Last night I was invited to deliver a short speech to the Manchester Consular Association. A number of people asked for a copy; so I’m publishing an excerpt here.
“On Tuesday Next week an economic forecast for Manchester is being released. Having had sight of this already there are 3 major themes:
Make more; Export More; Back Winning Sectors
The good news is that the backdrop for this in UK PLC is doing very well. According to the latest surveys we are: –
- #2 globally for innovation;
- #1 in Europe for Entrepreneurialism.
Good news in terms of our economy and people possessing the key ingredients or building blocks for success.
The decision to devolve Manchester is significantly important; Manchester must determine itself as a powerhouse on the world stage, not just the UK stage. It must export more and take advantage of the position of the pound; carve out its’ uniqueness of capability as a magnet for science, technology, digital, engineering, universities and biotech. Our future regional growth is not just about the start-ups but also the ‘scale-ups’ who have been here for some time and provide valuable jobs and prosperity.
A renowned global thinker – Kjell Njordstrom – predicts that Cities are the future. 66% of the worlds population will live in Cities by 2050. Nationality will define us less; nomadic millenials displaced through artificial intelligence will travel further for ‘value’ work. Cities must compete for talent; for business; for their future.
So whilst the economists and politicians wrestle with productivity and fighting over the cookie cutters of devolution; business is getting on with it and figuring out their relevancy in a world of radical innovation, speed and globalisation.
In terms of what we need from the politicians? Politicians must cut red tape and make the backdrop one of speed, simplicity and structure but I’m always warned – one piece of red tape when cut gives you two pieces of red tape. That one must feature in the best political one liners of all time, delivered at a Chamber board meeting by none other than Peter Heginbotham OBE, sat to my left.
There’s never been a more important time for consuls to educate business alongside UKTI in the nuances of a country; its regions and practices plus culture. Bringing intelligence to the market here in Manchester to accelerate exports.
Back to my earlier point about entrepreneurship and innovation; the bias for UK people against Hofstedes five dimensions of culture are for short term orientation and an appetite for risk. This may radically differ culture by culture; so cultural education is key to break new markets. One of my greatest mistakes ever was being too optimistic and ambitious in the company of Japanese, something I soon learned to dial down.
So this is all about the Ambition of the City; it’s Leadership (both public and private) and Entrepreneurship which makes a handy acronym called ‘ALE’.
It’s also about young people. Their potential is what will change our productivity, not distant economic data. How we invest in them and pass on our skills. How we grow our businesses to create opportunity for them.
So, dear guests let’s talk up our future; not talk it down.
Let’s collaborate; engage; educate; take dramatic action and determine a future for everyone in the region to prosper.
My favourite word right now is ‘Alacrity’ describing a ‘Happy state of readiness’ – let’s get to it – enjoy your night, consume ALE and be happy.
Speech delivered on Friday 21st November.