Norfolk’s reputation will be defined by talented business leaders

Caroline Williams, Chief Executive, Norfolk Chamber of Commerce

I wrote recently about leadership, and how business leaders can and should have a voice in the region’s strategy. The point I was making was that the knowledge and strategic ability of business leaders is there to be used and should not be ignored.

What defines those leaders is the way in which they’ve guided and grown businesses. Those businesses in turn define the region in which they operate. We’re no exception. Norfolk is dependent on talented business leaders and we’re blessed to have many.

In fact, the quality of key people here is beginning to create an image of Norfolk that’s more than acceptable - it’s marketable.

Across a wide range of sectors, including manufacturing, finance, technology and the creative businesses we have an array of high profile talent driving cutting edge companies. They’re here because Norfolk is a good place to do business. Of course we continue to campaign for improvements in our infrastructure, but in truth we are far from inaccessible; and in a digital age we’re connected globally, 24/7.

There’s space to breathe here, and a good quality of life helps fuel the minds and bodies that run our businesses. Those already here are  a clear signal to leaders and entrepreneurs everywhere that this county is the place to be.

I’m not trying to suggest that this is a new phenomenon. We have history. Norfolk has a fantastic track record of being home, and in some cases birthplace, to outstanding businesses. Aviva, and its original formation as Norwich Union; Colmans; Barclays - which began here; Lotus; all brands that are burned into the national and international consciousness, and all brands that have defined Norfolk.

And now newer organisations are following the same path. Unfettered, in a digital world, from archaic geographic restrictions, and enthused by the lifestyle, the people and the sheer variety of Norfolk’s facilities these business leaders and their teams are starting to influence us now.

They must now become the force of attraction themselves. Their success must draw others here, so that they might succeed.  And when they succeed the county succeeds.

You could call it a virtuous circle.  But somehow that familiar business model is, in this case, flawed. The metaphor of a circle is a dangerous one. No matter how much ‘a recurring cycle of events, the result of each one being to increase the beneficial effect of the next’ is a ‘good thing’, we must not go around in circles forever. It’s about changing and moving forward. About innovation. Because ultimately, it’s innovation that has defined all the leadership that defines Norfolk, and on which Norfolk, and its reputation, depends.

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