Luke, firstly, congratulations!
Why did you accept the offer to become President of the BBC?
I accepted the offer because I think it is important that the British Business Club continues as an organisation. It did some great work in the past. I think everybody acknowledges that the Club had problems – it fell on hard times financially and the absence of certain key committee members was felt – but there is a gap in the community which needs to be filled. I almost felt it was my duty to get involved and help, to do what I can for the local British community. Don Scott did an excellent job for many years, and I would like to build on this!
What changes do you want to bring about in the way that the BBC operates?
Well firstly, and excuse me for the Americanism, I’d like to ‘reach out’ to the members a bit more. I’d like to see what they want, and I’ve been trying to do that on an informal basis. After all, it’s a club not an oligarchy, and it should be representative of its members. Nobody I have talked to supports the former subscription system. They all think that it would be better to pay on an event-by-event basis. The membership was large but there are a lot of people on the database who do not now have a connection with Russia, so that needs to be updated. There are also a lot of great potential candidates, who aren’t members, because during the period when we were very quiet, people obviously felt there was less of a reason to register. So we need to get these people involved and make the membership more dynamic. People can sign up for free at: www.britishclub.ru/signup.
From a personal perspective, I would like to make the events, if people are happy with this, slightly ‘higher end.’ This would make the meetings more conducive to real business networking. When people go to a BBC event, they want to meet people with whom they can do business. Sometimes, in the old days, it became too much of a social club. We need to mix both the social and business elements. We have already been busy, planning for sports events – starting with a golf tournament in Moscow this summer at Agalarov Estate and to be followed up with a return leg in Dubai, in March 2018. Finally, I think we would also serve our members well, by trying to add cultural events, and I have been speaking with musicians and people in the theatre world to see what we can come up with.
What about content? Many people said that they didn’t just want to drink beer but they wanted to learn something new. What about lectures and seminars?
I agree entirely. I have already mentioned the sports, cultural and business aspects, but we should also focus our content on the key technical business issues of the day as they apply to Russia. We should be holding regular seminars; we should be holding events in the mornings. We can also link in with people like CERBA, the RBCC, and maybe even the AEB and Amcham.
The first event we will hold will probably be a cocktail event in a hotel, so as to get people back together again; to show people that we can organise events properly. This would also allow me to speak to the members briefly. Our comeback event will hopefully be in April, and then following that we will try to build out a fuller programme. We would also very much like to reinvigorate the traditional Trafalgar Ball either this year, or next year, subject to funding.
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