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How NoVA native Chris Nassetta successfully revamped the Hilton brand

Westlake Legal Group Untitled-10 How NoVA native Chris Nassetta successfully revamped the Hilton brand leader inspiration hotels hilton hotels hilton entrepreneur Culture Features Culture Chris Nassetta ceo Business
Chris Nassetta (Photo by Robert Merhaut)

Arlington native Chris Nassetta checked his phone as he got off his boat after a 2007 Fourth of July outing with his daughters on the Chesapeake Bay. As he read the email—a private equity firm had purchased a hotel chain—he had a feeling the news was going to affect not just his job, but his life.

Turned out, he was right. Nassetta and his family—six daughters and his wife—would find themselves moving from Northern Virginia to the fabled luxury confines of Bel Air, home of Beyoncé, Jay Z, Elon Musk, Jennifer Aniston and other celebrities.

And then, just two years later, back again. But this time he’d have more than his six daughters in tow. He would be bringing Hilton with him.

In the early part of the 21st century, after nearly 100 years in business, the management of Beverly Hills-based hospitality giant Hilton Hotels Corporation was slumbering on plush mattresses, with the blackout curtains drawn, its corporate structure content to while away the days in ossifying silos.

The company that pioneered the rewards point system, in-room air conditioning and direct-dial telephones was doing little to innovate, and losing business while doing so.

Meanwhile, travelers, particularly the new breed of efficiency-minded millennial wanderers, regarded the brand the way they looked at Granddad’s Cadillac: Aspirational luxury, but, meh, needlessly expensive and oh look, over here’s a designed-to-death boutique hotel with free Wi-Fi.

The hotel chain founded by Conrad Hilton in Cisco, Texas, in 1919, was in a dangerous financial spiral that had an unintended upside: The moribund spreadsheets made it a deliciously ripe target for a private equity takeover, in an industry that didn’t ordinarily draw much attention from private equity investors. The accountants at Wall Street’s Blackstone Group saw undeveloped potential, despite guests flocking to competitors.

On July 3, 2007, Blackstone cut what was then the biggest private equity check ever—$6.5 billion—toward the $26 billion purchase of the Hilton holdings—3,700 hotels, 600,000 rooms and debt, lots and lots of debt.

Nassetta, a trim and tanned 56-year-old, grew up with two brothers sharing a bedroom in a North Arlington center-hall colonial; he’s a graduate of Yorktown High School and University of Virginia, and in 2007, at the time of the Hilton sale, was the chief executive officer of Host Hotels & Resorts. It was he who turned the Bethesda-based real estate investment trust into a Fortune 500 and Standard & Poor’s 500 property, which did not go unnoticed by Blackstone.

Westlake Legal Group Untitled-131 How NoVA native Chris Nassetta successfully revamped the Hilton brand leader inspiration hotels hilton hotels hilton entrepreneur Culture Features Culture Chris Nassetta ceo Business
Nassetta poses with Hilton team members at the Hilton Colon Guayaquil. (Photo courtesy of Hilton)

Nassetta’s intuition that Fourth of July day proved accurate when Blackstone asked him to take over Hilton as president and CEO. Jonathan Gray, now president and COO of Blackstone, wooed Nassetta by telling him he had “been training your whole life for this position,” Nassetta says.

Which seemed to be true. Fresh out of UVA’s McIntire School of Commerce in 1984, the computer-literate 20-something “made a pitch to [real estate developer] Oliver Carr that I was on the cutting-edge of financial analysis and can do it faster and better because of these new tools called ‘computers’ and you should hire me and I can organize [the business] for you.” Not only did he get the job, but “I accelerated very rapidly,” he says. He wound up as chief development officer and helped right the Carr ship during the savings and loan crisis of the late ’80s.

The Carr firm would be sold to Blackstone for $5.6 billion in 2006, but long before then, Nassetta and partner Terry Golden took the plunge and started their own private equity firm, Bailey Capital Corporation, in 1991. It was the same year, in May, he married his high school prom date, Paige, daughter of former Arkansas congressman Ed Bethune. A few years later, Nassetta, looking for another professional challenge, joined Host in 1995.

“Every experience I’ve had is extraordinary,” he says, seated in his 11th-story corner Park Place II office high above Tysons. “The learning experience I had at Carr, I couldn’t replace. Starting your own successful business at an early age was completely different. Then going to a public company [Host] and rebuilding it, that was extraordinary.”
Training for the Hilton job, it would seem, was complete. Nassetta would be Hilton’s fourth CEO in its history.

There was just one problem, and that was Hilton.

To fix Hilton, to restore the storied company to its glory, would require hands-on management, and Nassetta, it was decided, would have to move to Beverly Hills.

“I wasn’t interested in moving six girls—one of them going into preschool and one of them starting high school—and I had a really good gig going with Host Hotels. I had a lot of pride in what we accomplished,” Nassetta says. “I wasn’t looking to do anything different professionally.”

With the deal on the table, it was his wife Paige, Nassetta says, who made the final decision. “She’s an equal partner,” he says. “If she had said thumbs down, then we weren’t doing it.”

It was Paige who surmised Nassetta would be happier with a larger, newer challenge. “She said, ‘You’re always looking for intellectual stimulation, something else to fix,’” he says. “She was instrumental in helping me realize I love to take things that don’t work and try to make them work.”

But moving six daughters to Hollywood?

“If it was going to be really detrimental to the family, we wouldn’t have done it,” he says. “I was born and raised here, my parents still live in the house I grew up in a mile away, my two sisters are neighbors. We had this super-comfortable cocoon.”

