Focus Groups

The BBG Focus Groups provide a forum for members with a common interest. The Groups generally meet monthly and are open to both members and others (including visitors to the UAE). Any BBG member can be a Focus Chair, submissions should be made to the current Director, Focus Groups.
if you have any suggestions for Focus Group events or would like to contact any of the Focus Chairs please click here.
 
The list of business sectors we cover:
·                     Banking and Finance
·                     Business Through Learning
·                     Communications and Marketing
·                     Construction
·                     Energy
·                     Facilities Management and Real Estate
·                     Talent and Leadership Development
·                     Insurance
·                     Legal
·                     SME's
·                     Travel & Tourism
·                     Tech
·                     Women in Business
·                     Healthcare
·                     Business Through Golf

Banking and Finance
Chair - Grant Fairbairn

Grant is a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Securities and Investment (CISI). After ten years working in the financial services industry in the UK, the last 7 of which were spent at the Oxford office of Charles Stanley, Grant relocated to Dubai at the beginning of 2017 and joined Mondial (Dubai) L.L.C.

Through the BBG and a number of other networking organisations that Grant has affiliated himself with since his arrival in Dubai, Grant has quickly established a significant number of contacts across a broad range of sectors. Grant is a keen networker who relishes the opportunity to meet new individuals and learn about their businesses, in order to build long lasting relationships. In his opinion, this is the only way to build a network of professional contacts with a solid foundation and which is best placed to assist both clients and other professionals in developing their networks.

When not networking, Grant is a Chartered Wealth Manager and Financial Analyst who assists high net worth individuals in managing their wealth and planning for the future. Whilst the title might not be familiar to many in Dubai, the ‘Chartered Wealth Manager’ designation is a title awarded by the CISI to recognise senior members in the UK at the pinnacle of their profession.

In his new role of chair of the Banking & Finance Focus Group and with very large shoes to fill following Andrew’s Mortimer’s promotion within the British Business Group, Grant is eagerly looking forward to having the opportunity to meet more members of the BBG and to learn how both the Banking & Finance Focus group and the BBG can best assist each member. Feedback from members on all topics, including suggestions for topics for focus group presentations, will always be greatly appreciated and very much welcomed!

Business Through Learning
Chair - Blake Sergeant



Communications and Marketing
Chair - Robert Mitchell

A graduate of Manchester University I have 30 years in marketing and advertising, 20 of which are in Dubai. I founded The Tribe, a creative agency with a strong digital edge in 2006 after 12 years at Saatchi & Saatchi where I was Managing Director. My background has led me to work with clients across a broad range of sectors with 360 marketing experience. The Middle East is characterized by a combination of strong opportunity and intense competition in most categories. The marketing focus group aims to share insights and innovation that can be applied by our members to help achieve their success in the region.


Construction
Chair - Laura Stockwell

Laura has spent much of the last 10 years fostering greater understanding and enabling deeper trade ties between the UK and the Middle East. She spent 2 years as a Middle East adviser to HRH The Duke of York, 4 years running the Conservative Middle East Council and most recently she has managed key client relationships and government affairs for a global engineering firm in Dubai. Laura has built a broad network across the region's public and private sectors and greatly enjoys connecting people and businesses. She was born and raised in Dubai and studied Arabic at University. 


Energy
Chair - Terry Willis

Terry Willis is the Managing Director of EICUK (Middle East), which is the operating office of The Energy Industries Council, a well and long established UK Trade Association that focusses on the global energy sector on behalf of its 700+ company membership. He has over 30 years of experience working and living throughout the Middle East region. Prior to establishing The EIC office in Dubai back in March 2004, he spent 11 years with a UK manufacturer of specialist cable terminations that are used mainly in the oil & gas sector, setting up their Middle East office in Jebel Ali, Dubai in 1996. Terry first arrived in the Middle East in 1982 working as a Sales Engineer in Qatar for a well-known UK multinational cable manufacturer and after a brief period in Bahrain, moved to Saudi Arabia where he became country manager prior to the first Gulf War in 1991. He holds a Fellowship Membership of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

The Energy Focus Group of the BBG aligns itself to the extremely buoyant local Energy scene which encompasses Oil, Gas, Power, Nuclear and Renewables. By working to provide opportunities for the membership to learn more about the current trends and developments within this sector, it is hoped that we can add value to their respective business activities.

