Magazine article Management Today

Home Thoughts from Abroad

Magazine article Management Today

Home Thoughts from Abroad

Article excerpt

How do others see us? We sounded out seven seasoned foreign-born observers of the UK scene for their thoughts on our strengths and weaknesses. We emerge as entrepreneurial and creative, but could be more positive.

INDIA - ANWAR HASAN, DIRECTOR, TATA LIMITED

Indian companies have been among the biggest investors in the UK in recent times, with Tata to the fore. The UK has been India's European destination of choice and the long history of interaction between the two countries has, in my view, encouraged a uniquely complementary business relationship.

Tetley, Corus (now Tata Steel), Jaguar, Land Rover and Brunner Mond are British names now under the parentage of Tata, but all have successfully maintained their own British identities. Internationally, the 'Made in Britain' tag holds great weight, with a common acceptance that British products and services carry an inherent sense of quality.

The UK's openness to inward investment has gone a long way in securing its long-term future in manufacturing and industry, traditional pillars of the UK economy. India is starting to develop a reputation as a hotbed of innovation and its historic and continuing relationship with the UK is an integral part of this. The combination of Indian innovation and British engineering excellence holds truly exciting opportunities for both nations.

Tata has been active in UK business for over a century and our commitment to the UK has never been stronger. Quite simply, the UK offers a skill-set, business culture and perspective unlike any other market.

Tata Limited was established in London in 1907. It provides the interface between Tata in its Indian home market and its operations in the UK

US - BOB LEAF, PR CONSULTANT AND FORMER INTERNATIONAL CHAIRMAN, BURSON-MARSTELLER

I've lived for 42 years in London, through four of your recessions and it remains by far the cultural capital of the world. It is also now one of the eating capitals - not always the case. You used to drown vegetables and I had to wring out my first Brussels sprout.

A real worry is the UK's financial services community. Bankers very badly need to get together to work out how to communicate their story to a public for whom they represent nothing more than pure, destructive greed. Banks just don't see why it's of any relevance what the public thinks of them. The country needs their contribution, but they are virtually forcing governments to take action against the unacceptable bonus culture.

I worry about your younger people, about teenage pregnancies, binge drinking and the lack of jobs for kids who increasingly think they have to go abroad for success.

In my own profession of public relations, many UK companies are still poor at internal communications and in an era when company loyalty is as good as dead, this won't do. Competition for good people is international and intense. You need to retain that outward-looking focus you had when you were the great imperial power. In future, excursions such as Iraq or Afghanistan will be less feasible - but you must not retreat in on yourselves. Out there is where it's at and you are capable of getting there.

FRANCE - DOMINIQUE SENEQUIER, CEO, AXA PRIVATE EQUITY

I'm a big member of the UK fan club. It's the pragmatic attitude towards business in Britain that is so appealing; you get on with it, without getting bogged down in intellectual and philosophical debate of the Cartesian variety, as is often the way here in France. This means you solve problems quickly and in concrete terms. A strong mercantile history helps you in this respect.

You are good at self-criticism and are sometimes maybe a little too pessimistic, but that's better than looking at the world through rose-tinted spectacles. So don't change too much. Don't take refuge behind trade or immigration barriers. These aren't good and are quite the opposite of what you are perceived to be worldwide - welcoming and open, with a lively economy and society. …

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