Wanted: Some­one will­ing to shout about Mid­lands Out­go­ing chief says his re­place­ment needs to be a pas­sion­ate ad­vo­cate of the re­gion

Birmingham Post - - NEWS - Tam­lyn Jones Busi­ness Cor­re­spon­dent

APASSIONATE per­son with the power of per­sua­sion is needed to lead a West Mid­lands busi­ness body through a key stage in the re­gion’s growth.

That is the view of Steve Hol­lis, the for­mer KPMG Mid­lands chair­man who is step­ping down in Septem­ber from his role as chair­man of the Greater Birm­ing­ham and Soli­hull Lo­cal En­ter­prise Part­ner­ship (LEP).

The LEP is a pri­vate sec­tor-led body which is tasked with spear­head­ing eco­nomic growth and fos­ter­ing job cre­ation in Birm­ing­ham and the wider West Mid­lands area.

Mr Hol­lis told the Post : “The role will need some­one who has ex­ten­sive ex­pe­ri­ence deal­ing with com­plex or­gan­i­sa­tions and var­i­ous se­nior stake­hold­ers and ex­cep­tional team­work skills.

“They will also need the power of per­sua­sion and a good stock of in­ter­per­sonal skills.

“Any­one who has al­ready made it to a high level in a com­plex or­gan­isa- tion will have them but we’re also look­ing for some­one who has a real pas­sion for this part of the UK.

“We won’t be re­cruit­ing some­one from out­side the re­gion.

“The big­gest chal­lenge for the in­com­ing chair­man is to try to get rid of the ‘mod­est Mid­lands’ sce­nario.

“We are a bit quiet about how good we are.

“It’s about be­ing part of some­thing and mak­ing a dif­fer­ence.”

He added: “We have the in­ter­nal can­di­dates but we want to run a very thor­ough re­cruit­ment process.”

Mr Hol­lis took over the role last year when in­cum­bent Andy Street an­nounced he was run­ning in the 2017 West Mid­lands may­oral elec­tion which he sub­se­quently won in May.

The new chair­man, who will ini­tially be in situ for a three-year ten­ure, will be tak­ing over at a time of great in­vest­ment and change in the Greater Birm­ing­ham area.

HSBC is close to start­ing the move of thou­sands of staff to its new UK head­quar­ters in Birm­ing­ham city cen­tre, Birm­ing­ham Air­port con­tin­ues to ex­pand, while real progress is likely to be seen on high-speed rail line HS2 and the as­so­ci­ated spin-off projects such as UK Cen­tral in Soli­hull.

Who­ever is ap­pointed will also have to work with their pre­de­ces­sor Mr Street.

Look­ing back on his six years of work­ing with the LEP, Mr Hol­lis said: “If you con­sider how things were in 2011, our re­gion was at the bot­tom of the eco­nomic scale, short growth.

“If you look at it now, we are the best-per­form­ing city re­gion and we have some of the big­gest de­vel­op­ment sites in the UK.

“I’m proud that I was able to help bring lots of dif­fer­ent peo­ple to­gether from the pri­vate and pub­lic sec­tor and through that achieve things which would not have hap­pened.”

He said the new chair­man should ex­pect to see even greater de­vo­lu­tion of pow­ers handed to the West Mid­lands from Lon­don.

“The Gov­ern­ment has worked out that you can­not run this coun­try from West­min­ster,” he added.

“It’s not a ‘maybe’ – we will def­i­nitely see more de­vo­lu­tion.

“The rea­son the LEP has been suc­cess­ful is be­cause gov­ern­ments have not changed the rules and have con­sis­tency.

“Any eco­nomic body can work if they don’t change the rules and the big dif­fer­ence be­tween us and the old re­gional de­vel­op­ment agen­cies is the mix of pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tors.” on

The big­gest chal­lenge for the in­com­ing chair­man is to try to get rid of the ‘mod­est Mid­lands’ sce­nario. We are a bit quiet about how good we are

em­ploy­ment and

Steve Hol­lis

> Steve Hol­lis

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