Our meetings take the form of dinners where we have the opportunity to hear from selected organisations and individuals who are closely aligned to our sector and whom the chairman would engage with as a matter of course within his full time role with the Energy Industries Council.


Facilities Management and Real Estate
Chair - Henry Faun

Henry Faun is an Associate Partner in the Knight Frank International Residential team. He holds a first class honours degree in Real Estate and is qualified as a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (MRICS).

Having worked with Knight Frank for the past five years in London and the Gulf, Henry is a specialist in advising clients on the purchase, sale and management of UK residential property and working alongside colleagues on prime residential property in wider Europe, Africa and the Americas.

Henry has experience in leasing, development and valuation of residential property with a focus on the transaction of London residential property. He frequently assists his clients with single properties for personal use through to bulk transactions for investment.

Henry is known to work professionally and discreetly with his clients and is studying to speak, read and write modern standard Arabic.


Legal
Chair - Alison Hubbard

Alison is a Partner in the Corporate Group of Pinsent Masons LLP, an international Law Firm headquartered in London, with offices across Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

Alison has been based in Dubai since 2006, focusing predominantly on cross border M&A, joint ventures and structuring for international clients, including many of those listed on the world's key bourses. Alison has successfully closed transactions throughout the GCC and wider MENA region.  In addition, Alison assists clients with general operational matters across the MENA region.  Alison also frequently advises companies entering the Middle East and Africa on risk management issues.

Alison brings this significant experience of advising multinational and local businesses on their operations in the region to her role of Chair of the BBG Legal Focus Group.  Alison aims to run high quality events with real relevance to the members of the BBG and their businesses.

Recent Legal Focus Group events have included: Anti-Bribery and Corruption in the Middle East; Funding challenges for SMEs (jointly with the SME Focus Group);  Managing a transient work force (jointly with the HR Focus Group);  Managing risk and opportunity in the Middle East; and Oil Price:  The impact of the low oil price on the region's businesses (jointly with the Energy Focus Group).

Alison would welcome any suggestions and ideas for events that would be of interest to members.


SME's
Chair - Amal Loring

Amal Loring provides sponsorship solutions for SMEs and companies wishing to set up onshore in Dubai. This is coupled with consultancy services and current local business knowledge.

Originally from the UK, now holding a local passport, means that Amal’s unique position is different to the myriad of companies who also offer business set-up services. Having been in business for more than 20 years and based in the UAE since 1997 allows Amal to understand both the western and UAE perspectives on business and create added value for her clients.

Amal’s solution is helping organisations not only survive but thrive in the UAE. This is delivered through the core values of: Trust, Timeliness, Transparency and Respect.

Amal has a strong position and recognised brand in the UAE, this helps clients to connect into an established network, to drive business opportunities and take advantage of gaps in the market. The business connections and referral partners in the network enable clients to keep up to date in an environment where rules and regulations frequently change. This means that every business owner can benefit from up to the minute market knowledge.

Amal is ‘Only a phone call away and a lifeline when you really need it.”


Talent and Leadership Development 
Chair - Matthew Lewis

Matthew is a senior executive search and executive coach with over 22 year's global expertise in identifying and assessing talent and developing senior executives.  Matthew graduated with a BSc (Hons) and worked in the UK, Hong Kong before moving to Dubai in 2007.He has hired senior Board executives into 45 countries across the Americas, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific for the world's leading companies. Since 2010 he has been Partner for the Middle East and Africa region with Boyden, the world's oldest and largest private executive search firm, founded in 1946, with over 70 offices in 40 countries.

Matthew has been a supporter and member of the BBG since 2008 and is passionate about helping companies manage and develop their talent whilst helping people manage and develop themselves. In driving the Talent and Leadership focus group his aim is to bring interesting content, debate and speakers to the BBG to discuss the current challenges in Recruitment and Retention, Talent Management, and Leadership whilst also facilitating personal development for individuals, SME's, HR professional and leaders.


