Guernsey: Business Leaders Flag Communication As Key To Success At Tony Carey Meetings Programme
Last Updated: 10 December 2014

Business leaders from a variety of sectors were brought together to share ideas, experiences and best practice as part of this year's Tony Carey Meetings Programme.

The business development initiative, sponsored by Carey Olsen, attracted 32 participants from 16 local companies representing a number of industry sectors including finance, legal, retail, property and communications.

Programme coordinator, and son of the late Tony Carey, Andrew Carey led a panel which included executive business coach Michelle Johansen, Carey Olsen of counsel Elaine Gray, Chamber of Commerce director Barry Cash and Institute of Directors vice-chairman Richard Le Tocq.

Staged over a four-week period, the programme comprised an introductory session where participants were paired with an individual from a Guernsey business outside their sector. Each pair then scheduled a lunchtime meeting at the Old Government House Hotel, sponsored by Carey Olsen, to discuss a range of business issues and topics including their approach to customers, leadership, staff and profit.

At a final group meeting the panel presented the results of a survey completed by the participants and led a discussion on the findings.

This year's results showed that customer service was unanimously seen as a key driver to business success and that two-way communication was the best way to engage with customers.

Mr Le Tocq discussed the changing expectations of a business leader. He said: "Leadership is no longer seen as exclusively the role of the most senior professionals. Juniors and middle management are increasingly expected to demonstrate these qualities."

Participants rated the ability to inspire people as the most important leadership quality closely followed by decisiveness and an ability to think strategically.

The discussions also revealed that a stringent recruitment process and regular appraisals were key to finding and retaining the right staff.

Advocate Gray said: "People are your most valuable asset. Understanding, nurturing and empowering them through regular training and involvement in the future of the business, as well as giving praise where it is due, are crucial to retaining an engaged and motivated workforce."

Most delegates believed that it was acceptable to reduce financial expectations in a challenging economic environment although there some believed this could be achieved through across-the-board cost reductions while others thought targeted budget trimming was a better option.

Mr Cash said: "Profit is the lifeblood of any business. Informed, intelligent cost reductions can be helpful as long as the quality of your product is not compromised. When quality fails your customers will notice so reliability is essential."

The group was also invited to identify the biggest external challenges to their businesses and cited increased regulation, competition from new businesses and technological advances.

One participant said: "If you don't embrace emergent technology you may not survive."

Mr Carey, who established the programme four years ago in honour of his father, said: "Our aim has always been to facilitate discussion between business leaders across sectors and provide a framework for them to share ideas, experience and best practice.

"My father was passionate about doing things differently and advocated that creativity and innovation are accessible to everyone.  

"This initiative harnesses his approach and provides a business development opportunity that is unique in Guernsey."

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