Westlake Legal Group Untitled-111 How NoVA native Chris Nassetta successfully revamped the Hilton brand leader inspiration hotels hilton hotels hilton entrepreneur Culture Features Culture Chris Nassetta ceo Business
Centennial Celebration: Chris Nassetta (above, center) celebrates Hilton’s 100-year anniversary with team members in Watford, U.K. (Photo courtesy of Hilton)

In the end, it was Paige who said to load up the truck and move to Beverly. Hills that is … (It was Paige who joked about them being the “Beverly Hillbillies.”) And it was Bailey, then 14 and the oldest daughter, who eventually rallied the reluctant others.

“And you know what?” Nassetta says, brightening at the thought. “It ended up being the most spectacular experience for our family you can imagine. Getting out of the cocoon, all the support we’d built for a lifetime—poof, it was gone. The entire ecosystem, gone.”

For the first time, the Nassetta clan had to depend solely on each other for support. “The kids got stronger,” he says. “We, as a family unit, became incredibly tight because we needed each other.”

While Paige and the kids settled into their new lives, Nassetta was intensely focused on saving Blackstone’s massive and controversial acquisition of Hilton.

“They invented the business as you know it,” Nassetta says. “And they had been king of the hill. But you become complacent … The company was not performing the way it could in part because what had once been a very dynamic, entrepreneurial culture had lost its way. It was not my intention to move the company, but to rebuild it.”

To his horror, Nassetta discovered Hilton operating like “eight or nine companies all over the world running themselves. What we found was that the culture was a wreck … The culture had lost its way.”

Part of the problem, it was determined, was the location of the headquarters. Relocating and consolidating redundancies might wake up the slumbering giant. But Hilton couldn’t do a headline-generating search for a new home the way Amazon tantalized municipalities in its search for HQ2, half of which ended up in Arlington.

“You have to understand the sensitivity,” he says. “We had to run the company.” A six-month national search by management consultants settled on metropolitan locations that scored high on a complex matrix of pluses and minuses. The last ones standing were Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta and Northern Virginia.

The joke was the CEO and president of the company was homesick and saw a chance to get back to his hometown. “No, no, that’s not the case,” Nassetta says. “I didn’t put my thumb on the scale.”

It had been two years since the Nassettas had moved. And now they were moving back. Or were they?

When he broke the news to Paige before the Los Angeles press announced the relocation of a flagship corporation, Nassetta was taken aback.

“She had this solemn look,” he recalls. “She said, ‘I don’t know how to tell you this, but we can’t do this.’ I’m thinking, I’m the hero, we’re going home to friends and family, and my wife says we have to stay. I didn’t see that coming.”

Bailey was now going on 17 and learning to drive (on Sunset Boulevard, a “harrowing experience,” her dad says), going to high school with celebrity offspring and swimming competitively. She did not take the news well. Bailey rallying the troops this time would be off the table.

Bicoastal commuting was a non-starter for Nassetta (“No way. We’re a family. We work as a family.”). It didn’t look good as Nassetta left for a weeklong business trip as the news hit the papers and the airwaves that Hilton was moving to Tysons.

But by the time he returned, Paige had had a change of heart. “We came here together, we’re going home together,” Nassetta recalls her saying.

Moving back was harder than moving out, he says. “You have an expectation you are going to pop right back into the ecosystem”—the cocoon—“but you find out the whole system is different. In two years of a kids’ life, everything had changed.”

That was 10 years ago. Bailey is now 26, Mason is 24, Kirby is 22, Sydney is 20, Peyton is 18 and Avery is 15. (Is it any wonder the name of his boat is Another Girl?)

Westlake Legal Group Untitled-121 How NoVA native Chris Nassetta successfully revamped the Hilton brand leader inspiration hotels hilton hotels hilton entrepreneur Culture Features Culture Chris Nassetta ceo Business
The Next 100: Chris Nassetta (right) talks shop at a recent conference. (Photo courtesy of Hilton)

In Northern Virginia, the Nassettas are active in a number of local nonprofits, including the Arlington Free Clinic, which provides health services to some 1,600 low-income, uninsured residents.

“His mother may have been here the first night it opened,” says Nancy White, president of the 25-year-old clinic. “She still comes each week and gives us the gift of her time … His family has always been here for us.”

One of Nassetta’s sisters provides the clinic with photography services, according to White. And Nassetta, White says, has Hilton donate a five-day vacation to anywhere in the world they have a hotel as a raffle prize, “which is an important way for us to generate funds.” He also hosts benefit parties at his home, and is generous with his time and expertise.

“I can pick up the phone and ask for advice and he’ll connect me to someone who can help in support of our mission,” White says.

Nassetta also works with Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, among other organizations.

As for Hilton Worldwide Holdings, the move to Tysons seems to have been a masterstroke.

“We’re outperforming everybody in the industry,” he says. “We’re opening more than a hotel a day somewhere in the world. We have the largest share of the business, we’re growing faster, innovating more and the fun thing about it is, we’re celebrating 100 years of history, and most companies don’t get to celebrate that. We get to celebrate it, literally, at the top of our game.”

A private company that just a dozen years ago was suffering from a declining culture is now a public company at No. 345 in the Fortune 500 list. Last year, it opened 459 new properties, bringing the total to more than 5,700.

Hilton is No. 1 on the Fortune “Best Companies to Work For” list for 2019, from 33rd a year ago. It’s the first hospitality company in history to reach No. 1. As for Blackstone, which exited Hilton after 11 years, the investment is regarded as “the most profitable private equity deal” ever, according to Bloomberg, with a cumulative profit of $14 billion.