Travel and Tourism
Chair - Caroline Rowe



Tech
Chair - Damion Lock

Damion Lock is the founder of ONE9 3NINE Consulting, a data centre consultancy firm based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. ONE9 3NINE Consulting provides both an infrastructure and management focused portfolio of services including data centre design, operations & maintenance audits, technology planning, certification and training to the whole Middle East region. Damion has been involved for 22 years in all aspects of the data centre industry from mainframes, enterprise storage, fibre optics, servers and software through to consulting in state of the art data centre facilities. With additional experience in LEED, ISO 9001:2000, PMP, ITIL and holding a post graduate business degree Damion previously held the role of General Manager with a German based data centre consultant and has independently helped spearhead the Middle East DC market over the past 8 years. The BBG Technology Focus Group brings an appreciation level to the world of technology within business where all of us can learn something new as technology evolves in the world around us. Often seen as a tabu subject, the majority of the world would like themselves to technophobes, however, the BBG Technology Focus Group endeavours to provide a selection of events that will opens business owners and managers eyes to new business possibilities as a result of technology allowing BBG to empower businesses here in Dubai through education.


Women in Business (WIB)
Chair - Clair Hattle

Clair is Executive Director at SMARTERtcm, a management consultancy offering smarter and more effective training, consulting, and management services. Drawing upon 13 years in learning and development, in particular within the fields of vocational training, language communication, and educational management, Clair specialises in developing policy, procedures, and strategy for learning teaching organisations and competitive businesses.

In addition to running her own company, Clair is also a trainer for vocational skills, a team leader for Cambridge English Language Assessment, an inspector for International House World Organisation, and even a qualified Personal Trainer. In the British Business Group Clair is the COO & Deputy Chairman; Focus Chair of the Business Through Learning initiative; Co-chair Women in Business and a Director for the British Centres for Business (BCB) Dubai. Clair has been an active member of the BBG since her arrival in Dubai in 2008, both as a Focus Chair and Committee Member. 


Insurance
Chair - Mark Cooper

Mark  joined Lloyd's in 2015 as General Representative Middle East based in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC). In this role, Mark responsible for developing and implementing Lloyd's business and market development strategy across the MENA markets as well as managing the operations of the Dubai platform.  He joined Lloyd's from the DIFC Authority where he was Director of Insurance, Reinsurance and Captives.  

Starting his career in 1995 with RSA Insurance Group in the UK, Mark have been working in international markets for 20 years' with the last 13 of those based in the Middle East region.  During this time, Mark have built up extensive experience of the GCC and wider Levant insurance markets in executive roles; including Head of Commercial Markets for the Middle East & Levant at Zurich Insurance and Chief Executive Officer for Saudi Arabia and Bahrain at RSA Insurance Group.

Mark have always been a key supporter of the BBG since moving to the region in 2002 and indeed from my time in Saudi Arabia with the British Business Association.  In his role as Chair of the Insurance Focus Group, Mark want to make ensure that the profile and development of insurance remains at the forefront of the business community. The UAE is one of the fastest growing insurance markets in the world and through a combination of workshops and seminars along with a proactive cross-working approach with other Focus Chair's, it is important that the role of insurance and the impact that it plays across all sectors of the economy is leveraged for the membership.

If there are any members that would like to contact Mark please do so as he is always grateful to receive feedback and ideas as to what more the group can be doing to support local and regional UK business. 


Healthcare
Chair - Craig Mclaren

Craig McLaren is a’ Leadership and Healthcare’ consultant as well as an Executive Leadership Coach. He is co-Founder ofAccess Value Healthcare Solutions. Craig’s latest venture is as an investor and director of Alumni Medical, a start-up medical distribution business in Dubai.

Craig is one of the founder members and immediate past Chairman of Mecomed, the medical technology association for the MENAP region. Mecomed acts as a voice for the medical device and diagnostic industry with regulators, ministries of health and other healthcare authorities.

