Security Forward Risk and Intelligence Forum’s June meeting was very kindly hosted by Willis at their Lime Street headquarters. Z/Yen aficionados will remember 350 people singing down in the Willis Building’s cellars along with Brian Eno about financial reform at the Long Finance Spring Conference on Enduring Value in 2010. Security Forward was more rarified, up in the impressive boardroom on the 22nd floor with quite a good turnout from members.
The meeting started with a presentation from our ‘Speaker in Residence’, Lt Col Crispin Black, “Is Demography Really Destiny?” Crispin explored the political and security implications of the world’s growing population for Europe and the United States of America. Crispin provided rather sobering facts and figures on population growth and pointed out that more people live in the area encompassing India, China and Indonesia than the rest of the world. He looked at projected growth for the UK population and how various ethnic and religious groups would change demographically. He also looked at the growing influence of the Hispanic population in the USA for comparison. His presentation explored the political realities of short-term demographic resistance and long-term accommodation to voting patterns. As ever, Crispin’s presentation was challenging and stimulating and enjoyed by all present.
After our usual round-robin to identify ‘in tray’ issues and concerns, our second speaker was John Burbidge-King of Interchange Solutions. John is a corporate governance & integrity risk expert with significant cross cultural and senior international management experience at board and director levels. He is an ex Royal Marine officer and served with the Sultan’s Armed Forces in Oman. The title of the talk was “Not In My Backyard” because so many of us choose to put corruption to the back of our minds as we do not believe it will happen to us. The talk was based around four themes, namely (1) Definitions, Culture, and Crime; (2) Why corruption is a real and present danger to national security and government; (3) Impact on corporations - the train coming down the tunnel; (4) Solution - what solution - is there one? John gave a wide-ranging and fascinating talk. Given John’s expertise, we discussed the crisis in Ukraine at some length as well as the rise of ISIS, recently renamed the Islamic State, and their objective of building a new state which ignores internationally recognised borders. The question and answer session was lively and informative due to the variety of experts present.
Eddy Castles, the Managing Director for Willis, London and South East hosted us for dinner on the 22nd floor and entertained us in great style. We had a panoramic view of south, east, and north London. We were lucky to have Lt Colonel Simon West, a serving officer based at Shrivenham and working on long-term strategy, as our dinner speaker. Simon is a Freeman of the City of London and a Liveryman in the Worshipful Company of Gunmakers with Keith Holland. He gave an informed and fascinating talk on gunfounding in the City, cleverly using the amazing view from the dining room on the 22nd floor to illustrate his talk. It was a delight to hear of several centuries of gunfounding while gazing on the Tower of London, Billiter Street, and the Honourable Artillery Company, let alone staring directly at the Proof House. A salutary reminder that defence is part-and-parcel of sound City boundaries.