Back to Business – Maximising Opportunities in West London
Alan Rides, West London Chamber; Samar Whitticombe, Hounslow Chamber; Sally Smith, Hounslow Chamber; Mohammed Al Issa, Progress Group; Ahmed Al Yasri, Progress Group.

After a two-year break, the Hounslow Festival of Business was back on 24th February. Organised by the Hounslow and West London Chambers, the 2022 Festival attracted 45 exhibitors and was attended by 200 guests. Alan Rides, Managing Director of the Chamber said, “We are delighted the event was such a huge success, with a record turnout. Such was the demand that we are now making plans to expand the event for 2023”.

Heathrow – Building Relationships with the Local Community

Nigel Milton, Chief of Staff and Carbon at Heathrow Airport, was one of the guest speakers at the Festival. Heathrow is a major contributor to the West London economy, employing tens of thousands of people. Airlines, airport suppliers and partners generate income that benefits local people and companies. However, due to the pandemic, passenger numbers have been down significantly and even in 2022 are forecast to be only around 50% of 2019 levels.

Nigel commented, “As we rebuild passenger numbers, we are keen to engage with the local community and build strong relationships with businesses in the area. One of our top priorities is reducing our carbon footprint. The work we are doing here is essential because the airport could cease to operate at some point unless we focus on lowering its carbon footprint”.

Businesses in the aviation and travel sectors have been through tough times over the past year or two, so if everyone who enjoys visiting different parts of the world for business or leisure can support those who work in these sectors, the greater the recovery prospects will be.

The Power of International Links

The Festival was also host to a variety of international businesses and organisations, including a group of businesses from the Middle East, and a tourist board from Issy les Molineaux on the outskirts of Paris. The region has a population of 70,000 and is home to large companies such as Microsoft and Coca-Cola. Emmanuelle Breuil-Salles, Director of Tourism at Issy les Molineaux, shared with us some of the benefits of connecting with this twinned region, as preparations are made for the Olympics in 2024. M. Breuil-Salles told us how Issy les Molineaux is on the way to becoming a smart city, focusing on sustainability as a key theme.

Another guest speaker at the Festival was Lord Bilimoria, the Founder of Cobra Beer.

Lord Bilimoria gave a highly informative and engaging talk about his life journey and how he became a successful businessman. He also mentioned the opportunities that now exist to do business with India as a result of the new trade deal and made insightful suggestions on how we can grow our businesses in the coming decade.

The Festival and its diverse audiences amply demonstrated the opportunities that exist for local businesses, whether working with potential partners such as Issy les Molineaux or drawing lessons from business leaders such as Lord Bilimoria. Exploring such avenues will deliver contacts, information and projects that can help local businesses grow.

Make Connections and Reap the Benefits

My own business 2k Tiger is a relatively new company, so developing relationships in the local community is vital. Having a stand at the Festival meant we could meet and engage with dozens of businesses. We met with large international banks, power companies, local IT suppliers, app manufacturers, law firms and many more, all in one day.

I was also invited to present one of the talks during the Festival. Entitled “What They Think of You”, this talk was designed to provide guidance on how to build and maintain your connections network. I have learned that, whatever level you are at in business, there will be challenges, and you need to rely on people. By putting effort into building excellent relationships, you will reap all the joy and success you could wish for. We have some wonderful people who are in the West London area or have connections with it, so getting out and talking to people, meeting them and learning what they do can only help each of us to achieve our goals.

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