Nassetta puts the credit on the people who work for the company, not the suits in the C-suites. “It’s not just about making money. The purpose is to make the world a better place, creating opportunities for our team members to have a better life, creating opportunities for our communities to be stronger because of our involvement.

“The thing I will be most proud of is this,” Nassetta says of the No. 1 ranking. “Nothing will eclipse it. It’s representative of what I stand for.”

This post was originally published in our August 2019 issue. To read more about NoVA notables making a difference in the community, subscribe to our weekly newsletter.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Andy Street: Making connections to change our region

Andy Street is Mayor of the West Midlands, and is a former Managing Director of John Lewis.

When the Prime Minister gave his first speech at the Manchester Science and Industry Museum on July 27, he spoke of the “basic ingredients of success for the UK”.

He spoke about culture, liveability, responsibility in power and accountability – but the subject that resonated most with the experiences of the West Midlands was his belief in the power of connections.

He said: “Inspiration and innovation, cross fertilisation between people, literally and figuratively, cannot take place unless people can bump into each other, compete, collaborate, invent and innovate.”

The West Midlands provides a case study for the UK in how connectivity can transform an area by linking its communities, its geography, its businesses and its people. In the UK’s most diverse region, this commitment to connection is a key part of the new Urban Conservatism we are building here, which is winning support.

In a region spread across the seven boroughs of Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton, connectedness has been vital in building a sense of unity. Most obviously, huge investment in our transport network is allowing our communities to physically meet.

But as the Prime Minister said, connectedness isn’t just about tramlines and buses, it’s about encouraging the sharing of ideas to drive growth – and it’s as old as the hills.

Successful city states – going back to the Italian Renaissance and beyond – flourish by bringing people together to drive social and economic progress through greater understanding and innovation. The lesson of history is that places that unite different cultures to distil their ideas and harness their ambition are successful, be it 18th century London or 20th century New York.

Here, that ambition means connecting an increasing number of economic hotspots. From the cluster around the NEC known as ‘UK Central’ to the massive Phoenix 10 brownfield reclamation scheme in the Black Country, the resurgent economy in the West Midlands is creating jobs that require connectivity. Investment in public transport is building an arterial network taking people – and their ideas– into these centres of opportunity.

But the real lesson of the West Midlands story is how we are learning to connect people, not places. The Mayor’s Community Weekend, for example, brought tens of thousands of people together over 165 events through a partnership between the West Midlands Combined Authority and the National Lottery Community Fund. A hundred workplaces joined in with the Mayor’s Giving Day, encouraging charity in all forms. My Faith Action Plan brings together different faiths. We are even connecting the generations through my Cricket Cup at Edgbaston on September 8, which will see grandparents and grandchildren take the field together.

In such a diverse place, these soft social initiatives solidify to bind the connections we make, simply by getting involved. The alternative to connectedness is isolation, which breeds intolerance. It’s critical to stand against intolerance of any kind, whether it’s racial, religious or the kind of schools protest against equality teaching we have seen in Birmingham.

We are also making great strides in closing divisions in our communities to improve social mobility. In 2007, 20% of our young people left school with no qualifications, a figure that has been brought down to 11% through retraining in areas like digital and construction, and growth in modern apprenticeships.

That’s being helped by a unique feature in the West Midlands – the Apprenticeship Levy Transfer Scheme, which allows us to spend the unused apprenticeship levy paid by big firms more sensibly. Closing skills gaps like this is another way that we promote connectedness across and within our communities.

Connectivity in a more literal sense can be achieved through technology. I was encouraged by the PM’s commitment in his candidacy to speed up the roll-out of Fibre Broadband across the country. This kind of quick expansion is vital if we are to ensure that no areas are left disconnected from digital opportunities through under-investment.

However, with 5G coming first to our region, we aren’t prepared to wait for connections to spark innovation. Just a few weeks ago a ground-breaking trial here hinted at what can be achieved with 5G, when we linked local ambulances to doctors in A&E in real-time. The same technological connectivity is driving our automotive sector in its ambition to become the UK capital of driverless vehicles.

Sitting as we do at the heart of England, the West Midlands is positioned to benefit from the Prime Minister’s ambition to better connect the nation and rebalance the economy. As the PM said, “We need to literally and spiritually unite Britain, and that means boosting growth and bringing our regions together.”

To me, there is no greater instrument for this ambition than HS2 – the single piece of investment that will unlock millions of pounds of transport and housing infrastructure our region desperately needs.

Sites like the new tram line from East Birmingham to Solihull are indelibly linked to HS2. We have a target to ensure local people are never more than 45 minutes from a HS2 station, and schemes such as reopening closed railway lines and the impressive Sutton Coldfield Gateway have been meticulously planned around this major investment by the Government to sew our country together. Without it we are definitely poorer.

Connections need to be international too. As Michael Heseltine pointed out in this report ‘Empowering English Cities’, which was commissioned by the West Midlands Combined Authority, the underperformance of our major cities on the world stage is a critical problem that must be solved if we are to balance our economy.

However, this does not mean adopting an adversarial position to competing city regions like Rotterdam, Lyon, Frankfurt, Milan, Chicago and Sapporo, it means ensuring that we have the global connections to take in the best ideas and turn them to our own advantage.

