Export Britain

Patrick Ney: A Week in the Life at the British Polish Chamber of Commerce

Patrick Ney, Director of the British Polish Chamber of Commerce

30 March 2015


Monday, Sunny Monday! On Monday I find myself preparing with my colleague Konrad for an internal webinar we’re hosting for other Overseas Business Networks also helping British businesses. We’re excited about sharing some of the lessons from the 2 years we’ve been operating as a means to supporting other chambers on similar journeys. Later in the afternoon I meet Marek, who runs our Food is GREAT Campaign in Poland which is bringing in over 200 British products into the Polish market for the first time. Marek briefs me on the work we’re doing for a big launch event later on in the week.

I then host a teleconference with a client I am account managing to look at the support we’re giving his business. We’ve been able to secure 4 meetings with high level decision makers in his target group but our aim was to get 6. Fortunately, the exporter is realistic and understands how difficult it is to secure these C-level decision makers so is happy to see us approach the others as part of a second stage.

I then meet our chairman and CEO to discuss the exciting plans we’ve got for the next financial year to help exporters – including new plans to sell and market UK Plc on the Polish market using social media, experiential marketing and harnessing the brand reputation the BPCC and our partner UK Trade & Investment have on this market. We’re determined to change the way we’ve done trade and investment to maximise UK exports to the Polish market.


On Tuesday I send out a request to my colleagues in the Central and Eastern European region – Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary and Romania – to ask if we can discuss rolling out our Food is GREAT campaign on a regional basis. We’re keen to ensure that the success we’ve had for our clients on this project is repeated in other markets, and as a region we increasingly work effectively together to support exporters to enter multiple markets. It makes sense for us and most importantly for our clients.

We then come together as a Trade team to host our regular Tuesday weekly meeting, in which member of the team runs through their active client list and we look to identify trends and discuss common problems. We then host a brainstorm as a team on how we’re going to perform individually and collectively next year to reach our targets to support as many British exporters as possible. No surprises, year on year we’re going to have to keep on performing better and better – that’s the expectations of UK Trade & Investment and our chamber partners and why they’ve trusted us to support British companies on their behalf.

With my colleague Konrad I then host the webinar for 22 representatives of international British chambers of commerce also supporting British business. We focus on the Why, How and What of the last 2 years of our operations and try and give practical advice to help other chambers. Doing this takes time but is also a useful exercise for understanding your own business, which is why every quarter I try and take some time out to work on the business but not in the business. I then pop straight onto a flight to Poland’s fourth largest city, Wroc?aw for a last-minute meeting I’ve been invited to the next day.


Wednesday finds me meeting with a major British company considering a sizeable investment into the Wroc?aw region with the potential to create up to 8,000 new jobs. I can’t reveal the company for confidentiality reasons but if the decision does come through it will be the largest UK investment in Poland to date. We encourage investment as a route to expansion and sales in Poland and the CEE region, and I take the investor through the support available to them via the British Polish Chamber of Commerce, the Trade team and from UK Trade & Investment and the British Embassy. Between us, we’ve a really joined up offer for investors that can help reassure them that, when entering this new market, they’ll have friends at hands.


Later that day we put the final touches to our business planning for 2015/16 in which we predict we’ll help British business 1500 times. – a 50% increase on the year before. I then jump back on the plane to be in time to attend a free media coaching session run by the European Association of Communication Directors hosted by the excellent Binaria Communications (http://www.binaria.pl). Along with about 10 other participants, we’re given instructions and advice on how to handle media interviews and preparation, before being given imaginary scenarios to record live. I’m suddenly a spokesperson for a pharmaceutical company which has had some negative publicity on a product and is trying to defend the company’s position live on TV. Watching my somewhat bumbling statement (in Polish) on a very large screen and getting feedback from Binaria’s experts it’s clear my career as a company spokesperson still has some way to go, but the live practice is ideal for an appearance I have in front of 20 journalists the next day, which I rush home to prepare a set of slides for.


