I wouldn’t say I’m an old hand at AGM’s but I’ve sat through quite a few and organised some too. But this year was another new experience, and somewhat of a challenge – the Chamber’s first digital AGM.
Over the last few months’ we’ve all discovered the joys of Zoom, particularly the ease of moving from one meeting to another and how good it is to be able to meet with people whatever their location. AGM’s, however, are a very particular kind of meeting and the governance requirements impose some challenges. They are a hybrid between a presentation and a meeting and need to allow maximum participation from all who attend. The Chamber team did some extensive research and trialling of other platforms. There are some fabulous webinar platforms available but the need for flexible participation pulled us back to Zoom.
So, to the Chambers 110th AGM. We had near 100% attendance from those registered (another benefit of remote meetings) and a very interactive meeting. It’s my observation that remote meeting platforms allow participants to contribute more, it is easier to speak and less intimidating for those who might be intimidated. On a meeting platform there is no separation in any way between speakers and ‘audience’ and this creates a different dynamic.
While AGM’s legally are focussed on reviewing the previous year, the current circumstances necessitate more focus on the now and the future. Our President, Tom Parker reiterated how central the Chamber is for businesses who are active in the UK-Belgian space and after his review of the year the ‘floor’ was taken by our new CEO Dan Dalton. Dan brings his wealth of experience as an MEP to the Chamber at exactly the right time – his stature and connections will enhance the Chamber, attract more members and give top level insight into the pivotal relationship as the UK negotiates its future trade relationship with the EU.
We had presentations from our key committees: the EU Committee, the Future Relations Committee and the Business, Trade and Investment Committee. There are exciting times ahead for the Chamber in all these areas and there is a key message – be involved, this is your Chamber, we represent your interests and want to understand more how we can work effectively to support your business.
So, now the less exciting stuff – writing minutes and following up with the our new Council members. Actually, just kidding, I love this stuff and good governance is the bedrock of effective and appropriate decision making. It’s a privilege to be part of this and to support the Chamber and our members in these challenging times. I hope that next year we can see each other in person and look back on a very particular time.
Melanie Barker – Membership and Operations Manager