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Dear Members and friends,

What a glorious week this has been. The Home Rugby Internationals have started in earnest and some of the team at 23 Grafton St. have been seen waxing their skis. The D Group bees are hibernating, but we have enough honey to last the Winter. I have also been to two memorable events to commemorate the end of the Great War. The first was Beyond the Deepening Shadow at the Tower of London. The ceremony and thousands of individual flames in the moat to mark the fallen were very moving and made one realise how much a generation had given up to secure our freedom. The second was the Opening Ceremony of the Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey. There were thousands of serving and old soldiers present and Prince Harry spoke to as many people has he could. Standing there to attention in the silence, the thought crossed my mind that we as a country have moved from a culture of service to a culture of me. This can not be good for a Nation.

Monday 5 November, Nigerian Ambassador.
On Monday, British Expertise International hosted H.E. Catriona Laing CB, High Commissioner-Designate to Nigeria for a Roundtable Discussion. Catriona will take up her new role in the coming weeks and welcomed advice and experiences of doing business in Nigeria from both British and Nigerian business representatives present at the meeting. With a wide range of opportunities for UK plc, it was suggested that perhaps the UK Government engagement should shift focus from national to regional level. Quality and credible education and skills development to promote entrepreneurship were identified as key areas to enhance Nigeria’s long term economic development aspirations.

Tuesday 6 November, Sudan Ambassador.
British Expertise International was delighted to welcome H.E. Irfan Siddiq OBE, UK Ambassador to Sudan on Tuesday as he presented a most informed and honest update on the current socio-economic and political landscape in Sudan. A key take away from the meeting was that whilst Sudan presented a range of opportunities for UK plc, the environment is currently not conducive to investing but UK plc should start positioning themselves and be ready when the time is right.

Tuesday 6 November, Lord David Willetts, The Resolution Foundation.
Lord Willetts spoke on education and the rising questions of intergenerational fairness. There was a very wide-ranging debate covering the salaries of 30-year olds that are on average earning less than they would have been 10-15 years ago. We also discussed the horizontal and vertical family, with a reliance on grandparents looking after grandchildren and the big issue of affordable housing. Education is key to the success of the United Kingdom. We now live in a country that has never been as connected electronically, however nor as socially divided.

Wednesday 7 November, Transforming Business Models with Blockchain. Andrew Wheen, Principal Communications Consultant, Mott Macdonald.
Andrew was on excellent form and made a complex subject simple. As we all know, Blockchain has been around for 10 years and is now creating real opportunities for Companies that are prepared to implement it. There are three key characteristics: multi-party collaboration, a shared database and a trusted intermediary. Applications are advancing on a daily basis, and there was a stimulating debate covering both the upsides and downsides. We have another event on the 5 December when Hayden Jones, Founder and Managing Director of Blockchain Hub, will be reviewing the most important Blockchain developments over the course of 2018 as well as horizon scanning the potential step changes in the technology for 2019 and beyond. Please visit our website to book your place and avoid missing out on what should be a fascinating and thought-provoking event.

Thursday 8 November, Rajesh Agrawal, Deputy Mayor of London for Business.
Brexit uncertainty calls out for clear leadership that can find the positives amidst the gloom. London’s Deputy Mayor for Business, Rajesh Agrawal, demonstrated this aplenty when he visited this Thursday. His story is a tribute to the very best side of immigration and a reminder that social mobility still thrives. It’s a journey that started with his arriving from India with just £200 to his name, then building a hugely successful foreign exchange business, and now being Deputy Mayor of what he relentlessly reminded us, backed up with persuasive hard data, is the best city in the world. A firm remainer, unashamedly pro enterprise, convinced that London must reach out to major cities across the UK and the world, he was a breath of fresh air for the various businesses and foreign embassies present.

This has been a quite outstanding week for many reasons and as I left the office this evening, I noted that the Christmas lights were on in Bond Street! Have a wonderful weekend.

As ever,

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Seumas Kerr CBE - Managing Director, The D Group


Event highlights:

Tuesday 13th November – MEAG Reception
Frank Gardner OBE, BBC Security Correspondent – Middle East Access Group Networking Reception
Frank Gardner OBE, BBC Security Correspondent

Wednesday 21st November – D Group Lunch
Putting the I into IOT, opportunities for industry through early adoption
Dr Jeremy Silver, CEO, The Digital Catapult

Monday 26th November – External BEI Meeting
ADB Business Opportunities Seminar
Samantha Hung (ADB ERO Frankfurt), Robert Guild (ADB Manila), Kevin Moore (ADB Manila)