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Dear Members and friends,

The long and hot summer has come to an end, London is busy again, we've enjoyed two excellent briefings this week and we may even be reaching a denouement on Brexit with, hopefully, some sort of clarity. (Please!) Meanwhile, the team have been very busy over August with new member wins and initiatives.

The two events this week featured an impressive overview from the Rt Hon Alistair Burt, Minister of State for the Middle-East and North Africa. Alistair deals with what is a massive, complex and challenging geographic brief and one which covers both FCO and DFID. It was a tour de force. Peter Cheese of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development took members through a highly insightful analysis of change in the workplace, what is driving it and how to embrace it. Looking to next week, there are two very promising events. We welcome a top team from UK Export Finance, who have one of the best export-enabling offers for 'UK inc' for years, and we welcome Ben Wallace, the Security minister.

Back to progress over the Summer lull. I'm glad to report that the team have delivered some very positive developments.

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New members.

Any membership needs to refresh and expand. It multiplies the connections for existing members and brings new and valuable perspectives. During August, six companies have agreed to join. They will be profiled by Seumas next week. Sadly we also lost one, MWH, the subject of a 2017 takeover by Canadian interests. The UK operation was an excellent member for many years. We wish the newly branded Stantec well.

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New programme.

  • Forward visibility. Diaries of senior people are always busy, so we have used the Summer to book our briefing programmes as far out as possible and make the PAs’ jobs a lot easier. The D Group forward programme now extends to Summer next year. It will fill out further and we will ensure its not too 'static' and we retain the flexibility to introduce topical briefings at short notice. The BEI programme is making similar strides but has always - and will continue to - have a high quotient of events being booked 1-3 months in advance.

  • Working Groups. The great value-add of forming groups of members around sector or thematic subjects is being built on. We have a new and very engaged Defence Working Group, a Higher Education one is being formed and the existing International Development, Central Asia & South Caucasus and Infrastructure groups continue.

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New initiatives.

In addition to growing membership, our aim is to deliver new initiatives which update and improve what is available to members.

The Strategy International Advisor Network has been updated. This is a grouping of some 20 highly experienced, senior local businesspeople and retired diplomats across the world, able to assist the membership with access, contacts and troubleshooting. It is designed to give members a proprietary alternative to the services offered by HMG's missions and their own in-house reach. More of this in a later circular to members, but we should make special mention that we were delighted over the Summer to welcome as our IA in Japan, Rooky Hayashi, whom many of you will recall as the regional head and EVP of Mitsubishi Group in Europe and Africa. Japan represents a growing opportunity for the UK Defence sector as well, of course, as being a leading global economy with huge interests in the UK.

The Middle East Access Group is now launched. It's a MENA focused, light touch networking-only offering, designed both to accommodate the needs of the many companies and individuals disappointed by the troubles experienced last year by the Middle East Association and to offer valuable connections and insights to new entrants. The fare will be some 6-8 networking evenings, usually at Grafton St and accompanied by an address from a regional expert. MEAG membership is automatically granted to all D and BEI members.

The Future Group is not a new initiative, but its new programme is looking very positive, in particular the HMG participation. All of us are regularly aware of the need to work hard at maximising understanding and contacts between the private and public sector and we are delighted that John Manzoni, the Civil Service CEO, has supported an initial cohort of civil service to join our private sector future leaders for the forthcoming one-year programme.

With best wishes,

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Peter O'Kane - Executive Chairman, Strategy International


Event highlights:

Tuesday 18th September - BEI Meeting (15:00)
Accessing Project Financing Support – UK Export Finance
Richard Simon-Lewis & Clare Kent, UKEF

Thursday 27th September – D Group Lunch
Lord Maude: Upskilling the Civil Service
The Rt Hon. The Lord Maude of Horsham

Wednesday 3rd October - D Group Dinner
Small modular fusion – a breakthrough technology for a low carbon future?
Dr David Kingham, Executive Vice Chairman, Tokamak Energy Ltd