This crucible of cultures concept is the very purpose of the civic university, and you will not find a better example than Chamberlain’s University of Birmingham – which is why our universities must, post-Brexit, continue to welcome International students. They literally connect us to the world and the ideas developing beyond our shores.

Travel opportunities are also important in nurturing our global position. Birmingham Airport has its sights set beyond the Brexit horizon with continued growth in passenger numbers. Work is due to start on its T18 project – named because it will create a terminal that can handle 18 million passengers a year, a rise of nearly 40% on the previous record, achieved in 2017.

HS2 makes this project even more important, as the airport will only be 38 minutes away from Euston, much quicker to get to from North London than both Heathrow and Gatwick.

Finally, I consider my own role as Mayor of the West Midlands to be one of connectivity. Overseeing a region where Labour control the majority of local authorities has meant that my job has often been about providing the glue that holds us all together, encouraging teamwork. In the UK’s youngest, most diverse area, this Urban Conservative approach is paying dividends politically as we attempt to make more of our constituent authorities Conservative.

This kind of inclusive Conservative leadership is where the party must be – and we are looking to Prime Minister Johnson, as the former Mayor of Britain’s mega city, to understand this and follow it through in Government. The Prime Minister will know what a Conservative Mayor in an urban region can achieve through physically connecting people – whether it’s through social connections, transport connections or digital connections – and I hope he will be considering how we can replicate this across the country.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

7 desks that add some fun to your workload

Whether you’re paying bills, journaling or are looking for a homework-friendly space, these detailed desks are sure to take away some of the stress lingering in your office. Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Climate crusaders: How 15 NoVA teens are fighting for sustainability reform

Westlake Legal Group Sipsys Climate crusaders: How 15 NoVA teens are fighting for sustainability reform teens sustainability Straws Sipsy plastic waste high school students green environmentally friendly environment Entrepreneurship Culture Features Business
Sipsy’s team (from left) Abbie Marie Robles, Camille Gledhill, Jay Sharma, James Tury, Linda Wu, Rhea Tuli, Jennifer Yang, Vishal Kanigicherla, Abigail Adams and Elena Blessing. (Photo by Robert Merhaut)

When a team of 15 high school students came together to create a company as part of their Junior Achievement of Greater Washington seven-month entrepreneurship program, they knew they wanted to put some passion behind their product.

“We brainstormed a lot and came up with different causes that we were passionate about, and the cause we ultimately decided on was the environment,” says Jennifer Yang, a rising junior at McLean High School. “We felt like it was an important issue for this generation and we wanted to do something about it.”

That passion was the catalyst for the launch of the company Sipsy, an environmentally friendly business that sells non-toxic, reusable straws in an effort to fight plastic waste.

The student-led company quickly took off—they’ve already generated more than $6,500 in revenue, with 5% of profits going to the nonprofit SEE Turtles—and the team ultimately won the Junior Achievement of Greater Washington’s Company of the Year competition. This past June, they were one of just 15 teams to participate in the 2019 Junior Achievement National Student Leadership Summit in Washington, DC. Junior Achievement is a nonprofit organization that teaches financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship to students.

While the company has had some financial success, the students look at Sipsy as a platform to push for additional climate change policies and discussions within Fairfax County. The team even lobbied the Fairfax County School Board at a recent meeting to limit the use of plastic straws at local schools.

“I think that it’s a new time that we’re living in. This is such a huge responsibility for high school students to manage their own company, but we’re trying to use it as a tool to bring to life some of these really huge issues that a lot of adults are facing right now,” says Camille Gledhill, a rising junior at Woodson High School who serves as the marketing director of Sipsy. “Yes, we’re just students, but it’s our future that we’re dealing with and we want to make sure it’s a future that we would be proud to live in.”

While the Junior Achievement program officially came to an end earlier this summer, about a dozen of the Sipsy team members are hoping to keep the company going, says Jennifer, who works on the company’s marketing team.

“I’m just ready to keep going. I don’t want our success to stop here,” she says. “I’m ready to go on and do better things in the future.”

This post originally appeared in our August 2019 print issue. For more profiles on inspiring NoVA notables, subscribe to our newsletters.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

NYC Businesses Are Feeling the Burn After the $15 Wage Hike and No One Saw It Coming

Westlake Legal Group Minimum-wage-protest-New-York-620x414 NYC Businesses Are Feeling the Burn After the $15 Wage Hike and No One Saw It Coming Wage hike Unemployment Politics New York layoffs Front Page Stories Featured Story Economy Business & Economy Business Allow Media Exception

Who could have predicted this? Who could have seen hiking the minimum wage to $15/hr hurting businesses, employees, and customers?

Except for 74 percent of economists, major retail chains who exhibited the same results, and other cities that had suffered as a result of minimum wage hikes, who could have thought this was going to happen?

According to the Wall Street Journal, businesses in New York City are now another example of how raising the minimum wage hurts the economy and the community with businesses left and right shutting down or laying people off. What’s more, it’s the small businesses that are being hit hardest:

More than six months after the $15 minimum wage went into effect in New York City, business leaders and owners say the increased labor costs have forced them to cut staff, eliminate work shifts and raise prices.

Many business owners said these changes were unintended consequences of the new minimum wage, which took effect at the beginning of the year.

The Queens Chamber of Commerce has noted an uptick of rough waters for small businesses as well:

Thomas Grech, president of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, said he has seen an uptick in small-business closures during the past six to nine months, and he attributed it to the minimum-wage legislation.

“They’re cutting their staff. They’re cutting their hours. They’re shutting down,” he said. “It’s not just the rent.”

