Archive for March, 2013

Rob, Eira and Sally receiving our certificate from John Simpson

Rob, Eira and Sally receiving our certificate from John Timpson

It was a rare day out of the office for Eira, Sally and I yesterday when we travelled up to London for the important NCWE Awards 2013 ceremony hosted by the National Council for Work Experience.

Located in the famous Merchant Taylor’s Hall in Threadneedle Street, the Petersens team enjoyed a delicious lunch and a couple of glasses of wine before listening to an absolutely inspirational talk by John Timpson, owner of Timpson’s, the retail shoe repairing and key cutting chain, with over 900 branches nationwide.  What an amazing story of a successful family whose business is very much driven by the colleagues who run each outlet.  John related his simple but effective interview recruiting process where interviewers use simple Mr Men figures to outline an applicant’s personality rather than delve through extensive CVs and incur costly psychometric testing.  Successful applicants often come from staff recommendations for which they receive a financial reward.  You detected a strong family culture within the organisation and a wonderful model for all recruiters to adopt.

After John’s speech, it was awards time!! Petersens were shortlisted in two categories and did extremely well to get this far when you consider the other shortlisted companies included John Lewis, IBM, Microsoft, GlaxoSmithKline, BBC etc.  So when our name was called as the winner of the Highly Commended position in the Work Placement of the Year: Best Organisation With Fewer Than 250 Employees, you can imagine the grins on our faces.  Another ‘little’ victory, this time across the water!  What a lovely surprise to win this award in the centre of London where there is still utter disbelief that their boys in white were outclassed last Saturday!

So while we may not have been the overall winners in either of our categories, we certainly did ourselves and Wales proud, proving once again that our small but passionate population can compete at the highest level, not just in our hallowed game of rugby.

As a great advocate of the use of social media, I was delighted to read how those regular users of Twitter as an instant way to convey messages and opinions used the medium to great effect over the weekend.

Firstly, during the excellent ITV documentary of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee last year, where the cameras were allowed to capture a briefing of the Queen’s household staff on dealing with the inevitable “Tweeter Brigade” of the British Olympic medalists  who were due to attend a reception in Buckingham Palace. Then of course the tweets from members of the wonderful Welsh Rugby Squad who so convincingly beat the English team at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday (what a game, what an atmosphere, what a headache on Sunday morning!).

George North tweeted a picture of himself having breakfast alongside the 6 Nations trophy.

George North tweeted a picture of himself having breakfast alongside the 6 Nations trophy.

Tweeting is now universal, but it can be misused. I also read in yesterday’s Sunday Times of a boxer who was getting regular abuse on Twitter from a troll. In some desperation, the boxer tweeted a reward for anyone helping to identify his abuser, and successfully found his address, went to the street where he lived, and tweeted his location. This results in a retraction of all that had been said, as well as an apology in person. This should serve as a warning to other potential abusers that they can be found out.

Social media, and Twitter in particular, is here to stay, and used honestly can be hugely important in conveying messages quickly and effectively. I would not be surprised if in the future its use saves lived, as well as cementing relationships.

Breakfast ClubCardiff Breakfast Club members were at the St David’s Hotel bright and early this morning to hear guest speaker Graham Edwards, chief executive of Wales & West Utilities (WWU) and Chairman of CBI Wales.

After leaving school at just 15, Graham worked his way through the engineering, manufacturing and utilities sector before becoming Chief Executive of WWU in 2005. He is now one year into his two-year tenure as CBI Chairman, and drew on his experiences in both roles to give his perspective on Wales’ business outlook and the CBI’s goals for the future.

CBI Wales comprises of some 210,000 businesses, from large companies to SMEs, and enjoys a ‘significant level of engagement’ with both the Welsh and the UK Government. Through regular meetings and open discussion, CBI Wales intends to work very much with the Welsh Government to see the ‘fruits’ of this engagement, and ‘galvanise’ Welsh business.

A ‘passionate Welshman’, Graham’s positive attitude and desire for Welsh to succeed was clear throughout. Wales makes a ‘small but significant’ contribution to the UK economy, with Graham immediately able to outline several ‘opportunities to improve’. Wales is one of the UK’s poorest regions on underlying productivity, and is ‘nowhere near’ the level of inward investment seen 10-20 years ago. Graham acknowledged that ‘underlying structural issues’ such as Wales’ rural areas and infrastructure problems must be factored in, but should not become seen as unavoidable or solely to blame. We are ‘fighting our corner’. With a trend towards decreasing private sector employment and increasing public sector employment, our public sector is growing at a significantly greater rate than other parts of the UK. Wales also has the UK’s highest positive trade balance. Importantly, Graham made it clear that ‘investors are out there – money is available’.

The ‘passionate Welshman’ returned to Wales 7 years ago, and found that ‘being outside Wales looking in’ gave him a renewed perspective on the nation’s position. He suggested that Wales needs to move away from an ‘obsession’ with comparison with the rest of the UK, and look instead for Wales’ own opportunities. Graham drew on the comments made by Edwina Hart AM at last month’s Breakfast Club on the upcoming round of EU funding, stating that we must use this money in as strategic and ‘mercenary’ a way as possible, to maximise its potential. The CBI’s work plan for 2013-14 outlines a number of areas of activity, with the need now to identify what ‘the big opportunities’ are – and to go out and grab them.

While it is good to aspire to be ‘better than everyone else’, Graham emphasised the need to get the balance right: by repositioning our focus, as well as capitalising on the CBI’s  excellent working relationship with Government and Wales’ ‘great entrepreneurial spirit’.


The next Cardiff Breakfast Club meeting will be held on the 19th April, with Sue Biggs, Director General of the Royal Horticultural Society. For information or to book, please contact Sally Taylor on 02920 549597 or at