The British Chamber of Commerce for Italy


BCCI News - October 2019

Dear Friends and Colleagues,
We are off to a flying start! September was a fantastic month, full of events, networking opportunities and meetings that, like me, I am sure will have given you the chance to meet new people and hopefully has given you plenty of food for thought.
October looks certain to be just as busy. If not even more so!
Continuing our newly-minted tradition of revolving authors, this month it falls to me to produce the newsletter and I do so at an especially auspicious time as we formally launch the Next Generation project.
This month may signal the beginning of the next generation of British politics as we are continuing to edge closer to the Brexit deadline currently fixed for 11 pm GMT on Halloween night. A rather ominous date perhaps for both sides on the debate depending on which way the cards fall.
However, before I go further, I think it is good for those of you whom I have not had the pleasure of meeting to know a little more about me. At the age of 25, I am honoured to have been elected perhaps the youngest councillor in the Chamber’s long history of 115 years (unless, of course, you can think of someone else) and certainly one of the youngest to serve on its Executive Committee.
A testament to the Chamber’s commitment to supporting young professionals in Italy.
I grew up in the North East of Scotland on Royal Deeside and studied at Banchory Academy before finally taking a place at the University of Edinburgh where I read History and Politics. Part of my time at Edinburgh was spent on Erasmus during which I was lucky enough to study in Ankara, Turkey for one year. An eye-opening moment in my life, it encouraged me to look beyond the horizons in Scotland; and so, after graduating, I moved to Italy.
I currently teach English and run a series of cultural events at a private school in Milan and have now dedicated a chunk of time to managing the Next Generation project at the Chamber.
What is the Next Generation project? We aim to be the main community of young professionals between Italy and the UK.  We have attracted a highly talented group of young professionals from a cross-sectoral spread of the Italian economy. Similarly, we have gained the backing of some seriously big players such as our Founding Sponsor, HSBC Bank.
We are here to challenge the view that young people in Italy have little to contribute or lack the necessary experience to make an impact. Indeed, for us it is not years of experience that count, but rather quality of experience. Key to confronting that view, is making the space for young professionals to meet, skill up and invest in their personal development on their own terms.
Changing attitudes is our central goal and we are doing this by creating a large community of young professionals. The only restriction for joining our community is that you must be aged 40 or under..
What can you expect by joining our community?  We aim to provide our community with the skills and the opportunities they need to succeed.
Take, for example, our business breakfast roundtable sessions. With our partners Kroll, we have been able to bring together some of the influential players in the field of security, auditing and fraud to allow Kroll to further their business goals. By leveraging the young professional network, we have been able to attract the highest levels of talent.
For businesses run by young professionals, we have dedicated our time to linking them with the expertise and contacts that could give them the head start; utilising the trusted, knowledgeable and experienced membership of the Chamber to make meaningful connections. Look no further than Silvia and Alessandro who recently started their own translation services company, Jade Translations, and are currently benefitting from Next Generation help to expand their business and get started. 
For the individual young professional, we offer the chance to join a valued network. Network with people who understand that age is not a barrier to potential. Benefit from our monthly aperitivi sessions at the STRAF bar in Milan (next to Duomo). Take a membership to connect yourself with the figures of the Chamber that could make the difference in your personal development or career. Take the time to invest in you.
If you need any more convincing, then come along to our networking aperitivo at 19:30 on the 17th October at STRAF bar. If you are over the age of 40, do not despair! You are welcome to attend but only if you bring along a colleague or other professional aged 40 or under!
The Next Generation project is your, and your business’s, opportunity to embrace the future and engage your young employees in more meaningful ways. We are here to support your needs and are happy to listen to any ideas you have.
If you want to know more, feel free to get in touch directly at: [email protected]
Now back to the B-word… If you follow the media, then you may have the sense that every month, even every week, so far this year has been ‘critical’ in terms of Brexit. Well, October certainly is critical. If PM Johnson, with his 31 October ‘do-or-die-in-a-ditch’ ultimatum, is to be taken at his word then we are indeed living through the final month of the UK in the EU. He will do everything he can, he says, to get a withdrawal deal before the end of the month. To that end, last week Johnson presented the EU with his solution to the Irish backstop problem. Met with a mixture of curiosity and disillusionment in Brussels and Dublin, it remains to be seen whether it is enough to drive the negotiations to a successful conclusion and prevent the widely-feared ‘No Deal’ exit from the European Union at the end of October.
Or indeed, if Johnson will comply with the terms of the ‘Benn Act’ and request the mandated extension should he fail to make a deal with the EU.
With Parliament in total disarray, the government denounced in the Supreme Court, and the Monarch herself dragged into the unedifying mess, Brexit is a drama akin to one of Shakespeare’s history plays. One wonders what John of Gaunt would have had to say about it. But, Johnson’s certainty that this shall indeed be the last month of the UK in the EU reminds me more of the words of the Scottish poet, Robert Burns: “There is no such uncertainty as a sure thing.” Perhaps testament to the dawning reality that we may yet be sticking around a little longer in the EU.
Whatever comes of Brexit, the Chamber will live on and this month will be one of the busiest of the year. Every one of our four key pillars: Brexit, Diversity, Innovation and Sustainability is the focus of an event this October. Take a look below for the full roster and I and/or my fellow councillors really look forward to meeting you at any of those events.

Lastly, as we head into this busy month, I want to pay thanks to the Chamber team - Simona, Maria Rosa, Maria Luisa, Aaron and our interns - as well as my colleagues on the Council for their dedication and stamina that continue to keep the Chamber so successful! 

Nicol Ogston
BCCI Councillor & Coordinator NextGen

8th October 2019

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