Lisa Sorin, president of the Bronx Chamber of Commerce, said Manhattan businesses and their customers can afford to pay more to compensate for the wage increase, while those in the surrounding boroughs probably couldn’t. “It’s almost like a whirlwind of keep up or get out,” Ms. Sorin said.

New York has been feeling the sting of the wage hike for months now. When I first reported the financial problems being experienced by businesses back in April, 76.5 percent of full-service restaurants had already cut back hours with 36 percent already having laid employees off.

The Wall Street Journal reported that officials claimed that unemployment within the city has remained relatively the same, but that it’s likely only going to get worse for businesses as the pressure increases.

Bottom line. Hiking the minimum wage doesn’t look good on paper or in practice, and should be avoided.

The post NYC Businesses Are Feeling the Burn After the $15 Wage Hike and No One Saw It Coming appeared first on RedState.

Westlake Legal Group Minimum-wage-protest-New-York-300x200 NYC Businesses Are Feeling the Burn After the $15 Wage Hike and No One Saw It Coming Wage hike Unemployment Politics New York layoffs Front Page Stories Featured Story Economy Business & Economy Business Allow Media Exception   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

A McLean mansion has hit the market for $28.75 million — it’s just not built yet

Westlake Legal Group riverpoint2 A McLean mansion has hit the market for $28.75 million — it’s just not built yet Washington Business Journal virginia news stanley dixon river point Real Estate News mclean Local News homes Fairfax County, VA News Business & Finance Business

Greater Washington’s second most expensive house on the market isn’t even a house yet.

River Point, a 3-acre plot next door to late the AOL co-founder James Kimsey’s former residence, is being sold with a complete set of building plans for an approximately 30,000-square-foot house. The site at 405 Chain Bridge Road encompasses three separate tax parcels overlooking the Potomac River.

Atlanta-based architect Stanley Dixon designed the plans for an English Manor House inspired by the work of famed British architect Edwin Lutyens, who died in 1944. The plans include a gatehouse, separate carriage house, tennis court, seven to eight bedrooms, eight to 10 bathrooms and garage parking for 24 cars and surface parking for an additional 30 cars. The estate also affords two distinct entrances/exits along Chain Bridge Road and 44th Street North.

River Point is the second most expensive residential property on the market in the region behind the Kimsey residence, which is currently listed at…

Read the full story from the Washington Business Journal.


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Daniel Rossall-Valentine: Tech now underpins prosperity in every sector – so to thrive, we need more engineers

Daniel Rossall-Valentine is Head of Campaign for This is Engineering at the Royal Academy of Engineering, and Deputy Chairman of Sevenoaks Conservative Association. He writes in a personal capacity.

“It’s the same formula: it is education, infrastructure and technology —those three things”, so said Boris Johnson in June when interviewed by the Evening Standard about his agenda for government. According to Boris, those are the three principles which informed his time as Mayor of London and will be his priorities as Prime Minister.

These priorities are very welcome because they recognise the essential connections between three vital elements of wealth generation, and represent a more sophisticated view of economic growth than the one-dimensional and idealistic catchphrase of “education, education, education” which prevailed under a previous government.

The UK is involved in a long running battle to raise its productivity. We have long needed a better vision of what we need to do to boost productivity and I believe that this vision is now being developed.

Engineers and technicians must be at the heart of this new vision. Engineers are essential for innovation, they design, build and improve technology and have become central to national productivity, economic growth and living standards. Engineers are the people who turn scientific principles into practical application, social benefit and economic value. Our world is being unified in a new way; by a series of threats that know no borders. We face big challenges, including overpopulation, environmental degradation, malnutrition, biodiversity loss, cyber-terrorism and global warming, and technology is central to building solutions for each of these and making our world work better for everyone.

In truth, technology is not a sector anymore; it is now the driver of productivity and economic success (and indeed survival) for organisations in every sector. The analytical and design skills of engineers have become more and more valuable as the rate of technological change accelerates. No sector of the economy is now protected from the forces of technological change; healthcare, agriculture, retail, and education are just four examples of sectors which are currently experiencing rapid technological change; change that offers significant improvements in productivity and benefits for users.

Growing our domestic tech capacity offers great benefits to the UK. Tech firms have shown that they can scale very rapidly. The rise of “tech unicorns” (recent startups valued at over $1 billion) demonstrates the economic and social potential offered by tech. Engineering has been proven to be a very effective multiplier of economic growth. The UK should not be modest about its future in tech because we have significant advantages, including a trusted legal regime, access to capital and credit, access to support services, unparalleled access to tech customers, an educated workforce, world class universities, stable taxation and intelligent regulation.

However, the UK has one great and persisting tech weakness which threatens to impede our growth, and that is an inadequate number of engineers and technicians. The UK needs to grow its pool of engineering talent, to ensure that UK-based tech companies can remain in the UK as they scale rapidly, and to enable engineering companies to win big projects. If the UK doesn’t expand its pool of engineering talent we risk losing tech firms, tech projects and tech investment and the huge economic and social value that they bring. The proportion of jobs that require technical skill is growing and Britain should aspire to a growing share of this growing pie.

Young people are avid consumers of technology, but we need more of them to aspire to mastering the engineering that underpins the technology so that they can become developers, makers and creators of technology, rather than mere users. We also need more young people who combine engineering skills with the entrepreneurial and managerial skills that will enable them to form and scale business enterprises; so that the UK can capture an increasing share of lucrative engineering value-chains; and provide the GDP and employment that flow from end-to-end technology development. Increasingly people who are not tech-savvy are at risk of being automated out of a job, so the need for upskilling the UK in technical skills is pressing.

