Industry needs 'cultural shift' to influence Government - Henderson

Dr Grahaeme Henderson has been elected to serve a second term as UK Chamber President at the trade body’s Annual General Meeting.

Dr Henderson, who serves as Vice President (Shipping and Maritime) at Shell, said it was ‘truly a very special honour’ to remain President, saying he relished the challenges and opportunities of the current political and economic landscape.

At an event for chamber members following the AGM, Henderson highlighted the UK Chamber’s response to Brexit, highlighting the 800% increase in its national media profile, and saying:

“As a Chamber, we have gained great credibility for our calm and rational response to the past year’s events. Even before the referendum took place, we had built relationships with key Government Ministers and Members of Parliament. As a result, we were among the very first trade associations to establish a regular dialogue with the Department for Exiting the European Union, ensuring that Minister’s thoughts are never too far from shipping as they begin their negotiations.”

But he called on the shipping industry to better understand its potential to influence government and its perception by the public.

“For too long, the shipping industry has underestimated its ability and role to shape decisions.  The responsibility to influence our future lies not with Government or the media; instead the responsibility to influence our future sits squarely with this industry…squarely with us.  We must be more ambitious – embracing the opportunity to impact and create the future for shipping and the UK.

“Almost as many people work in UK shipping as in car manufacturing and we support more jobs than all of the British airlines put together.  Yet shipping has remained nervous about embracing its power to advocate, rarely willing to speak out on issues of national importance, and rarely developing new policy proposals that will both support and transform our industry for the better.

He concluded arguing that a cultural shift was required in the industry to influence government and the wider business community.

“The world is changing fast.  And at the same time, the UK is recalibrating how it does international business.  We have an unprecedented opportunity to support efficient trade…to help reduce bureaucracy and to pioneer the most efficient system of moving goods in the world. 

“We should not wait and see what happens to us, but lead the thinking, lead the debate, lead the delivery…not just within the maritime family, but across the entire UK business community, with government and beyond…to truly be “the industry that works for all”.

“So, I would like this year to mark the start of a cultural shift in the shipping industry.  A shift that sees us more engaged – with the wider business community and government – driving change that will enable our future.