Charles Cormack

Brexit implications

Introduction

Since Article 50 was finally triggered, the only certainty appears to be uncertainty in the road ahead, particularly over the next number of months of negotiations. I must admit that while I am still disappointed at the decision and the potentially lost opportunities in Europe, the uncertainty is a little exciting and has my entrepreneurial juices flowing again.

To those of you who don’t know CCG, we have been helping UK companies and educational institutions work in the EU for the past 17 years. We are certainly going to be at the business end of events as they unfold and the nature of our work means that we will be in a unique position to shed light on happenings within the world of business and education as the negotiations progress.

To that end, we wanted to create a place where we could share our experiences and findings as the Brexit deal begins to take shape, as well as sharing some of the strategies that our clients are developing to cope with the changes. We also hope to highlight some of the initiatives that other European countries are developing as they seek to encourage UK companies to relocate.

I hope you find what follows interesting and useful, and perhaps even entertaining! Any comments or suggestions on things we have shared or things you would like us to cover are most welcome.

Our story

To begin, I thought it might be useful for me to briefly outline our story as a business and how we have sought to manage the business post-Brexit, including highlighting some of the issues and opportunities we are already seeing. Don’t worry this series of blogs will not be focusing on our business, but for those who have never heard of CCG, it might be useful to understand a little about our experience and why we feel qualified to comment.

Humble Beginnings

I started the business back in 2000 after the dot-com bubble burst. I wanted to create a business which could help UK companies engage in the Central and Eastern European markets which were due to join the EU in 2004.  We set up offices across the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) and began to service clients from the UK who wanted to sell there, or to have products made or developed in these markets.

For the first seven years, we only worked in the Baltic States, and built a successful but small niche consultancy employing about 12 people.  Clients varied from big blue-chip organisations through to very early stage companies, and spanned almost every business sector.

Then in 2007, the world economy imploded and the Baltic States were the worst hit markets in Europe, with GDP dropping by over 20%.  We believed in them, so did not leave, but instead looked at other markets to work in, and opened offices in Russia, Italy and Romania.  The new markets allowed us to go back to existing clients who we had helped, and offer them opportunities in new markets. This also helped us to increase our offering to UK companies and grow our client base.

We also decided to focus efforts on developing services which we had been successfully delivering for UK universities, helping them to win profitable international work, as universities tend to be less effected by economic conditions than businesses.  This quick reaction saved the business and allowed us to grow.

In 2013, we won a major award from SCDI (presented by Madeline Albright – a huge hero of mine) for the work we did, helping smaller companies internationalise, and all seemed well with the world.  We had opened another couple of offices across Europe, and had formed a strategic partnership with a Portuguese business development consultancy called Market Access, which gave us great people who are just as committed to customer service as we are. This allowed us to support companies right across the globe.

Brexit Blues and Taking a Gamble

Then the 23rd June came. I could not believe the result. Over the next month things got really bad, our order book disappeared as companies put projects on hold or cancelled them altogether. Cash flow tightened, and the majority of our staff were based out in the Baltic States and Romania, where it was clear that we were not be going to be delivering the volume of work we had been.  It became clear that we had to act fast.

First, we needed new markets, so we gambled and opened an office in Chicago in the US. We knew UK companies would be looking there, and as luck would have it  a colleague whom I have worked with for over 20 years,  and is from Chicago became available to head up the office.  We also decided to formalise our partnership with Market Access, integrating their team with our client management team in the UK and allowing us to rapidly grow our reach into South America, Asia, Africa and Western Europe.

This meant that we needed to rationalise costs, so we took our own advice and formed a partnership with a major consultancy based in Central and Eastern Europe called CIVITTA where they integrated our team into theirs. This allowed us to retain the experience of our staff, safeguard their jobs and increase the scope of what we could offer clients in the region, a real win-win situation.

We also realised that the education sector was really struggling to cope with the uncertainties of Brexit, so have been listening to their needs and working with them to develop strategies to navigate this new chapter.

 Cautious Optimism for the Road Ahead?

As the saying goes, in the midst of difficulty lies opportunity, and I am certain that Brexit is no different. We have helped our highly entrepreneurial clients to navigate challenging financial and political climates in the past, by helping develop strong internationalisation strategies. Fortune favours the bold and I am optimistic about our future, and the futures of our clients.

