Q1. John, you’re one of the retired members of the Chamber committee. With a rather impressive resume, (although rumour has it you ran Wickes UK & Fisons, but gardening & DIY are not your strong points wink! wink!), can we take it then that you bring experience in strategy, marketing & business management to your role on the chamber committee?
Yes, you can. My mind naturally veers to ‘what’s next’ but what my work has taught me is the importance of keeping an eye on the big picture. Without this we can get bogged down in the detail of making things happen, and lose focus. It’s why a committee is so important for something like the Chamber.
One of our new focuses post-Covid is to look at the whole community, what it needs and pull back to whether we can help in a way that provides added value to our members.
For 2022 we will be running a Medieval festival on August Bank Holiday. Easy to think it has no relation to a business chamber, but after covid, seeing how long it took for people to start going out again, it was clear we could help by throwing an event. Anyone who attended Berkofest for the Jubilee weekend will tell you how much our community needed and enjoyed that sense of community again.
It’s a one-off, but the purpose is hopefully clear to our members. Sue (Confidence Psychologist), Richard (Berkhamsted School) and in particular our Chair, Pete, all from our committee are working hard on this.
Q2. Any other new ventures coming our way?
As part of the wider remit I just mentioned, we will launch a new website, Event Hub Dacorum. I’ve lived in Berkhamsted for 16 years and, as much as I look at the local notice boards, it’s not easy to know what’s going on locally.. and there’s lots! My wife and I pledged in 2022 to stay local more as we always jump on the train and head into London. We’ve found all manner of great things going on, but it takes some hunting as well as social media following which isn’t for everyone. We spoke to friends and found others felt the same. Charlie from Berkofest and I had chatted about this sometime before, I took it to the Committee and here we are with the site launching in August 22.
Q3. I am a bit confused though as this seems a little left-field for a Chamber of Commerce?
The world of business has changed so much since I retired, so you could ask if my input to the chamber is relevant, but the one thing that never changes is the need to innovate. This is what the Chamber is doing. You can get courses now on TicToc, you can learn how to do an Instagram reel on youtube, so much is easily accessible for businesses to move forward. We decided to look at a wider picture, and innovate. Watch this space?
Q4. We’re out of time John. One quick tip maybe for networking?
Nowadays I really do think business is far less formal. I see the interactions at Chamber events and, honestly, they are so light-hearted and fun. The photos show people in suits as they are off to work after a champagne breakfast, but it’s not stuffy at all. Come along and see. And if you don’t like it, there are lots of other great networking organisations out there … the key is to find one that suits you.