Dear Members and friends,

It’s been another busy week here at Grafton Street with five events and dozens of bilateral meetings to support our membership on a wide range of issues. Whatever the headline noise likely to fill the front pages over coming weeks, we remain engaged with some of the strategic discussions ongoing around Whitehall and beyond on how to reposition the UK for success in coming years, and our member events this week give an indication of the breadth of these discussions.

Perhaps most significantly we hosted a forthright, thoughtful discussion with General Mark Carleton-Smith KCB CBE ADC Gen, Chief of the General Staff, British Army, on Global Britain and land warfare in the future. He covered issues around defining how best US and UK armed forces could work together, and the role of the Army in helping HMG deliver a persuasive ‘Global Britain’ offer to the world. Conversation also addressed how to ensure the army effectively communicates its purpose and utility to the nation as a whole as well as how to robustly address three key challenges of better IT, smarter procurement and attracting and keeping a very different mix of talent for a modern military.

Drilling down to a specific opportunity, BEI hosted a discussion amongst our members regarding the workforce development needs of the United Arab Emirates, and indeed the wider Middle East.  Speakers from Pearson, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation Europe Limited, and CR Systems summarised the diversity of challenges UAE faces in encouraging its nationals to enter and progress in the private sector. UK companies working in the education and career development space have significant experience in supporting this kind of work and a number of ideas were raised for improving progress in this critical area.


Following on from this, on Wednesday BEI hosted a team from DFID discussing their communications strategy and priorities. The discussion highlighted opportunities for DFID and private sector suppliers to work in partnership and share development stories of the positive impact UK aid is having in global poverty reduction. The communication strategy aims to build greater public trust by demonstrating that aid works and is good value and also to show that building a safer, healthier and more prosperous world is in the interest of a global UK.  

Cohort 3 of The Future Group were in 23 Grafton Street on Thursday for the latest workshop in the series on organisational culture and diversity. The roundtable discussion in the morning focused on each of the delegates explaining their organisational cultures and the challenges that they faced. The afternoon session consisted of two exercises. First, a cultural assessment of where their organisations are now and in five years’ time – highlighting where to focus the change effort. Next, the delegates prepared a strategic outline for a diversity change programme in the financial sector. Both groups were able to capture the breadth of complexity that organisations face when embarking on cultural change and diversification activities.


Finally; on Thursday Robert Learney, Peter Karney and Christian Beck offered members an outstanding presentation on how Blockchain and the Internet of Things can help all of our businesses grow by accelerating the early adoption of advanced digital technologies. The Digital Catapult provides facilities for experimentation and testing that remove barriers for small businesses and provide collaborative spaces to bring corporations, academics, investors and startups together to address business and technology challenges. We had a very lively debate followed by networking drinks.

As the UK enters an ever more fevered period of public speculation, our role here at Grafton Street remains fixed ever more firmly on providing the high-quality insights and connections our members need to navigate the uncertainty ahead. There is a growing sense of a desire to pull together to achieve this, and our events here certainly support that aim.

Best Wishes,


Tom Cargill - CEO, British Expertise International

Event Highlights:

Monday 14th October 2019 – BEI
Promoting Regional Cooperation in Central Asia  
Ambassador Peter Burian, EU Special Representative for Central Asia, European External Action Service

Tuesday 15th October 2019 – BEI 
How the UK retains its cutting edge 
Sir Mark Walport, Chief Executive, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)

Thursday 17th October 2019 – BEI
Private Sector & Maternal Health
Catherine Goodman, Professor in health Economics and Policy, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Priti Dave, Director of Strategy, Options Consulting Services Ltd
Shehla Zaidi, Strategy Manager International Development, Mott MacDonald