HM British Consul General

Kangaroos to KittensKangaroos to Kittens

It’s a huge pleasure for me to pen this, the first article on BritView, the new BABC platform to promote thought leadership. I am grateful to Tom Stevens and the BABC team in Chicago who had the vision to turn a bar stool discussion into something tangible; and to RSM for their sponsorship and commitment to make BritView a reality.

This is a genuinely exciting new forum. Why? Because I believe we need an uncluttered space to share ideas and wisdom; somewhere that allows us to navigate our way out of the information maze. BritView will offer opinion formers a platform to think beyond borders and influence and inspire others to see things in a different way. Such people have always been with us, we just called them other things – sage, prophet, wise women/men. Through history they helped change the world in meaningful ways and encouraged others to join them. Brit View will allow our modern cadre to do the same.

This resonates as I reflect on my time in the private sector and how important such thought leadership was for me at a time when I desperately needed some! When recalling my experiences, I recite a happy, simplistic poem, when in reality it was more Owen than Wordsworth! I had ventured out from the cozy mammalian womb of Diplomacy into the dark and scary world of entrepreneurism. I was like the new-born kangaroo peering from the sanctity of the maternal pouch. Could I survive out there, especially in the cut-throat world of natural resources and “new energy.” After all, what did I really know about running a business; raising capital, competing for state owned contracts, protecting my intellectual property, challenging the Chinese commercial machine? Yes I had been an Ambassador, I had managed the UK’s relations with the Governments of Cambodia and Bangladesh. I had lived through Civil Wars in other places and used my political nouse to report, analyse and interpret political and economic happenings across Asia. Surely running a small resources and energy company in a geography I knew well, with Government and business leaders I knew and who knew me, would be a piece of cake.  Not quite! 

…My success would not simply be based on what I already knew, but on how fast and inexpensively I could learn, adapt and deploy.

I survived and I am better for it. But I needed help and to change my mind-set. Obvious I know, but I needed to shift from Foreign Office Mandarin to businessman, albeit one with a social agenda as well as a profit motive. I originally thought the key component for success would be hard work plus commitment; I would work closely with investors and with their money and my network we would deliver success. This was not completely wrong, it just didn’t go far enough. It was old thinking which needed updating for the modern world. I also needed to learn the secret sauce of adaptability, flexibility and speed. In other words, my success would not simply be based on what I already knew, but on how fast and inexpensively I could learn, adapt and deploy. It was important that I imbued this wisdom, this thought leadership early on in my entrepreneurial career, otherwise I would have ended up owing a lot of people a lot of money!

cat-looking-into-mirror

All leaders, whether in the private or public sector, hope to be able to adapt so that they can see the reflection of the big cat when they look into the mirror. This mirror of thought leadership is pivotal. I am confident Brit View is that mirror.