Andy Street Talk

Andy Street Talk
​With the monotony of daily lockdown routines, whereby every day feels the same, an online talk by Andy Street - the Mayor of West Midlands - was certainly the highlight of the week for the more than 80 pupils who attended from both KEHS and KES

With the monotony of daily lockdown routines, whereby every day feels the same, an online talk by Andy Street – the Mayor of West Midlands – was certainly the highlight of the week for the more than 80 pupils who attended from both KEHS and KES. The talk, organised by the Economics and Business Society at KES, offered an insight into Mr Street’s development from an Old Edwardian and an Oxford graduate to John Lewis’ managing director and to his current position as the Mayor of West Midlands.

Having attended KES and studied Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Keble College, Oxford, Mr Street started his career as a trainee at the John Lewis Partnership in 1985. John Lewis is unlike traditional companies and is, in fact, owned by its employees with a focus upon corporate culture, as opposed to maximising value for a minority of shareholders. Over time he attained roles, ranging from supply chain director to director of personnel, and in 2007, he became the company’s Managing Director until 2016. Under Mr Street, the John Lewis Partnership experienced great success and growth in spite of the 2008 Financial Crisis, which prompted a greater focus upon the company’s online presence. At this time, only 7% of John Lewis’ business was online, and by 2016, it was 50/50 with their physical shops and now acts as a significant source of the firm’s sales. However, after more than 9 years as the company’s managing director – far from the average of two and a half years for a CEO of a British company – Mr Street stepped down from this role, in order to move into the sphere of politics.

Birmingham had experienced four decades of stagnation (from 1960s to 2000s); deteriorating from the wealthiest city in Britain in the late 1960s to the city with the highest unemployment in 2010. This led to governmental plans of devolution – in the form of Local Enterprise Partnerships – in which in 2011, Mr Street led the one for Greater Birmingham and Solihull, in addition to his role as Managing Director. The result of which was Birmingham progressing from the worst performing economy to having the fastest growth anywhere outside London and such a success led to Mr Street being awarded a CBE for his services to economic growth. His involvement in this political scheme led to his intention to run in the first election for the Mayor of West Midlands in 2016, which he won with 50.4% of the votes. Now, his role as Mayor includes the promotion of further economic growth within the West Midlands and wider developments: establishing trade links and attracting inward investment, to name a few.

We are very fortunate to have had such an influential and successful figure within the local community talk to us. This talk was a unique experience, offering an insight into both business and politics, with thought-provoking questions being asked by students regarding Mr Street’s career progression, along with current affairs, such as the pandemic and Birmingham’s steps towards becoming a cleaner city.

 

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