This month, we welcome Alan Bailey Hon MSc, Chairman of Low Carbon South West, to our series of regular interviews with leading figures from the South West business community. Alan is also Co-founder & Chairman of Brunel Industries Ltd and a Director of Built For Life Ltd.
About you and your business
Hello Alan, tell us about your role as Chairman of Low Carbon South West.
Low Carbon South West CIC is a trade association and network helping to support, promote and encourage the Low Carbon goods and services sector in the South West of England and UK. We are a strong private and public sector partnership that has the Universities actively embedded at the heart of the partnership. Our core activities are business support, events, training, project development, connecting business to finance and supply chain opportunities. This year I will have Chaired the organisation for 5 years and have enjoyed every moment of that time. When I first became involved in the network in 2006 we had just over 30 companies engaged and I am really proud that the network now spreads across the country with almost 4,000 companies involved. Apart from Chairing our quarterly meetings, I represent LCSW at events, speak at conferences, workshops, host delegations looking to invest in the South West and am involved in many high profile briefings for the sector. I love the role but it is difficult to remember that I am just a volunteer and have a day job to perform on top of that.
How has the economic recession impacted your business?
The consultancy has been challenging at times but the low carbon sector has had good momentum throughout the recession. Access to credit is always an issue and is one of the most common complaints that I hear from companies. I genuinely believe that if you can make it or at least hold on during this tough economic period and credit climate then you will be potentially in a really good position as the markets begin to pick up.
What challenges are you facing over the next 12 months?
I think the biggest challenge is being able to finance and manage all of the opportunities that are being presented to myself and my team. We currently have about 30 projects and products that we are helping to commercialise and take to market, so I hope that the challenges that face me over the next 12 months are nice challenges to have!
Do you think that the government should intervene more?
Generally I am not a big fan of government intervention and would prefer the Government to leave it more to us to run our own affairs. I think the Government’s commitment to reduce red tape has been fantastic and there are many positive impacts from this and I believe they need to be brave to help the business community during these challenging times.
What is your view on the South West’s business scene?
I personally believe that the SW is one of the most diverse and vibrant in Europe, we have amazing resources both natural and designed. I think we should be really proud of our region but we do still have issues with our profile. We have world class sectors, companies within those sectors, Universities and research establishments. I feel from the SW business community a real sense of urgency to do not just more business but better business and a feeling that UK PLC needs a bit of help.
Do you have any Non-Executive Directorships? If so, what have you learned from the experience?
I do have a few positions where I am a Non-Exec, these are mostly start-ups and I get a real buzz from helping in a capacity that is more of a mentor. I really enjoy being able to be involved and support in the key areas of my expertise and knowledge.
Do you have any advice that you’d pass on to a newly appointed company director?
I think they should take the role on with a certain sense of responsibility but do not be afraid to take risks. I think business in the UK has become far too risk adverse and we need a more “can do” attitude towards getting business done.
What do you like to do outside of work?
Family, garden, antiques, property and food
My wife and I have 3 sons, so much of our spare time is spent doing things with them. We own an old 17th Century Farmhouse with a bit of land just outside Bristol so most of the time is spent in the gardens and the children are far happier outside than in. We love Jersey and try to get over as much as we can, especially to indulge our love of eating at restaurants with fresh, sustainable, locally sourced produce. I do have a passion for antiques and property but most importantly I love my work so much that it has become my way of filling almost all of my time.
Who is your hero / personal inspiration?
My Father, he came from a very poor part of Bristol and was the youngest of 10 and yet he became a very powerful and successful businessman despite having no formal education or training. He used intuition, a certain stubbornness and had an undying belief that he would never fail, and he rarely did to get him what he wanted from his business activities. He gave me a wonderful education at Clifton College but an equally inspiring education whilst accompanying him to work in all of my school holidays.
What is on your I-Pod and what are you reading right now?
I love music and will listen to almost anything that is current, i have no favourite genre or era.
I am currently reading several books about IKB (Isambard Kingdom Brunel). I think his work and vision should be both an inspiration and a lesson to all. Brunel had as many successes as he had failures and yet he was at the forefront of his Industry and was not afraid to at least try something new. He was a fully fledged recycler, an innovator, tremendous engineer and an entrepreneur- a really rare combination but one that should be more prevalent in UK industry today.
Why did you choose Moon Consulting?
Low Carbon South West and Moon are working very closely together. We chose to work with Moon because of their sector knowledge, their passion for working with people and because they are a very fun and friendly group of people whilst maintaining a highly professional work ethic. They also have fantastic knowledge of both the SW business scene and also know the Low Carbon and Sustainability sector across the UK extremely well.
What has been your experience of working with our company?
I would recommend anyone to work with Moon as the experience so far for us has been fantastic. There are many companies offering similar services to Moon but none that are as effective in delivering their services