Chamber Council: Play your part in influential body

Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce

With the application process now open for Chamber Council elections, the GBCC has decided to shine a spotlight on some of our long-serving members. This time we will be taking a look at vice-president Saqib Bhatti.      

To this day, one of the most influential bodies in the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce and by extension the city, is the Chamber Council.

I still remember my first one. At the time, Greg Lowson, managing director of international law firm, Pinsent Masons, was President. As I walked in, I saw a bustling room of individuals, all smartly dressed and obviously very influential in their own rights. Given the number of people, my priority quickly became securing one of the veggie breakfasts and a good strong coffee.

As we did introductions, I realised my initial instincts of being surrounded by influential and successful people were right with representation from some of the top companies and organisations in the region.

Being a newbie, I was made to feel most welcome and instantly was made to feel at ease by the President. My experiences here gave me the experience to sit on other boards around the region including the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership.

The format of the council at the time was to have presentations from the Chamber Policy team, from the Bank of England and a special guest speaker. We had the good fortune of having Anthea Macintyre, the MEP for Midlands addressing the audience speaking about employment legislation and directives from the EU.

Nearly five years on much has changed with the Chamber Council but I can proudly say it has become stronger and stronger.

The focus on policy remains but greater engagement from the council members is encouraged. I have seen how the Council directly shapes the focus of the high quality and efficient Chamber Policy team and that direction ultimately translates into very high quality material and papers.

These are the same papers that I used when I was on Any Questions last year. These are the same papers that Henrietta Brealey, Director of Policy and her policy team uses to inform and lead discussions with ministers, MPs, trade bodies and other key stakeholders across the region.

The council is the reason why the Chamber remains relevant and I would argue ahead of the curve. If you don’t believe me, pull up the Brexit toolkit and find me anybody else who has anything as intricate or detailed.

The fact is the Chamber as a whole has reinvigorated its focus on being relevant to business. The Chamber council is the tip of the spear when it comes to this.

I know nominations are currently open for the Chamber Council. If you feel you have more to give and want to help shape the region’s agenda, then I encourage you to apply.

Of course, I wish you every success and I hope to see you there at your first council. I will be the one at the front of the queue standing next to the coffee station.

The Chamber Council meets four times a year and plays a pivotal role in guiding the Chambers policy and campaigning activity. The deadline for Chamber Council applications is the 24 July. Click here to find out more and how to apply.