Happy New Year!
Dear Fellow Members of the Livery,
Welcome to 2019 and all that the New Year will bring to us as individuals, as a Livery Company and as a nation.
In the opinion of many, we have not been involved in events as momentous as those which will occur in March since 1945. In times of great uncertainty, one thing of which we can be sure, is that nothing will be the same again. As Information Technologists this will come, of course, as no surprise as change, disruption and innovation have ever been at the core of our profession.
The Lord Mayor, Alderman Peter Estlin, has been at the vanguard of digital advancement and never fails, during his many speaking opportunities to stress the importance of the three key objectives of his theme, ‘Shaping Tomorrow’s City, Today’:
- Promoting digital innovation alongside financial and related professional services, supporting a thriving economy, growing trade and increasing prosperity
- Championing digital skills contributing to a flourishing society, promoting the City of London Corporation’s digital skills strategy and enhancing the pipeline of digital skilled talent.
- Addressing digital and social inclusion, again, contributing to a flourishing society, widening social mobility and creating an opportunity for all.
His message is one which never fails to receive universal acclamation. He knows, as do we, ‘The only way is digital’ (TOWID!). I am delighted to inform you that the Lord Mayor will be elaborating on his theme when he attends our Mansion House Banquet (the WCIT Partners’ Dinner) on 04 July 2019 and we are honoured that Past Master Dame Stephanie Shirley DBE CH will be responding. Please do, ‘save the date’ now!
You can also hear the Lord Mayor deliver the Lord Mayor’s Annual Gresham Lecture next week on the theme of, ‘RUDQ? Crisis or Opportunity?’ Details on how to book are in the list of events, below. And speaking about Gresham, I would like remind everyone of the series of lectures being given by Prof Richard Harvey, Gresham Chair of IT sponsored by WCIT - details below. In addition, I would draw your attention to the Cambridge Symposium on Economic Crime, the brain child of Patternmaker, Prof Barry Rider, held at Jesus College every September, now for over thirty years. This is the focal point for the world’s experts in FinTech and the prevention of cyber crime and a forum at which City representatives play a dominant role and an event many of you would find of great interest. Further details in due course.
Many people ask me, ‘How’s it going as Master?’ and, ‘Is it what you expected?’ The short answers are, ‘Very well, I think, thank you’ and, ‘Yes and no!’. I have had the privilege of representing the WCIT at several events during my first ten weeks of tenure. Soon after the Installation, we were into the calendar of events commemorating Remembrance and celebrating the new Lord Mayor’s arrival, a poignant contrast and mixture between pathos and ceremony. As Master, I planted a cross in the Garden of Remembrance at St Paul’s Cathedral during the Service commemorating the 100th anniversary since the beginning of World War 1. The juxtaposition of the solemnity of this event and the fun in participating in the subsequent Lord Mayor’s Show a few days later, was quite stark. I would like to record my thanks to Kerri Mansfield, Elizabeth Sparrow, Alastair Fulton, Sheldon Stoutt, Paul Jagger and Sarah Winmill for joining our wonderful Beadle and me in representing WCIT and for staying the distance of a return journey.
In November, Honorary Liveryman and web inventor, Sir Tim Berners-Lee internationally launched a campaign announcing a new “Contract for the Web”. He shared starter principles for the contract, defining responsibilities that governments, companies and citizens each have to create a better web. A further announcement is expected in May with finer details of the proposed contract. This topic formed the basis for a highly thought-provoking Dinner Discussion that WCIT Charity hosted for Sixth Formers from Lilian Baylis Technology School. An equally stimulating discussion took place earlier in December, on the question of, ‘Is AI a positive technology?’ which was ably discussed and debated by students from Hammersmith Academy.
This week, I am very pleased to have warmly welcomed our new Clerk, Mrs Susan Hoefling and I hope we can welcome her husband, Ted to our table in the near future. A Livery Company such as ours is a complex entity and I know that Susan is greatly looking forward to embracing all our activity and getting to know you. I know that I can rely on you all to be welcoming, helpful and supportive.
In saying, ‘Hello’ to Susan, we necessarily have to say goodbye to Philip Grant who has, ‘held the fort well’ as our interim Clerk. He leaves us with our grateful thanks for all that he has achieved during his six month stay with us. He and Alan, our Beadle, amazed us all after the Carol Service when they reappeared as Santa and his little elf! Indeed, shortly before Christmas, I had the pleasure of hosting the WCIT Hall Staff with guests PM Jo Connell and Liveryman Paul Finch, for the annual Christmas luncheon and I pay tribute to them all for the enormous task they undertake all year round, on behalf of the Company.
Until we next meet at the New Freeman’s Dinner later this month, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your family, a joyful, prosperous, healthy and Digital New Year.
With very best wishes