Food and Drink Industry event 3/5/2012

6 May

This was a private event for senior executives in the Food and Drinks industry. It was put together by accountancy firm Grant Thornton, lawyers DWF, the private equity firm YFM Group and supported by UK Trade and Investment.

My job was to manage a panel debate on the big issues in the sector after opening talks from three speakers. I have to say all three were excellent, showing insights and sharing experiences from expanding their businesses into international markets. The opening from Charlotte Bowker at Grant Thornton set the scene perfectly.

The panel discussed and shared their experiences of the challenges and opportunities facing the Food and Drink industry in terms of international trading and funding and financing options. Grant Thornton used the event as an opportunity to launch the Smart Money in Food Report which nicely sheds light on the characteristics of businesses that are most attractive to investors and considers which subsectors will invite most interest from PE over the next 12-18 months. The report also includes commentary on the key sector trends from experts and contacts in the sector.

We had a large panel on the top table and my job was to make sure everyone had their say, but that they also said something directly relevant to their experiences. This I do my creating a matrix with the names of the people along the top and the issues that are relevant to them underneath it. I also avoid general questions that give people an excuse to say something to generic and safe.

It is possible to overprepare for a debate like this. You can pre-script and stage manage it, but you mainly have to make sure you listen to what people say and give the next person a chance to layer on knowledge.

All in all, a really good event. The calibre of debate was excellent.

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