This technical skills shortage has long been recognised and a multitude of projects have been started to encourage young people to consider engineering. And yet despite the number of initiatives, the shortfall of talent has not only persisted but seems to have grown larger over the last decade. We also need to diversify our talent pool and ensure we are attracting young people from all backgrounds; because only a diverse profession guarantees the diversity of ideas that technical fields rely on.

The UK has made good progress in raising the profile of engineering in the last few years. The Industrial Strategy and Grand Challenges of 2017 were very welcome developments at putting technology centre-stage. The Year Of Engineering 2018 led to a very significant change in the perception of engineering amongst school pupils. This year-long Government campaign also encouraged greater collaboration between the many professional engineering institutions that make up the UK’s complex engineering landscape. We can be optimistic that the UK has got into the good habit of paying far more recognition to the engineers and entrepreneurs who enable, create and democratise the technology which improves lives, saves time and generates wealth.

Too often we allow our natural British reserve about talking about wealth to prevent us talking about wealth creation. Social benefit and commercial success are too often portrayed as trade-offs, when they are mutually reinforcing; the best technology delivers for investors as well as society-at-large. Technological success is a stool with three legs; technical progress, commercial success and social benefit. Technology is more than technology: technology is inherently social, and inherently financial, and we need more technologists who look at the full picture rather than the purely technical aspects of technology. Without profit, technology is the greatest creator of loss and debt known to mankind, and without social benefit technology can be a force of social division, rather than a democratising force.

To maximise the benefits of technology we need to close the technology skills gap, and this requires action by many players. We cannot rely on Government alone to solve this persistent problem. We know that too few young people are studying engineering related degrees and apprenticeships. One major factor is the image of engineering. Unfortunately, a number of unappealing stereotypes have become attached to the profession of engineering. Many young people assume that engineering involves hard, manual work, and male-dominated workplaces. Too many young people also believe that engineering is a narrow specialism that offers only a limited range of job opportunities. The problem is particularly acute with female students. Inspiring more girls to pursue STEM subjects and careers will not only help us to address the skills gap in science and technology, but it will also help us to create a more diverse workforce that truly represents the world we live in.

The UK has a great tradition of innovation and enterprise but only by unlocking the interest of our young people by presenting a positive vision of business enterprise and technology can we continue to succeed in this increasingly competitive field. One recent example of success is the This is Engineering campaign which was developed by a number of the UK’s leading technology companies and launched in January 2018. The campaign presents young people with positive, modern, authentic images of careers in technology and engineering, through the medium of short films which are available on many social media platforms. The films also highlight the societal benefits that new technology delivers, the team-work that technology and engineering projects rely on, and the creativity that is required at every stage in the design and build process.

By helping to promote careers in technology and engineering we can ensure that more and more young people see technology not just as a range of products to be consumed but also as a range of careers to be considered.

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Gillette CEO Says the Billions of Dollars Lost Over the “Toxic Masculinity” Ad Was Worth It

Westlake Legal Group Untitled-1-8-620x378 Gillette CEO Says the Billions of Dollars Lost Over the “Toxic Masculinity” Ad Was Worth It toxic masculinity Social Justice Proctor and Gamble millennials gillette Front Page Stories Feminism Featured Story Business & Economy Business Allow Media Exception

Screenshot: YouTube

Gillette’s infamous ad that pushed the idea that men contain “toxic masculinity” is a perfect example of how not to advertise your product. The ad not only created a firestorm of controversy online, but it also helped cost the company billions of dollars.

That would be $5.24 billion to be exact.

(READ: Gillette’s “Woke” Ad That Insulted Men Cost P&G Billions)

But according to Gillette CEO Gary Coombe, the billions of dollars that the company cost parent company Proctor and Gamble was totally worth it. According to MarketingWeek, the ad was a “price worth paying” if it helped to reach the millennial generation.

“I don’t enjoy that some people were offended by the film and upset at the brand as a consequence,” said Coombe. “That’s not nice and goes against every ounce of training I’ve had in this industry over a third of a century. But I am absolutely of the view now that for the majority of people to fall more deeply in love with today’s brands you have to risk upsetting a small minority and that’s what we’ve done.”

Coombe is telling himself fantasies.

You don’t lose that much money because you upset a “small minority” of people. This is billions of dollars gone. You upset an entire sex by essentially telling them that every radical feminist claim about them is true. This includes millennials who turned their back on the shaving company after they attempted the most off-putting “how do you do fellow kids” moment in modern history.

Coombe’s mention of his industry training over a third of a century long. It’s my belief that this training is part of what got him in trouble. Usually, when something like this happens, a boycott may only last for so long. However, we’re living in the age of the internet. We can now have our needs shipped straight to our door by pressing a few buttons on our phone.

Before that, we would go to the store to pick up our products, and over time we may forget our anger at a brand and pick it up if the price is right. Now we have subscriptions to products, with shaving being a popular one. We don’t have to go to the store and be tempted to forgive. Our new shaving products come right to our door every other week.

Coombe tried to appeal to younger men by insulting them based on a movement that became infamous as quickly as it became famous in an age where his product is less popular than ever, and different methods of doing business have taken hold.

Coombe made a horrific call and the proof is in the numbers. Now we’ll see if the good Captain Coombe learns from it, or continues to poke massive holes into the side of his ship in the name of looking “woke.”

