The Young Icebreakers Lecture by Sir Gerry Grimstone, Chairman of Standard Life, was successfully held at the offices of Linklaters LLP on the evening of 15 March 2016. The event was delivered in collaboration with the IoD City of London Branch, a first in what the 48 Group Club hopes will prove to be a great relationship. The packed audience of over 150 included young professionals, senior executives, 48 Group Club and IoD members and more.

Chairing the event, Dr Gerard Lyons, Chief Economic Advisor to the Mayor of London, formally opened the proceedings and invited the 48 Group Club Chairman Stephen Perry to say a few words. He was followed by David Stringer-Lemarre, the IoD City of London Branch Chairman, who also spoke highly of the prospects for collaboration between the two bodies.

After an introduction by Gerard Lyons, Sir Gerry Grimstone, was invited to the microphone. His speech on the topic The China Challenge: The Experiences of a British Chairman in China promised to be fascinating and did not disappoint. Indeed Stephen Perry made this point in his closing remarks.

Sir Gerry’s address gave the audience a real understanding of where China is going and what it means to the UK He talked about the challenges facing China’s financial development along with the considerable strides it has already made.

Sir Gerry highlighted three key themes in his speech – Reform, Law and Strictness. He spoke in some detail about each of them, relating them to his own experience of doing business in China. He emphasised 2021 and 2049m which respectively mark the centenary of the founding of the Communist Party and the People’s Republic, as the most important dates in the Chinese leadership’s plans for their country.

Finally Sir Gerry looked towards a bright future for China, and particularly a bright future for China-UK relations.

His address was followed by a lively Q&A session, which brought up some fascinating aspects of Chinese policies and prospects, as well as Sino-British relations, along with related topics such as the forthcoming referendum on UK membership of the EU.

Nicola Mayo, partner at Linklaters, expressed her gratitude to Sir Gerry for his speech and to everyone for coming.

Stephen Perry was then invited to give his final remarks. He thanked Sir Gerry and everyone for making this possible. He finished by stating that Sir Gerry had covered a lot of issues with substance and had left all of us with a much better understanding of both how complex and how simple UK-China relations are.

The audience was then invited to enjoy drinks and canapés in the reception area, providing an excellent opportunity for networking.

For Sir Gerry’s full speech see here