The ACTE Column: Dawning of a new age?

Flickers of hope begin to light the bleak landscape of the recent past.

Many will have heard the famous phrase from US President John F Kennedy's inaugural address in January 1961: "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." Other sections of his speech strike an equal chord as we enter a new era of politics: "Let us begin anew - remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate. Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belabouring those problems which divide us."

We don't have to be politically motivated to recognise that these statements apply to every aspect of our lives and businesses, including the world's favourite, if beleaguered, airline. We can only hope that an amicable solution can be found soon to halt the disruption caused by the seemingly unending BA strike action that is eroding the trust of the travelling public, damaging the financial stability of the airline and threatening the working conditions that striking staff are so desperately fighting to protect.

While a Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition may not be to everyone's taste, few could deny that both parties were remarkably skilled in the art of negotiation, proving that a return to basic values and principles can reap great rewards. There has to be a genuine, long term shift in political mindsets to win the confidence of the people, but building internal foundations of mutual trust and respect to enable an open exchange of ideas is surely the way to find collaborative solutions.

There is the potential of a schooling revolution through state-funded academies, with a high degree of autonomy, aiming to move strategic planning, decision-making and budgetary control to parents. Academy schools will be expected to mentor lower achieving schools in a bid to improve academic output. It's an initiative that will require trust and commitment and it isn't without critics, but a move from statistical and administrative burdens to a more agile and progressive environment, in a bid to reward merit and abolish mediocrity, must be worth exploration.

Ego is a vital component to light the fire of passion that pushes for any creative initiative, but it should be countered by restraint, discretion and humility for organisations to remain focused. A strong brand doesn't necessarily need a big marketing budget and spin, but it does directly correlate to values and ethos. Every action and process should lead to the core mission and vision statements for any business or institution wishing to stay on track to ensure success.

There is no doubt that the new political landscape will affect each and every one of us, both personally and professionally. While we may not always agree with the initiatives put forward, we must, however, unite to find the best solutions.

I, for one, am rather optimistic about the future and the heralding of this new dawn.

ACTE has named Toby Guest, global travel manager within IBM Corporation's Global Procurement BTO organisation, as its UK Country Champion. Toby's responsibilities encompass strategic global sourcing and management of all aspects of the travel category in 36 countries worldwide.

Of his honorary appointment, Toby commented: "This is an extremely challenging time for the travel industry yet it is also a very exciting time, with unprecedented change and opportunity for all involved. The nurturing of relationships, sharing of ideas and need for true openness throughout the supply chain has never been so critical."

ACTE also warmly welcomes Ron DiLeo as executive director, starting July 1. DiLeo's appointment was based on his extensive global experience and multinational achievements over 30 years as a high ranking executive in air transport, travel management company, and travel management consultancy sectors.

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