still maintains some legacy areas on which to build, others felt that the UK’s presence and influence had been on the wane in recent years, and that Africa has alternate and more attractive options for partners. Whilst cognisant of great diversity that exists within Africa, it was generally felt that with or without Brexit the UK has a genuine opportunity to re-establish itself as a key player on the Continent.

CATBIG: Focus on Kyrgyzstan
Rounding off a hattrick of successful BEI events on Tuesday, the latest meeting of our CATBIG series saw us welcome HE Robin Ord-Smith, our Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan, as well as HMA’s Trade and Investment Officer, Sezim Beksultanova, and the Executive Director of Kyrgyzstan’s International Business Council, Askar Sydykov. Despite its relatively small economy, Kyrgyzstan has a lot to offer to the UK, especially in tourism, financial services, education, IT and mining.
 
The breadth and quality of our international events this week is, I believe, a good indication of the strength and diversity of the BEI programme, and a demonstration of the steps we are taking to help answer some of the central questions that the ongoing Brexit debates continue to ask.

The D Group Goes Regional (Newcastle City Council)
Thursday morning found us travelling North to Newcastle to jointly host an event with Councillor Nick Forbes, Leader of Newcastle City Council. The format for the day was a D Group Lunch followed by a visit to the Great Exhibition of the North and finally a Reception for the great and good of Newcastle. Nick Forbes and his team were outstanding hosts and we held our events in the very impressive Mansion House in Jesmond. Eleven D Group Members and a high percentage of the Council attended the events.
 
Nick Forbes is a Labour Politician who became leader of Newcastle City Council in 2011. He has made economic growth a key focus for his Council, securing new financial powers by negotiating one of the first City Deals with the Government. He has also played a pivotal role in raising the profile of Local Government and has done a huge amount to encourage international investment in Newcastle. He is passionate about bringing profitable, sustainable business to the region, as this will assist in retaining jobs and looking after his constituents. He is a politician of principle who has a great future ahead of him. During his talk he explained how he is using culture to redefine Newcastle. Newcastle was a leading city in the first Industrial Revolution, as is demonstrated at the Discovery Museum, where we viewed Stephenson’s Rocket during the afternoon. Nick is now leading Newcastle in the Fourth Industrial Revolution as was so ably highlighted by both the National Innovation Centre for Data and the National Centre for Ageing being set up in the city.
 
Newcastle is also taking a very proactive stance in the Northern Powerhouse Agenda; Nick made it extremely clear that Newcastle’s Future is in its own hands and that it is sparkling with energy. As I write this travelling back to London one can’t help but be extremely optimistic for all that is good about Devolution, Regionalism and a City that is seizing every opportunity that events are presenting.
 
Next week we take the D Group to Sheffield and I will be presenting to the Highways England Board in Birmingham on Wednesday.

Have a wonderful weekend and I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at SummerScapes on the 5th July.
 

As ever,

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Seumas Kerr CBE - Managing Director, The D Group


Event highlights:

Wednesday 11th July – D Group Lunch
The Role of the Royal Navy in the 21st Century
Admiral Sir Philip Jones KCB ADC, First Sea Lord

Tuesday 17th July – D Group Lunch (09:30)
FCO Contribution to UK trade and investment in Asia Pacific
The Rt Hon Mark Field MP, Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific, Foreign & Commonwealth Office

Thursday 19th July – BEI Meeting (15:00)
DFID Working and Delivering in South Sudan
Becks Buckingham OBE, Head of Office, DFID

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 22nd June

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 22nd June

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Dear Members and Friends,

An interesting week in Grafton Street with some stimulating and provocative views expressed. As we operate all meetings under the Chatham House Rule, I cannot share the sources, but the lunch with Kevin Courtney (the Joint General Secretary of the newly-formed National Education Union) explored some interesting issues. Discussions included views on whether the perception of a world class education system is in fact masking a very broken system where government pressure on processes and procedures is hindering our children’s progress in the classroom. It will be interesting to see how the debate develops and where Kevin is able to take the NEU.

The latest Brexit Breakfast session, joined by Baroness Liddell, concluded that Government is distracted, and it is not ‘business as usual’! It was generally acknowledged that divisions across Westminster are stalling negotiations across trade, migration and the Irish border issues in particular. Negotiations will be tough and lengthy, and a second Referendum was quickly ruled out.

BEI hosted Andrew Long, DFID’s Head of Profession for Social Development and Denise Stuckenbruck, Principal Consultant at Oxford Policy Management who shared insights on DFID’s work on child protection. A very interactive discussion ensued, which raised much debate on social policy and the need to work across government departments to ensure sufficient engagement and resourcing is given to this area, with particular reference to its wider impact on poverty reduction and the achievement of SDGs.

Future calendar highlights include a fully booked event with Jim O’Sullivan, CEO of Highways England. The session is badged as “The future of roads – 2020-2025”. Anybody that has recently travelled north on the M6 will, I am sure, be delighted to hear more about Jim’s long-term plans for making England’s motorways and major trunk roads world-class by investing over £15bn. I’m sure the term ‘smart roads’ will form a key part of the discussion.

BEI has meetings focussing on Chile and its newly announced $9bn infrastructure fund and early stage opportunities for the 2023 PanAmerican Games in Santiago and also a CATBIG session on Kyrgyzstan with the British Ambassador HE Robin Ord-Smith MVO, who will be joined by HMA’s Trade and Investment Officer, Sezim Beksultanova, and the Executive Director of Kyrgyzstan’s International Business Council, Askar Sydykov.

At the end of the week The D Group will host the first of its regional meetings in Newcastle. The session kicks off with lunch at The Mansion House, Jesmond, with Nick Forbes, Leader of the Newcastle City Council setting the scene for business in the North East.

Sunday will, of course, see the England team on the pitch in Russia for the second time during this 2018 World Cup. May the best 11 win!
 
With Best Wishes,

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Tracey Smith - Deputy Chair, Strategy International


Event highlights:

Tuesday 26th June – CATBIG Meeting (15:00)
Kyrgyzstan – an Update
H.E. Robin Ord-Smith MVO,The British Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan

Tuesday 3rd July – BEI Meeting (10:00)
UK/ EU Development Relationship Post-Brexit – Update
Malcom Geere, Deputy Head Europe Department, DFID

Wednesday 4th July – BEI Meeting (10:00)
Evidence-Based Policy Integration in Development Aid Work
Rachel Glennerster, Chief Economist, DFID

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 15th June

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 15th June

Dear Members and Friends,

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A week that showed how quickly accepted wisdom can change. Mere weeks ago, the G7 seemed a rather predictable group too regularly signing off with platitudinous communiques, the Korean peninsula was threatened with war and it looked as though PM May might be in serious parliamentary trouble. Last week ‘The Donald’ confirmed major import tariffs and threw a grenade into the G7 club, on Tuesday he and Kim smiled for the cameras and by Wednesday, by what looks like a master class in telling each faction what they want to hear, the PM wins critical votes. I’m not sure what deep and meaningful lessons should be drawn from any of these, other than that a good deal less febrility is often needed in how we assess things, particularly through the relentless glass half-empty medium of 24/7 news and how we could operate, without being Panglossian, a more positive tone. I suspect that the UK and the EU will get there at one minute to midnight, the US will water down its tariffs soon, and Donald will be embracing his good friend Justin. We live in hope!

