The Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce are delighted to welcome our new board members: Saqib Bhatti (Younis Bhatti & Co), Steve Allen (Mills & Reeve) and Liz McKenzie (Wesleyan).
This week we are asking our new board members to share their stories with you, our members, and how they hope to help our Chamber go continue to thrive and connect, support & grow local businesses. First Saqib Bhatti, Director, Younis Bhatti & co, NED GBCC & VP Birmingham Chamber of Commerce shares his story:
My earliest recollection of the Birmingham Chamber is from when I was 8 or 9. It was the Institute of Asian Businesses Annual Dinner and my father was the Chairman giving the keynote speech at the International Convention Centre. While I may not have realised the importance that the Birmingham Chambers of Commerce play at that age, even then I was able to appreciate the gravitas and influence of such a prestigious organisation. Almost 23 years on and I have the honour of being the Vice President and one thing I am certain of is how crucial the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce are to the region.
As policy influencers, business connectors, deliverers of International Trade services, the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP Growth Hub and many other key services, I have no doubt that the Chamber of Commerce will only grow in strength and importance.
As I write this, the country has just emerged from a national election resulting in the second hung parliament in a decade. There is uncertainty as to what will happen at a national level and whether indeed we may be going to the polls again in the next 12 months. The uncertainty is unhelpful to say the least but it doesn’t change the simple fact that for us, as businesspeople, life goes on.
Ultimately, when the politicians have had their say and policymakers have finished their tinkering, it is the businesspeople and the hard working people of our communities who continue to deliver the results. After all, what good is a trade policy if there are no businesses to take advantage of it? Business is done person to person, deal by deal. It is precisely why, I believe, institutions such as the Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, are more important now than they have ever been.
There has also been a regional poll which is of great significance and that was the election of the first ever West Midlands Metropolitan Mayor. The former Chairman of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership, and CEO of John Lewis, Andy Street, has big ideas for the West Midlands and crucially the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce are vital in helping the Mayor to shape his agenda.
As a region, we are diverse, talented and resourceful. More and more so, our politicians, policymakers and business leaders are coming together, working closely with each other and the people they represent making sure that Greater Birmingham and the wider region are a fantastic place to live, work and play. It is why we are had the most levels of start-ups outside London in 2015 and increasingly we are being recognised internationally as a global city for manufacturing and services.
Undoubtedly, the region is in the midst of a renaissance. With foreign direct investment continuing to come to the region, the advent of HS2 and cranes towering over the landscape of Birmingham, I am convinced our best years are ahead of us. As Director of Younis Bhatti & Co. which services SMEs from across the region, Director of Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership and the President of the Asian Business Chamber of Commerce, I will do my part to help our region be the best we can be.
We have the talent, energy, vision and leadership to hold our own on the global stage. If we harness this and work towards a better future for our city, great things will happen. So, the next time the politicians and the policy makers think about writing a speech or coming up with a big new idea, they look at us and think, “let’s do what Greater Birmingham did.”