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Danny Lopez

British Consul-General, New York

Part of Digital Diplomacy

3rd August 2012 New York, USA

Open for Sport, and Open for Business

The Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games was the proudest moment in recent memory for any Brit, and I was pleased to watch it unfold with my colleagues at the Consulate here in New York. I was in awe of what, to me, was a terrific start to the greatest show on earth. The Olympics, with what they mean to London, and to the entire UK, have generated an energy that is palpable from across the Atlantic.

Admittedly, I’m biased, but I thought the Danny Boyle-directed spectacle was British creativity at its best. And after all, my enthusiasm had gotten an early jumpstart: the day before, on July 26th, I got to be a part of the official opening of the British Business Embassy, the centrepiece of the UK’s international business legacy strategy. I attended the Global Investment Conference (GIC), the first of 17 global business summits that are being held during the six weeks of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, at Lancaster House in London – just a stone’s throw from St. James Palace.

Like the Olympic opening ceremony, the GIC was a star-studded affair in its own right.  Prime Minister Cameron resoundingly kicked off the day with a powerful speech that highlighted the reasons why Britain is very much open for business, accentuated by the UK’s heartily pro-business policies. His remarks also emphasized the importance of not deviating from the set course and tackling our debt. The 200 business leaders, policy makers and investors present were the “who’s who” of the global business elite. The day was a perfect opportunity to exchange views on the global challenges we face, discuss opportunities for growth and showcase the best of British business to the world.

Each of the day’s speeches and panel sessions provided valuable insights. Speakers included Sir Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England and Chairman of the Monetary Policy Committee; the governors of the central banks of Brazil and Mexico; Mario Draghi, President of the European Central Bank; Lord Green, Minister of State for Trade and Investment; Lord Sassoon, Commercial Secretary to the Treasury; the chairmen of Google and Cisco; Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business; Boris Johnson, Mayor of London; Sir Andrew Witty, Chief Executive Officer of GlaxoSmithKline; Sir Martin Sorrell, Chief Executive Officer of WPP Group; Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund; and George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer. Throughout the conference networking was constant, partnerships were cemented, and potential deals were discussed; it was positively electric to be a part of it. And amidst the buzz of activity, Lancaster House, a 19th-century neo-classical mansion, provided the perfect setting: its history blended seamlessly with the GIC’s modern art work and products donated by artists such as Damian Hirst and British companies like Dyson and McLaren.

The GIC was the largest investment event the UK has ever seen, and it strategically positioned the UK as a leader in ideas, creativity, and innovation, and as a resource of solutions to the global issues facing business today. Concurrently, the London 2012 Games are delivering excellence in the realm of sport that have captured the world’s imagination. We want these Games to also deliver a robust business legacy for the UK, and the British Business Embassy will help us achieve this goal. The British Business Embassy is arguably the biggest promotion of British business excellence since the Great Exhibition of 1851, and it is predicted to boost the UK economy by more than £1bn. If the first day, the GIC, was anything to go by, I have no doubt in my mind that we’ll exceed that figure.

I feel proud to have been part of the beginning of the London 2012 Business Olympics, and I know that they will help deliver an enduring Olympic legacy for the UK long after the sporting competitions have concluded. Speaking of which, we’ve just hit our 19th medal as I write … go Team GB!

About Danny Lopez

Danny was appointed British Consul-General, New York in July 2011 and has responsibility for promoting the UK’s economic profile, foreign policy and national security priorities in New York, New Jersey,…

Danny was appointed British Consul-General, New York in July 2011 and has responsibility for promoting the UK’s economic profile, foreign policy and national security priorities in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut’s Fairfield County. He is on the Board of UK Trade & Investment, the foreign commercial arm of the UK Government, and leads its operations across the USA. Prior to joining the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Consul-General Lopez enjoyed a varied career in the UK’s public and private sectors. From 2009 to 2011, he worked for the London Development Agency, the Mayor of London’s economic development arm, as Group Director for Business Support and Promotion. During this time, he was responsible for creating London & Partners, the UK capital’s promotional agency for business, visitors and students and was its inaugural CEO. From 2006 to 2009, he was Managing Director, Marketing & Communications at UK Trade & Investment, where he was responsible for delivering a new marketing strategy to promote and showcase the UK economy internationally. Previously, he worked at Barclays Bank for ten years, where he held a number of senior international positions, including Director of Business Banking USA in New York, Head of Inward Investment in London and Business Development Director in India. He holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Economics and a Masters in International Economics and Finance from the University of Essex. He is recently engaged to his Australian fiancee Susan and is a big fan of running, tennis, football (soccer) and Formula 1.

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