Dear Members & Friends,

No slow start to post-Easter week for us, in fact it’s been non-stop at 23 Grafton Street as we packed five days resolutely into four.

Straight into business Tuesday morning with a BEI hosted session. Simon Penney, Her Majesty's Trade Commissioner for the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan joined us to share insights on; his role, the market and opportunities for UK Business including political and economic updates. While there was broad agreement that the region offers many opportunities and potentially great rewards for UK business, it was generally accepted that doing business in the region has its challenges. Discussions outcomes included requests for enhanced and increased DIT support for the SME entering and operating in the region by providing more direct access to government resources.

That evening, the D Group welcomed Richard Threlfall, Global Head of Infrastructure at KPMG International, for a discussion around the Future of Transport. As our transport systems evolve beyond recognition there are many clear socio-economic benefits. The private sector’s desire to invest in new technology has aligned with the public good, the potential to stop road deaths, deliver cuts in carbon pollution and provide accessibility to everyone. Debate covered a wide range of issues, from government regulation of movement (especially in cities, where capacity is constrained), to the loss of low-skilled jobs and to the impact of human enhancement (Human 2.0). We look forward to picking up some of these themes in our future events.

The first in a series on Key Themes Africa 2019 was held on Wednesday with a focus on East Africa. According to many economic outlook reports, the region’s economic performance is set to outperform much of the rest of the world at around 6.3% growth. To unpick some of the themes around the expected performance, explore the potential bright spots as well as points of risk, BEI hosted a very engaging discussion with a panel of experts on the region including; Tara O'Connor, Founder and Director at Africa Risk Consulting, Joel Kibazo Managing Partner at JK Associates and Thomas Wheatley from Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner’s Africa Group.

Breakfast time yesterday provided two options. Away from the office Seumas Chaired a Mishcon de Reya/FT Leap 100 Breakfast on key issues for fast growing young companies exploring new International Markets. The panel interacting with a dozen impressive growth enterprises comprised senior executives from Strategy International members. Along with Mishcon’s Commercial and IP Partner, Lewis Cohen, were Albert Maasland (CEO, Crown Agents Bank), Jillian Moore (Head of Digital, Atos) and Robin MacKenzie (Marketing Director, De La Rue). There was an excellent discussion and both practical and cultural ‘musts’. The importance of mining multiple private sector and government networks for insights and contacts before making any market move, having a very clear strategy and plan, ensuring the plan is in line with local regulation and law, to working capital and prompt payment and having diversity in your local management team whilst not compromising your own brand culture and values as you adjust for a new market. It was an excellent breakfast session and shows the value to ‘UK Inc’ of bringing together dynamic growing companies with those that have ‘been there, done that’.


Those of us who remained in Grafton Street were joined by the Chief Executive of Public Health England Duncan Selbie who offered a fascinating window into the critical, and not widely known roles Public Health England plays in managing a range of health issues to the UK. These include helping identify and isolate individual severe man-made and natural health threats entering the UK, as well as providing the data and strategies local and national government depend upon to make well informed public health decisions. Duncan made clear how well respected and globally interconnected England and the UK’s approach to public health is, including on data collection, but also how fragile this status is at a time when policy makers and others are so distracted by exiting the EU.


We wrapped up the week as BEI hosted a DFID procurement focussed team including, Juliet Chua - Director General for Finance and Corporate Performance, Rob Shooter, Deputy Head of DFID’s Procurement and Commercial Department and Tracey Tulloch - Head of Compliance and Risk within the Procurement and Commercial Department. The meeting, designed for the micro and SME company not already engaged with the Department introduced DFID, UK Aid services and overseas working with an overview of recent DFID Procurement Reform. Tracey presented on “Myth Busting” some of the perceptions on working with DFID and an interactive session where participants could engage and ask questions enabled companies to hear first-hand from organisations already busy in the sector. Some 70 companies attended what was a very engaging and lively session.

And then it was Friday! Have a wonderful weekend all.

Best wishes,


Tracey Smith
CEO, British Expertise International

Upcoming events:

Tuesday 30th April 2019 – The D Group Lunch 
Bringing business sense to the NHS  
Baroness Dido Harding, Chair, NHS Improvement  

Tuesday 30th April 2019 – BEI 
Key Themes for 2019: West Africa   
Olusegan Okubanjo, Founder & Chief Executive Officer, OBSIDIAN  

Thursday 1st May 2019 – BEI 
Safeguarding Network – Next Steps
Karen Eeuwens, DFID Safeguarding Unit   

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