What is clear is that business operates in an increasingly less predictable world and that a regular flow of high quality insights and assessments and the ability to quickly evaluate, make new connections and adjust when assumptions change is at a premium. This is what Strategy International and its component networks provide week-in, week-out.

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On which note it is inevitable that urgent manoeuvring on Brexit sometimes impacts our ability to engage members with government thinking. D Group ‘lost’ two Secretary of State briefings, David Gauke of Justice and DWP’s Esther McVey, in quick succession to a Cabinet meeting and then the urgent Tuesday votes in the House. Both have kindly immediately rescheduled, and we look forward to engaging with them next month and in September. 

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This week, we enjoyed a focused briefing on the future of UK aerospace with Cranfield’s Iain Gray. It’s a tantalising proposition that if we can apply the digital and A.I led manufacturing revolution to the UK’s world-leading positions in aerospace and aviation, the nation can be at the very forefront of global success in a massive market. The discussion highlighted three requirements: first, for HMG procurement to validate sector initiatives if major export markets are to be won; second, the need to fill the severe gap in engineering skills; and third, to take politics out of a national industrial strategy. Nonetheless, it was an exciting vision and a reminder of the UK’s continued capability to build leading market positions.

Ann Francke's insights on the ‘where next?” question for gender diversity led to lively discussion amongst the participants. It appears gender diversity remains out of kilter. Though there has been some progress at board level, much work is still required at C-level, especially around continued high pay-gap disparities. We will be visiting the subject again later this year with a series of outcome-focused discussions that will pull together the cross-sector expertise on this subject within the membership.

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Next week The D Group looks forward to welcoming Kevin Courtney, the head of the new National Teachers Union to offer his views on the direction of UK education, followed by Justine Greening, formerly the Secretary of State for Education, who will share her thoughts on unlocking social mobility in the UK. Somewhat ironically, this has worsened whilst the nation’s attitudes to eradicating discrimination in any form has come on leaps and bounds. The role of the education system, of course, lies at the heart of this debate.

In keeping with this theme, BEI welcomes Andrew Long, DFID’s Head of Profession for Social Development and Denise Stuckenbruck, Principal Consultant at Oxford Policy Management (OPM) will share insights on DFID’s work on Child Protection and unpack the challenge of addressing social policy.

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Finally, we were delighted to hear that our associated research group, British Foreign Policy Group, has announce the appointment of Gisela Stuart and Sir Simon Fraser as Co-presidents. They add to BFPG’s highly impressive advisory board.

 


With best wishes,

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Peter O'Kane - Executive Chairman, Strategy International

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 8th June

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 8th June

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Dear Members and friends, 

This week the second UK non-paper on Development was shared. There are three thematic areas where there is a strong case for continued close collaboration between the UK and the EU: peace and security, humanitarian aid, and tackling migration. With creativity and flexibility, the UK believes that it is possible to agree a workable solution that will result in better development programmes and better impact.
 
On Tuesday Campbell Keir, Director Energy & Infrastructure at Department of International Trade (DIT) shared the department's strategy for these sectors. Through a cross-government approach, DIT will continue to support and promote international trade and investment to underpin the government’s agenda for a Global Britain and its ambitions for prosperity, stability and security worldwide.
 
Later this week, Mike Shanley, CEO of Konektid, took members through various approaches to accessing and winning USAID financing. Though accessing the funding as a new supplier can prove a lengthy process (up to 18 months) success can easily lead to multi-year agreements and a consistent pipeline of work.
 
The annual House of Lords event on Wednesday saw members and guest network in spectacular settings and the weather did not disappoint. Hosted by The Rt. Hon Baroness Nicholson, the guest speaker was John Mahon, recently appointed Director General for Exports in the Department for International Trade. Thank you all for coming. 
 
The Future Group met for a workshop on Thursday with the topic ‘Understanding the City: Life or Death for CEOs’. The group was briefed by a financial analyst with a long career in global investment banking and a Senior Cass Business School professor and director of the M&A Research Centre (MARC). The panel offered the group insights into effective investor relations, different asset classes and factors of risk that need to be considered before closing deals.
 
We have a wide range of events on offer in the coming weeks, please see our upcoming event calendar.

Best Wishes,

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Derrick Sanyahumbi, Director, Government - Prosperity and International Development


Event highlights:

Thursday 21st June – 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 21st June – BEI Meeting
DFID work on Child Protection and Social Services
Andrew Long, DFID & Denise Stuckenbruck, Oxford Policy Management

Tuesday 3rd July – BEI Meeting
UK/EU Development Relationship Post-Brexit - Update
Malcom Geere, Deputy Head Europe Department, DFID

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 1st June

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 1st June

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Dear Members and Friends,

With the storm clouds gathering overhead both literally and metaphorically, following the news from across the water of punitive tariffs and potential trade wars, I thought it was the perfect time to pick out a few highlights from the month ahead here at Strategy International.

Starting with next week, on Tuesday we look forward to an interesting lunch time discussion with Campbell Keir, Director Energy & Infrastructure at Department of International Trade (DIT) as he shares insights and updates on the department's strategy on Infrastructure and Energy. He will also provide an overview on how his team are working to support UK business to source, secure and grow global opportunities.

Looking out over the rest of June, we are privileged to be welcoming back a number of senior Government Ministers, including The Rt Hon David Gauke, now Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, who will be setting out his priorities for the Department and discussing his requirements from the private sector. We also look forward to hearing again from The Rt Hon Esther McVey, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whose policies impact our member companies in a variety of ways, whether as employers, tax payers or suppliers. 

The month is brought to a close with us “on the road”. Firstly, with dinner on Tuesday 26th June, where Jim O’Sullivan, CEO of Highways England, will be speaking about “The future of roads” and the delivery of RIS1 and the development of RIS2. Jim was appointed CEO of Highways England at its inception in 2015 so his insights on their Vision 2020-25 come directly from the source. 

And finally, there are still a couple of spaces left for the Strategy International day of engagement in Newcastle on the 28th June, where we will be meeting the Leader of the City Council, Nick Forbes, members of his leadership team, and the Newcastle Gateshead Investment Initiative. With a packed programme designed to show off opportunities in the local area, including lunch, a tour of the Great Exhibition of the North, and an evening reception with the wider business community, we hope that this engagement will provide you the right kind of introductions into a region that is keen to attract inward investment. For more details and the chance to register, please contact Edward Thicknesse

With Best Wishes,

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James Jones, Director, Account Management


Event highlights:

Thursday 7th June – BEI Meeting (10:00)
Accessing USAID market and BD process overview
Mark Shanley, CEO, Konektid International

Wednesday 13th June – D Group Lunch
The future of UK’s aerospace
Professor Iain Gray, Director of Aerospace, Cranfield University

Thursday 14th June – D Group Lunch
Where next in achieving workplace gender balance? 
Ann Francke, CEO, Chartered Management Institute

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 25th May

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 25th May

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Dear Members and Friends,

This has been quite an amazing week for Strategy International. It is the Foreign Office Leadership week and we were very fortunate to have over 30 Ambassadors/High Commissioners visit 23 Grafton Street over Monday and Tuesday. We would like to thank them all for making time in their busy diaries to come and join us in Strategy International. More on that later. On Wednesday Haydn Jones came for lunch and briefed us on "Bitcoin, Crypto Currencies and Blockchain. What do they mean for UK Industry?" We had a wonderful turn out and were given a masterclass. Finally on Thursday we had a private viewing at D-Contemporary for 2 artists, Sophy Bristol and Lucy Erskine. They are cousins and a daughter and niece of General Erskine, who had been a Commander of Hong Kong. Lucy’s brother gave a very moving speech and brought the history of the artists to life.

I have included below details of the week’s events:

South Asia – Nepal, Sri Lanka and Pakistan
The two High Commissioners and the Ambassador are committed to support British businesses entering the Nepalese, Pakistani and Sri Lankan markets. All three countries possess many attributes that should encourage foreign direct investment and growth opportunities. The following sectors are ripe for investment: education, energy, infrastructure, agriculture and manufacturing.

South-East Asia – Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia
Cambodia and Laos have the youngest population in the region; the average age being between 23 and 24 years old. The British Ambassadors highlighted the market’s demand for investment in Education. In the next 10 years, Indonesia will become one of the top 10 largest economies in the world. The Ambassador, Moazzam Malik, presented the country’s priority sectors to our members: aerospace, rail, maritime, renewable energy and defence & security.

MENA
Unsurprisingly, we had a packed house on Tuesday morning as we welcomed eight Ambassadors from the MENA region (Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Oman, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya and Sudan). Whilst there are challenges in each country, the message was clear; opportunities exist in each country and they are keen to support UK trade in the region. Broadly speaking, the region as a whole continues its journey in becoming a tolerant, open and competitive business destination. Opportunities for UK businesses range from basic to high-end in all sectors. As ever, there was stress on relationship-building in the region to secure contracts, and the Embassies and Strategy International are there to assist.

Southern Africa
The Southern Africa Ambassadors’ event highlighted the diversity of the region, with South Africa and Zimbabwe going through some political transitions that could lead to improved economic development and therefore opportunities for British companies. Namibia’s stability makes it an attractive destination for business, whilst attendees at the Zambia and Malawi event thought that although there were challenges the markets were worth exploring.

East Africa
According to the African Development Bank’s African Economic Outlook 2018, East Africa remains the fastest growing sub-region in Africa. Whilst regional security continues to be a concern in some parts, Excellencies Nic Hailey, British High Commissioner to Kenya; Sarah Cooke British, High Commissioner to Tanzania; Peter West, British High Commissioner to Uganda; and Jo Lomas, British High Commissioner to Rwanda spoke of a region with growing opportunities for British companies.

Francophone Africa
According to the various UK Heads of Mission in the Francophone Africa countries, there is a dearth of British companies present in the region and profitable opportunities exist and the perceived language barrier is surmountable.

CATBIG
Finally, on Tuesday evening we hosted six Ambassadors from the Region covered by CATBIG. Some 80 members with business interests in the region attended the session. HE Judith Farnworth (Armenia), HE Dr Carole Crofts (Azerbaijan), HE Mike Gifford (Kazakhstan), HE Robin Ord-Smith MVO (Kyrgyzstan), HE Justin McKenzie Smith (Georgia) and HE Christopher Allan (Uzbekistan) each delivered a presentation on their country and discussed several intriguing questions as a collaborative group. We then enjoyed their company during the evening reception, where each took time to speak to as many members as possible. Alexandra Barnes is writing a full report from the session. Please stay tuned.

Bitcoin, Crypto Currencies and Blockchain. What do they mean for UK Industry?
Haydn Jones gave us a 20-minute masterclass on crypto currencies and Blockchain. Blockchain has the potential to add huge value to the economy. It has the potential to provide a very elegant solution to store value, act as a ledger and make payments. It can also help automate payments and liberate many businesses from the cash flow challenges that they face. After his presentation, there was a very lively debate and we will invite Haydn back before the end of the year. He, in collaboration with Maria Vigliotti, have agreed to write a book on the subject, which I am sure will be an excellent read.

At the end of an outstanding and very busy week, we wish you all the best for a long weekend.

 

With best wished,

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Seumas Kerr CBE - Managing Director, The D Group


Event highlights:

Wednesday 6th June – BEI Networking Reception
House of Lords Networking Reception
The Rt Hon Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean

Thursday 21st June – 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

Tuesday 26th June – BEI Meeting
Chile: Infrastructure and Smart Cities Opportunities
Mark Menzies MP, the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Chile, Colombia, Peru
Catherine Taylor, Head of Economic Affairs & Sustainable Affairs, British Embassy Santiago
Greg Holland, Managing Director, British Chilean Chamber of Commerce
Sam Hoexter, Regional Head, Latin America, UKEF

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 18th May

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 18th May

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Members and Friends,

This week feels somewhat like the calm before the storm that is next week. More of that after a review of the last five days.

BEI’s International Development Working Group met mid-week to explore more effective ways of engaging with DFID in support of their evolving procurement processes. Members agreed that sharing more effective ways to support the processes would be mutually beneficial for all stakeholders. It is good to see the collaborative approach taken by key suppliers in this sector, it’s been a year of change thus far and finding a way forward will help to increase stability all round.

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Wednesday saw the seventh meeting in our monthly, cross-sector C level Brexit Group. The series continues to range across a full spectrum of ‘leave’ and ‘remain’ arguments and the topical technical, political and economic issues underpinning the whole process. This time saw Roger Bootle and Edgar Miller of the distinctly ‘leave’ organisation, Economists For Free Trade, explain their assessment of the situation with major companies from the automotive, IT, manufacturing, cosmetics, infrastructure, standards and professional services worlds. Inevitably the shape of the customs union arrangement or partnership (take your pick) occupied the bulk of conversation. Next month the Group will go ‘into’ the House of Lords and be guided through the world of amendments and motions around the various bills and the extent and timing of their potential impact on the Brexit bill.

