Taking care of business
PUBLISHED: 12:01 03 November 2015 | UPDATED: 12:01 03 November 2015
Gina Long chats to John Dugmore, chief executive of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce
What’s it like heading the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce?
It’s a great privilege. The chamber was established by local business leaders in 1884 and so I’m honoured to be carrying on the stewardship, representing, supporting and championing the many thousands of businesses in Suffolk.
What interested you about the role – what’s the most challenging part of the job?
I was at Liverpool Chamber, where I headed up the customer facing side of the business. I heard through the chamber network that Suffolk was looking for a new chief executive and the time felt right to take on the challenge of running a chamber. The role is certainly challenging, but that’s good. Each day is different, be it representing businesses in Westminster to welcoming overseas delegations looking to invest in our county, through to meeting business leaders who run companies that drive the Suffolk economy.
And what do you love most about Suffolk?
Good question. So much. On a personal level, I guess it’s things such as the coastline, our proximity to London, picturesque market towns, Suffolk pubs and a feeling of being at ease. In relation to the day job, I think it’s the people in business I meet. We have such a diverse, entrepreneurial business community.
What has been your proudest professional achievement to date?
I’m proud of the chamber team. They work hard to support our members. I guess it was when the chamber won the British Chambers award for our chamber-led, partnership inclusive ‘No Toll Tax on Suffolk’ campaign. It was great that Suffolk and its great partnership network was recognised nationally.
How do you relax?
I have a seven-year-old daughter, Amelia, so I’m not sure the word ‘relax’ is in my vocabulary. But at weekends we keep busy and do a lot as a family including cycling, take in the county shows, go to the cinema, gym occasionally (one hazard of the job is lots of business dinners), and relaxing with friends.
Who would be at your dream dinner party?
Well that’s a hard one. I should say the obvious – those who have held positions of greatness in history, but I’ll go with a mix of sport, movies and comedy. So, Jo, my wife obviously, then from sport, ‘King’ Eric Cantona, Ian Botham and Daley Thompson. From the movies, Daniel Craig (as 007), Russell Crowe (as Maximus) and De Niro (as whoever he liked) and from comedy, Peter Sellers (as Chief Inspector Clouseau), Rowan Atkinson and Peter Kay.
I’d also look to invite a very good wine merchant, as he/she would bring a good bottle or two with them, and to round it off and mix it up, I’d invite George Osborne and Jeremy Corbyn as I’d be fascinated to see how they gelled. I’d sit them at the far end of the table though. Finally I’d ask Di, my mother-in-law. If it all got out of hand, she’d quickly knock them all back into line.
If you could offer your daughter any advice about the world of work, what would it be?
Work hard, believe in yourself, thrive on challenge and surround yourself with people you respect and have the skills you perhaps do not.
If you could change one thing for businesses in Suffolk, what would it be?
Infrastructure, infrastructure and infrastructure – be that road, rail, broadband, mobile or indeed the skills infrastructure.