In June 0f 2014 Craig left Johnson & Johnson after a 25 year career mainly spent in growing businesses in emerging markets, most notably as Area Managing Director for the medical device businesses where he successfully built a high growth and profitable organization across multiple companies from Turkey , across Middle East and Africa as well as Pakistan.

Other roles with J&J included Vice President, Business Development EMEA for Medical Devices and Diagnostics, Vice President Quality and E Business in EMEA. In these roles Craig was based in UK, supporting all of the EMEA business leaders of J&J.

Craig is now splitting his time between Cheshire and Dubai and is advising ABHI and Scottish Development International when called on. Craig has also provided pro bono coaching support to NGO’s.


Business Through Golf
Chair - Nathan Gatland



The BBG Focus Groups provide a forum for members with a common interest. The Groups generally meet monthly and are open to both members and others (including visitors to the UAE). Any BBG member can be a Focus Chair, submissions should be made to the current Director, Focus Groups.

The list of business sectors we cover:

Banking and Finance

Chair – Andrew Prince

A highly experienced and qualified financial adviser, over the past 25 years I have advised clients within both the Small Business and Corporate arenas, spanning a range of sectors including; Engineering, FMCG, International Banking, Regulated Financial Services, Mergers & Acquisitions, Tax Planning and Management/Business Consultancy. Clients come from all nationalities and companies including; British Council, GE Capital, Emirates, Credit Suisse, Deloittes, Siemens, Qatar First Investment Bank and many more.

Finance is fun and spreading empowerment to the membership that taking control of ones finances needn’t be arduous. Information is the key to making an informed decision on what is right for you and helping facilitate that is the aim of this focus group.

Business Through Learning

Chair – Clair Hattle

Business through Learning is a new initiative for the British Business Group. The objective behind its creation was to further enhance and up-skill the members of the BBG by giving them access to a range of learning & development events with application across all industries and fields: Key to our thinking was to support our large base of SME members, and their individual needs.

My main aim for the group is to source and provide high-quality training events, mostly in interactive workshops which allow for interdisciplinary networking and development. A further goal for the group might be to see BBG BTL offering even longer multi-facilitator learning events, perhaps amounting to a “pocket (mini) MBA” or the like, if that is something which our membership would benefit from, and enjoy.

I am always keen to hear from our members about the types of workshops and training sessions you would like the BBG BTL to offer and which you would like to attend. I am also happy to hear from member training providers keen to deliver a ‘taster’ session to the BBG audience.

Business Through Sport

Chair – Ben Goodman

Ben Goodman, Chair of Business Through Sport hails from Plymouth, England. He works as the Director of Business Development for Nexa, the leading web design company in the Middle East. Prior to this he has been employed in Business development roles in IT and Finance. Ben is an avid sports fan and has a rich history of sporting achievements including county level squash, club cricket and football. His interests now lie in golf, cricket and anything that suits his older age. Ben sees sports as the perfect way to meet new people and to nurture current relationships.

Communications and Marketing

Chair – Robert Mitchell

A graduate of Manchester University I have 30 years in marketing and advertising, 20 of which are in Dubai. I founded The Tribe, a creative agency with a strong digital edge in 2006 after 12 years at Saatchi & Saatchi where I was Managing Director. My background has led me to work with clients across a broad range of sectors with 360 marketing experience. The Middle East is characterized by a combination of strong opportunity and intense competition in most categories. The marketing focus group aims to share insights and innovation that can be applied by our members to help achieve their success in the region.

Construction

Co-Chairs – John Alford and Paul Madeira

John has been the Chair of the Construction Sector Focus Group since 1995 and has endeavoured to maintain the profile of the group by attracting after dinner speakers with specialist knowledge of the construction industry within the region.

Previous topics have included the construction of Palm Island whilst still in concept stage, the Burj Khalifa post construction and more latterly the effect of the Arab Spring.

The group invites participation from all parts of the industry including contractors, consultants, architects and legal entities dealing with related contractual issues.

Currently he is the Group Managing Director of Jasaf Building Technology and its associate companies, M/s. Contech.

Prior to this he was Commercial Director for John Laing International with responsibility for all commercial activities throughout the Gulf Region.


