At the April annual general meeting, I stepped down as president of the Chamber and chairman of its Executive Committee. After three years in that capacity, I did so with mixed feelings; sad in some ways to pass the baton, but happy in others to know that there will be new blood at the helm and that this is indeed healthy for the Chamber overall.
Looking back, I realise how lucky I was to have served as president through a most important rite of passage — especially in Japan: our 60th anniversary in 2008. That year coincided with the marking of 150 years of diplomatic relations between the UK and Japan, and we were able to celebrate with our partners, the British Embassy, the British Council, and Visit Britain. For us, it was an occasion to launch the British Business Awards, an initiative that was followed up last year and which will shortly be announced for 2010.
I was grateful during my presidency for the many Members who gave their time to attend the informal lunch meetings I organised. This was my way of hearing first hand what Members across the broadest spectrum felt about Chamber activities: what had we got right, what needed more attention? I learned a great deal and I hope Members have benefited from that learning as we have tried to incorporate suggestions and ideas into the way we serve you.
I am also extremely grateful for those who have served on the Executive Committee under my chairmanship. I think it is fair to say that the recent Executive has been one of the most active ever, in that individual members have been willing to “get their hands dirty” and actually take on responsibilities beyond mere policy-making and supervision. A number of new initiatives have resulted and there are some exciting developments in the works. My gratitude goes to all of the UK Trade & Investment team at the British Embassy. Of course, I should also record my thanks to our Secretariat for their support of the Executive and the work they do on behalf of the Members at large.
Although I have stepped away from the presidency, in standing for re-election to the Executive Committee I hope to continue serving as BCCJ liaison at the European Business Council (EBC). As one of the major stakeholders in the EBC, the BCCJ stands to benefit greatly from its participation in this important lobbying body. But it is also very important that the BCCJ has a voice in the way the EBC is managed.
I have enjoyed my time as president enormously and I hope that my three years has added value to the Membership. I am grateful for the chance to have met so many of you. I wish my successor good fortune and hope you will extend to them the same support you have given me.