The Irish Business Network Scotland, soon to be rebranded, organised a thought-provoking Brexit briefing with Mike Russell MSP on Wednesday morning, October 4th 2017.
Responsible for negotiating Scotland’s place in Europe, Mr Russell painted a bleak picture of the impact of Brexit, with the only light relief a quip from him about looking for an Irish Granny – indeed an Irish passport has never been more coveted.
Hosted at the Irish Consulate in Edinburgh, the audience was made up of Scottish business leaders looking for certainty … and unsurprisingly none was forthcoming.
What was not in dispute was that the impact of Brexit will be negative and significant and while all businesses will feel the pain, two sectors were singled out as being particularly vulnerable – agriculture and tourism.
Delegates attending this morning including representatives from Forth Ports and KAL who shared their concerns around the impact of Brexit over a welcome coffee.
Forth Ports is concentrating on future proofing their business by identifying potential scenarios and preparing solutions. A lot of work and energy is being directed to ensure logistic challenges are being planned for as any delays to transporting goods will impact their customers and therefore their business.
For KAL, a global software business, the concern was centred around retaining highly skilled non-UK national staff. Recruited from Scottish Universities, the company has spent time and money training young graduates and putting them on a rewarding career path only to be faced with their potential expulsion from the UK. This is causing significant uncertainty both for the young people and the organisation.
Disruption and uncertainly continues to dominate, but what wasn’t discussed this morning was the opportunities.
Some companies have firmly grasped the nettle and are engaging with their customers and stakeholders in a proactive way to understand what Brexit means for them.
For Represent (PR corporate member of the IBNS), we too have embraced the challenge and are working with clients on how best to provide clarity on purpose and messaging. Understanding the impact of communication has never been more important in these uncertain times.
Mike Russell’s final call was to communicate – communicate with Government on what businesses need to survive the impact of Brexit because only with this knowledge can we, collectively, shape the future.
As communications consultants, we are advising clients not to hide from the inevitable but to work through it, seeking opportunities, making connections and being part of the debate: The IBNS is providing that vital link between Scotland and Irish businesses.
Amended from original blogpost by Judith O’Leary, Managing Director, Represent