Leaders April 2015

The 2014-15 chamber year

Reflecting and looking forward

In May 2014, I took the liberty of using my first column in BCCJ ACUMEN to express my personal thanks to a number of individuals who had been so important to the success of the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan (BCCJ).

It is hard for me to believe that 12 months have passed since then. Once again, I would like to share my thoughts as we approach the end of the 2014–15 chamber year.

Supporting members
We have had an incredibly busy year, holding nearly 40 high quality events aimed at facilitating networking and business opportunities for members.

Increasingly, we have sought to expand such opportunities by involving Japanese stakeholders from both the public and private sectors in the UK–Japan business relationship, particularly in relation to the Rugby World Cup (RWC) 2019 and Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

To host these events in close succession is an honour specially enjoyed by the UK and Japan—a once-in-a-generation shared experience through which we hope people will discover new opportunities for commercial and community collaboration.

The BCCJ’s Executive Committee (excom) believes that the BCCJ can facilitate this process for the benefit of members: we have sought to position the chamber at the heart of forums for the exchange of information and views on these tournaments.

Delivering services
Our goals have been to provide a more effective platform for business exchange, and to enable members to understand RWC and Games opportunities.

We have tried to do this by developing a wider, deeper pool of active members, and by providing a forum for generating opportunities around global sporting events.

As a strategy, this may seem disarmingly simple. But I am reminded of an article in the Financial Times with a quote from Minister of State for Trade and Investment Lord Livingston: “People often think business is about strategy, but it’s actually one part strategy and nine parts execution”.

Thanks to teamwork
Sage words, and taken to heart by the chamber, where we are blessed to have Executive Director Lori Henderson MBE and her team. They have a limitless passion and determination to, quite simply, “get things done”.

Beyond the secretariat, I also applaud the contribution of excom and, in particular, Vice-president Anna Pinsky who has done a huge amount of unseen work to improve chamber operations.

Excom members come and go, but there is one individual who has made an unrivalled contribution. Philip Gibb OBE has served on excom for 11 years, including three terms as vice-president and two as president, but he has decided not to stand for re-election.

Gibb’s leadership of the BCCJ during the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and its aftermath has helped ensure the chamber’s enduring relevance. There is much to which the 2015–16 excom can aspire.