I love it when a plan comes together!
No, despite all the talk of falling back into the 1970s, I’m certainly not falling back into the 1980s and to the time of a former favourite TV show! I am in fact referring to a meticulously planned visit to Wales last week of the new IoD Director General Stephen Martin, who celebrated his 100th day in post with us last Wednesday and spent his 101st day with us on Thursday.
Our plan was to give him a brief flavour of the talent and diversity of businesses here in Wales, along with showcasing some real good news stories from IoD members in Wales.
Our first appointment was with the Minister for Economy and Infrastructure, Ken Skates, and we were joined afterwards by the First Minister. It was a great opportunity to discuss wide-ranging topics and to demonstrate the very positive working relationships that we in the IoD in Wales have forged with Welsh Government, which have been replicated on the Westminster stage too.
We followed our meetings at the Welsh Government with a tour of the cradle of Welsh democracy at the Senedd where, coincidentally, Brexit was being debated in the Chamber during our brief time spent in the viewing gallery. This is, of course, an issue that the IoD is monitoring continuously and we are updating our members on an ongoing basis.
Later that evening we met with our new IoD Wales committee, which draws on talented members from a wide range of sectors from across Wales including construction, life sciences, professional services, cyber security, and the creative and communication sectors, among others. On Thursday morning, at a business leaders’ breakfast in Cardiff, Stephen was able to give his vision for the IoD, along with commenting on issues which are really impacting on and affecting members throughout Wales, including productivity, GVA, skills, apprenticeships, cyber security and of course, Brexit once again.
I was enormously encouraged and enthused by the level of engagement our members are seeking to achieve with our new Director General and I am hugely ambitious for his time in office. We live in historic times and it has rarely been as important to listen to the voice of business as it is now – and the IoD has a strong voice!
It is a good feeling to be able to promote good and positive news stories to colleagues who aren’t based in Wales and a meeting that followed with Cardiff Airport and Quatar Airlines - who have just announced the new route to Doha – was extremely positive and the IoD has warmly welcomed the opportunity for this important new route. We will of course continue to work at a Wales and UK level in order to maximise and support this and all opportunities.
Our final stage of the visit was with a jewel in the crown of Welsh businesses – Sony UK Technology Centre – where world-beating technology continues to grow from strength to strength and is a prime example of a world class business based here in Wales.
I’m sure that Stephen Martin will have been impressed by the enthusiasm, engagement, dynamism and innovation evident there and on display throughout his visit.
He will have been as encouraged as I am consistently with the quality of Welsh business and the contributions they continue to make to the Wales economy.
Our Director of the Year Awards on Friday are further evidence if any were needed, of the qualities mentioned above, as well as the resilience, optimism and sheer determination to succeed that prevails among Directors of Welsh businesses. Every year our awards showcase a different tapestry of talent from all backgrounds and all sectors and this is what we celebrate at Friday’s event and something that we should all be mindful of all year round.
Robert Lloyd Griffiths is Director of the Institute of Directors in Wales