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Vic Annells takes over as chief executive of Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce

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The new chief executive of the Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce, Vic Annells, took up his post earlier this month.

Vic Annells became chief executive of Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce on May 1, 2021
Vic Annells became chief executive of Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce on May 1, 2021

Outgoing chief executive John Bridge, who had been at the helm since 2004, will stay on in an advisory capacity to ensure a smooth transition for the membership networking organisation.

With more than 3,500 businesses and individuals to keep informed and engaged, Vic, who took over on May 1, is starting his tenure with a number of public-facing events. First up is a series of ‘Return to the Workplace’ networking opportunities, the first face-to-face dates organised by the Chambers since the pandemic began, following the next steps in the government’s plan to safely ease the lockdown.

These occasions offer the opportunity to network with businesses of all sizes from a wide range of industry sectors, but also to meet the new Chamber chief executive.

The roadshow started on May 17 in St Ives, took in Peterborough on May 19, and Waterbeach on May 20, where the topic of new workplace dynamics was discussed at DC Intelligence, 5000 Cambridge Research Park in Waterbeach. On May 21 the Chamber roadshow hit Ely, and the final leg is at Wisbech’s Boathouse Business Centre on May 26.

Meanwhile, on May 25, business owners from Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire are invited to join a free event where local business leaders, including the region’s newest chief executive, will discuss how the region’s economy has performed over the past quarter.

Speakers at the East of England Economic Summit will include Mr Annells and Bim Afolami, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, Neil Hayes, chief executive of Hertfordshire LEP, and Jane Paterson-Todd, CEO of Cambridge Ahead.

The talks will include discussions on the local challenges businesses have faced over the past quarter, analyse ICAEW’s (Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales) Business Confidence Monitor for the region, and take points from members of the audience.

The event will run from 8.30am to 10am.

Part of Cambridge Research Park in Waterbeach
Part of Cambridge Research Park in Waterbeach

Harpreet Panesar, ICAEW regional director for the East of England, said: “We’re pleased to be joined by expert speakers who will share insights about the experiences of Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire businesses, and we hope local business owners will join this event to give us their views too as we consider how the regional economy can emerge stronger from the coronavirus pandemic.”

For Vic, coming in to the role in the middle of 2021 has been something of a baptism of fire.

“It’s like being hit by a freight train, a big American one,” he says, “there’s so much going on, we haven’t fully felt the impact of Brexit yet so I’m looking forward to hearing what businesses are thinking.

“I’m one of the panellists [at the East of England Economic Summit]. At this stage it’s mainly about trying to make companies aware of all restart grants available to them – many companies are not aware of them all, and we’re trying to ensure businesses understand the options. And it’s time to start coming back and meeting one another.”

Vic began his career with the Royal Mail, then worked in Africa, the Middle East and Europe for both the public and private sectors, having had senior roles in business and with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Department for International Trade.

He became HM consul general and director general of UKTI in Milan, then country director for Saudi Arabia, and was executive director of Mansion House & Central Criminal Court in London immediately prior to taking on his new role.

“Initially my career was in industry,” he explains, “then it became international, then I was a diplomat, then I was working in London for Lord Mayor and running the Old Bailey. I used to run what is now the Department of International Trade in the East of England – my roots are in Cambridge, and I’m currently moving back to Cambridge after my time

in London.

“I’ve been on the board of the Chamber for three years, though I never realised how hard everyone has been hit by recent events in business – the impact has been far worse than I thought. Peterborough has really suffered – Cambridge hasn’t had it as bad, though retail has not done well

at all.”

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