President's Message April 2016

Posted: 29th April 2016, 10:21am

As April comes to a close and the photos contained in the Herts Ad's last addition of the month helps us all remember what happened at our annual St Georges Day lunch, I find myself in a reflective mood. These days there are many ways of keeping track of your business networks and personally I find LinkedIn a really valuable tool to keep up to speed with people’s activities, job changes and career milestones. I am however always surprised when I begin to get inundated with kind congratulatory messages acknowledging my own work anniversaries, and yesterday, travelling back in to Euston on the train, was no exception. 

Suddenly my smartphone sprang to life with messages from far and wide congratulating me on my sixth anniversary in my role has Head of Centre at Clydesdale Bank here in St Albans. My immediate reaction was one of surprise as it is quite remarkable to me that six years has passed so quickly. I also appreciate that in the eyes of many who have been involved with the St Albans business community for a considerably longer period of time than I have, I am still considered to be a new boy!

Since setting out on my career path, I have had to make numerous decisions around what works best for me in terms of my professional career and at times what works best for me as a disabled person. For many years, I thought that the only place I was able to construct a sustainable career was in and around London. Notwithstanding the torturous commute and the daily hustle and bustle of city workers, tourists and students coupled with traffic, noise and pollution, I felt that the volume and quality of opportunities along with the accessible transport links meant that London was the only place for me. In April 2010 though, I took a decision which changed my view forever and I am now passionate about making the case far and wide that St Albans is not only a fabulous place to live but a rewarding and exciting place to work too. My own personal decision to work in St Albans was driven by a desire to acquire a better work life balance, bearing in mind that this was at a time when training for London 2012 was really picking up pace and hence quality family time was in very short supply.  As such, you can say that in my case the decision to work in St Albans was driven by a particular set of circumstances, and boy am I glad that I made the move. The vibrancy of our business community coupled with the breadth of skills and experience fosters a real desire and willingness to drive our economy forward.  This was really brought home to me when I recently met with a representative from the Budapest Chamber of Commerce who was lavish in his praise of our business community and expressed a real desire to develop strong business links between Budapest and St Albans. 

The challenge we face now however, is how we continue to attract talent to St Albans that would traditionally take a similar view to me in my early career, and assume that the land of opportunity lies in London. Initiatives such as the City of Expertise continue to drive this message home from a professional services point of view and there is no doubt that the BID project, the museum project and initiatives to attract more visitors to our stunning St Albans Abbey, are great examples of work being undertaken to encourage visitors to our city which will in turn drive our economy forward. 

The St Albans Business Festival set for 4th-8th July will provide a particularly unique opportunity to showcase our city and its businesses in such a positive way, and the list of events already scheduled for that week really demonstrates the ability of our community to attract key business and political figures to our city. The finale event will be a networking lunch with the Secretary of State for Business, Sajid Javid MP on Friday 8th July at Sopwell House Hotel – we are looking for a sponsor for this high profile event.  I would encourage everyone reading this newsletter to climb on board early and really get behind and involved with the business festival. Let’s take the opportunity to show our great city at its vibrant best.

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