The post Gillette CEO Says the Billions of Dollars Lost Over the “Toxic Masculinity” Ad Was Worth It appeared first on RedState.

Westlake Legal Group Untitled-1-8-300x183 Gillette CEO Says the Billions of Dollars Lost Over the “Toxic Masculinity” Ad Was Worth It toxic masculinity Social Justice Proctor and Gamble millennials gillette Front Page Stories Feminism Featured Story Business & Economy Business Allow Media Exception   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Andy Street: What the West Midlands wants from the new Government

Andy Street is Mayor of the West Midlands, and is a former Managing Director of John Lewis.

In the few days since he entered Downing Street, British politics has been re-energised by Boris Johnson. From his speech on the steps of Number 10 last Wednesday to his appearances in Parliament and across the country during the following days, the Prime Minister’s words have brought a sense of optimism that engages people.

And that optimism is being built upon an emerging ambitious agenda for our country. Here in the West Midlands we need to seize and shape the energy of the new Government to support our plan to deliver the renewal of our region.

By working together we can unleash the potential of our people to achieve future success. My top ten ambitions for this Government are:

1. Policing: We all know that crime, violence and anti-social behaviour have ruined too many lives here. So, I warmly welcome the Prime Minister’s pledge to recruit an additional 20,000 police officers, and was pleased that he chose to come here, to the West Midlands, to reinforce that commitment. Our communities want to feel safe and live crime free – this is the first test of Government. These extra officers will go a long way to making that happen. In May, our region will elect a new Police and Crime Commissioner. We need our first Conservative PCC to ensure the Government’s commitment is backed by a local drive to put more resources onto the frontline.

2. Infrastructure: Here we know that improvements in transport infrastructure help spread access to opportunity, as well as encouraging inward investment into isolated communities. For us, that already means re-opening train stations that have been dormant since Beeching, expanding our Metro network and identifying strategic road investment. That’s all good, but there is now the prospect of a game-changing investment in our public transport infrastructure. The Prime Minister talks of doing for city regions what he did for London – that’s music to our ears!

HS2 plays a central role in this too – not as a competitor for investment but as a driver of it. A recommitment to it, possibly alongside the Leeds to Manchester high speed line is essential to raise our productivity, ignite our regions and keep us competitive on the world stage.

3. Community revival: In tandem with infrastructure, the economic face of our forgotten communities – their town centres and high streets – are also key to revival. The Prime Minister’s £3.6billion pledge to revitalise 100 towns and cities across the UK chimes with the concerted approach we have taken to help high streets across the West Midlands’ seven boroughs of Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton.

However, these ‘forgotten towns’ also suffer from skills gaps. Impressive pilot schemes to better equip people for working life, from apprentice funding to digital retraining, need to now be delivered on a greater scale. We must ensure our young people can’t fall through the gaps in the system, as all the evidence suggests that the opportunities 16 to 17-year olds are offered determine the rest of their lives. The ‘Forgotten Towns’ fund should be for them too.

4. Education: The new Government’s intention to ‘level up’ educational funding across the nation will help give more of our young people opportunities. I know this pledge will be particularly welcome in Solihull, where this issue is acutely felt.

5. Health: the commitment to our NHS is vital, building on that of the previous Government – and that means getting key projects like the new Midland Metropolitan Hospital in Sandwell completed. It also means exploiting technology to prevent disease and as the country’s 5G tested we stand ready to lead that charge.

6. Housing: Meeting the UK’s housing needs provides a massive challenge, and I welcome the Prime Minister’s call for more investment to improve quality of life and drive growth. We are already showing strong growth in house building, and we lead the nation on reclaiming derelict brownfield sites.

However, more must be done to encourage developers to include more affordable housing. Of the 14,500 homes built in the West Midlands last year, only 18 per cent fell into the affordable bracket. Regions like ours need an Affordable Housing Deal to address this – possibly on the GLA model.

Of course, measures to tackle the problem of homelessness go hand-in-hand with this issue. It is now clear that freezing housing benefits since 2016 has contributed to homelessness in the West Midlands. There should an increase in the local housing allowance element of Universal Credit, to stop people falling behind on their payments and being evicted. Losing a private tenancy as a result of getting into arrears is the most common reason to become homeless.

7.  Equality: With such a diverse population, inclusivity is one of the central themes of the Urban Conservatism we are creating in the West Midlands. Serving every community is vital – whether geographic or demographic – which is why I welcome the Prime Minister’s clear commitment to championing equalities.

8. Innovation: Securing the industries and jobs of the future is also critical. I have been heartened by the new Prime Minister’s clear belief in the power of technology to create real opportunity and it was great to see him identify battery development as an example. As the age of electric motoring dawns, the automotive sector can transform both our economic and environmental future. So, we must back JLR, the new National Battery Industrialisation Centre in Coventry and reclaim the title of ‘Motor City’ for the electric era. Key to this is our aim to open a Gigafactory in the West Midlands, to manufacture the batteries needed to power next generation vehicles.

The West Midlands was the first region in the UK to draw up a Local Industrial Strategy, setting out a roadmap for growth over the coming decades. At its heart lies clean growth, a key part of responding to the Climate Change crisis. The Industrial Strategy is perhaps the real legacy of Theresa May’s Government and must be built upon.

9. Brexit: We must honour the decision of the British people on Brexit and back the new Government’s efforts to secure a better deal for our nation and region, as the evidence is clear that a No Deal would be damaging to our manufacturing and exporting region.

