2020 has been a year like no other, bringing opportunities for some and challenges for many. As the year draws to a close the Ambassadors from the Buckinghamshire and MK branch of the IoD reflect upon their experiences.
Nigel Robinson, Chair
Reflecting on 2020, I think it is fair to say that post-war British business has never faced a challenge like we currently find ourselves within. What is hugely encouraging, however, is how our businesses have adopted these challenging conditions by digital adoption of technologies such as Teams, Zoom, Hangouts etc. but also new ways of working. Businesses which would have never considered web-based ordering and delivery have now adopted it as their new norm, businesses that would have never embraced video conferencing as a means to network and continuing to trade have done so with aplomb and some businesses have diversified with an intensity never before seen.
This, I believe, is driven by our combined determination and tenacity to succeed, no matter what adversity throws at us. Alongside this, we have seen the Government provide unprecedented levels of support, where they can, to business and with a swiftly approaching exit from the EU, many in Government are now looking at UK businesses for their sourcing needs, rather than from overseas.
There are business sectors which have been hit incredibly hard and our communities have done all they can to support them in ways never previously witnessed.
The IoD is here for its members and it's my intention, along with every member of your committee, to provide whatever support you need, going forward, to help your businesses thrive and recover in 2021 and beyond.
Suzanne Hurndall, Ambassador Diversity & Inclusion
2020 has certainly not turned out as anticipated, A lot of people, myself included, were feeling inspired going into 2020 with visions and hopes for the start of a new decade and a new chance to start fresh once more. Then…coronavirus.
My background is HR and this year more than ever it’s been about embracing a more dynamic and complex world it’s no longer a choice for HR, but a necessity. We have long been faced with major people challenges. Talking to our members, I know you have had your own people challenges this year and have had to furlough staff or let them go…. the global pandemic has accelerated the need for fundamental business transformation and it has put HR into full disruption.
Despite, or perhaps as a result of, this disruption, this year I’ve taken the time to stop and appreciate who I am and what I have achieved— I feel privileged to have been able to support business with their challenges, I’ve learned new things, I’ve made a few mistakes, there have been stumbles and losses. Self-acknowledgment and appreciation of the simplest things are so important, giving back to my community and IoD members is important to me and I’m looking forward to achieving higher goals and accomplishments and serving Buckinghamshire & MK in 2021.
Shankar Meembat, Ambassador
I was just about into 1 year of my new venture and had the foundations for growth in place when the full impact of coronavirus hit in March. The immediate impact was a drop off from all potential prospects, none of whom wanted to commit to making additional investments.
But that also meant that I had a bit of time on my hands. So, I decided to offer one of my services to any business owner who wanted it. Between April and July, I ran fortnightly online board meetings, extending an open invitation. They filled up easily, and while the attendees did not necessarily fit my target customer profile, they all benefited from these meetings that allowed them to support each other.
In June, I signed on five new clients, getting me back on track. The sign-ups were not all necessarily a direct outcome of the sessions I ran but some of those who did sign up had seen the positive social media coverage generated by the open invitation sessions.
But more importantly, what I learnt myself from those sessions I ran were how willing the business owners were to share their own experiences and knowledge to help each other. Repeatedly the feedback was how much there was in common amongst people in very different industries and how it opened up new opportunities to learn from each other. This is one of the areas where the IoD plays a crucial role for the business community and will continue to do so as we look forward to 2021 and an ever-evolving set of challenges and opportunities.
Clare Winter, Ambassador
2020. What a year! Back in January, I spent a considerable period of time making plans and was excited about what lay ahead. Then “puff”, everything went up in smoke.
Like many others, I was hit hard by covid, my business took a knock and it had serious implications for my family that I also had to navigate. It did, however, present me with several opportunities that I would otherwise not have had. I had the time to undertake two professional qualifications. I met lots of new people via the IoD’s online events. And I was able to dedicate time to supporting the development of the IoD’s Branch Operating Manual, something that I hope you will all see the benefit of in the coming months and years.
I have also been impressed by the flexibility and perseverance that has been shown by my clients in the face of all this disruption. From rapidly rolling out new technology to enable virtual working, to organising regular mental health check-ins with their teams, they have all shown great resilience. Sadly, some people and businesses have not been so fortunate, and for those of you that have struggled and are still struggling, we are here to support you.
Finally, whatever Christmas looks like for you and your loved ones this year, I hope you will be able to take some time out to relax over the festive period, so that you are refreshed as we move into 2021. We are looking forward to seeing you in the New Year!
To find about more about joining the team of Ambassadors in the Buckinghamshire and MK, please email us