The evening was hosted by the chamber’s CEO, Paweł Siwecki, and Kasia Madera, well-known globally as anchor-woman of BBC World News. After a welcome from His Majesty’s Ambassador to Warsaw, Anna Clunes; the BPCC’s newly elected chairwoman, Aneta Jóźwicka; and event sponsors Tomasz Buras from Savills and Małgorzata Demidziuk from Santander Bank Polska, Paweł Siwecki read a short message from Poland’s Ambassador to the UK, Piotr Wilczek. The Ambassador stressed the importance of the BPCC’s work to support bilateral trade and investment, saying that the chamber is one of the most important non-governmental business organisations in Poland.
Kasia Madera mentioned the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, the accession of King Charles III, and spoke of the humanitarian help so freely given by Poles and Britons to Ukraine after the Russian invasion. With that, dinner was served.
Lord Bilimoria gave the keynote speech, with a strong focus on the need for integrity and compassion in business. He gave examples of the help that big business in the UK was able to provide – oxygen for India at the height of its Covid crisis, ration packs for Ukrainian citizens left without food after the invasion of their country. “Business,” he said, “should be a force for good”. Drawing on his experience as an entrepreneur and president of the Confederation of British Industry, Lord Bilimoria presented an overview of an economy once again in retreat from globalisation, enduring a time of multiple crises. His view of business representation was interesting; lobbying is usually portrayed as business saying to government “help us”. The reality, as he saw it, was that business could see problems – and the solutions to those problems – before government had even seen the problem. “When the Ukraine war ends, it will be boomtime”, he said.
Between the main course and the dessert, Kasia introduced the BPCC’s version of Question Time, in which Anna Clunes and Aneta Jóżwicka were joined by former BPCC vice chairman and Scotland’s trade envoy to Poland, Martyn O’Reilly, for a light-hearted Q&A session that drew out the human side of the people behind the job titles.
After the dessert, Diageo’s ‘Best of Scotland’ whisky bar opened in the lobby, and diners continued chatting until midnight.
It was an evening of good company and good humour; feedback from participants was uniformly glowing, with praise for the insights and inspiration in Lord Bilimoria’s speech, the lively discourse in the Question Time panel, and the hospitality and quality of the food and drink served by the Intercontinental.
It will be another ten years before the BPCC celebrates its next round anniversary!