Paul Madeira

Construction Focus Chair & Executive Vice President, Global Business Development, Causeway

Paul has over 25 years' experience in the enterprise software industry, having worked in various Executive and Director roles for global British and US publicly listed companies.

Born in Manchester, UK, Paul joined Causeway in September 2007 and relocated with his family to Dubai to lead the companies continued development in the Middle East and Asia Pacific region. From here he works closely with Clients, Developers, Contractors and Consultants with their overall IT and Cost and Programme Management strategies for the built environment.

Paul’s energy and enthusiasm enable him to develop relationships with the leading construction industry stakeholders in the Middle East and Asia Pacific region. An active member of a number of Industry networking clubs and is also a published authority on the emerging use of Building Information Modelling (BIM) within the region.

Paul has been an active supporter of the British Business Group in Dubai since January 2008 and is very excited at growing and re-energising the Construction focus group within the UAE. He aims to build a new revised programme of events that include networking, social and industry speakers on key topic’s for the vibrant construction industry we live within

Energy

Chair – Terry Willis

Terry Willis is the Managing Director of EICUK (Middle East), which is the operating office of The Energy Industries Council, a well and long established UK Trade Association that focusses on the global energy sector on behalf of its 700+ company membership. He has over 30 years of experience working and living throughout the Middle East region. Prior to establishing The EIC office in Dubai back in March 2004, he spent 11 years with a UK manufacturer of specialist cable terminations that are used mainly in the oil & gas sector, setting up their Middle East office in Jebel Ali, Dubai in 1996. Terry first arrived in the Middle East in 1982 working as a Sales Engineer in Qatar for a well-known UK multinational cable manufacturer and after a brief period in Bahrain, moved to Saudi Arabia where he became country manager prior to the first Gulf War in 1991. He holds a Fellowship Membership of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

The Energy Focus Group of the BBG aligns itself to the extremely buoyant local Energy scene which encompasses Oil, Gas, Power, Nuclear and Renewables. By working to provide opportunities for the membership to learn more about the current trends and developments within this sector, it is hoped that we can add value to their respective business activities.

Our meetings take the form of dinners where we have the opportunity to hear from selected organisations and individuals who are closely aligned to our sector and whom the chairman would engage with as a matter of course within his full time role with the Energy Industries Council.

Facilities Management and Real Estate

Chair – Sean Heckford

As the International Corporate Real Estate and Facilities Director for Parsons, a US based global engineering and infrastructure consultancy I am responsible for sourcing, mobilising, operating and demobilising the Corporate Real Estate required to support the business. My geographical area of responsibility includes all locations outside of the Mainland North and South Americas, with heaviest focus being on the MEA region in line with Parsons global growth strategy. I primarily work from the Regional Head Office in Abu Dhabi but have to remain extremely flexible and able to operate and manage the portfolio from anywhere in the world as I travel.

Optimisation of the Corporate Real Estate portfolio and budget management are both primary key elements to my role as well as the considerable amount of change management that this entails.

My previous role was the Head of Real Estate for Dubai Bank responsible for the operational property portfolio of the Bank (Branches and Offices). I gained an invaluable insight into the banking industry but also to local culture and attitudes at C suite level.

I previously spent 2 1/2 years with EC Harris International as the Senior Asset and Facilities Management Consultant in the UAE. I was involved with many of the largest organizations in the UAE (private and governmental) participating or leading Built Asset related consultancy commissions, mainly dealing with OPEX related issues.

I am the current Chairman the Royal British Legion in Dubai and play an active role in coaching the Dubai Hurricanes Under 9 Rugby Squad.

I also play an active role on the committee of CORENET Global Middle East Chapter which is steadily gaining popularity amongst the Corporate Real Estate Community in the Region.

I intend for the BBG Real Estate and Facilities Management Focus Group to provide a forum for formal networking and knowledge share in the Residential Real Estate Markets and in the Facilities Management arena whilst collaborating with other formal networking bodies to provide access to the Corporate Real Estate Events already happening in Dubai.

