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  • Lawrence Bailey

There's always something to learn in business

October is traditionally a time for conferences of one kind or another, and this month has been no exception.

Among the highlights was a well-attended business support event staged at the Liberty by the Swansea Bay Futures team. The high number of exhibitors and visitors suggest many firms have plans to step up a gear.

Indeed, it has to be said that commercial networking activity around the Evening Post region has been noticeably extensive this year, based on the invitations received anyway.

Admittedly there were a few hiccups. I was among those at a private gig expecting to meet a national business celeb only to learn said personage was a no-show because he’d been sent to the ‘wrong resort’ by the organiser. Word is that those involved are even now clutching the patch of ground they wished would open up under them. (We’ve all been there).

No such worries though for the Collaborate 2017 conference at Swansea University. This is where science, industry and innovation get fused into a day-long exposition of ideas and achievements.

Set within the context of the City Deal, a range of key speakers had much to share about our potential on a global level. I particularly liked the contribution by Marc Clement who focused on the aims of raising regional income levels and employment expectations.

Over a decade ago, I joined Marc on a promotional business visit to the States. It was an amazing trip. Memories range from a night in a micro-brewery spent in the company of internationally renowned micro-biologists in San Diego to sharing pizza with a space-shuttle crew in Houston. Somewhere in there was a key meeting which later laid the foundation for the Institute of Life Sciences at Swansea.

The same kind of incremental journey was the theme expounded by McDonald’s franchise veteran Ron Mounsey to Swansea Business Club. Ron took his lunch-time audience at Sosban, Llanelli through an object lesson in diversification – not to mention an appreciation of the mind-boggling logistics that underpin the fast-food business.

Which goes to show that there’s always something to learn in business.

Good Morning Vietnam

Not too long ago, I overheard a holiday sales pitch that started along the lines of “Now, have you heard of a place called Vietnam – because very few people have”.

Normally such comments would set off the grumpy old whatsit in me big-time, but the age of the speaker caused me to ponder how history changes with perspective.

To my generation, Vietnam represents one of those countless conflicts where the East-West superpowers fought each other around the world by proxy.

There is currently a television series underway on the history of the Vietnam War and how a succession of US mistakes allowed anti-colonial sentiment to get translated into revolutionary zeal.

As a matter of interest, and on another historical note, tomorrow marks the centenary of the Russian revolution – a seismic event felt around the world.

Walls and despots may have fallen since then but the willingness on either side to resolve objectives via third-party aggression still remains. Such a shame.

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