Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce appoints female president

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Forensic expert Deb Leary has been announced as the new president of the Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce (GBCC) at its AGM.

Leary is the third female to hold the position in the Chamber’s 208-year history and has pledged to put the region’s interests “front and centre”.

She said: “Being Birmingham born and bred, I am incredibly honoured to have been elected as the new president, even more so as only the third woman in the 208-year history of the Chamber to hold this position.

“I should like to extend my own personal thanks to Steve Allen who has helped steer the Chamber through challenging times and I am committed to continuing one of his themes, that of innovation.

“I know the importance of continued innovation and its impact on growth. Innovation brings increased opportunities for collaboration and positive social impact regionally, nationally and internationally.

“The past two years have been a test of our resilience and commitment. Brexit and the pandemic has shown how globally connected and reliant we are and whilst this brings challenges it also brings opportunity.”

Previous female presidents of the GBCC were Bridget Blow in 2008 and Christine Braddock in 2010. Leary is the chief executive of Forensic Pathways, an international firm specialising in the development of innovating technologies and services in the threat intelligence and forensic sector.

David Waller, chairman of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, said: “Despite the considerable trials visited upon us by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Chamber has come through as a business force for good and a consistent friend to its members and many others.

“I’m proud of this achievement and particularly pleased that despite all of the negative issues we ended the year with an £80,000 surplus after tax. This really is a testament to the whole Chamber team, who have demonstrated a determination to keep our commitment to members and customers at the heart of everything we do.

“During the year we underwent a change of chief executive with Paul Faulkner moving on after an exciting and transformational period in which he also spearheaded the sale of Chamber House. I am particularly proud that Henrietta Brealey, our youngest ever chief executive, has stepped into Paul’s shoes so ably.

“I know she will continue to develop the Chamber’s future robustly and ensure that we remain the voice of business throughout the region.”

In another announcement from the AGM, University director Mark Smith was the recipient of the President’s Medal for 2021 in recognition of his contributions to Birmingham, the West Midlands and the wider business community over the past 30 years.

Smith is executive director of business and regional engagement at Aston University and currently is Vice President of the Commonwealth Chamber of Commerce.

Smith has taken on vast projects across government, regeneration and online education such as establishing new airports and fostering enterprise in inner-city areas.

Steve Allen said: “Mark’s passion for the Chamber and driving business activity across the region has been evident for a number of years.

“He has made a significant contribution to the Chamber’s policy output via his role as a Chamber Council member and Aston University’s sponsorship of key campaigns such as Growth Through People and the Sustainable Business Series.”

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