Cardiff Breakfast Club 17th May – Adrian Clark, Cardiff & Co

Posted: May 17, 2012 in Cardiff Breakfast Club, Events
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Perhaps due to an uncharacteristic lack of rain, this morning the Cardiff Breakfast Club welcomed a decidedly chirpy audience to hear guest speaker Adrian Clark, Chairman of Cardiff & Co, discuss how to “sell Cardiff to the world”.

After 30 years with Legal and General, working in Thailand, Indonesia and all over the UK, Adrian joined Cardiff & Co in January of this year. The organisation was established in 2007 with the overarching aim to “enthuse” others about Cardiff as a location – for business, investment, study or even just a short break – and Adrian described his own passion for this “wonderful part of the world”, which he has “no desire to leave”.

Cardiff has undoubtedly had success in a number of areas in recent years. Remarking on Suzi Clay’s presentation at last month’s Breakfast Club, Adrian noted Cardiff’s move into the top 5 shopping destinations in the UK, thanks to the regeneration of the St David’s shopping centre and the Hayes. This success is also evident in our 4 “superb” universities, and the city’s world-renowned capability to host major international sporting and cultural events. Perhaps tellingly, a hugely inspiring video documenting just some of these led many attendees to observe, “I didn’t know we did that here”. Cardiff not only has past achievements to be proud of, but also enormous future potential –which needs to be shouted about to maximise investment in the region in the future.

Cardiff has some significant advantages as a business location, as Adrian himself experienced. When establishing Legal and General’s Cardiff base, Cardiff was chosen over many other locations for, among other reasons, the “abundant supply of talented and employable people” to recruit. However, he stressed the importance of not looking solely at ourselves, but increasing our external focus. To succeed in any competitive marketplace it is vital to actively monitor your competitors. Drawing again on his experience in the financial services industry, Adrian would routinely monitor “every competitor every day”. We need to be honest about both the regions Cardiff is being measured against, and closely watch what these regions are doing. As Adrian emphasised, “you can guarantee they will be watching us”.

Competition is by no means a bad thing, however. Adrian used Cardiff’s four “superb”, “business-focussed” universities as an example. The presence of competitors creates “competitive tension”, encouraging organisations to challenge themselves, be inventive, and above all, deliver. With the sheer difference in size a factor influencing the competition between Cardiff and areas like Manchester and Birmingham, Adrian stressed the need to embrace the Cardiff City Region approach, and quickly.

Summarising just what Cardiff needs to succeed, Adrian said that flexibility, readiness, and positivity were key. We must have “all component parts” in position and primed for action, and consider not whether someone can be accommodated, but how. Reflecting on his experiences in Thailand, where he found “maybe I will, maybe I won’t” a frustratingly common phrase, Adrian ended by enthusing that when it comes to Cardiff, we should work together to ensure the answer is always yes – not maybe.

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