Human Resources

Chair – Nick Forster

Insurance

Chair – John James

I am 66 and have spent most of my working life as an Insurance Broker and Risk Manager with a brief foray into the world of stockbroking and investment management.

I have worked for international and boutique broking firms in UK, KSA, Bahrain and Dubai and I specialise in bespoke policy wordings, usually preceded by a risk management survey to ensure insurance programmes are tailor-made to the clients profile. My specialist knowledge centres mainly upon Construction, Financial Institutions and the Professions and I have also run my own business as an advisor to Hedge Funds and US lawyers.

I was brought up in the Far East from age 2 to 11.

I view my role as a Focus Chair to:

Assist other BBG insurance members in the pursuit of specialist knowledge and training, particularly in respect of Business Interruption, Directors & Officers Liability Professional Indemnity and Cyber Liability where local expertise is limited.

Advise other BBG members irrespective of business or profession about compulsory insurance and how properly arranged ‘catastrophe’ cover can protect their balance sheet.

Meet other Focus Chairs to exchange ideas and pursue joint objectives.

Chair – Alison Hubbard

Alison is a Partner in the Corporate Group of Pinsent Masons LLP, an international Law Firm headquartered in London, with offices across Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

Alison has been based in Dubai since 2006, focussing predominantly on cross border M&A, joint ventures and structuring for international clients, including many of those listed on the world's key bourses. Alison has successfully closed transactions throughout the GCC and wider MENA region. In addition, Alison frequently advises companies entering the Middle East and Africa on compliance with global standards, including governance and anti-bribery compliance. Alison also assists clients with general operational matters across the MENA region.

Alison brings this significant experience of advising multinational and local businesses on their operations in the region to her role of Chair of the BBG Legal Focus Group. Alison aims to run high quality events with real relevance to the members of the BBG and their businesses. Alison’s recent Focus Group events have included:

  • Managing risk and opportunity in the Middle East;
  • Funding challenges for SMEs (jointly with the SME Focus Group); and
  • Managing a transient work force (jointly with the HR Focus Group).

SME’s

Chair – Al Hanoof Assaf

Travel & Tourism

Chair - Karen Osman

Originally from England, Karen has lived the ex-pat life for the last 15 years across Asia, Europe and the Middle East. After completing a B.A. in Linguistics and English Language at the University of Durham in the UK, a two-year period teaching in Tokyo was the start of a career that combined her two great loves; travel and the English language. Moving to Dubai in 2004, Karen engaged in a sales, marketing and public relations role for a luxury hospitality company. It was a great opportunity to develop communication for luxury brands, gaining experience in writing and adapting copy for both off-line and on-line channels. After seven years working in hospitality, Karen set up her own business, Travel Ink, in order to provide specialised content, copywriting and translation to the travel, tourism and hospitality market.

As chairperson for the British Business Group’s Travel and Tourism Focus Group, Karen has held a number of networking events for the thriving industry which have included high-profile speakers such as Gerald Lawless of Jumeirah Group. With travel and tourism being one of the most rapidly developing sectors in the UAE, these events offer members the chance to get the latest information and statistics, as well as network with like-minded professionals.

Tech

Chair – Damion Lock

Damion Lock is the founder of ONE9 3NINE Consulting, a data center consultancy firm based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. ONE9 3NINE Consulting provides both an infrastructure and management focused portfolio of services including data center design, operations & maintenance audits, technology planning, certification and training to the whole Middle East region.

Damion has been involved for 22 years in all aspects of the data center industry from mainframes, enterprise storage, fiber optics, servers and software through to consulting in state of the art data center facilities. With additional experience in LEED, ISO 9001:2000, PMP, ITIL and holding a post graduate business degree Damion previously held the role of General Manager with a German based data center consultant and has independently helped spearhead the Middle East DC market over the past 8 years.

The BBG Technology Focus Group brings an appreciation level to the world of technology within business where all of us can learn something new as technology evolves in the world around us. Often seen as a tabu subject, the majority of the world would liken themselves to technophobes, however, the BBG Technology Focus Group endeavors to provide a selection of events that will opens business owner and managers eyes to new business possibilities as a result of technology allowing BBG to empower businesses here in Dubai through education.