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Dear Members and Friends,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best wishes,

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Seumas Kerr CBE - Managing Director, The D Group


Upcoming Events:

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

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

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

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

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

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