Thursday morning finds me discussing the market entry of a Marketing and PR company we’re supporting with their researcher, ?ukasz. ?ukasz has done some fantastic work to analyse the market opportunity and competitors for the client, which helps us challenge some of the assumptions of the client regarding the way they should enter the Polish market. We’ll pitch it to the client next week but investing this time now will really help make our support as bespoke as possible.

I then go straight into a conference on the Food is GREAT campaign which sees Polish journalists from all the Polish major dailies and a number of specialist food press and magazines being briefed on the campaign’s next phase, a major promotion drive in partnership with Poland’s largest independent international food distributor with 14 shops across the country, Kuchnie Swiata.

Fot. Tomasz Zybert (34)

My presentation focuses on the trade opportunity for Polish and British companies. UK – Polish trade has risen dramatically since Poland’s entry to the European Union in 2004. My prediction based on trade to date is that Poland will be exporting an additional £3.5 billion pounds of products and services to the UK by 2016, reaching £13bn in total, and that the UK will be exporting an extra £1.3bn in 2016, so that the UK total exports that year will reach £7bn. But the highlight of the conference is an appearance by the face of the campaign, Kevin Aiston, who came to Poland in the 90s and now speaks word-perfect Polish and is the face of a number of television programmes. Kevin’s a trained chef and takes the journalists through some of the delicious products we’re introducing, like pork pies, lamb, ciders, sweets and health foods as well as recipes in his new book (Not just fish and chips is the tagline – overcoming the perception of most Polish consumers that Britain is still trapped in the culinary warp of the 1970s).

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I then meet with a Polish consultancy business looking to identify opportunities with British businesses. I specialise in the services sector so I outline some of the companies we work with and their preferred partnership strategies. Next it’s a chat with the fanstatic team at Santander with whom we’ve partnered to deliver a major trade mission for 10 British exporters later this year. Santander are doing a huge amount to support exporters with a number of selected high-opportunity markets, so to join the Polish trade mission or to find out more visit http://www.santandercb.co.uk/breakthrough/international. We’re excited about the visit and our planning our support to get the best for the customers.


It’s been a busy week but the end’s almost in sight. We start the day as a team doing a regular exercise of ours – whiteboard sessions. These are chances for account managers to explain their current projects to the rest of the team and answer searching questions regarding the projects. The aim is to ensure we’ve thought as hard as possible about how best to support exporters and to come up with the best possible value projects. I then have a quick chat with Louise at UK Trade & Investment to talk about our communications in Poland and how best to support other chambers of commerce learn from our experiences. We’re always really pleased to share and learn from other chambers and it’s always good fun to speak to Louise.


In the afternoon we meet with representatives from the British Embassy in Berlin who have come on a 2 day study tour to find out more about the 4 Pillar Strategy of the British Embassy, UK Trade & Investment Poland and the British Polish Chamber of Commerce, headed by our Ambassador Robin Barnett. We’re always pleased to improve our links with the German market in any way, since as a business if you can make it in Germany, you should definitely be looking at the major market right next door, Poland.




The week’s not over just yet! I drive over to a large shopping centre where the Food is GREAT campaign team headed by Marek and Bogna is hard at work putting the touches to a big promotional event to showcase the launch of our Food is GREAT campaign for British food and drink exporters. Deputy Ambassador Sarah Tiffin officially kicks off proceedings with a speech in Polish. Celebrity Kevin Aiston is managing to cook and make the audience laugh at the same time and the reaction from consumers tasting Wensleydale, pies, chutney and fantastic British products and drinks for the first time is a delight. This market is very difficult to crack on your own, so Marek and his team have brought in a group of food and drink exporters and – most importantly – focused on driving consumer interest through social media and competitions. It’s not enough to be on the shelves, customers have to be motivated enough to buy. Watching the excited faces of children trying cheddar and roast lamb with mint jelly for the first time, I’m incredibly proud of the hard work of Marek, Bogna, Ma?gosia and Ola. But this is just the beginning of what we can justifiably call the biggest and best promotion of British food ever!



Talking about British food, I’ve got 4 guests coming over on Sunday for a British meal and I’ve got a fair bit of cooking to do. Time to stock up on products from the nearby Kuchnie Swiata stand and get cracking on persuading 4 more consumers that British food is the best in the world!

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