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UK entrepreneurs: Leading the way in a changing world

Coutts Entrepreneur Month came to an end this week with a closing event focusing on how entrepreneurs can provide leadership in unsettling times.

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See below for a summary article of the closing event.

The below article originally appeared on the Coutts website

The closing event for Coutts Entrepreneur Month uncovered how entrepreneurs can provide leadership in unsettling times.

Rising stars of business were told to show the world that it’s possible not just to ride out uncertain times but to “see the opportunities within” at a Coutts dinner last night.

“You are adaptable as entrepreneurs and can show a way forward, even for those who are sceptical.”

That was the view expressed by Dame Helena Morrissey, founder of the 30% Club, at a Coutts dinner for 140 entrepreneurs.

Dame Helena delivered a keynote address that delved into the rise of populism and political turmoil across the world. She said that, in changing times, it was clear that entrepreneurs could provide leadership by showing that they “can not only adapt to difficult circumstances but see the opportunities within”.

The gala dinner formally closed Coutts Entrepreneur Month. Throughout October we have held a number of events enabling our entrepreneur clients to share ideas and insights into the opportunities and challenges facing rising businesses today.

Opening the event, Coutts CEO Peter Flavel said: “At Coutts, we see ourselves as the best bank for entrepreneurs. It’s a core part of our business, helping our 20,000 entrepreneur clients start up, scale up, invest, exit and look ahead to the next business.”


Lord Karan Bilimoria, founder and chairman of Cobra Beer gave the second speech of the evening. He spoke about overcoming a number of occasions when he nearly lost his business, echoing the courageous attitude of entrepreneurs.

“What sets entrepreneurs apart from other people is that they have guts,” he said. “Not just guts to create a business in the first place, to get up, take the risk and do it, but to stick with it through the tough times.”

Having seen the country change for the better since moving to the UK from India, Lord Bilimoria has been vocal about the potential challenges of Brexit on business. Despite this, his view of the future is still positive.

He said: “When I came to Britain in the 1980s, I was warned by my parents that if I decided to stay and work in the UK after my studies I could never get to the top because of the glass ceiling that existed for minorities. They were right three decades ago.

“Now that glass ceiling has gone, and I believe anybody can get to the top regardless of race, religion or background.”


Dame Helena has had to smash through plenty of glass ceilings to reach the top of the financial industry.

She now leads the battle for further gender equality in business with the 30% Club, and has seen the number of women on the boards of the largest companies double since it launched in 2010.

“In 2010, of the largest 350 companies, 152 had all male boards. Eight years later, it is just five companies,” she reflected.

“This is more than just being about having a token woman on the board. It is about evolving the definition of power and asking ‘does a company get gender and understand how the next generation of talent expects companies to behave?’”


Coutts Managing Director for England and Wales Dylan Williams wrapped up proceedings by reflecting on some of the key topics that came up during Coutts Entrepreneur Month, which include:

–  the pursuit of purpose beyond profit

–  building more diverse workforces

–  the next generation of talent’s role in continued UK innovation

Dylan said: “What comes out in every conversation we have had this month – whether in London, Leeds or beyond – is that ambition, resilience, energy, passion, focus, and seeing opportunities where everyone else sees barriers, is the entrepreneurial way.

“When you think about what’s next, there is no doubt to me that entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of the economy and the lifeblood of the next chapter of Coutts history.”

For more on Coutts Entrepreneur Month, visit its insights page where we have summaries of each event this month, as well as profile pieces on business big hitters such as Lord Bilimoria, The Dots founder Pip Jamieson, and Mr & Mrs Smith founders James and Tamara Lohan.

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