The Business On... Nick Baird, Chief executive, UKTI
Wednesday 11 May 2011
What is UKTI?
You know – UK Trade & Industry, the body that promotes British companies around the world.
You mean sells weapons to despotic regimes?
Don't be a smart-alec. It's true the Government has taken some flak for hawking our wares to many of the Middle Eastern regimes it now says it wants to see replaced by democratically elected leaders, but UKTI does valuable work for all sorts of British companies all over the world.
So who is Nick Baird, then?
He is a career civil servant who joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office after graduating from Cambridge in 1983. He has held a number of senior posts and had a three-year stint as the British ambassador to Turkey. Before that, he was director-general for Europe and globalisation at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
It doesn't sound as if he has much experience in the private sector
None at all, in fact. And there was some hope that UKTI might recruit a big-hitter from the private sector for the job – the word is that the money on offer wasn't good enough.
So is Mr Baird up to the job?
To be fair, UKTI regards his appointment as something of a coup. He has extensive contacts in the European Union, where Britain's most important trading partners are based, as well as plenty of experience in key emerging markets too. He is also renowned for his intellect – and you won't find too many CEOs in the private sector who are fluent in French, German, Arabic and Turkish.
Will he at least have some help?
He will work closely with the Trade minister Lord Green, the former chairman of HSBC, plus the Government's business ambassadors, who include everyone from former BP boss Lord Browne to Tamara Mellon, founder of Jimmy Choo shoes.
What else do we know?
His middle names include Faraday and he turns 49 on Sunday. Debretts lists his interest as jogging, tennis, music and travel (he'll be doing even more of the latter in his new job).
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