Steady as she goes as chamber elects new president - Pamela Smyth

Pamela Smyth, ​President, Edinburgh Chamber of CommercePamela Smyth, ​President, Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce
Pamela Smyth, ​President, Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce
Leadership, representation and influence are at the heart of what Edinburgh Chamber is all about, underpinning our Decade of Impact strategy, designed to help make our city the best place for business.

We strive to innovate, developing new ideas and methods to support members and enhance our offering. Thomas Edison, who held more than 1000 patents in the US alone, defined it perfectly – “There’s a way to do it better. Find it.”

It is a privilege for me to have been elected as President of the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, following in the successful footsteps of Jane Clark-Hutchison. Jane, our chief executive, Liz McAreavey, our board, council, and excellent team have all spent the past five years ensuring we have not been blown off course, despite some very stormy waters.

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The Chamber has remained resilient through an extremely challenging period with the pandemic, the cost of living crisis and Brexit. The team has not only stabilised the Chamber, but seen it emerge as a leading influencer and membership organisation.

A few brief highlights include our convening of a Business Resilience Group, which produced a post-pandemic recovery strategy, A Prospectus for Growth, establishing the quarterly cross-party economic briefings for our politicians; creating an annual Business Festival; our ever-growing Annual Business Awards; hosting an Edinburgh COP26 conference; the joint Our Scottish Future conference with Gordon Brown and the inception of an ongoing collaboration with the City of London are but a few. These are in addition to establishing our policy committee which is undertaking valuable work in this key area.

We are a respected, admired, and influential voice for the city’s business community and we are on a very solid footing on which to build. This summer, as we have done each year, we will again review our Decade of Impact strategy as we set about ensuring this great work continues over the next five years.

In my day job, as the Chief Legal and Property Officer with Forth Ports, I am constantly reminded of the need for innovation. As an organisation, we constantly seek new ways to do business, adapting to the market and economy. The Chamber has similarly shown an innovative approach to membership and revenue opportunities.

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I am determined that we continue to collaborate with a wide range of private, public, and third-sector partners. This benefits not only our larger businesses but also the city’s wide range of hard-working, entrepreneurial and innovative small and medium-sized businesses. Many of these companies do not always have the financial or people resources to deliver the kind of changes business now faces, not least in tackling climate change.

There is much to be done. We need a renewed focus on talent and skills, particularly green skills as this is undoubtedly where many opportunities will lie and Edinburgh deserves to be at the forefront of developments in this field. We will work alongside partners on key city initiatives and plans, such as City Plan 2030 and the Transport and Mobility Plan. The Chamber will also focus on the use of technology and AI, not only in its own operations, but to help our members in leveraging new opportunities. We will support key, growing sectors including our important visitor economy, and will work with businesses and stakeholders to create a vision for economic growth for the city.

So it’s steady as she goes. The Chamber will continue to provide a voice for the city’s business community, every day demonstrating the value it provides for its members and ensuring that the importance of the role of our economy is never out of sight.

Pamela Smyth is Chief Legal and Property Officer for Forth Ports Limited and President, Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce