Tag Archives: wales

How do you see the United Kingdom?

I wrote something recently on Huffington Post about how British people need to consider that the eyes of the world are on them for the Olympics. Nobody likes wall-to-wall brands, road closures, and all the other inconveniences of the Olympic games, but if the British want to behave so negatively that the world wonders why we ever bothered bidding for the games then it will affect investment into the UK for at least the next 30 years.

I’m not kidding. Wall-to-wall images of the UK week after week all over the world can influence where people go on holiday and where companies invest. If the London Olympics is a roaring success then the money spent on it – even though more than expected – will seem like peanuts as holiday-makers flock to the UK and businesses invest cash.

As an example, national TV here in Brazil was showing interviews with Londoners today who almost all said they hated the games, did not want them in London, and the comment from the Brazilian broadcaster was that the British are very miserable people. Is that how the rest of the world now sees the UK?

So I want to hear from you, so I can do a follow-up to the Olympic article that led to so many people posting negative comments. Send me your opinion on what you immediately think of when someone asks you what you think of the United Kingdom:

  1. As a place to take a vacation.
  2. As a place to do business.
  3. In general, music, culture, art.

You don’t need to write a long essay – I will only quote the best bits in the article anyway, but I appreciate anything you can send – especially if you are not from the UK. And do let me know if you want to remain anonymous, or give me the correct name, title to use when quoting you.

You can send your thoughts to me here: mail AT markhillary.com

London 2012 Gold Medal

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I’m glad I don’t work at Murphy Oil

Take a look at this debate from Linked In. The first person is talking about their investment in Wales, which I have asked them to elaborate on and compare to other parts of the UK.

Clearly this has upset Philip Hughes of Murphy Oil, who is of course based in Wales, and seems to think it’s xenophobic to contrast why a company invests in Wales as opposed to Northern Ireland.

But not only does Mr Hughes choose to try shutting down the debate by implying I am racist, he then starts suggesting that he is a “real” business person and I couldn’t possibly have a view.

That’s because I’ve written a book. That makes me an ‘academic’ and therefore not able to comment on what the real business people do in their offices.

If this is how debate takes place in Murphy Oil, I’m glad I don’t work there!

Tom Lawrence • Paul – You are demonstrating perfectly my problem that the big outsourcing names have done a lot of damage. Was your experience an off shoring model? 

I would say its almost (if not 100%) impossible to deliver the large ROI that exist in most companies through effective procurement via an off shoring model. Impossible for the simple reason that its all about business engagement, trust building, etc. 

Procurement doesn’t actually buy anything – its an influencer. An internal consultant. So to make people change their behaviours (which is where the real value is – multiples of what is achievable through negotiating with a supplier to get a better price) you have to be on the ground, in front of the stakeholder working with them day to day. Off shoring simply won’t work. Its too impersonal. Too process led. You need good commercial communicators intercating face-to-face with the stakeholders. 

The transactional work we do (e.g. help desk, supplier onboarding, market research, etc.) we run out of a shared services centre in South Wales – same time zone, same culture, same mother tongue (and they have mainland European languages in abundance there too). It means even this team can be ‘imtimate’ with our client stakeholders. We tried to run it out of Hydrabad, but because they were unable to form relationships with our client stakeholders, it failed. So we moved it to Wales.

philip hughes • Well done Tom – good decision …. although I wont get hung up on the expression “mother tongue”… diolch yn fawr!!!

Mark Kobayashi-Hillary • Why Wales over other parts of the UK though?

Tom Lawrence • Why Wales? Lots of skills there, fed by Cardiff Uni – including languages. Lots of call centres, so plenty of relevant work experience. 2.5 hrs on train to London. And the govt grants are very attaractive. 

Altogether it was more attractive, and better value, than the alternatives, e.g. Poland.

Mark Kobayashi-Hillary • I mean compared to Newcastle, or Belfast, not Poland though…

philip hughes • Your persistence on this matter is annoying Mark – Tom made a choice based on best value delivery with quality driven well trained very capable available workforce. Competition is always fierce for regional development – this time south wales next time newcastle or belfast or wherever you happen to live – move on and talk about outsourcing as a business benefit or not and stay away from the xenophobia OK!!

Mark Kobayashi-Hillary • Philip, I’ve got no idea at all what you are talking about. I’d asked in the debate about the merits of investing in various regions of the UK, including Wales, but Tom actually compared the investment to Poland as the alternative – I merely asked again about the relative merits of various regions within the UK. 

That’s xenophobic and annoying? I’m certainly glad I don’t work with you. I think my record of writing books about investment in Brazil, Russia, India, China, Poland, as well as working with several UK trade bodies to promote FDI, including the Welsh Assembly, speaks for itself on the accusation of xenophobia.

philip hughes • Being an academic is fine and if Mark has written books also fine. I just wonder if anyone has read them? An examination of Regional development funding, with the last vestiges of objective 1 may assist in understanding Tom’s excellent decision to come to Wales. 

Anyway back to debate at the sharp end of business – is outsourcing pure cost reduction – no in my opinion as I dont understand “pure” cost reduction. A matter of definition. 
I think outsourcing is a great tool for providing improved VALUE to businesses, which has a cost component, but there is also the intellectual improvement to business processes released by utilising the vendors skill and experience gained elsewhere, which is almost impossible to cost in the traditional sense.

Mark Kobayashi-Hillary • Philip, I’m at the “sharp end” of business working with some of the world’s leading firms on a daily basis, though clearly you consider it rather academic to also write about that experience.
Black Mountains, Wales: nice view

Black Mountains

I spent the weekend walking up in the Black Mountains of Wales with a bunch of friends.

The weather on Saturday was superb. Just take a look at the set of photos I took during the weekend. Though it was misty as we started the walk, because we were walking up into the clouds, the sun came out as the day went on… the wind reduced and it became a gorgeous day to hike 20km over the mountains.

Of course, we also enjoyed a few pints at the Old Pandy Inn in Pandy, near Abergavenny. I’m looking forward to arranging something like this again in Spring 2010, maybe closer to South England next time….