BBG 2nd National Conference, Chennai – 2012

National Conference

The 2nd BBG National Conference was held in Chennai on 28-29 Sep 2012. The conference got off to a rousing start on 28th September evening with a Welcome Reception for visiting delegates at “Cottingley”, the iconic official residence of Mike Nithavrianakis, Deputy High Commissioner for South India. Even the weather gods seemed to smile on benevolently as the threat of rain receded and the visiting delegates and senior business leaders from the city were treated to a sparkling classical dance recital followed by cocktails and dinner.

As our Chairman, Christie put it “Organising a major pan-India Conference covering 5 BBGs and the BHC /BDHCs and related UKTIs is indeed a challenge. The big task was setting the Conference theme and the Agenda – Stan Evans of Porsche came up with the superb tag-line – “Great Jubilee”, which had just happened & “Great Olympics” which we knew would be a huge success and added: “Great Britain, Great Business with India”. One big boost all the Committee and members got was from Peter Spackman, our Co-Chairman’s graphic designer, Paul Catteau sitting all the way in Coventry. Paul presented us with an inspired Conference logo and Chennai sky-line, all of it reflected into the Bay of Bengal (as seen on cover of this report) – our grateful appreciation to Peter and Paul of Stadco Auto, for creating a delightful blue setting for our theme and for the back-drop of the stage at the venue/ for the roll-up displays. All of these helped keep our members interested in supporting us and many of them agreed to sponsor event.”

On the morning of 29th, as the guests at the Conference venue – the spanking new Hyatt Regency marvelled at the hotel’s special collection of art works by artists from around India and leafed through the booklet in the Conference folder explaining the theme on bee-conservation and how the bee-hives came to be in the hotel structure.

Chennai BBG Member, Latha Menon presented a nostalgic documentary “Old Madras & Chennai Today”, on Chennai’s business history with it’s 373 year-old City Corporation and 176 year-old Chamber of Commerce. The High Commissioner for India, Sir James Bevan then set the tone for the event with his well reasoned “Four myths and One Big Idea”. Dr Anupam Srivastava, CEO of Invest India then delivered the co-inaugural address, highlighting the mission of Invest India, – promoting foreign investments in India in a focussed, and structured manner while acting as a first reference point to provide quality inputs and support services of prospective foreign investors. He congratulated the efforts of the British business community in building partnerships with Indian businesses in promoting trade between the two countries. He extended support services of the Invest India to the BBG membership, particularly to the SMEs and family owned overseas enterprises.

The Conference theme, “The Indo-British Partnership: A Unique Opportunity” anchored by the most experienced BBG man in India, Mark Runacres of Delhi, was encapsulated in five sessions:

A suitable match – Investments between India and Britain
What makes a Great British Success in India
The Skills Gap/ Opportunity
The Infrastructure Gap / Opportunity
The British Business Group in India : What Now?

Each and every session provided the audience with worthwhile insights, ideas and fact. The daunting task of finding appropriate speakers to present each of these sessions was accomplished by Mark Runacres and Christie Cherian with welcome support from Alan Rosling and Roger Pereira while Mike Nithavrianakis stepped in admirably to cover some late drop-outs by key speakers. Mark Runacres wrapped up the proceedings
in style with his concluding remarks.

Refreshing cocktails and a scintillating dance performance by the Abhinava Dance Company, Bangalore followed by Gala Dinner brought a long and great day to a close. The evening was particularly special for Louise Dawson of BBG Chennai who won the lucky draw for a British Airways Return Club Class Ticket to London.

In the post conference report, Christie added “The major job for any meet is the structuring of the Conference content, but here we had the best BBG skills for such a task in Mark Runacres of Delhi. From an outline programme, Mark very quickly and efficiently put together the terrific agenda that the 220+ attendees/ guests benefitted from. Mark and I took the help of Roger Pereira and Alan Rosling who came up with brilliant ideas and speakers, all in a very short period. Right till the end, we had last-minute drop outs from Chennai speakers and Mike Nithavrianakis pitched in to make up final programme. Securing sponsorships for such events is also never easy, but we were helped with prompt responses by all the sponsors of last year’s Goa Meet. But it was 13 of Chennai’s own members who provided the main funding to make event viable – I am indeed most grateful to Mark for his strong support here and to all the sponsors,who helped make event a resounding success.”

Christie sums up in saying that “All-in-all, our experience of hosting the 2nd National Meet has been very gratifying with Hyatt rising to occasion and delivering superb venue and hospitality. We were happy to have had so many of our BDHC/UKTI friends and BBG members from other cities and several overseas attendees, enjoy their visit to Chennai.”

You can download the Post Conference Report here.