The Flag Flies

The city welcomes Birmingham Pride this weekend.

LoveBrum Diversity Trustee Jas Sansi looks forward to the annual event in its 22nd year.

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Birmingham Pride is a celebration of choice, freedom and tolerance. The event begins in Victoria Square with a parade through the city on route to Birmingham Southside. It’s a carnival of hope over hate. 

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Decades of political and forward thinking social progress have empowered our city to plant the Pride flag, not only in the minds of policy makers but inside the hearts of society.

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The global cities who host Pride events are liberal progressive thought leaders. Their confidence to join the Pride movement has seen them become magnets for talent, enterprise and creativity.

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Pride cities around the world will shape the future of our planet.  Hosting Pride demonstrates the outward looking values of a city and its ambition to be a safe place for all. 

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Our future cannot be determined by conflict and war. The future belongs to collaboration of ideas, the advancement of humanity and learning, we all need one another. These are the values at the heart of Birmingham Pride. 

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Protests against the Anderson Park Primary School ‘No Outsiders’  lessons illustrate a city does not always agree on everything, but friction is the very medium upon which debate is generated. 

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As LoveBrum’s Trustee for Diversity and Inclusion, there is no better advert for a city than Birmingham Pride.

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The images, videos and social media content generated by the weekend event will be shared, liked and commented on, around the planet.

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And the message sent out to people, young and old is clear; there is a space for everyone in this world, no one is alone and there is a community out there that belongs to you as much as you belong to it.

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That community may not be the one outside your window, or one that attracts positive coverage in your local press, but it exists and it is your duty to help shape the dialogue for acceptance, promote tolerance and shine a light on hope.

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I’m proud to live in a city where the pendulum has swung to understanding, policy and celebration.

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Birmingham Pride keeps our city and region on the map. On behalf of LoveBrum, may I extend a very warm welcome to all those travelling in to support. A huge shout out to the Brummies and those from the Midlands, who will all be host ambassadors.

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Plant that flag. Be proud.

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Birmingham Pride Spring Bank Holiday Weekend – Sat 25 & Sun 26 May 2019

Email: info@birminghampride.com

Tickets: https://www.birminghampride.com/book-tickets

Jas Sansi is a freelance photographer based in Birmingham, a Trustee for LoveBrum and contributor to The Asian Today newspaper. 

@jassansi 07930 837 505 

 

 

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Doing Business in Solihull – An Economic Snapshot

Solihull Chamber bring the Solihull Expo to Holiday Inn at Birmingham Airport. A showcase of networking, knowledge sharing and the publication of a must see economic report on Solihull. 

Jas Sansi went along to support the publication of the report. 

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I saw a shadow touch a shadow’s hand

                            Paul Simon, Bleeker Street

We’re all shadows, Birmingham is in the shadow of London, Solihull is in the shadow of Brum. It’s mostly to do with population size. The bigger the place, the greater the impact, in theory.

There’s value in regions working together, combining their resources, amplifying their voices and presenting a product that is greater than the sum of its parts. 

There’s a real buzz about Solihull at the moment. Recent headlines about the borough include a new leader at the Council, Cllr Ian Courts. Birmingham Airport has a new CEO, Nick Barton. Solihull Chamber of Commerce has a new President, Robert Elliot. The NEC have a new owner, Blackstone and Touchwood has a new General Manager, Tony Elvin. 

Today saw the launch of a document at Solihull Chamber of Commerce Expo called ‘Doing Business in Solihull – An Economic Snapshot.’ It’s one that warrants attention and I was very pleased to attend and support its publication.

Head of Solihull Chamber, Lillian Elekan introduced some of the key findings about Solihull in the report;

Solihull Chamber saw 9.7% growth in 2018, there are 214,000 inhabitants in the borough, 40% qualified to NVQ4+. The average house price in Solihull is £283,719.

Solihull is home to 8225 businesses, GVA per head is £36,042 compared to a national average of £27,430. A well educated population, enjoying a high quality of life with earnings significantly above the national average. 

Office rental in Solihull is £23 per sq foot compared to £33 in Birmingham.

Solihull is gearing up for more headlines coming down a high speed track; the arrival of HS2 shatters the notion of Geography with Central London thirty eight minutes away. A £286 Million development at Birmingham Airport cements a commitment to grow the UK’s third largest airport outside London from 13 Million to 18 Million passengers per year.

The region is preparing for one million visitors to the 2022 Commonwealth Games, the NEC in Solihull will be host to nine different sports during the Games. The NEC’s catering arm Amadeus and Ticketing Factory will be central in the successful delivery of the biggest sporting event in the region’s history. 

