After Brexit, we need more companies like ARM

EDITOR'S BLOG: Businesses need to find opportunity in uncertain times - and it's unlikely to be found in opening new steelworks.

by Matthew Gwyther
Last Updated: 02 Dec 2016

It's no exaggeration to state that the earth moved for British business on 23 June this year. For good or ill, the Brexit earthquake will mean we are all going to be taking an entirely different path from the one on which we were headed a year ago. But quite how long the path is, how painful it will be to walk on and where, precisely, it's going appears to be known to very few people indeed, even at the highest levels of government.

The change - and accompanying bewilderment - became even more profound last month with the unexpected election of America's new president. The 'liberal, metropolitan elite' threw everything they had at Trump and the Leavers to no avail. Indeed, it's claimed their lack of emotional proximity to the disgruntled masses outside London, New York and Washington made things worse.

The angry white men and the dispossessed have spoken and given the Establishment - which includes big business - the finger. An inchoate feeling of rage is one thing. Doing something about it is another, and neither Trump nor those who support Brexit have come up with any plausible answers to cool the brows of the 'just managing' so far. Who knows where we will be in a year's time.

Marie Curie once said, 'Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.' It's a terrible cliche to moan that business hates uncertainty. Nothing in life (or business) is ever certain, and if it were, markets would not exist because risk would be absent. In attempting to understand how events may play out over time, many businesses will find opportunity. And good luck to them.

MT's Britain's Most Admired Companies awards have special significance this year because they present a post-Brexit snapshot. It's pleasing that ARM has won the overall award as it's exactly the kind of enterprise we need much more of, as we are highly unlikely to be opening new steelworks and sinking new coal-mine shafts. So, one cannot help but think that the pleasure would have been increased if had not been sold to Japan's SoftBank.

We're especially pleased that easyJet boss Carolyn McCall has won Most Admired Leader for the second time (we have no influence over the result). MT has championed her cause right back to her days at The Guardian and she has been a loyal supporter of our long campaign for the advancement of women in UK business. She has also been busy working out what will happen to her business if she loses access to Europe's open skies agreement. A headache she could have done without.

Follow Matthew on Twitter: @MatthewGwyther.

Image credit: Socram8888/Wikipedia

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