Written by Nick Mann

As I sit down once more at my home desk to write this (long-overdue) blog, I have, playing in the background, the Today programme. The dolorous tones of analysts wash in and out of my consciousness, as they pick over the minutiae of Boris’ latest statement to the nation:

“Has he gone far enough?

“Has he got the balance right?”

“Is he being too cavalier with our civil liberties?

Whatever the eventual answers to these questions become in the future, and wherever you sit on the spectrum of opinion right now, I think we can all probably agree that our current government faces an invidious challenge. It is one that I would venture very few of us would want to shoulder.

For most of us, modern life rarely affords moments for retrospection, and this has certainly been my experience during the six months that the team at Interdirect and I, have abandoned our lovely offices and ensconced ourselves in our hastily prepared home bunkers, and an endless tumult of video calls.

And yet, as I sit here listening to the analysis and seeking inspiration for my blog, I find myself very reflective. I am reminded of my own journey on the ‘Rona Coaster’. The challenges of running a business and adapting to the travails of the new world; of being at home for the last six months, and staring down the barrel of doing precisely that for yet another six months; and, of course, what the future might hold. In my reflection, I cannot help but lament my last proper social event of ‘Old Normal’ – the Milton Keynes Business Achievement Awards (MKBAA).

I became the Chair of the Milton Keynes Business Leaders Partnership (MBLP) 18 months ago and my primary focus was to ensure the successful delivery of our flagship event. Over its seven years, MKBAA has become a big, with a turnover of £150K, we welcome annually 750 of our city’s businesspeople to a glittering celebration of the best businesses in Milton Keynes; so, there’s a lot of pressure to get it right! This year MKBAA was held on March 12th – the week before our Government eventually announced the national lockdown.

For the two weeks prior to our event, I faced a barrage of questions about whether the event was to be cancelled, as I tried to balance my own concerns for the financial wellbeing of MKBLP versus the wellbeing of our attendees:

“What was the responsible thing to do?”

“Do we run the risk of financially ruining MKBLP?”

“Do I run the risk of infecting 750 of our city’s finest businesspeople?”

For me then, if only in the tiniest microcosm, as for Boris now, there were myriad questions. It was a stress that I lived with for only two weeks; and yet I felt its pressure. So, when in the rare moments that I have to sit and reflect upon that journey and the questions and pressures that I endured, regardless of politics, I cannot help but have empathy for the challenges faced by Boris now. With his propensity to Classical allusion, surely, he must feel like Sisyphus himself.

From there it is the easiest of steps to think of the organisers of the Women Leaders Awards, and the pressures that that team are currently facing. I again find myself empathetic for their burden as they work fervently behind the scenes to help shine a light on the best and brightest of our city’s talented businesswomen. My best wishes and thoughts are with you all, as the event draws ever closer.

I will be there! Sitting at my desk – watching – with a few bubbles to toast the winners. Dinner jacket, dress shirt and bowtie donned atop; shorts and flipflops ‘below deck’!

Good luck to all the shortlisted entrants – it would be lovely to see you at some of our MKBLP events! Congratulations to the organisers. My heart goes out to your steadfast courage – and the sheer volume of work that I know you have between now and the big day.





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