On Wednesday evening we welcomed Adrian Gregory, CEO of one of our member companies, Atos UK & Ireland, to lay out his thoughts on the process of digitalising UK industry. As the lead of one of the organisations who are really driving this process, as evidenced by their recent deal with Google to create 3 R&D centres in the UK and Europe, Adrian was keen to point out the UK’s position as the world’s leading destination for investment into digital technology, to the tune of £2.99bn in 2017. From blockchain to augmented reality, and artificial intelligence to GDPR, the group ranged across many of the most thought-provoking topics related to the sector over the course of a highly insightful hour and a half.

If you regularly read our newsletters you will know that next week is the FCO Leadership Week and we have arranged events for 33 Ambassadors and High Commissioners to meet members and friends here at Grafton Street. Most are now full but if you are interested in engaging with the programme please do so via the details on the website. The assembled Heads of Mission will cover key economic and political issues in their respective countries or regions and will also provide an overview of business opportunities.

Have a wonderful weekend!

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Tracey Smith - Deputy Chair, Strategy International


Event highlights:

Wednesday 6th June – BEI Networking Reception (18:30)
House of Lords Networking Reception
The Rt Hon Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean

Thursday 7th June – BEI Meeting (10:00)
Accessing USAID market and business development process
Mike Shanley, CEO, Konektid International

Thursday 14th June – D Group Lunch
Where next in achieving workplace gender balance
Ann Francke, Chief Executive, CMI

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 11th May

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 11th May

Dear Members and Friends, 

The focus of this letter is very much on the 37 British Ambassadors visiting Grafton Street in a fortnight to brief our members. 

Here are the timings and brief details. It’s an impressive line up and a great opportunity for all Strategy International members (including The D Group, British Expertise International, The Future Group, Middle East Access Group) and other guests to make contact.

If you wish to contact us about any of these events or any specific regions, the key people are:

Africa – Derrick Sanyahumbi
MENA – Ruari Cahill
Central Asia and South Caucasus –  Alexandra Barnes
South and South-East Asia – Luisa Edves
Latin America and the Caribbean – Edward Thicknesse

 

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South Asia
Monday 21 May, 10.00am to 12.00pm

  • H.E. Richard Morris, British Ambassador to Nepal
  • H.E. Thomas Drew CMG, British High Commissioner to Pakistan
  • H.E. James Dauris, British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka
     
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India
Monday 21 May, 12.30pm to 2.30pm

  • H.E. Sir Dominic Asquith KCMG, British High Commissioner to India
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East Africa
Monday 21 May 2018, 4.00pm to 6.00pm

  • H.E. Nic Hailey, British High Commissioner to Kenya
  • H.E. Sarah Cooke, British High Commissioner to Tanzania
  • H.E. Peter West, British High Commissioner to Uganda
  • H.E. Jo Lomas, British High Commissioner to Rwanda
     
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Francophone Africa
Tuesday 22 May 2018, 8.30am to 10.30am

  • H.E. Catherine Inglehearn, British Ambassador to Guinea
  • H.E. Dr John Murton, British Ambassador to Democratic Republic of the Congo and non-resident Ambassador to the Republic of the Congo
  • H.E. Josephine Gauld, British Ambassador to Côte d'Ivoire
  • H.E. Dr Rowan Laxton, British High Commissioner to Cameroon
  • H.E. George Hodgson, British Ambassador to Senegal
     
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Middle East and North Africa
Tuesday 22 May, 8.30am to 10.30am

  • H.E. Philip Parham CMG, British Ambassador to UAE
  • H.E. Ajay Sharma CMG, British Ambassador to Qatar
  • H.E. Hamish Cowell CMG, British Ambassador to Oman
  • H.E. Frank Baker CMG, OBE British Ambassador to Libya
  • H.E. Rob Macaire CMG, British Ambassador to Iran
  • H.E. Jonathan Wilks CMG, British Ambassador to Iraq
  • H.E. Hugo Shorter, British Ambassador to Lebanon
  • H.E. Irfan Siddiq OBE, British Ambassador to Sudan
     
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South East Asia
Tuesday 22 May, 10.30am to 12.30pm

  • H.E. Moazzam Malik, British Ambassador to Indonesia, ASEAN and Timor Leste
  • H.E. William (Bill) Longhurst, British Ambassador to Cambodia
  • H.E. Hugh Evans, British Ambassador to Laos
     
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Southern Africa
Tuesday 22 May 2018, 12.30pm to 2.30pm

  • H.E. Nigel Casey CMG MVO, British High Commissioner to South Africa
  • H.E. Catriona Laing CB, British Ambassador to Zimbabwe
  • H.E. Fergus Cochrane-Dyet OBE, British High Commissioner to Zambia
  • H.E. Holly Tett, British High Commissioner to Malawi
  • H.E. Kate Airey, British High Commissioner to Namibia
     
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Central Asia and South Caucasus
Tuesday 22 May 2018, 3.30pm to 7.30pm

  • H.E. Judith Farnworth, British Ambassador to Armenia
  • H.E. Dr Carole Crofts, British Ambassador to Azerbaijan
  • H.E. Justin McKenzie Smith, British Ambassador to Georgia
  • H.E. Mike Gifford, British Ambassador to Kazakhstan
  • H.E. Robin Ord-Smith MVO, British Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan
  • H.E. Hugh Philpott OBE, British Ambassador to Tajikistan
  • H.E. Christopher Allan, British Ambassador to Uzbekistan
     

 

Next week, aptly enough amongst all the international trade discussion that will doubtless be generated in vast quantities by all this activity, we also have one of our regular C-level / Board Brexit group meetings. Having heard from all quadrants, on this occasion it is the ‘leavers’ camp visiting us, with the influential Economists for Free trade Group (with advisors such as James Dyson and Jacob Rees-Mogg) setting out its analysis of the economic upsides of and rationale for a Brexit with no customs union. 

Whatever form it eventually takes, there are technological issues facing UK business that have profound ramifications regardless of Brexit. Among them are the challenges and opportunities posed by digitisation. Atos’s UK CEO Adrian Gregory gives his views on this subject on 16th May at 6.30pm.

Warm regards, 

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Peter O'Kane - Executive Chairman, Strategy International

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 4th May

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 4th May

Dear Members and friends,

Reflecting on another fascinating week, with Cabinet resignations and promotions, blockbusting mergers and acquisitions, and the ongoing arm wrestle over the Customs partnership plan, here are the highlights from the last seven days at 23 Grafton Street. We will also look ahead to some of the other standout events this month.

