Dear Members and Friends,

As the shape of a UK - Northern Ireland border solution emerged very similar to what was previewed three weeks ago at a D Group event, we have enjoyed four excellent events this week.

The week started, though, with BFPG’s new MD, Sophia Gaston, asked to chair an important Conference discussion between three Departments whose cooperation is key when it comes to shaping the UK’s post-Brexit ‘offer’ to the World. The discussion between Liz Truss, Alok Sharma and Ben Wallace can be viewed here.

Monday 30 September. Air Marshal Richard Knighton CB
On Monday night the D Group hosted Air Marshal Richard Knighton, Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff (Financial and Military Capability) for session 7 of the current Defence Working Group. Richard provided a personal and Ministry of Defence view of the security challenges that the UK faces now and in the future. Central to the rich discussions around the table were changes, such as the increasing importance of the prosperity agenda in supporting the Global Britain ambition, combined with continuity such as the continued importance of traditional objectives of defence – deterrence. A topic which many attendees were interested in was the role of space as a domain of warfare and the difficulties of defining who ‘owns’ it from a UK perspective. The D Group will be exploring some of these comments further this month as we establish our Space Working Group.


Tuesday 1 October. Vanda Murray OBE: Coping in a Volatile and Uncertain World
It was very special to welcome Vanda back to the D Group to speak on an exceptionally topical subject. She set the scene by referencing the term VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity) which was first used in 1987 before the end of the Cold War! Looking back this was a particularly stable time in our history. She then went on to describe the impact of the pace of change, technological advancement and the consequences of Artificial Intelligence. We had a very wide ranging debate discussing the leadership skills required in the future, talent management, emotional intelligence, resilience, democratic information and how hierarchies within Companies may need to change in the future to meet an ever faster changing world.

Wednesday 2 October. Jonathan Innes and Chris Isaac: Transforming Agriculture and Agribusiness in Sub Saharan Africa
Jonathan who is the Senior Economist at Booker Tate and Chris, Managing Director at AgDevCo covered a wide range of topics from the challenges of productivity, opportunities for adopting new technology, political will and the variable return on investment. So many challenges, and yet with agriculture still making up a large proportion of sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP, it cannot be ignored. AgDevCo welcome proposals for viable and sustainable investment opportunities in the Sector and British expertise is in great demand.  


Thursday 3 October. Sustainable Infrastructure: Looking to the Future
This event formed part of BEI’s expanding focus on clean growth and in particular the roles infrastructure is likely to play in fulfilling UK and international targets on carbon emissions to 2050 and beyond. Experts from Mott Macdonald, IMC Worldwide and Mace Group engaged with Government and industry representatives on how to better define and compellingly present the UK’s offer on sustainable infrastructure in a National and Global market. Key themes to emerge included the need to develop strategies to maximise the societal contribution of infrastructure throughout its entire Lifecyle. The principle conclusion was that the UK has unique capabilities and expertise in this growing space, but both industry and Government need to better coordinate and focus that expertise in order to bring benefits to the UK. Promoting the UK’s value proposition in this space at the upcoming UK hosted Africa Investment Summit and COP 26 in 2020.

Future Group. Cohort Three
We are due to launch the next programme of The Future Group (our bespoke cross-sector leadership development programme for those whose CEOs have identified as having C-level potential in ten years) in November, and there are spaces still available for our Members. The course consists of ten workshops over nine months, alongside personal strength coaching. If you are interested in developing yourself or know of other people within your organisation who would benefit from this course, please contact the Programme Director at

It has been quite an excellent week at Strategy International and I have thoroughly enjoyed seeing so many Members in 23 Grafton Street. It was also icing on the cake to see Dina Asher-Smith win a gold medal in Doha to add to her silver medal from last week. Have a wonderful weekend.


Best wishes, 


Seumas Kerr CBE - Managing Director, The D Group

Event Highlights:

Tuesday 8th October 2019 – BEI
United Arab Emirates Workforce Development Needs: Opportunities for the UK
Frank Edwards, Workforce Development Director Middle East, Pearsonnathan Innes, Senior Economist, Booker Tate
Caroline Smith Lytton, Executive Director, Head of Power & Renewables, Global Structured Finance, EMEA, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation Europe Limited
Chris Ryan, CR Systems

Thursday 10th October 2019 – Digital Catapult & Strategy International
The Blockchain and IoT – the Possibilities through Convergence 
Christian Beck, IoT Product Lead, Digital Catapult
Robert Learney, Lead Technologist, Digital Catapult

Thursday 3rd October 2019 – The D Group
How the UK Retains its Cutting Edge
Sir Mark Walport, Chief Executive, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)