ON Friday, we held our annual Director of the Year Awards at Sophia Gardens, Cardiff.
There was another excellent attendance, and, judging by the positive atmosphere in the room, business confidence is clearly good in Wales, despite external forces such as the ‘B’ word.
It is my experience that business finds a way to overcome challenges, sometimes in even the most complex of circumstances.
The keynote speech was given by the First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones, and it was very warmly received by the room.
Why? Because he rightly acknowledged the critical contribution business leaders make to the wider economy, and that the economic vision the Welsh Government is seeking to achieve can only be achieved in collaboration with many partners, including the IoD.
He made reference to the recently published Economic Action Plan – the new, whole-government approach to economic development in Wales.
This plan sets out the major economic challenges we face in Wales over the next generation, such as improving productivity; improving the availability of fair work, decarbonising our business base, and future proofing the economy for major changes such as automation.
The First Minister said it was the Government’s role to provide a clear sense of direction and be the facilitator of partnership. “We cannot deliver this Plan alone – we need all of you working with us, with our learning institutions and with wider civic society to make this happen,” he said.
The IoD strongly believes these are critical to Welsh economic success. During his time as First Minister, the opportunities for business to engage with his Government have gone from strength to strength, and this continues to be hugely important to us, and I know, to the whole business community.
This Plan was developed in consultation with organisations such as the IoD, and we advised, as we have consistently done so, that success requires collaboration and joint working with business, with Government, and with other sectors such as further and higher education.
Later this month, the Welsh Government will be unveiling its Economic Contract programme, which the First Minister said will “frame a new and more dynamic relationship with business in Wales by tying Welsh Government support more directly” to the challenges he outlined earlier.
‘Team Wales’ is an over-worn cliché, but the IoD strongly believes that working with and not against Government is the only way for us to achieve what business leaders need to enable them and their organisations.
The IoD enjoys an excellent relationship with both Welsh and UK Governments, and that enables and ensures our members’ voices and views are genuinely listened to when policies such as the Economic Action Plan are being considered.
The First Minister rightly acknowledged that the 300-plus delegates at the awards on Friday had the energy and determination to drive the Welsh economy forward, and to answer those challenges we face.
And that note, I must pay tribute to the winner and those shortlisted in this year’s awards. From Chairman’s Award winners Ed Reeves and Rachel Clacker of sector leading business Moneypenny to Start Up of Year Director Adrian Sutton, Wales continues to demonstrate it has people with the energy, drive and leadership to drive their organisations and this country forward to a much better economic place.
Our award winners and nominees exemplify what is at the very heart of what the IoD is all about – good governance and leadership.
Good directors enable businesses to meet their full potential – as we say in the IoD: Better Directors – Better Business – Better Economy.