BLOG – More Tales From The BIBA Conference Floor (Part 2)
Yesterday our intrepid Senior Relationship Manager, Juliet Cox, ventured on to the floor at the BIBA 2014 Conference and Exhibition, relishing her presence as a delegate not on a stand at this year’s event. Today Jules draws inspiration from guest speaker, Karren Brady. Or was it…….
Back on the conference floor after the fascinating talk by Jo from Marks and Spencer, suddenly a man stepped out in front of me and exclaimed ‘Jules! Come and have a glass of champagne and your photo taken with me’.
Not recognising this man at all, my first instinct was to have a quick trawl through the old memory banks in case it’s one of my ex-husbands whose face I’ve blocked out. But, thankfully, no!
I realised it was actually someone who was good at drawing people to a stand by making good use of those annoying name badges we all have to wear. Of course, when he realised I wasn’t a broker his interest waned dramatically. And, yes I did manage to steer the conversation to Broker Assess before I was unceremoniously dumped.
The main forum speaker of the day, according to the programme, was Karren Brady, former MD of Birmingham City FC, current vice-chairman of West Ham United and sidekick of Alan Sugar in The Apprentice.
I recalled a story she told recently, on the theme of ‘Operating in a male dominated environment’.
The story was that she was on the Birmingham team bus and they were travelling to an away game. She was struggling back to her seat, down the aisle after visiting the on-board ‘facilities’, when one of the players smirked and shouted, much to the amusement of the rest of the team: ‘Hey, love, I can see your tits from here!’
She turned slowly, walked back to player and leaning down, and hissed, ‘Well enjoy it, because you won’t be able to see them from Crewe, which is the club I’m going to sell you to.’ Love that woman!
So, I got there early for a good seat, only to find she had morphed into a tall, heavy-set, slightly sweating gentleman in a red tie who was on stage chatting to Jon Snow.
Vaguely familiar…quick mental check through the exes…..and no, it is in fact Lord Digby Jones, Baron Jones of Birmingham, British businessman and politician, former Director General of the CBI and Minister of State for Trade and Investment. Apparently he is a marathon runner too, who knew?
Lord Jones, obviously an accomplished speaker, held the stage for half an hour. Initially, he praised the Financial Services sector because they, more than any other business, sector create jobs and wealth. And something must be working, as he urged the audience to not be sidetracked from any political discussions about immigration or the EU when the key is the economy, and one that is pulling itself out of recession faster than Germany or the States, he claims.
Digby told a number of very funny ‘name dropping’ stories, one where GWB said to him that the French had no word for ‘entrepreneur’, and had many a ‘dig’ – see what I did there – at our European cousins across the Channel. He was very interesting to listen to, something about him being a cross-bench peer with no political affiliations makes him more appealing.
I loved the way he described Financial Services having to exist and operate in a ‘Compliance Bonkers’ environment, which he attested was caused by the EU, envious of our country’s growth, wishing to push the British recovery down to equal that of its lowest common denominator member.
And so, following a few closing words for Jon Snow, it’s back to the main hall, where volume levels, fuelled by the many stands dishing out champers, cocktails and beer, has risen to fever pitch in anticipation of a night at the Comedy Store and many Insurer/Broker dinners across the city centre.
Judging by the demeanour of some of the delegates, I had the impression that, for some, it could get messy.
‘So, Jules, what ‘freebies’ did you manage to filch?’ I hear you cry. Well, good question.
The MarkerStudy stand is always the best for freebies. In fact it’s always the best stand, full stop. One year it was made to look like a pirate galleon in full sail, another it was a medieval castle.
This year, it was a Roman Villa, and I toyed briefly with the idea of coming away from the conference with a centurion. Common sense prevailed, however, when I thought of whether or not I’d be able to fit him in the luggage rack on the train and what the reaction would be of my current, and beloved, husband.
So, I went for a small, furry squirrel…..obviously.