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Kazakh Invest 2018 Investment Seminar
On Monday, we held an all-day seminar with the top management of Kazakh Invest – Kazakhstan’s newly created national company tasked to be the sole negotiator between the government and international businesses. The Chairman of Kazakh Invest, Saparbek Tuyakbayev, headed up a delegation which included public officials and top management of several companies, to promote 50 priority projects across infrastructure, water, mining, agribusiness, transport and logistics. We were delighted to welcome representatives from over 50 companies to the morning seminar and hosted a full programme of one-on-one meetings with the delegates throughout the afternoon. If you could not make the seminar but would like to learn more, Alexandra Barnes would love to hear from you.

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DFID’s Approach to Value for Money - ICAI Review
On Tuesday afternoon, British Expertise International hosted the much anticipated ICAI review on DFID’s approach to value for money, and it did not disappoint. Lead Commissioner Tina Fahm and Review Team Leader Dr Marcus Cox presented their findings and the government’s response. The review found that DFID’s approach to value for money has strengthened and matured, helped by improvements in DFID’s programme management systems. Participating members, whilst appreciating the progress made to date, also pointed out how it seemed commercial consideration was overriding project quality in bid reviews. A variety of issues were also outlined that were impacting on delivering a quality service.   

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Ensuring a fair energy market
Tuesday evening saw Ofgem’s CEO Dermot Nolan and a broad mix of major and challenger power generators, equipment manufacturers and service providers gathering to discuss this increasingly diverse market. Radical change from innovation and digitization was a major theme, alongside the issues of ownership, security of customer data and balancing an efficient market with a fair one. This was the second event in D Group’s 2018 Energy sector series, focusing on the market and its technical innovations. The series continues with two more briefings later this year, bringing leading players together from across this key sector for the UK’s economy. 

The ageless workplace and the future of work
Another ‘hot topic’ is talent, and on Wednesday afternoon Professor Eliza Filby, Moorhouse’s Richard Goold, and leading HR director Janet Dawson addressed the challenges of the very recent phenomenon of a four-generation workplace. The talent retention and management issue that attracts all the column inches is millennials, but the panel and audience engaged actively around the effect on employers of the ‘gig’ economy for the highly experienced and valuable over-50s, alongside the challenges of managing workforces and customers with multi-generational workforces, their expectations and how they relate to each other. Looking forward..

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16 May: Digital technology – the challenge and opportunities for UK
“The Fourth Industrial Revolution”. We’ve all heard of it, but what does it actually mean? How will digitalisation change the way in which businesses deliver their services? How will innovation impact upon the manufacturing industry? We are delighted to welcome Adrian Gregory, the CEO of Atos UK & Ireland, one of our member companies, to dinner on Wednesday 16th May, to set out the case for industrial digitalisation and what it means for the future of the sector. Initial findings make hugely encouraging reading: the Government’s recent Made Smarter review suggested that the manufacturing sector could see a boost of up to £455bn as a result of digitalisation, as well as 3% growth year-on-year, and the creation of 175,000 jobs. Join us to hear from a company right at the coalface of this new industrial age. View Event →

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21-22 May: Meet the Ambassadors – Don’t miss out
This will be the third year of our very successful “Meet the Ambassador” programme. Over the course of three days, British Expertise International will welcome British Ambassadors and High Commissioners from 33 countries around the world as they share political and economic updates as well as business opportunities in their respective countries. If you would like to attend any of the remaining available sessions please visit the EVENTS page on our website. 

 

And finally, with the Bank Holiday nearly upon us, I hope you all find the time to take stock, relax and recharge for another busy few months ahead.

With Best Wishes

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James Jones, Director, Account Management


Event highlights:

Thursday 10th May – BEI Meeting (15:00)
CDC – New Strategy Update
Jen Braswell, Director, Corporate Strategy, CDC

Wednesday 6th June – BEI Networking Reception (18:30)
House of Lords Networking Reception
The Rt Hon Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean

Tuesday 12th June – D Group Lunch
Improving the living standards of the poorest and most disadvantaged in society – the Conservative strategy
The Rt Hon Esther McVey MP, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 27th April

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 27th April

Dear Members and friends, 

On the back of the London Marathon, where our very own colleague Ruari Cahill posted a respectable time - this week was marked by much excitement over the Royal birth of young Prince Louis of Cambridge. Windrush continued to dominate the news headlines and to cap it all we have a confirmation of US President, Donald Trump’s visit to UK in July. Through it all our members enjoyed some interesting events as detailed below.

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Raising the bar – with GDPR:
The first event of the week was Deborah Dillon, Lead Auditor at Atos UK & Ireland, leading a seminar on the incoming General Data Protection Regulations. Deborah provided a combination of practical advice and insights gleaned from her many years of experience in the sector, as well as some refreshing thoughts on how to use these laws as a business opportunity. 

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ICAI Review - The UK Aid Response to Global Health Threats
Wednesday afternoon, Lead Commissioner Richard Gledhill and Review Team Leader Jonathan France shared more detailed insights into the report. With a green/amber score, the report concluded that UK Aid had a relevant and coherent strategy for responding to global health threats. There is a good potential for programmes to be effective, particularly if better integrated with health systems strengthening, but the approach to building learning and sharing knowledge has been weak.

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Moving Brexit forward – what DExEU needs from UK business
Philip Rycroft, Permanent Secretary of Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) joined us for a discussion on “What DExEU needs from UK business” on Wednesday evening. As Brexit talks continue, Philip highlighted the importance of the private and public sectors working together in order to ensure the continuity of Great Britain’s prosperity. Economic and security partnerships are fundamental priorities in the negotiations being carried by the Department

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Interacting with Whitehall: Lessons learnt - The Future Group
Our Future Group cohort got together for the third workshop of the year on ‘Interacting with Whitehall – Lessons learnt’. Andrew Mitchell, Director M-is and Kulveer Ranger, Vice President Strategy & Communications at Atos shared some very interesting insights and some of the challenges of working with government.

House of Lords Networking Reception – Don’t Miss out
If you have not yet signed up, do join us for our annual House of Lords reception on 6 June 2018 – a wonderful opportunity to meet business acquaintances, colleagues and friends in an iconic London setting. We are pleased to confirm that The Rt. Hon Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean will be hosting our reception again this year. We look forward to welcoming you, colleagues and guests at this flagship event on what, we hope, will be a lovely warm summer evening on the river Thames. Please register HERE.

And finally… rain is forecast for the weekend but hoping for bright and sunny days next week. Wishing you all a lovely weekend.

Best Wishes,

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Derrick Sanyahumbi, Director, Government - Prosperity and International Development


Event highlights:

Monday 30th April – CATBIG Meeting (09:00)
Kazakh Invest 2018 Investment Seminar - London
Kazakh Delegation led by Saparbek Tuyakbayev, Chair of Kazakh Invest

Tuesday 1st May – D Group Dinner (18:30)
Ensuring a fair energy market
Dermot Nolan, CEO, Ofgem

 Thursday 10th May – BEI Meeting (15:00)
CDC – New Strategy Update
Jen Braswell, Director, Corporate Strategy, CDC

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 20th April

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 20th April

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Dear Members and Friends,

With the backdrop of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and Windrush it has been quite a week for both the Royal Family and the Government. It has also been exceedingly difficult travelling around central London!
 
