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FOCUS: Changes at Chamber

FOCUS: Changes at Chamber

Monday 05 September 2022

FOCUS: Changes at Chamber

Monday 05 September 2022


From better representation for small businesses, more proactive engagement in Government's decisions and further growth in membership, the Chamber of Commerce's new President shared his aims as he starts his three-year term.

After five years as the Chamber of Commerce's Honorary Treasurer, Adam Budworth, has been appointed as President, following the end of Jennifer Carnegie's three-year term.

A Chartered Accountant, Mr Budworth is living his childhood dream. "As a young child always wanted to be an accountant," he said. 

He is the Managing Director of Grant Thornton Limited, a Channel Island accountancy firm which provides professional services to a range of corporate and private clients across different sectors locally and internationally. He is responsible for the firm's offices in Jersey and Guernsey, which collectively employs 200 staff across the two islands.

"I enjoy collaborating with internal and external colleagues to achieve key outcomes," he explained.

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Pictured: Mr Budworth has been the Chamber's Honorary Treasurer for the past five years.

His experience, he believes, will be beneficial to his new role as Chamber President.

"I have gained invaluable insight of the strategic mechanisms and operations of the Jersey Chamber of Commerce through my role as Honorary Treasurer of Chamber for the past five years," Mr Budworth said.

"I understand the concerns and challenges facing our members and welcome the opportunity to ensure that Chamber continues to effectively represent the views of our member businesses, and that the local business community lies at the heart of a thriving and diverse island economy. I believe I can draw on my existing knowledge gained from my role with Chamber, as well as my role at Grant Thornton, to be able to contribute directly and effectively to our local business community, promoting trade and commerce for the ultimate prosperity of Jersey, and providing valuable opportunities to connect and do business."

 What do you think is the biggest challenge the Chamber of Commerce and the business it represents is facing right now and how do you plan on tackling it?

"The lack of appropriate and affordable housing represents the greatest challenge at present, whether through renting or purchasing property on the island. This ultimately impacts the ability of local businesses to fill current job vacancies, of which there are many. In addition, the speed of getting non-locals onto the island does not help the skills shortages across many, if not all, industry sectors.

The local Government cannot be held solely accountable for resolving this issue and my hope is that Chamber can work collaboratively with Government in a co-operative manner to discharge our responsibilities for the benefit of our members and islanders as a whole."

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Pictured: Mr Budworth wants Chamber to work collaboratively with Government in a co-operative manner.

How many members are there and how will the Chamber grow its membership further?

"As the largest independent business organisation in the island, we currently have around 600 member businesses who employ more than half of the working population in the island. We are always seeking to grow the Chamber membership, and of course we will always openly welcome new members of different size businesses from different sectors.

What we must ensure is that our current members are active and engaged, and that we fairly represent our members on business issues which they are affected by. Our members are the driving force behind all that we do at Chamber. This approach will attract new members, as evidenced during our approach to the pandemic, representing all island businesses. This approach resulted in a 10% rise in membership at the most difficult point for most in business."

 What kind of benefit would you like members to draw from the work of Chamber during your tenure?

I would like them to benefit from true representation and a real voice for the small businesses. A significant percentage of our Chamber members are from businesses with a workforce of 10 people or less. Covid really highlighted the issues those small businesses face. This is one particular business group which needs more focus to improve how Government views them and at Chamber we will ensure these members will be more effectively supported and represented.  

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Pictured: Mr Budworth wants to improve Government's views of small businesses.

Members join Chamber because they understand the benefits of being part of a forward-thinking, dynamic and vibrant network of local businesses who support commerce. No matter the size or sector of a business, there is always an opportunity to be a part of, contribute to and work towards the continuing goal of building a prosperous island community.

Chamber members can access exclusive benefits including a collective voice directly to Government, discount on products and services, invitations to key business events and networking and opportunities. In addition, Chamber provides an extensive range of sponsorship and promotional opportunities, which enables organisations to promote their own business activities to an extensive network across the island.

Chamber pursues matters on behalf of its membership at the highest level with Government representatives, and actively monitors and assesses all new or proposed legislation to ensure that members’ interests and views on important matters are represented. We want our members to benefit from our collective voice and know that their ideas and issues are listened to and actioned upon.  

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Pictured: "We need to proceed with a joint and open mindset, ensuring genuine transparency in our aims and objectives," Mr Budworth said.

A new Government has just been formed. What are the three main changes you would like to see introduced? 

  1. Firstly, I would like to see the new Government held to account, fairly, for their decisions and actions.
  2. There needs to be a collaborative stance. I envisage Chamber playing a key part in this, given the value our committees and members can add in relation to current and relevant issues affecting the local business community.
  3. Government need to proactively involve Chamber and industry specialists in their decision making process, with appropriately timed communications to allow meaningful input and discussion.

There is a fine line between working with the Government and robustly challenging them on issues that members are concerned about. How do you plan on striking that balance? 

Government do need to be held accountable; however, they alone cannot solve all problems. We need to proceed with a joint and open mindset, ensuring genuine transparency in our aims and objectives. It is essential that we engage proactively and collaboratively and meet openly with them on a regular basis. But we will always remain completely independent of Government. We are 100% funded by our members and in representing them, we will always hold our political policymakers to account.

There also needs to be a watchful eye on the headcount of Government and arm’s length organisations, as taxpaying islanders rightly need to evidence value for money, and not, as we have seen in the past few years, a significant increase in public sector headcount and related expenditure.

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Pictured: "Chamber originated the partnership with Antigua and Barbuda for hospitality staff to come over and work in Jersey during their down season," Mr Budworth said.

Ahead of the election, many candidates said Jersey needed to be more innovative. How can Chamber encourage that?

We as an island and a business community need to think differently. To a large extent, covid has already made it necessary to do that, due to staff shortages and the necessity to use alternative working methods. There needs to be, where possible, changes to business models if we are unable to meet the immediate recruitment requirements.

For example, Chamber originated the partnership with Antigua and Barbuda for hospitality staff to come over and work in Jersey during their down season on specific short-term visas to fill the job shortages over here during Jersey’s peak season. That was an example of how a conversation within a Chamber Committee meeting, resulted in real and effective solutions for the Jersey hospitality sector. Chamber needs to ensure and be able to demonstrate that the right individuals are at the table for the right discussions, and that it isn’t just talking but ensuring actions and outcomes will occur that directly benefit the Island community.

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Pictured: The new Chamber President wants it to maintain its position as "the leading and largest independent business community on the island".

What are you plans for Chamber to work with Guernsey and other business representative groups in the islands?

I believe that my personal experience as Managing Director of a successful pan-island firm will prove invaluable in this regard. I am familiar with the intricacies of working collaboratively with teams across both jurisdictions and welcome the opportunity to co-operative effectively with Chamber colleagues from Guernsey for the benefit of both islands and business communities.

Fast forward a few years to when your term of office is ending. How do you want people to remember it?

I would like Chamber to not only be considered as the go-to business membership for effective business decisions, but to be viewed as a body that fairly and effectively represents its members and works collaboratively with Government to deliver positive outcomes, whilst having the fortitude to challenge their decisions. I would hope to see further growth and engagement in our membership, and to have maintained our position as the leading and largest independent business community on the island.

(Photos by Gary Grimshaw)

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