Cracking on at Brighton Chamber's 2019 Summit

If you work with Brighton businesses, I’m sure you know of the Chamber. However, if you haven’t come across them already, Brighton Chamber is a dynamic and supportive membership organisation for businesses of all sizes.

Each year they run the ‘Brighton Summit’, which is an opportunity for all their 400 members to come together for a day of collaboration, networking and enlightenment. This year the theme was ‘Crack On’, where the day inspired members to embrace their challenges and crack on with their business ventures.

Every year the Catalyst Team volunteers to support the event. This was the fourth year of volunteers to date. For a Catalyst member, this day entailed being a room monitor for one of the conference rooms at the Summit. This allowed us to talk to speakers, attendees and other Summit staff and get their insight on everything Brighton business.

As a room monitor, I oversaw the Edwards Room. The first workshop in this room was called ‘Communicate your business like a pro - anytime, anywhere’ with Kristina Pereckaite, Natwest Entrepreneur Accelerator.

Kristina explained the importance of delivering a good pitch for any business, be it a startup or a conglomerate. Kristina’s advice saw the attendees develop their pitches from unconfident monologues to impressive speeches. It was a great opportunity for me to listen in on her workshop, as her emphasis on simplicity and confidence can be used in many professional situations. Other team members hosted Anna and Sarah from Fairisle with their session ‘Blockers - what’s stopping you?’ and Emma Mills-Sheffield from Mindsetup with ‘Learning the art of effective delegation’.

The second event in Edwards Room was the engine hour, led by Louise Stevenson from Brighton Comedy Course. Her session was called ‘Unleash your creative comedy genius’ which encouraged attendees to add humour into their business settings. The imagination in the room suggested there’ll be many happy Brighton offices in the next few weeks! Other events in the engine hour included ‘Finding your rhythm’ with Brighton School of Samba and ‘Get Crafty’ with Sew Fabulous CIC.

The final event was a speaker session ran by Jason Kirk from Kirk & Kirk called ‘Eyes Wide Open’. The eyewear designer emphasised the challenges of building a business in a reluctant industry, and the tough decisions necessary for small business owners. This session highlighted to me the importance of organisations like Brighton Chamber. The Chamber facilitates networking and collaboration for businesses like Kirk & Kirk, so that they can make their decisions with their ‘eyes wide open’. Other speaker sessions included ‘Keeping afloat in challenging times’ with Chan, Dashal and Ezda from BeFries.

My highlight of the day was the great networking opportunities it provided. I met businesspeople from all walks of life and with very different enterprises, so it was a great experience for me to gain their insights. During the many food and drink breaks, we all had the chance to indulge in local treats and introduce ourselves to brilliant Brighton people.

The keynote speakers proved to be another highlight, as they were all incredibly empowering and interesting. Firstly, Hannah Dawson from Futrli encouraged the attendees to engage with their ideas and spark their creativity, with her session called ‘You never know when the most amazing idea will come…’

After lunch, BBC News Editorial Director Kamal Ahmed spoke about his new book, where his discussion brought to light the notion of ‘Britishness’ in today’s society. From his podcast ‘The Disrupters’, Ahmed also discussed the highs and lows of entrepreneurship.

The final keynote speaker was Gina Miller, a successful businesswoman and political campaigner. Miller discussed her book, her lifetime of tough decisions and accomplishments in both business and politics. As a woman of colour in these fields, she proved an empowering and thought-provoking speaker.

All three keynotes were greatly insightful and a big highlight for my day at the Summit. The whole day was a great opportunity to see how businesses support each other, and a taster of the vibrancy of Brighton businesses.

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