Looking back, and continuing to thrive in our 22/23 year.

Our presidential year begins in April, making this the halfway point for our 22/23 year. As has been captured in our monthly roundup blog posts, we’ve already hosted a variety of successful events – it’s true what they say, time really does fly when you’re having fun. A lot of work goes on behind the scenes to ensure these events are upholding the standards and expectations of our members, that’s before you add the individual intentions and goals of our President and VP.

#MeetMeHalfway is a series that hopes to lift the lid on some of these roles, responsibilities and individuals. But before we look forward, let’s celebrate what’s been accomplished so far.

Speaking to our Immediate Past President, Dan St.Quintin, about the transition from his presidential year to this, he’s got nothing but praise for his former VP.

“It’s been a wonderful few months, seeing Kate assume the role of President. As I anticipated, she has made a wonderful President, taking the reins with an organised and dedicated approach. We have seen some brilliant events come to the fold, with some even better speakers, as the BJC moves back to in person events and another level.”

Dan St Quintin, Immediate Past President

We asked Kate to reflect on her first six months as President. It comes as no surprise that her answer was incredibly modest and her attitude is reflective of the ‘it takes a village’ approach.

“When I took over as President I was a little nervous that I wouldn’t be able to live up to all those Presidents who have come before me, and whether I’d be able to steer the BJC out of the post-pandemic situation.

I needn’t have been concerned. Between the always enthusiastic members (both old and new) and my fantastically capable Council of Management, the first six months have been a whirlwind of activity, bringing back some favourite past events but also seeing some new, innovative events.”

Kate Woosnam, President

Our Vice President, Georgia adds:

“I continue to be astounded by the incredible efforts of our Council of Management – all dedicating a huge amount of time voluntarily – to make sure BJC is a welcoming organisation for all with a fantastic range of interesting and fun networking and learning opportunities. We’re only halfway through the year and we’ve already been blown away by the guest speakers at our monthly meetings, hosted a huge number of events and activities, and welcomed so many new members.”

Kate went into her Presidential year with some big goals and aspirations to begin to address a more diverse and inclusive community, both for our members, and within our range of speakers and events.

“Diversity and Inclusion is one of my themes for this year. I want to make sure that the BJC is accessible, welcoming and inclusive. For me this is about ensuring there is a wide range of events that cater for as many interests as possible and ensuring that the BJC is reflective of Bristol as a community.

We have created a Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Committee to help further these aims. The committee meets every few months to discuss any D&I issues and ideas for events with the lens of pushing D&I further within our society. I am excited for some of the ideas that are coming from the committee to take effect in the coming months.

I have been pushing the D&I theme with the choice of speakers for our monthly meetings as well as the venues: from hearing about climate change in Bristol with Pam Barbato of Action Net-Zero to the trials and tribulations of setting up a successful brewery from Bruce Gray of Left Handed Giant. We were treated to an inspiring talk from Marti Burgess of Bevan Brittan at one of Bristol’s prominent venues in its musical history, Lakota. And more recently Sandra Gordon spoke to us about promoting Diversity and inclusion across Bristol and the work that she has been involved in throughout her career, with Bristol Women’s Voice, Bristol Women in Business Charter and the Commission on Race Equality.”

Inclusion is a big part of any organisation and being open to receive feedback, in any form, is an area of importance for Kate and the CofM.

“I am also keen to hear from members about what they want the BJC. We put out a membership survey and encouraged our members to give their views on what we do well and provide some ideas on what we could do better. Following on from this, there are some interesting projects that will be taking place in the next few months – we will hopefully be able to update members on these in due course.”

With the lines of communication remaining open to all our members, and the D&I improvements beginning to take effect, we ask Kate and Georgia to look ahead to the rest of the 22/23 year.

“The first 6 months of my Presidency has not been without its challenges; whilst the threat of COVID-19 has abated considerably since the start of 2022, it remains ever present and we have to continue to be mindful of this when planning events, as well as factoring in lasting changes the pandemic has made such as the change in working patterns and how this impacts BJC events. In addition we, like the rest of the nation, have had to deal with the loss of her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. I also fear that the latter part of the year will bring new challenges, such as the increasing energy prices, cost of living crisis, looming threat of recession and the ongoing Ukrainian conflict. However, the BJC has proved it can weather many a storm, so I have no doubt we will prevail.

I am really looking forward to the next 6 months with some of our big ‘flagship’ events including Members’ Dinner, Christmas Party and of course culminating in Annual Dinner in March. We are also going to Hanover in a welcome return to the BJC Bristol- Hanover twinning exchange trip.

I will also be starting to think about my handover to my Vice President, [Georgia], as she prepares to take over in April 2023. My aim will be to ensure that she is fully equipped to tackle her year and continue to guide and shape the BJC for the future.”

Kate Woosnam, President

“I’ve no doubt that the next six months with Kate as our President and with our wonderful Council and members will be just as superb, and I’m certainly feeling inspired and excited for my year as President in 2023.”

Georgia Corp, Vice President