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Hello 2018! A new year message from Birmingham Future Chair, Victoria Ball

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Happy New Year to all of our valued members and supporters! Before 2017 becomes a distant memory, we wanted to let you know about some of the things we have been doing behind the scenes these last 12 months and give a flavour of what 2018 has in store.

In 2017 we spent a lot of time working to ensure we understand the needs and aspirations of our members, to ensure we continue to stay relevant and so we can shape 2018 accordingly. In amongst all the great stuff we’ve been up to (see my Christmas message for a reminder), and of which there will be more of the same; we’ve not been blind to areas for improvement in order to keep up with the evolving business landscape we operate in, and it’s up to us to make sure we stay ahead of the game to offer our members the best possible experience. For example, to focus on member engagement we’ve rolled out a regular member communications plan, which will touch base with you throughout your 12 months membership with us to ensure we’re meeting your expectations, and to offer continued guidance on getting the most out of your membership.

So far, your feedback continues to affirm that networking events need a little something extra to make it into your diaries. We are well aware that we are not the only professional membership organisation putting on events in town! As a result, we are filling our events calendar with fresh and original ideas (our Social Committee already has some great stuff planned!) and collaborating with like-minded organisations to ensure the events we bring you allow you to build a meaningful network. Personal development continues to feature highly on your wish list and we have some fantastic development events up our sleeve: kicking off with the Art of Negotiation on 24 January; and otherwise focusing on topical matters within the local business community and discussions involving some of the city’s most influential leaders.

We have also responded to some insight that suggests we don’t always do ourselves justice when it comes to shouting about the breadth and depth of what we do and how and why we can benefit so many young professionals in the Greater Birmingham area. We have therefore undertaken a project called Future365, which involves capturing key calendar events throughout the year through photography and videography. This material will form the basis of a dynamic showreel, to help illustrate the role that Future plays in the business community. We have already captured the Infrastructure Committee’s Biennial Development Briefing; a Mentoring Committee pitch event and will soon be covering an Engage Committee Dragon’s Den and the launch of BYPY 2018. We can’t wait to share this with you.

We’ll also continue to signpost key things our partners and sponsors are up to as well as wider member opportunities to ensure each weekly mailer gives you a rounded view of what’s going on across the region.

In addition to our core activities, it is important to highlight the role BPS Birmingham and our Future and Aspire networks is playing in the context of national industrial strategy and the increasing importance of professional services and regional cities – particularly Birmingham.

As part of the economic intelligence research informing WMCA’s Productivity & Skills Commission, 2018 will see the completion of the ‘deep dive’ into the professional services sector. BPS Chair Ian Barnes (Deloitte) continues to represent the sector for WMCA in this enquiry, as well as acting as GBSLEP’s Sector Champion and Sector Skills Champion, supported by BPS Executive Director Hilary Smyth-Allen. Similarly, BPS Board Director Tim Rayner (Browne Jacobson) is a panel member on WMCA’s Leadership Commission, considering how access to the professional services and opportunities to reach leadership positions can be opened up to be more accessible to a more representative demographic of the Birmingham population. Not only does this demonstrate the strength of BPS Birmingham’s voice as a representative body of professional services in the region; but as the work of these Commissions develop over the coming months, we envisage opportunities arising for members of Future (and Aspire) to get involved and have a voice. Watch this space.

Hilary also continues to lead the professional services sector contribution to the Careers & Enterprise Company’s Enterprise Adviser Network, which links business volunteers to help schools strategically plan their careers advice and guidance. This network is an integral part of the National Careers Strategy published in December 2017, which is aimed at ensuring school leavers are better equipped for the transition to the workplace. As co-founders of the Birmingham network, BPS Birmingham is at the forefront of this vitally important activity. If you personally would like to know more about becoming and Enterprise Adviser, or your business would like to do more with schools, please contact hello@bpsbirmingham.co.uk

So, in short, we are planning to make 2018 a big one, make sure you’re with us for the ride!

– Victoria Ball, Trowers and Hamlins LLP, Chair, BPS Birmingham Future