Posts Tagged ‘opinion’

I found a recent article by journalist Polly Phillips in last weekend’s Sunday Telegraph absolutely fascinating, and thought it might possibly contain some useful advice for how we in the UK can become a happier nation.

As we say farewell to a typical wet, windy diet-obsessed January, Polly explained how the Danes ignore the annual fasting to create our ‘perfect’ bodies and enjoy living as they have done for centuries. You can see young and IMG_2189old Danes alike plunging naked into the icy seas around the coast in mid winter and enjoying pastries whenever they want to!

A recent study by the University of Zurich sheds some light on the reasons for such a carefree approach to living. Apparently, Danes are conditioned from a young age not to feel shame. A mere 1.62% of the population suffer from gelotophobia (a fear of ridicule), the lowest figure of any country surveyed. Britain topped the charts with 13%! Danish children do not grow up paralysed by the fear of being laughed at as we do. While we might spend hours locked in gyms on treadmills, the Danes spend hours outside, biking, hiking and swimming – often in the nude (no one is at all worried by the sight of naked bodies as we would be in the UK!).

If you look deeper you can see how different Danes are from the reserved American and British citizen. From communal showers and baths to women’s liberation in the 1960s, Danish society really does accept a different way of life, and perhaps starting at a very young age there is an acceptance that if the rules say you go naked into the showers then this is what you do.

It seems to me that this accepted way of life must contribute to the Danes being one of the world’s happiest nations. Acceptance of who we are naked or clothed and following accepted rules made by society is not a bad way to live.

Is there a lesson here for us Brits, who sadly appear much further down in this league of ‘happiest’ nations?

– Rob Petersen.

As we all mourn the passing of Graham Jenkins, the last surviving brother of film star Richard Burton and a great Welshman in his own right, we naturally recount moments when we might have met or been touched by such celebrity.JS78861923

In my case, I met Graham when I was working for an advertising agency, Creighton Griffiths, where as a young Account Handler I was given responsibility to handle the advertising and promotion of the famous Afon Lido, which Graham was then running on behalf of the Local Authority. His warmth to and tolerance of a youngster like me was significant and the long lunches which followed our regular meetings were legendary!

I kept in touch with Graham once he handed over responsibility to another of Port Talbot’s sons Gordon Davies and had the great pleasure of meeting up with him at the BBC Club in London following the editing of a TV commercial for the Wales Tourist Board. As we were about to catch our allocated train back to Cardiff, Graham insisted that we drop by ‘his local’ for another drink on the way to Paddington.

Duly taxis arrived and we followed Graham to ‘his local’, which turned out to be the Dorchester Hotel. We followed Graham into one of the bars where he ordered drinks and began to sing at the piano located there. After an hour or two I suddenly realised that the last train back to Cardiff would be leaving in 20 minutes and approached Graham to settle the bill, to which Graham said: “I thought you might be staying the night so I arranged for you to use Richard’s apartment which he has permanently reserved!”

Sadly I could not take up the offer but Graham insisted that we should not pay anything as it was going on Richard’s tab, which is how by default I had a few drinks on Richard Burton via his beloved brother, Jenks.

R.I.P. Graham, you were a star in your own right.

– Rob Petersen.

We have all been touched and horrified by the hundreds of images shown on broadcast and social media over the last week covering the events in Paris, as well as the frightening verbal accounts of some of the survivors.peace-for-paris-hed-2015

The terrorists who planned, and then implemented the various acts of brutal killings and bomb blasts are obviously well financed and must be part of a strategy by ISIL to deliver terror and fear into, not just French citizens, but all Europeans of whatever country or political leanings.

While retaliation is an understandable and necessary action to halt further atrocities on such a scale, I am concerned that until the young, vulnerable and disenchanted youths of so many counries are reunited with basic human values of what is good, beneficial and constructive in those countries such tragic events will continue.

If these indoctrinated, marginalised  young terrorists find that their actions do not spread chaos, panic and financial disorder as they are designed to do then their current strategy will have failed.

This is why we all as Europeans must show solidarity and support all those affected by last weekend’s horror in Paris, and work together to eliminate both the funders of these terrorists and the terrorist recruitment cells across the world.

Vive la France, Vive la Europe.

Rob Petersen.

As I really begin to look forward to my annual holiday on the glorious island of Ibiza soon, I read with some sadness and concern one poll survey showing that 75% of SME owners sacrificed their holidays to power through and ensure their business runs smoothly. With the technology available today to keep in touch and good planning most of us can take at least a summer holiday to recharge the batteries and reduce stress.

While others may prefer to have active holidays and explore new places, I prefer a destination which I know well and where I will hopefully get some all important vitamin D and serotonin, the ‘happiness hormone’, from the sun. As I get older I think I will become more prone to SAD (seasonal affective disorder) syndrome so my weeks in the summer are important for my health and well-being.

