Karl Brown – President of Bristol Junior Chamber of Commerce
Business Leader magazine met with Karl Brown, the newly elected President of Bristol Junior Chamber of Commerce to talk about his vision for the group.
Firstly, can you please tell readers about the Bristol Junior Chamber of Commerce and its role?
“Bristol Junior Chamber of Commerce (BJC) is an organisation of business professionals under forty; and part of its aim is to enhance the skills of members, by putting them in touch with key stakeholders and decision makers in the business community.
“BJC also helps out with numerous education initiatives; and works on projects to promote Bristol such as the Bristol Balloon Fiesta.
“It is in its 66th year and prestigious former presidents include Bob Durie OBE and James Durie, who works for Business West.”
Can you tell readers about any recent campaigns or issues the BJC is championing?
“Social mobility is an important issue it is championing and I will make it a key theme of my presidency.
“I absolutely consider this to be an issue of paramount importance and it is something that has been recognised by government.”
What is stopping social mobility in the business and political world in your opinion?
“It is a combination of factors – education is one and the BJC tries to assist in terms of giving skills and tips to students from less privileged backgrounds.
“We work to ensure that less privileged people have the aspirations to aim high; and the professions have the mechanisms and information they need to recruit from a wider pool as possible.”
You have only recently taken over the presidency of BJC – where will you look to steer the group?
“There are two other points I’d like to take on. The BJC has made great strides in widening the variety of the backgrounds of our members, and I want to build on that work by recruiting more people from technology and creative industries.
“I also want to ensure that the group doesn’t just represent central Bristol but greater Bristol as well.”
Is the presidency a pre-cursor to political ambitions?
“I am fortunate to enjoy my job as a commercial property lawyer for Clarke Wilmott in Bristol.
“I don’t have any immediate plans but I am also very passionate about my city and about the future; and having a positive impact on Bristol.
“Twenty or thirty years down the line you can never rule anything out and you can never tell what’s around the corner.”
Do you have any political or business leaders you particularly admire?
“My heroes include: Robert Kennedy, Nelson Mandela, Michael Manley, Barack Obama and in the business world, Sir Richard Branson.
“Closer to home it is my parents and local business leaders like Dr John Savage. He came from a less privileged background but rose to a higher level.”
Do you think it’s fair to say that the majority of young people don’t have a real stake or interest in politics, business and decision making
“Before becoming Vice President I was in charge of the education programme for the BJC and I have seen people from disadvantaged areas do have an interest but can be put off at an early age – because they feel they can’t have an impact in the decision making process.
“One of the reasons they are put off is because they couldn’t relate to the decision makers, who are often from vastly different backgrounds.
“If they start to see some examples of people from a similar background entering politics and the higher echelons of business, then this will help to motivate and inspire them.”