Today’s blog comes from James Stevens, Chief Commercial Officer of YellowDog.
Most business travel advice goes something like this: look for Wi-Fi like it’s water, stick to your itinerary, stay in a safe hotel, and take care of yourself as best you can until it’s over. However YellowDog’s invitation to join a trade and investment delegation to Boston and Chicago promised to be different. The invitation stated three clear goals, develop new business opportunities for YellowDog in two of the US’s most significant cities, market the Bristol and Bath region under the umbrella of Business West and finally create closer ties between the region and the US at a civic, investment, transportation and social policy level.
All sounded pretty lofty and perhaps just aspirational aims. And so to the reality… within minutes of checking in for the flight at Bristol airport we were introduced to a handful of other leading technology companies also on the delegation, next was a very convivial intro to Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees and West of England Mayor Tim Bowles, who impressively already knew who we all were, followed by a team from Bristol University, and finally the International Department of Trade people.
From thereon, the whirlwind week only accelerated as we shot across the leafy cities from one new business meeting to another, interspersed with receptions put on by the host consulate generals where we exchanged ideas with the movers and shakers from industry, commerce, education, health and local government. Pockets bulging with new business cards and promises of further collaboration and conversation, each day ended with thoughts of ‘everything is possible’.
On returning to Bristol I tried to summarise to my family the value and significance of this very unique trip and it wasn’t easy. The words that came out were, “an enormous privilege to accompany civic leaders that have such passion for their city and region, have such clear vision for the future and who understand the virtuous relationship between business success, social equality, education and the importance of collaboration”. Oh and we got some deals done, too!
Before I went on this delegation, I could see how it is quite hard for people to make a tangible link to benefits for everyday citizens in Bristol. However the current political climate of uncertainty can be really difficult for businesses and we must do more to encourage new trade and investment. It is really encouraging our local leaders are looking beyond the city boundaries for opportunities to bring home. To put it simply, more business means more jobs, and that can only be a good thing for everyone.