Even though research shows that those living in some colder climates like Denmark, Iceland and Norway are ‘happier’ than UK citizens in terms of social support, life expectancy, generosity etc and not just wealth and economic prosperity, I strongly believe that summer breaks in the sun have huge benefits in the longer term to my overall happiness so need to find it abroadsadly as I would prefer a ‘stay-cation’ ideally!

Blue sky, warm breeze in the evening, healthy eating and a few glasses of rose really will help me recharge for the winter ahead. Of my 20 statutory days of holiday each year at least 10 must be in the sun. Long live the summer break for SMEs and all of us.

-Rob Petersen

The debate over the pros and cons of assisted dying was once again brought to our attention today with the story of Bob Cole, who travelled to Switzerland this afternoon to end his life.

Sean McCabe with new wife Lisa (left) and urging others not to give up hope (right). Picture credit: Wales Online

But as the country argues the ethics of Bob Cole’s decision to end his life, what a truly heart-warming survival story we had in today’s Western Mail.

The Mail reports on the story of cancer sufferer Sean McCabe who, having been given 2 months to live due to an aggressive form of cancer, planned his funeral in his local church.

In an incredible turn of events and after a bone marrow transplant he beat the disease to the astonishment of doctors and cancelled his funeral, planning instead his wedding to his partner Lisa in front of hundreds of guests. As Sean says, every day to him is a miracle and he is now 18 months in remission.

As someone who has also suffered from a cancer scare, having had a tumour removed from my left lung 2 years ago, I believe survivors like Sean and myself do tend to have a more positive view on life and try to persuade others to enjoy the moment every day as sadly lives can be turned around in an instant by this dreaded disease amongst many others.

So live every day as best you can with a smile on your face!

-Rob Petersen.

How often are we given frightening statistics about our growing obesity problem in Wales, effecting our younger generation as well as older citizens? Awareness of the issue is at an all-time high and programmes are being put in place to help educate our fellow citizens as to the correct way to live our lives, but it appears that despite these efforts obesity rates are not falling quickly enough.

However, it seems now that America, the ‘supersized’ nation of the world is at last slimming down. According to research, the average American has shed 190 calories from their daily diet over the last 10 years, the first sustained drop for 40 years! How has this happened? It appears as though talking about the problem has been a major factor, hence this blog to encourage more debate and action on it.

We have heard talk of a government fat tax and Tesco removing some sugary drinks from their shelves, so action is taking place but too slowly. With the highest obesity rate of any West European country save Iceland and Malta, with 67% of males, 57% of females and more than 25% of children, we must take action in Wales now!

Can we not take some direction from the successful anti-smoking campaign? Let’s keep talking about it, let’s educate our children and adults with the simple message that you can have a super healthy life if you eat well and exercise. This is what our friends in America are doing with great success.

Central Cardiff Business Centre: Callaghan Square

Following Jon House’s, CEO Cardiff Council, speech at a recent Cardiff breakfast Club meeting, and the exciting news announced today in the South Wales Echo of the Council and WAG’s vision to transform Cardiff into one of the UK’s powerhouse, financial cities, the agency is delighted to support the campaign to further the case for the Cardiff City Region.

With the news of the H.M. Governments decision to electrify the rail line from London to Cardiff and to explore every opportunity to electrify the Valley lines, we have a real opportunity to make Cardiff City Region a reality. Let us hope that a decision can also be made to fast track the development of park and ride stations such as Cardiff Hub at the fast developing St. Mellons Business Park. By improving the basic transport infrastructure in the area, the Cardiff City Region concept can be realised. It is vital for potential investors in the region to have fast transport links for customers, staff, suppliers, tourist visitors and all travellers to move freely, economically and safely to, from and around our city region.

Cardiff Central Station

In addition, with Jon’s wish to see a revitalised Cardiff Central Station and inner business district, we can then give our visitors to the capital a welcome that befits a 21st century modern, vibrant, cosmopolitan city region.

By Rob Petersen, Managing Director

It is not just the potential medial winners who are pulling out all the stops for ensure success in 2012. 

At a recent lecture, organised by the Cardiff Business School, given by Morag Stuart, ex head of Procurement at Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA), I was fascinated by the size of the task which confronted Morag, an ex-Cardiff Business School student who headed up the ODA purchasing activity from 2000-2010.

For example, the task of delivering the construction programme was equivalent to over twice the size of London Heathrow Terminal 5 in half the time!!

With the games less than 500 days away there still is more to be completed but already the Olympic Park is over 60% complete and the East London Skyline is now being dominated by the project.