How Are We Going to Sort Out Brexit?
We started the week with lunch and an excellent talk from Hilary Benn who is Chairman of the Brexit Select Committee. He explained the context within which the Government is operating and expressed his concerns about what had to be achieved in the next 12 months. His views as a “Remainer” are well known but he gave a very well balanced update of the challenges we face, especially if we do not remain in the Customs Union. I was left with the impression that we still have much to achieve!
 
Optimising UK post Brexit Trade Policy.
On Tuesday Shanker Singham returned to give us a masterclass on the Trade Options post Brexit. He has just assumed the appointment as the Director Responsible for International Trade and the Competition Unit in the Institute of Economic Affairs. He laid out the Global Economic Environment within which the United Kingdom must operate and gave some very erudite suggestions on what the UK could or should do. In the first instance the UK should form a view on what it wants the World to look like and then decide what can be accomplished with Independent Trade Agreements. A line must be agreed with the Commonwealth and we should develop an Independent Trade Policy. The question and answer session was very lively and I feel far more optimistic on the options the UK has post Brexit.
 
Infrastructure Investment Opportunities in Nicaragua.
Wednesday afternoon saw Dr Paul Oquist, Nicaraguan Minister for Policies, accompanied by  the Nicaraguan Ambassador, return to British Expertise to discuss the investment climate and current opportunities in the country. His outlook was extremely positive, with Nicaragua recognised as a regional leader in economic growth, fiscal stability and the reduction of poverty, inequality and crime. Dr Oquist spoke with his customary élan on a whole range of projects, focused mainly in the construction, energy, and agribusiness sectors. Many thanks to The Caribbean Council, our co-hosts, for supporting the event.  
 
The Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) Review of the Conflict Security Stability Fund (CSSF).
ICAI’s red/amber review score of the CSSF suggested that shortcomings in aid programmes delivered as part of the Government’s CSSF are undermining its contribution to building peace, stability and security. At the round table discussion on Wednesday this week, our members were able to share their experiences working on CSSF programmes and suggest other areas for consideration. The review stated that CSSF is flexible and responsive to the priorities of the National Security Council, but variable programme quality, weak results management and insufficient learning undermine its contribution to building peace, stability and security.
 
In summary, it has been a quite outstanding week, assisted by the very welcome sun. We wish our very own Ruari Cahill the very best in his sub 3 hours attempt in the London Marathon, wearing a D Group Tie!

Have a wonderful weekend, 

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Seumas Kerr CBE - Managing Director, The D Group


Event highlights:

Wednesday 25th April – D Group Meeting
Raising the Bar – with GDPR
Deborah Dillon, Data Privacy Lead, Atos
 
Wednesday 25th April – D Group Dinner
Moving Brexit forward – what DEXEU needs from UK business
Philip Rycroft, Permanent Secretary, Department for Exiting the European Union
 
Tuesday 1st May – D Group Dinner
Ensuring a fair energy market
Dr Dermot Nolan, Chief Executive, Ofgem
 
Wednesday 2nd May – D Group Afternoon Forum
The Ageless Workplace and The Future of Work
Dr Eliza Filby, Academic, Writer, Speaker on Millennials
Richard Goold, Partner, Moorhouse Consulting

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 13th April

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 13th April

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Members and friends,

Thank you to everyone that joined us at last night’s outstanding British Expertise Awards Dinner, a fabulous evening that wrapped up our 50th year of trading and celebrated the work and imagination of our membership.  We also found time to present awards to several of our members and friends for specific outstanding achievements.  Congratulations to all our winners and thank you to every single company that entered.

Thank you to our judges, our sponsors, BRE, Mott MacDonald and Squire Patton Boggs for their generous support, to James Wates CBE our speaker and to His Royal Highness, The Duke of Gloucester for joining us once again and presenting awards in this very special year. Thanks too for the entire Strategy International team – you nailed it!

If you couldn’t make it this year please don’t miss the next one, it really is a calendar highlight.

Normal business continued alongside Awards preparation and on Tuesday we were delighted to welcome Xenia Wickett back to The D Group to discuss that most divisive of figures, Donald Trump. Her take on the consequences of the Trump presidency for business and for the UK/US relationship was equal parts masterful, revelatory, and, crucially, unafraid to tell some hard truths, especially about the UK’s position in an increasingly transactional world order. Her insights, drawn from a career spent in locales as diverse as the White House, the US Department of State, the PeaceNexus Foundation, and of course Chatham House, were a timely wake-up call for all, and we look forward to welcoming her back in the future.

Wednesday morning we had a session on business opportunities in the GCC, a region UK companies have always found attractive. Seumas Kerr the new MD of The D Group, led the discussion with lessons learnt from the Carillion failure. This was followed by a presentation from Christopher Ennis, Director of Time Quantum Forensics on dispute resolution options should the need arise and Steve Crosley, International Business Development Manager, UK Export Finance highlighted UKEF's various support opportunities in the region with £1 to £4bn cover capacity for various countries in the region.

Looking ahead, D Contemporary, our in house art gallery, is delighted to invite you to the private view of The Transient City: London’s Rise and Fall, a solo show by Luke M. Walker on Thursday 19 April from 6pm – 8.30pm. Walker’s paintings are focused on urban landscapes, showing structure and infrastructure through an exploration of the environment. He has regular shows and he is the winner of the signature Art Prize award for Painting 2015.
Here is the invitation. To RSVP please contact Amina Mona.


Hope to see you all soon,

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Tracey Smith - Deputy Chair, Strategy International


Event highlights:

Wednesday 18th April – BEI Meeting (16:00)
Infrastructure Project Opportunities in Nicaragua
Dr Paul Oquist, Minister for National Policies, Member of the Government Cabinet for Finance and Foreign Trade, Private Secretary of the President of the Republic of Nicaragua

Thursday 19th April – Private View
The Transient City - Luke Walker

Tuesday 1st May – D Group Dinner
Ensuring a fair energy market
Dermot Nolan, CEO, Ofgem

Strategy International | Newsletter - 6th April

Strategy International | Newsletter - 6th April

Dear Members and Friends,

A quiet, short post-Easter week for events. We had an engaging BFPG roundtable on the role of International Aid within 'Global Britain' and, staying on an International Development theme, a very active, open and constructive engagement with Anna Wilson, Head of DFID’s Conflict & Humanitarian Response Group.

