We’re ready for anything insists ‘optimistic’ Saqib

Greater Birmingham has the talent to succeed no matter what is thrown at them, the city’s largest gathering of business people was told last night (Thursday, April 11). President Saqib Bhatti was speaking at the annual dinner and awards and he said he refused to look at Brexit through “the lens of the doomers and gloomers, the fearmongers and the naysayers”. He added: “My speech is laced

with optimism, hope and continued belief that no matter what happens nationally, we as the business community of Birmingham, Solihull, Burton, Cannock, Sutton Coldfield, Lichfield and Tamworth have the capability and talent to make this region succeed, no matter what is thrown our way.” He added that he recognised

that “uncertainty was the enemy of business and strong economic prosperity” but added: “Our fundamentals as a city

and our region remain strong and I can’t remember a time when uncertainty wasn’t something we have had to deal with. “We continue to move full

speed ahead with HS2, we continue to have greater transport links around the region and in 2018 the West Midlands created 34,000 jobs. “We continue to maintain our

trade surplus with markets like China and the US and because we are wonderful place to work, live and play I am told we are the greatest importers of Londoners than anywhere else.” Mr Bhatti said the regional

leadership, under Mayor Andy Street, was working together in order to compete national and globally. But he recognised that only

40 per cent of businesses in the region that could export were actually exporting. “To me that is a vast amount of opportunity that is waiting for us,” he said. “I also can’t ignore the

markets across the Atlantic and that is why our newly-branded Transatlantic Chamber of Commerce under the leadership of Professor Julian Beer is holding its annual conference for the second year running.


Excellence in Hospitality: Saqib Bhatti, Samantha Brown and Mark Ellison (Conference Aston) and Edward Barnshaw (Quality Business Solutions)

Excellence in Hospitality Sponsors: Quality Business

Conference Aston

A subsidiary of Aston University, Conference Aston is now one of the city’s foremost meeting destinations. With more than 40 years’ experience in the hospitality industry,

“Our documentations team

has been ramped up so we will be ready as the international exporting landscape changes. I, and the international team, are absolutely determined that over the next 18 months the Chamber will play its role in pushing this agenda.” Mr Bhatti said it was not Brexit

that kept him up at night but homelessness and knife crime. “Business as a force for good,”

he said. “Taking knife crime for example, we could argue we need more police and tougher sentences but that doesn’t solve the problem. “It is business which drives

forward economic growth and will provide opportunities for those young people – so that they don’t feel that there is no alternative than to embark on a life of crime.” Praising business for their hard

work, Mr Bhatti added: “You are the risk takers. The people who innovate and take our society forward. The entrepreneurs and the wealth creators. The job supporters who make sure our future generations have a greater purpose. “It is my job at the Chambers

to champion you. To make sure that the politicians and the policy makers know exactly that. We are a voice that is powerful and must not be ignored. As your President, my commitment and promise to you is that I will make sure that we shout from the rooftops of all the good that you do.”

Conference Aston, located on the university campus, has carefully crafted its offering to deliver high-quality service across its operations. The business continuously looks for new ways to improve facilities and

enhance its packages maximise flexibility for customers. Over the last 12 months, Conference Aston has put a strong emphasis on enhancing its food and beverage offering through several innovative campaigns. As a result, the business has recorded a satisfaction score well above the national average. The catering team have launched a campaign focusing on health-

conscious menus through the day and also as takeaways. It also introduced its Greens and Grains concept, addressing the surge in vegetarianism and veganism.

Excellence in International Business: Saqib Bhatti, Mark Smith (Aston University), John Roberts, Stephen Stock and Claire Gilchrist (all AFL Architects)

Excellence in International Business Sponsors: Aston University

AFL Architects

AFL Architects, delivering high-profile sports projects globally, have grown their international business by 143 per cent over three years. They have established themselves worldwide with projects like the

80,000-seat Lusail Stadium, the largest venue at the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar which will host the final and opening matches. Following the opening of their Qatar office in 2013, AFL’s involvement on

this project represents the pinnacle of the practice’s international journey development. The project has transformed the practice and it has attracted a diverse mix of architects from around the world, including Egypt, Somalia, Portugal and China. AFL are confident their growth is sustainable through diversification and

the expansion of their sports sector into new opportunities, such as Esports. Their work in China is also growing exponentially, from one project in 2017 to four this year.

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