Morag explored the challenges faced and the dedication/professionalism of the contractors involved. She maintained that there was still time for the Welsh Business Community to win business from the main contractors and follow the lead of other successful Welsh companies such as Cardiff-based EuroClad who have won over £3 million worth of work.

In the run up to the NCWE Work Placement of the Year Awards 2011, the Petersens team has been discussing why we think it is important for young people to gain work experience.

Rob Petersen, Managing Director:

“Having been in business for a number of decades and also bringing up two children I have seen how very important it is for young people of every generation to get work experience. When I  was growing up I had a number of opportunities to experience work including being a woodman in Tintern Forest,.a wrangler in Wyoming, a chauffeur in Los Angeles, a postie in Bristol, a trainee in a surveyors and a taster graduate in an advertising agency in London. Of these, advertising got the vote and I have been in the Advertising/PR business ever since.!!

For today’s young people the choice is more limited and therefore for the future of our economy, and business in particular, as employers we must follow a policy of taking on young people for  work tasters or placement programmes.

Why you may ask when it takes valuable executive time to guide and counsel them? Simply that you get great pay-back from adopting this policy in terms of  potential recruitment, new ideas, fresh thinking, commitment, genuine appreciation and a satisfaction that in a small way you are passing on your experience to the next generation.

If every business small or large in Wales gave our young people opportunities to experience life with them, Wales would not be seeing our talented young people, not just highly qualified graduates but school leavers as well, leaving our country to be snapped up by employers in other parts of the UK and further afield. Terry Matthews was so right in a recent announcement that we must not let our talented people go. We must give them the opportunity and trust me you will not be disappointed!”

Cerys Palmer, Senior Account Manager:

“Entering the professional world post-degree, people will generally be faced with fierce competition. I have seen many friends and peers who have gained excellent degrees but have no industry experience and therefore struggle to find employment in their chosen sector. 

The degree I chose included a compulsory year out in industry, I was very lucky to land a position with Marks and Spencer Head office in London, which proved to be invaluable. I was given an insight into the ‘real world’ and given a taste of working with professionals, that I could one day work with again.

The principles of my degree taught me a lot, but it was working with real people on live projects that landed me with interviews and a successful career in London and Wales.

My advice to people would be what ever experience you are offered, take it, and squeeze the most of it. If a CV lands on my desk I’ll be looking at achievements and experience and not grades.”

Becci Gould, Account Executive:

“Work experience is something some students may see as time-consuming and unnecessary but from my experience it is absolutely vital not only in securing a job but also in deciding which career path to follow. I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do after finishing my degree in English Literature and luckily during my free time in my final year I decided to do some hands-on research into what would best suit my skills and personality.

After completing a series of flexible work tasters through the GO Wales scheme, I soon narrowed my career path down from marketing, fundraising and social networking to public relations and communications.

Although I found PR the most suitable field, I learnt a great deal from my other placements and would highly recommend trying a wide range of jobs, if, like me, your degree is somewhat open-ended. Each placement extended my skill-set and increased my extremely limited knowledge of how different businesses operate, from charities and public sector organisations to start-ups and small businesses. I even managed to secure a 6-week paid internship in communications with a global property company in London which was a whole new experience in itself!

I am so grateful to the organisations that gave me the opportunity to take part in work experience programmes including my current employer, Petersens PR. I have now not only been able to begin a career in a field that I believe to be ‘right’ for me but have also been able to identify and embark on the appropriate training to further my knowledge and skills relevant to the PR sector.

 I would recommend any student to take work experience as seriously as I did as it really can be the making point of your future career.”

Petersens has been working with GO Wales ( ) for over a decade to provide valuable Work Tasters and Placements for students and graduates across Wales and has recently been shortlisted by the National Council For Work Experience Awards for the second year in a row.

The national awards take place on Tuesday 22nd March so watch this space for details…

Long Live Welsh Agriculture!

Posted: January 13, 2011 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

by Rob Petersen, Managing Director

I attended an amazing seminar in Hereford yesterday on Agricultural Outlook for 2011. Organised by Baker Tilley and Andersons Consultants, the attendees from the farming community were given a comprehensive review of the past year and outlook for 2011 in the sector. Some fascinating comments were made which gives great hope to such a key sector of the Welsh economy.

The UK farmer is becoming increasingly entrepreneurial. As he develops his farming activities alongside both environmental management and non-farming enterprises, he must also adapt to a business environment where cost inflation is not matched by equivalent increases to produce prices. What is so heartening to see is not only how businesses are developing imaginatively, but also how many of these changes are being driven by young professionals or managers.

However, to contrast the above:

‘astonishingly, the policy of all cheques being signed by 65 year old Dad is still alive and well’.

As you can see, the event was a real indication of how many generations of families still farm our land and protect our wonderful countryside in Wales  – Long may the system survive!