Next week sees the long-awaited Annual BEI Awards for some 200 guests in the presence of HRH the Duke of Gloucester. This is a time to celebrate some tremendous achievements by UK Companies. A full report (and the threat of some video) in the next newsletter. We also have a timely update on Trump by US expert Xenia Wickett and words of wisdom on the Middle East as a place to do business by D Group’s own Seumas Kerr.

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As the recent Easter break signalled one year until the UK leaves the EU it’s a good time to briefly reflect on what we are hearing about Brexit from the membership.

Of course, within some 200 members spread across multiple sectors and employing north of a million and a half in the UK, there's a range of differences in how managements are viewing Brexit. Alongside these are some universally shared points. What follows does not purport to represent a collective membership view but to reflect a few key themes.

The differences are reflective of the mix of sectors and sizes. Quite a few already have the bulk of their trade outside the UK, and are therefore not feeling as exposed. Many are largely UK focussed. Again, a degree of concern but putting plans in place and no real angst. Some are thriving on the extra advisory work Brexit has brought. Many, though, have complex supply chains criss-crossing EU borders and remain very worried. A number, with limited capacity to run forensic planning scenarios against a Rubik’s Cube complexity of different Brexit permutations, are mapping what they can, but doing so alongside a hope that the sort of dramatic changes that can only hurt EU major economies as much as the UK, won’t happen. Pragmatism over politics? We’ll see.

Shared themes across the board are much easier to detect. Four stand out;

First, rejection of any action that seeks to reverse the result of the referendum. This is a complete no-go for most. Parliament voting on the final package to take the UK out? For many - yes. But prosecuting a path that has the clear potential to lead to a vote to take the UK back in? No.

Second, a very active focus on ensuring continuity of the labour, skilled or otherwise, that so much of UK-based business depends on. The details are yet to emerge and whilst the signs are growing that pragmatism will prevail and the drawbridge not be dropped it is this, of all unresolved issues, that finds strongest common concern across the membership.

Third, a desire for a change in tone. Not least from some of business’ own representative bodies. Business is not starry-eyed about the challenges ahead but it does understand the need for clear and positive leadership, for the language of opportunity, for can-do engagement and a vision of what the future looks like. A sense of ‘didn’t want this but it will happen, now let’s get on with it and make the best of it’. Casting around for a piece of writing that captures the need to address this, one could do a lot worse than read the relevant parts of Alexander Downer’s valedictory as the departing Australian High Commissioner

Fourth, real concern about the effect that Brexit is having on HMG business-as-usual. Civil service capacity to deal with both pressing and longer term strategic issues is causing concern. Sympathy exists for the stretch the Service is experiencing but comments are mounting that question the desirability of the UK as a place to tender for public work and deploy balance sheet. Government procurement is a real issue. Serious stuff that needs collaborative private sector engagement with government and the civil service. What is not needed is a blame-game from either side. We are working with our members to extend a helping hand to HMG.

With best regards,

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Peter O'Kane - Executive Chairman, Strategy International


Event highlights:

Tuesday 17th April – D Group Dinner
Small modular fusion - a breakthrough technology for a low carbon future?
Dr David Kingham, Executive Vice Chairman, Tokamak Energy Ltd
 
Monday 30th April – BEI meeting
Middle East – an update
Jane Corbin, Award Winning Broadcaster, Author & Investigative Journalist
 
Wednesday 2nd May – D Group meeting
The ageless workplace and the future of work
Dr Eliza Filby, Academic, Writer, Speaker on Millenials

Strategy International | Newsletter - 29th March

Strategy International | Newsletter - 29th March

Dear Members and friends,

Before we retreat for Easter and the traditional overindulgence of chocolate, we must report on what has been a busy four days at Strategy International.

At the start of the week, The D Group welcomed Rob Wainwright, Executive Director of Europol, who painted a rather grim picture of the current threats that businesses face from cyber-crime. In the face of what he called a growing cyber-crime industry, he stressed the importance of trying to understand the people involved, rather than just focusing on the technology itself.

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We also saw our cross- sector C- level Brexit Group meet again, this time to listen to George Freeman, ex Life Sciences Minister and Chairman of the PM’s Policy Board, and one of the leading next- generation Tory politicians. In addition to reviewing the latest internal party dynamics around Brexit, there was a refreshing discussion on embracing Brexit as a ‘reboot’ for many parts of the national machinery that are clearly not working. In particular, how to develop a world- beating innovation economy from the UK’s self- evident business, technical, financial market and education strengths, with many more of the population sharing in the fruits of success.    

On Wednesday, British Expertise International was joined by Matt Reed, UK CEO of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), who presented some interesting insights on the workings and activities of the organisation in South Asia. With 10 agencies, operating in 30 countries and more than a 1000 active programmes globally the AKDN focuses on supporting communities to help themselves to improve their quality of life.

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We closed the week with two stellar sessions. The first with the Turkish Ambassador H.E. Abdurrahman Bilgiç who led a dynamic and informative discussion on developments in Turkey, both political and economic. He outlined what he believes are some positive post-Brexit opportunities in trading relationship between the UK and Turkey.

And finally, John Carstensen, DFID Head of Profession, Climate and Environment shared with members an update on DFID’s Climate and Environment Plan. This included an increase in its climate funding by at least 50% over the next five years compared to 2011-16, including spending at least £1.76 billion in 2020, rising to at least £5.8 billion over five years. 

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Looking ahead, next week British expertise International will host Anna Wilson, Head of DFID CHASE Humanitarian Response Group who will share details of DFID’s new Humanitarian Reform Policy with highlights on innovations and improvements in the UK’s humanitarian response and a more ambitious push for reform of the international humanitarian system. We look forward to seeing you there!

 

With Best Wishes

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James Jones, Director, Account Management


Event highlights:

Tuesday 10th April – D Group Lunch
One year on: the reality of a Trump presidency for UK business
Xenia Wickett, Head of US and the Americas Programme; Dean, The Queen Elizabeth II Academy for Leadership in International Affairs, Chatham House

Wednesday 11th April – BEI meeting
Are GCC countries still a market opportunity for UK companies?
Seumas Kerr CBE, Managing Director, The D Group; Christopher Ennis, Director, Time|Quantum Forensics Ltd

Tuesday 17th April – D Group Dinner
Small modular fusion - a breakthrough technology for a low carbon future?
Dr David Kingham, Executive Vice Chairman, Tokamak Energy Ltd

Strategy International | Newsletter - 23rd March

Strategy International | Newsletter - 23rd March

Dear Members and friends,

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The 2018 British Expertise Awards celebration dinner is fast approaching. This prestigious event is a key fixture in the calendar for the professional services sector recognising and celebrating outstanding international achievements by UK companies and a great evening of networking. Full details are available here: 2018 BEI Awards. We look forward to you joining us.

