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Dear Members and Friends,

No – the iceberg is not a none-too subtle metaphor for what lies in wait for the new government, but a cooling image for us all to look at as we endure the sweltering heat. It’s a snap I took a few months ago whilst in Antarctica and it works for me.

Three really interesting items this week;

The July issue of Perspectives is out early and includes an interesting Podcast; an interview with Conservative MP, George Freeman. Recorded on 19th July, it trails a lot of what Boris said outside Number 10, not about the delivery of Brexit but about the need for HMG to really get behind sectors where the UK has world-beating strengths. It echoes much of what is said in a really interesting book, ‘Britain Beyond Brexit', collated by George and containing essays from the full spectrum of opinion in the Conservative party. Alongside the podcast is a thought-provoking piece from Atos’ Kulveer Ranger on the future of transport. Kulveer was previously Boris’ director for transport policy. There is also an insightful piece from BFPG, our associated research group, on the extent of the cuts the FCO has suffered and some thoughtful recommendations on how best to build its capacity.

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Philip Augar, the Chairman of the eponymous recent report on the future of Higher (university) and Further (skills & training) education, joined us hot from presenting to the parliamentary education select committee. The contents of the report, mainly concerning reducing education fees and re-introducing the maintenance grant, have been well covered in the national press – but it was nonetheless a great opportunity to hear Philip focus on areas that have not seen as much daylight, particularly on Further Education, skills and training. This is a critical area for UK business, one which the new Government must move up the agenda and where business should engage even more so than at present. It’s a theme echoed in ‘Beyond Brexit’.

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Paul Jacques, the outgoing Chief of Material (Land) at Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) gave us an outstanding presentation on Defence Acquisition set in a historical perspective since the organisation was formed. The MOD, like many businesses, has followed a cycle of centralising and decentralising authority and budgets; but the real lesson for both Business and Defence was to be upfront from the outset of a contract on the risks and to manage them together. Relationships and culture will always be the key to success or failure. Paul’s presentation generated a very lively debate and the general view was that we should try and bottle the knowledge and wisdom in the room for everyone to drink each day! It was also agreed that our next paper for the House of Commons Defence Select Committee will be titled "How can Industry and Government work more effectively together in order to maximise our Global Market Potential”.

Finally, it would be odd to sign off without at least a brief reflection on the political scene, particularly as it affects the membership, whether in domestic UK business or international trade. At the time of writing not all the ministerial appointments are in place. The good news for the membership is that those that have been announced contain a large number of previous guests and speakers at Strategy. The corresponding challenge is to gain their attention in what will be clearly be a pretty intensive period of activity.

Strategy holds no events in August but we return with an excellent September programme which is highlighted below. We can expect some additions from the new cabinet and ministers.

Best wishes,

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Peter O'Kane - Executive Chairman, Strategy International


Event Highlights:

Tuesday 10th September 2019 – The D Group
The challenges of planning and delivering national infrastructure projects   
Stephen Dance, Director of Infrastructure Delivery, Infrastructure and Projects Authority

Wednesday 11th September 2019 – BEI
Promoting Diversity and Inclusion in the Infrastruture Sector 
Lila Thompson, Chief Executive, British Water
Richard Chapman-Harris, Diversity and Inclusion Consultant, Mott MacDonald
Kristina Scheibler-Frood, Principal Structural Engineer, Aecom

Wednesday 11th September 2019 – The D Group
Keeping the UK moving
Bernadette Kelly CB, Permanent Secretary, Department for Transport

Tuesday 17th September 2019 – BEI
Climate Series: The Role of Infrastructure in Achieving the 2050 Net-Zero Emissions Target
Simeon Agada, Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)
Professor Chris Evans, Centre for Hydrology & Ecology
Alisdair Clark, EBRD

Wednesday 18th September 2019 – The D Group
Careers of the Future
Claudia Harris, Chief Executive, The Careers & Enterprise Company

Thursday 19th September 2019 – The D Group
Lunch with Dr Jeni Tennison, The Open Data Institute
Dr Jeni Tennison, CEO, The Open Data Institute

Tuesday 24th September 2019 – BEI
PIDG Unlocking Infrastructure Opportunities 
Philippe Valahu, PIDG Chief Executive Officer

Tuesday 24th September 2019 – The D Group
Courageous Conversations 
Wendy Addison, Founder & CEO, SpeakOut SpeakUP

Tuesday 24th September 2019 – The D Group
The impact of technology on future warfare 
Gary Aitkenhead, Chief Executive, Defence Science and Technology Laboratory