Recently in Head of Business Category
Now here is a mystery.
Why are there no soaps set in the Midlands? London has East Enders, Manchester 'Corrie' and Liverpool has 'Hollyoaks'. We don't even have any of the constructed reality programmes set in the Midlands like 'TOWIE, 'Geordie Shores' or 'Desperate Scousewives'.
I have no idea why this is, though not sure it's much of a loss. But did you know that watching the soaps is can help build strong brands.
JLR, remember, contributed a whopping 95% of the overall profit of Tata Motors in the last quarter. The reports suggest that a minority listing for JLR would enable Tata to bank a decent profit on the $2.3 billion purchase price that Tata paid for JLR back in 2008.
With no replacement yet found for the CEO of Tata Motors, who stepped down last September, the view in such pieces is that instead of searching for synergies, Tata could split JLR out and sell off a minority of its shares through an initial public offering (IPO). That could raise cash and help Tata pare down its $4 billion debt.
In addition, a stock market listing would not mean JLR severing its Indian links as Tata would remain the majority owner, and JLR could still look to expand sales and assembly in India.
Can we export our way out of recession? My own view is that economic recovery will need to be much more broadly based but trading internationally and taking advantage of the opportunities the global economy still provides will play an important part in the economic wellbeing of this country.
Exports have always been the cornerstone of UK trading success and they are still equivalent to nearly 30 per cent of UK GDP.
We need to increase exports from existing exporters and increase the overall number of West Midlands exporters - and recent research has shown that the signs are promising.
The percentage of companies nationally doing business overseas has risen from 26 per cent to 31 per cent over a two year period.
More young companies are seizing opportunities at an early stage. One in five companies currently doing business abroad is classified as " born global" - ie has been doing international business since day one. While more than one third of companies less than five years old reported significant growth due to exporting.
Nearly 40 per cent of companies say that exporting delivers levels of growth that wouldn't be possible otherwise. Companies also report a significant return on investment, improved financial performance and higher levels of innovation and productivity as a result of doing business overseas.
Most companies do business by selling direct to foreign companies or through agents, but there is growing evidence of the use of other routes to market such as distributor networks, joint venture/partnering, manufacturing under licence and establishing a direct presence in a market.
The research also shows that companies who access support services like those provided by UKTI tend to be more ambitious, innovative and strategic, and are more likely to progress faster than those who do not access support.
If you want to know more about the research or more about how UK Trade & Investment can help you start exporting or increase your exports why not arrange to talk to one our specialist International Trade Advisers? This is a free UKTI service available through the Chambers of Commerce in the region and if you contact http://www.wmchambers.co.uk they will arrange for someone to call you; or simply get in touch with me on 0121 345 2205.
The recent financial disaster at UBS brought another UBS story back into the news. Back in January a detailed dress code guide for UBS staff was leaked to much hilarity.
There was also advice on how to apply body lotion and perfume, on not eating garlic and not to have tattoos.
This was held up as an example of an organisation obsessed by detail and interfering in its employees lives.
I feel the need to make a case to support PowerPoint as I think it has a bad press - even beyond it having been spawned by the universally used and equally unpopular Microsoft.
The main benefit I see is that PowerPoint forces you to arrange your thoughts in a logical sequence - although you can easily shift things round if you change your mind during the design process.
Most of all though, it makes us be BRIEF.
As an academic, I am surrounded by colleagues who are immersed in their subject. For many years, if you asked me to tell you in 5 minutes what my PhD was about, I couldn't tell you.
Now I can (at emergencies, fire commanders focus on four key factors when making their decisions...). PowerPoint is great at making you do this.
I saw reported in the Post last month that our intrepid restaurant critic was taken aback by the proactive way Carluccios responded to criticism (incidentally their restaurant in Stratford is one of my favourite places!) so I hereby offer one of our largest companies the same opportunity. It is in fulfilment of my brief to name names and my previous attempt to bring down the dreadful online shopping business La Redoute has either failed as they are still in business or perhaps I succeeded and they have made major changes? Either way, I wouldn't know because of course I don't shop there any more. So I am now going to direct my attention to a local supermarket in the hope of assisting the new(ish) CEO Philip Clarke understand where there might be a weakness in the juggernaut that is TESCO.
The Kraft takeover of Birmingham-based chocolate firm Cadbury, with its proud history of corporate responsibility record going right back to its Quaker origins, has been a running topic in many of my blogs here at the Birmingham Post this year.
I had anyway been banging on about the need for takeover reform for many years, and the Cadbury case put into sharp focus many the issues I'd been raising.
Of course, let's recognise that going forward we want Cadbury to succeed under Kraft and to employ workers in the UK. That's why I'm still munching away on far more Fruit and Nut than is really good for me.
But there is also a need to recognise that Cadbury should never have been vulnerable to such a takeover in the first place, and to avoid such situations arising again.
Many of us are worried at the moment - what with massive cut backs in public sector work, the knock on effect on private business, the deficit and then there is global warming, oil running out and the threat of terrorism. It would be easy to feel sorry for ourselves at being dealt this hand. So I am grateful to be removed from the gloom by a book I am reading which has left me feeling upbeat about how we are all going to cope with these (and other) challenges. I reckon this is the third recession I have worked through (well the others involved a certain amount of unemployment for me too) and I have been made redundant three times in my career. In other words, I would not regard myself as being naive about the situation. So what business book has had this effect on this cynical middle aged business academic? Of course it isn't a business book at all.
Here's an admission for you. I left work on Friday without having finished all the tasks I have on my plate.
The reason I can say for certain is because I actually do this every day. But I feel I am amongst friends because I have met many people who are the same position.
In fact, having coached dozens of executives, discussed this with hundreds of managers I have trained - including many super high achievers, I don't think any of them ever do finish everything before they leave the office.
But sometimes you think you have done everything perhaps when you go on holiday.
I would argue this is usually that you have set yourself things to do before going on holiday - a sensible strategy of ourselves - but this does not mean you have completely finished absolutely everything.
But super effective people who are promoted try to manage to finish every thing by working late, weekends or getting up extremely early and, even though they may well do these, they still won't finish everything.
Many many years ago I served in the British Army. This is something I am extremely proud of on many levels. The people I served with were extraordinary; capable of withstanding the most astonishing hardship and resourceful in ways that frankly civilians could never imagine. With the odd exception. Two soldiers from a unit based with us were arrested for armed robbery. They had thought through the raid on a petrol station quite thoroughly - they wore overalls, face masks and had a replica firearm. When they were arrested, they were mystified as to how they had been caught so easily. Well, said the police officer, perhaps you shouldn't have worn overalls with your name badge on. There are so many stories of rubbish criminals and it is sometimes fun to hear about them. But I think there is perhaps a serious lesson amongst it all.