The President's Update
First of all, thank you to those of you who took the time to complete our Members survey. There were some very interesting and helpful comments and suggestions for improvement that we will be seeking to take on board over the coming months, some of which I will touch on in the rest of this communication.
Our traditional monthly lunch continues to represent our main networking event and it is clear from the feedback received that this remains much appreciated by a large section of our members. We will continue to seek interesting and high-profile speakers to provide their unique perspective and provoke interesting discussion to complement your networking opportunity at the lunch.
It is however equally clear that our members also appreciate a range of other events where they can meet other members in different settings and explore the Chamber’s networking possibilities to the full. The success of our two aperitif evenings at the Sheraton Diana Majestic in July and the Park Hyatt recently highlighted this, and such occasions represent an excellent opportunity to meet many other members who cannot always find time in their busy schedules to attend our lunches. We will therefore continue to experiment with a programme of alternative networking events that will increase the networking opportunities for all members.
The Chamber’s commitment to golf that has developed further over the last few years, adding new golfing events to the traditional annual outing to Menaggio, and these will continue under my Presidency. Whilst still a non-golfer I hope to be joining the golfing community at some point in the future and in the meantime John Law will continue to look after the golfing schedule. We already have some ideas for developing the activities further next year.
New Business Introduction and Referral service
Many of our member-survey respondents cited a desire that the Chamber did more to provide their businesses with contacts in other countries, particularly as regards trade and commerce with British companies. We acknowledge that business development and expanding into new markets and trading internationally is not easy. So In 2017 we will be launching an exciting new online matchmaking platform, called CONNECTS.
This platform, originally developed to connect all British Chambers in Europe, will help our members grow their businesses by getting access to high quality business contacts around the world. The system will provide advanced B2B matchmaking with a known and trusted international network. This platform is being launched shortly and we expect to be able to provide further details by the end of the year, look out for it soon! Or express your interest by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The British referendum result has produced many concerns and uncertainty for British and European business, and the impacts and further developments are likely to continue for several years. Since the referendum result we have already seen a number of relevant seminars organised by the Chamber and its members on various impacts of Brexit.
At the British Chamber we are committed to contribute and serve our members and friends by interpreting and adapting to all Brexit-related changes, and to this end we have formed a dedicated Brexit working group to lead all Brexit-related initiatives and activities in Italy.
Importantly, The Chamber has recently been given an official role to seek the views and opinions of Italian-based business about the impacts of Brexit and the upcoming UK-EU trade negotiations, in order to provide essential feedback for the UK government (COBCOE’s Brexit Ambition project). This feedback will be collated and provided directly to the UK’s Department for Exiting the European Union for consideration as a direct input to trade negotiations. This role will enable The Chamber to offer Italian-based business a real and significant voice in the development and design of the post-Brexit trading environment.
We are currently requesting business feedback via a COBCOE survey which is available on our website today and we encourage all our members and the wider business community to complete the survey for initial feedback by 21 November: www.cobcoe.eu/brexit-2/cobcoe-survey/
We are also committed to monitor and plan for any impacts on the working and personal lives of British expatriates in Italy, and we will be organising or participating in events in the coming months to discuss and analyse these issues.
Please contact the Secretary General of the Chamber directly if you have an immediate need, request or suggestion regarding Brexit and its impacts on you or your business.
As those of you who attended our Gala dinner in May will be aware, we are about to launch a programme of events in 2017 dedicated to exploring in depth the subject of diversity as it relates to gender, culture and age. The project will take the shape of a series of conferences with high profile speakers with exceptional knowledge on this topic. Speakers will share their authentic experiences in dealing with inclusion within their companies and explain how this has brought concrete benefits to their business in terms of competitiveness and economic returns. The programme will be launched at the British Ambassador’s residence in Rome on 16th November. We are currently planning three meetings to be held in Milan that will be dedicated to Gender Diversity and LBGT (February 2017), Cultural Diversity (May 2017) and Age Diversity (October 2017). For more details please visit the dedicated site diversity.britishchamber.it
The Chamber’s seminar activity has been intensified recently, partly under the impulse of Brexit, and we are now expecting to hold 7 seminars during the post-summer period from September to November, which is something of a record for the Chamber. We believe that these free seminars provide an excellent service to members, enabling them to keep up to date with the latest business developments and tax and regulatory changes affecting many different sectors doing business in Italy.
There is no restriction on the kind of seminar or subject that may be of interest to our membership, so any Chamber member with a subject or idea in mind should contact Chamber staff who will be happy to advise about the various organisational options available.
For those of you who are Sustaining or Special Sustaining members we will continue our commitment to organising invitation-only events for this category of membership. In particular, in recent months we have organised breakfast meetings with both the outgoing and incoming British Ambassadors to Italy as well as special events with UK ministers and Italian ministers at the Ambassador’s residence in Rome. We expect to be able to organise many more such meetings, and shortly we will be launching a new series of executive business briefing events designed for our sustaining members.
We would invite anyone who is not yet a Sustaining member to consider upgrading to be able to take advantage of these exclusive event opportunities.
I hope in this brief communication to have been able to give you an outline of the principal areas of activity planned for the Chamber in the coming year and to have communicated some of the actions we are taking to make the Chamber more respondent to your needs.
I look forward to meeting with you at one of our forthcoming events when we can discuss directly together our plans for the Chamber,
President, The British Chamber of Commerce for Italy
8th November 2016