Earlier this week, British Expertise International CEO, Tracey Smith, attended the Infrastructure Exports UK (IE:UK) Board meeting. Several project opportunities were discussed that might benefit from a 'UK Plc' approach. This included a number of South American rail initiatives, forthcoming global sport events and the concept of generating a UK waste to energy proposal for developing markets. In our role as a convener for the broader supply chain, we look forward to providing more information once the ink has dried on the Board Minutes.

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This week also marked the spring equinox and Nowruz – the traditional spring festival marking the beginning of the New Year, that has been celebrated for over 3,000 years across Western Asia, Central Asia, the Caucasus, the Black Sea Basin, and the Balkans. We wish all our colleagues Happy Nowruz! Alexandra Barnes, who heads our Central Asia and South Caucasus group, has already attended Nowruz celebrations at the Cambridge Central Asia Forum and at the Uzbek Embassy, and looks forward to seeing colleagues at next week’s Nowruz reception at EBRD.

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The Future Group’s leadership programme held its second workshop, focused on Effective Communication for Influencers and facilitated by our members Thomson Reuters Foundation. Working with recognised communication experts, participants learnt how to prepare and deliver key client messages, combine emotion and reason to create powerful presentations, and take control in difficult situations. The next session is scheduled for May 2018 and will tackle one of the greatest challenges facing any promising executive – dealing with Whitehall.

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Looking ahead to next week, on Tuesday Rob Wainwright, Executive Director of Europol, will share his insights with The D Group on tackling threats to business and the economy from financial and cyber crime. Thursday offers two very different, but equally stimulating events: we welcome the Turkish Ambassador, H.E. Abdurrahman Bilgiç, to lead what should be a lively and illuminating discussion for those interested in Turkish issues, DFID’s Head of Profession on Climate and Environment, John Carstensen, who will tackle two of the largest challenges we collectively face: climate change and environmental degradation.

 

With Best Wishes

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Derrick Sanyahumbi, Director, Government - Prosperity and International Development


Event highlights:

Tuesday 10th April – D Group Lunch
One year on: the reality of a Trump presidency for UK business
Xenia Wickett, Head of US and the Americas Programme; Dean, The Queen Elizabeth II Academy for Leadership in International Affairs, Chatham House

Wednesday 11th April – BEI meeting
Are GCC countries still a market opportunity for UK companies?
Seumas Kerr CBE, Managing Director, The D Group; Christopher Ennis, Director, Time|Quantum Forensics Ltd

Tuesday 17th April – D Group Lunch
UK Trade Policy Post-Brexit
Shanker Singham, Director, International Trade and Competition Unit, Institute of Economic Affairs

Strategy International | Newsletter - 16th March

Strategy International | Newsletter - 16th March

Dear Members and Friends,

The first of this month saw the quiet arrival of a new D Group website. www.dgroup.co.uk. Now that the internal reviews and refinement are complete, we are very happy to make a bit of noise about it. Congratulations to the in-house design team who designed and completed it in record time. We would certainly appreciate hearing your feedback.

Staying with The D Group, John Manzoni, CEO of the Civil Service, returned to speak for the first time since the referendum. The challenge facing the civil service of both executing ‘business as normal’ and handling the capacity-draining impact of Brexit has been a growing concern amongst D Group members, particularly around procurement and delivery. There are no easy answers, but in reporting on progress amidst a constantly changing political backdrop, John exhibited the calm, focused and pragmatic approach that had taken him to the very top levels of the global energy industry.

Thursday welcomed Tom Fletcher, ex UK ambassador to Lebanon, former advisor to PMs Blair, Brown and Cameron and now an internationally based leading author and commentator on the impact of digital on government and diplomacy. Having been at the UK’s political centre and operating now as an external observer, his insights delivered some real wake-up calls about how ‘Brand Britain’ is seen and where it needs to address its strong and weak points. Maintaining a strong reputation for competence, as in many of our other events, is an underlying theme and one that is starting to cause concern. 

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D Group and BEI attended an event for the impressive entrepreneurs’ grouping, The Leap 100, held by new member Mishcon de Reya. The Leap contains some of the youngest, most dynamic private high-growth companies in the UK. We look forward to introducing some of them in the coming months to the more established sector players that typically comprise D Group and BEI membership.

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British Expertise continues to build its specialist Middle-East sub-group, with three new additions this month. BEI’s region-specific events series continued on Wednesday with an update on ‘Doing business in Iraq’. The Group heard from UK Export Finance on how they can provide financial support for in-country projects. Confluent Law highlighted the key legal challenges of working in Iraq and Control Risks Group provided a political and business risk analysis.  Whilst Iraqi Parliamentary Elections are close, there is a great deal of optimism in-country for UK business success.

BEI also hosted an enlightening discussion with Neil Briscoe, DFID’s Head of Global Partnerships on UK focus on the Sustainable Development Goals. Whilst Government commitment was clear, it was felt greater coordination and sharing of information would be useful. A self-review in the Summer of 2019 will provide interesting insights on UK’s progress to date delivering on the SDG targets.

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Wednesday and Thursday saw BEI sponsor Palladium’s Positive Impact Summit. With the theme Reimagine Strategy, a key takeaway was that setting these laudably bold and ambitious targets requires asking three critical questions: Is it credible, is it feasible and is it practical? Crucially, piloting such projects enables investors to reassess, re-evaluate and then scale up on sustainable basis.

 

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D Contemporary held a private view on Thursday night for Philip Williams’ painting exhibition “Crowded”. It’s good to see an increasing number of D Group and BEI members enjoying these events. The exhibition is now open for the next three weeks, feel free to drop by for viewing.  The next exhibition (Luke Walker, 20th April – 17th May) features some exceptional works on cityscapes and BEI will be holding a reception for its smart city, design and planning members around its opening.

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This morning Albena Melin, Head of Multilateral Engagements at the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, shared invaluable insights on the workings of the IFC, their relationship with the World Bank and their mandate to work with the private sector. This was followed by a lively discussion and everyone left far more informed of how to work positively with the IFC.

Looking further ahead, the recent news about President Trump’s proposed steel and aluminium tariffs, which have sent shivers down the spines of public and private sector alike, will provide some very real questions for Xenia Wickett, Head of the Americas Programme at Chatham House, to address The D Group at lunch on the new date of the 10th April. Click here to view the event.

 

Have a wonderful weekend, 

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Seumas Kerr CBE - Managing Director, The D Group


Event highlights:

Tuesday 27th March – D Group Lunch
Tackling threats to business and the economy from financial crime and cybercrime
Rob Wainwright, Executive Director, Europol
 
Tuesday 3rd April – BEI meeting
DFID – UK’s Humanitarian Reform Policy
Anna Wilson, Head of DFID CHASE Humanitarian Response Group
 
Tuesday 10th April – D Group Lunch
One year on: the reality of a Trump presidency for UK business
Xenia Wickett, Head of US and the Americas Programme, Chatham House