International Business Market Consultancy

Portugal

Portugal is making a concerted effort to develop its international student recruitment activity, this effort is supported by both national and regional government and is being embraced by the universities and polytechnics.  As part of this strategy they are looking to increase the number of post graduate and undergraduate courses that they teach in English.  Charles spent a very enjoyable week in Portugal a couple of weeks ago meeting with 12 different universities, covering the traditional (Porto/Lisbon), the new universities (founded in the 1970’s), polytechnics (very impressive technical universities teaching undergrad and masters) and private universities.  Discussions focussed on their plans for developing international activity and they are all keen to work with UK universities on the development of dual degree programmes, joint research, student movement (post BREXIT) and the development of their international recruitment activity.  We already have several UK universities in discussions with Portuguese institutions around forming strategic partnerships and we believe there is scope for a number more to make Portugal a post-BREXIT partner hub.

Charles Cormack Market Access Our Markets

Market Access

We continue to run our market access service for universities and colleges, where we focus on a selected market or markets and look at developing a range of activities including short course and CPD development delivery, summer schools, consultancy, course licencing, franchise degree and dual and joint degree partnerships.  We are currently running projects in Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Portugal, Spain, Germany, several CIS markets, Brazil and North America.

Andy Bulluck

USA

We have seen a big increase in activity in the US market over the past 12 months and are now working with around 10 UK universities and an accrediting body in the market.  We see a number of exciting growth areas including:

  • Apprenticeships: This is a really interesting area.  The new administration is promoting the development of apprenticeships and providing funding.  US business is keen on them, but there is a lack of local understanding on how to develop and manage large scale apprenticeship programmes.  We see opportunities for UK universities and colleges to work with US community colleges, private universities and large corporates on the development and management of programmes.  Several private UK providers have already established a presence in this market.  We are supporting a couple of universities in the market but believe the opportunity is potentially very large.

Student Recruitment: We have developed a number of innovative models for recruiting US students, including a programme based around course licencing that focuses on community colleges and 6 UK universities working in partnership.  We have recently recruited a new consultant who was an experienced and senior High School guidance councillor, using her experience

Charles Cormack Market Access The Team Our Services

BREXIT Mitigation

We are doing a lot of work with universities on how to deal with the many challenges BREXIT poses, this includes developing strategies which will allow the institution to continue to educate international and EU students, safeguard access to research and student movement.  We have been working at a governmental level in several developing EU markets to understand local sensibilities around UK universities establishing or partnering in their market and have a range of projects under development, including the purchase of private universities, the development of joint faculties and the establishment of deep partnerships.  We are keen to speak to universities in the UK who are looking at how to address BREXIT to see if we can help.

Cormack Consultancy Now working in 55 countries

Life Science / Biotech Webinar

Life Science/Biotech Webinar

On April 27th at 3pm UK time our life science/biotech expert, Midori Yokoyama, who is based in our Chicago office, will be running a live webinar for UK life science companies. This is a great opportunity to hear about the US life science market, especially if this is a target market for your company. Midori will be joined by Barbara Goodman, Senior Vice President, PROPEL, iBIO Institute http://www.ibiopropel.org which specialises in supporting life science startups. Midori and Barbara will be available for Q&A during the webinar and for a live chat afterwards. This presents an excellent opportunity to use Midori and Barbara’s knowledge and expertise to help shape your US market strategy.

If you would like to register for the webinar please get in touch with Liz on liz@consultcormack.com.

Midori Yokoyama:

Accomplished Business Development and Venture Capital executive with international experience in pharmaceutical, biotechnology, financial and academic institutions. Expertise in identifying, screening and evaluating in-licensing and investment opportunities in a broad range of therapeutic areas. Proven ability to lead global cross-functional team and manage multiple projects. Strong track record in venture capital investment term structuring, negotiation, and portfolio management.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/msyokoyama/

Barbara Goodman, Senior Vice President – PROPEL is the iBIO Institute’s initiative for early stage life sciences companies founded by the Institute and iBIO (Illinois Biotechnology Industry Organization).

https://www.linkedin.com/in/barbara-goodman-908b75/

Market Selector Service

Cormack Consultancy Group has launched a new service to help companies find the markets with the best -selling potential for their products or services.

The Market Selector tool allows companies to prioritise their markets based on their likely success…

Cormack Consultancy Now working in 55 countries

Cormack Consultancy Now working in 55 countries.

The Directors of Cormack Consultancy Group are delighted to announce that we have merged our Baltic and Romanian offices with Civitta one of the biggest Management Consultancy firms in Central and Eastern Europe.

Striving To Reach Their Full Potential

The Baltic States are making rapid progress towards instilling the best corporate practices in private businesses and state-owned enterprises (SOEs), but there are still challenges to be overcome. Dalius Simenas reports.