10. Devolution: Finally, if we are serious about supercharging our regions and rebalancing the economy, the principles raised in Michael Heseltine’s recent Empowering English Cities report must be addressed. Our regions need a single pot of funding, where we can decide on our own priorities. The West Midlands should also be able to retain some of the taxation raised here to build a more sustainable local economy.

The new Government faces many challenges, but our new Prime Minister has spoken to the issues that matter to us here in the West Midlands. I look forward to us locally playing our part in delivering on them.

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Joe Shalam: Modern employers are learning the Bournville lesson – better housing for workers benefits them, too

Joe Shalam is Head of Financial Inclusion at the Centre for Social Justice.

In-work poverty has been described as ‘the problem of our time’. But making progress in tackling it will only be achieved if the true complexity of poverty is taken into account. While income is critically important, raising wages above an arbitrary poverty threshold, as has been prevailing wisdom for many years, simply does not account for range of issues that serve to hold people back.

For example, at the Centre for Social Justice we hear increasingly regularly from our alliance of 350 poverty-fighting charities about the ways insecure, cramped or otherwise inadequate housing is undermining people’s ability to address the problems in their lives: be that their family instability, their reliance on alcohol to get through the day, or the barriers they face progressing in work and boosting their earnings.

The CSJ’s Housing Commission has therefore called on the Government to dramatically increase the supply of truly affordable homes, so that more people have a stronger foundation from which to escape poverty and thrive. Yet, as the Commission argues in its latest interim report, the Government will not be able to achieve this alone. Business and philanthropy can play a role, too.

Looking at history we are reminded of this. One often celebrated example is George Cadbury, whose enterprising family give their name to the Victorian chocolate brand still enjoyed by millions today.

Cadbury was no ordinary chocolatier. An enthusiastic social reformer in the Quaker tradition, he and his brother sought to offer workers an alternative to the life they had come to expect in the rapidly industrialising and grimy cities of 19th Century England. So they founded a village, named ‘Bournville’ for its quaint French twang and proximity to the Bourn river, providing garden cottages in sharp contrast to the neighbouring city slums.

Still, Cadbury was a businessman. He knew that an inadequately housed workforce was an unhealthy and unhappy workforce. As such, they were also less productive for the company – particularly when stricken by what he described as the ‘evils of modern, more cramped living conditions’.

This fact remains as true today as it was then. While we have come a long way since the familiar slums of Dickensian Britain, the housing crisis gripping parts of the country is having a profoundly negative impact on businesses, the wider workforce and their families.

The report reveals that half of UK companies with 1,000+ employees say that housing issues are adversely affecting the wellbeing of their staff, compounded by long commutes to work and rising housing costs.

The economic consequences of an increasingly overburdened and low-morale workforce are also emerging. We found that a shocking two-in-three companies are concerned about how the affordability of housing is impacting their business. And 43 per cent of employers say that housing issues are having a negative effect on their business’ productivity.

Yet the report also reveals that, like Cadbury, employers today are responding to these pressures in innovative and impressive ways.

Take Nationwide, for example, who are proceeding with a multi-million pound not-for-profit housing development in Swindon. Drawing inspiration from Bournville, where ‘Ten Shilling Houses’ were offered to the workforce beyond the Cadbury payroll, Nationwide’s Oakfield development aims to provide a high proportion of affordable homes and lease these without giving preferential treatment to employees.

Elsewhere, Pret a Manger recently opened the Pret House in Kennington. Building on their long-established homeless trainee scheme, they recognised that even the most supported trainees on the programme were suffering as a result of returning after a day’s work to the chaotic ‘temporary’ accommodation they had been placed in by local councils.

As Nicki Fisher, the Pret Foundation’s head of sustainability, told us, ‘If you can imagine, having to get up at 5am after spending a night in a homeless shelter, where they’re often very crowded, very noisy, quite chaotic… we were starting to see a couple of people dropping out because it’s just very difficult to maintain coming to work normally every day’. The Pret House provides a safe and secure home for trainees to return to, thanks to a number of conditional ground rules.

We also looked abroad for inspiration. The expansion of technology firms in coastal areas of the US has resulted in the creation of new jobs in cities with limited housing, such as Seattle and San Francisco. This has contributed to steep increases in housing costs. Companies like Google, Facebook and Microsoft are responding by investing millions of dollars in affordable housing programmes.

In partnership with the Mayor of Seattle, Microsoft alone has pledged $500 million for programmes supplying ‘housing that is within the economic reach of every part of the community, including the many dedicated people that provide the vital services on which we all rely’.

Where employers are leading the way in championing housing support, they should be recognised and supported to do more. Schemes like private tenancy deposit loans, on the familiar model of a season ticket loan, are relatively inexpensive for businesses, but can be life changing to those unable to afford the (sometimes eye-wateringly expensive) upfront costs of rented accommodation. The Government should be rewarding the companies that offer this type of support with a new ‘Housing Confident’ accreditation.

The Government could also be better at harnessing employers as fuel in the engine of housing supply, by setting up an Innovation Fund in Homes England to support more not-for-profit developments that don’t fit the conventional mould. And it should do more to facilitate ambitious partnerships between both public and private employers to secure new investment in affordable Build-to-Rent developments, with thriving and mixed communities of working families.

In short, though there have been profound changes to our society, economy and labour market since Cadbury first set eyes upon the Bourn, the same level ambition is already being displayed by some employers today in seeking to improve the workforce’s housing conditions and address poverty in its true complexity. For all the government can do, we should also aim to unlock the spirit of Bournville and extend the ‘opportunity of a happy family life’ that he believed everyone deserves.

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