Ahead of the Commonwealth Games, Coventry is the UK City of Culture in 2021. A unparalleled  opportunity for the region to command the spotlight for an extended period of time.

So yes, we’re all shadows, but shadows that will be touching the hands of other shadows for the coming years.

Link to the report: https://www.greaterbirminghamchambers.com/media/807536/solihull_economic_snapshot2019.pdf

Join the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce: https://www.greaterbirminghamchambers.com/membership/apply-to-become-a-member/

 

Jas Sansi is a freelance photographer based in Birmingham, a trustee for LoveBrum and contributor to The Asian Today newspaper @jassansi 07930 837 505

New Benchmark for Business Events

Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce enjoy their biggest ever Business Awards Dinner at Birmingham ICC.

A night where the business community toast the region’s success stories alongside recognising their responsibilities in tackling knife crime and homelessness. 

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You know an evening is going to be special when pre event social media ranges from HSBC commenting on the quality of the candidates reflecting the strengths of our region to banter about who’s wearing what.

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The host for Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce 2019 Awards Dinner, Ed James, was so excited, he woke up at 4am and it didn’t kick off until 6pm..!

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Chamber CEO Paul Faulkner and Chamber President Saqib Bhatti welcomed guests to the biggest Chamber Event I’ve had the pleasure to capture. A certain US President would describe it as ‘Huge, really huge….bigly.’

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It takes a year to organise an Awards night this like. So a huge well done to the team in bringing it all together.

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Last night saw 1300 of the region’s business, civic and political leaders gather to toast the success stories that populate our twitter walls, Linkedin updates, Facebook comments, Instagram posts and newspaper columns.

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It was a mesmerising night and a reminder of the need to identify, acknowledge and reward business success, here’s why;

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Its important to celebrate success, we’re up to our necks in quick sand deserts of bad news stories. When given the chance to raise a glass, we should take that opportunity by the scruff of those bow tied or pearled necks and scream HELL YEAH, well done, great job, you did it.

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Celebrating success is the antidote to having to deal with failure, set backs and sacrifices. And those who enjoy the greatest success have taken this unholy trinity of challenges and said No, No, No to each of them. They have persevered, demonstrated grit and delivered the goods.

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The nominated Charity for the night was Prostrate Cancer, an illness that will affect one in eight men during their lives and if not detected soon enough claims one of those lives every 45 minutes.

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The first recognition was the President’s Award. Chamber President Saqib presented the annual award to the CEO of St Basils. Recognised by a previous International Relief Secretary of State, Andrew Mitchell MP as a world authority on homelessness, Jean Templeton explained to a packed hall 3 “our aim at St Basils is to design out homelessness.’

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Dinner from the amazing Amadeus team was served after grace from Bishop David Urquhart who said ‘Hope is a better word than optimism, and faith is the hope of things to come.’

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#GBCCAward19 was a game changer for business events. If there was ever a template for event excellence, it was carved into rock at Birmingham ICC on 11th April 2019

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Aston Performing Arts entertained and educated with a breath taking performance which addressed young lives lost through knife crime. They are a world class outfit and a world apart from anything you expect at a corporate event.

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Even the ICC staff were stopped in their tracks by the performance. Something I have never seen in a decade delivering photography at this prestigious venue in Birmingham’s Westside.

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Ed James invited them back onto stage for a very well deserved standing ovation saying they were ‘From Birmingham for Birmingham with unparralled passion and energy.’

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Midlands Mayor Andy Street addressed the room underlining his confidence in our region “…we can take the future into our own hands.” Quoting Rudyard Kipling he added ‘if we can keep our heads, we can create some thing special here in the Midlands.’

Lets look at the full list of winners:

Excellence in the Community – Birmingham St Marys Hospice

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Excellence in Customer Service – Handle Kingdom Ltd

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Excellence in Hospitality – Conference Aston

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Excellence in International Business – AFL Architects

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Excellence in Manufacturing – KEP Print Group

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Excellence in People Development – National Express

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Excellence in Retail – Loki Wine

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Excellence in Sales and Marketing – Amplify

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Excellence in Technology & Innovation – MET Cloud

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Excellence in Training & Education – Services for Education

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Greater Birmingham Business of the Year 2019- Amplify

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Congratulations to all finalists and winners especially Amplify who were crowned Business of the Year. They are a fabulous team providing an upgrade to live experiences across the NEC group. Its a service I’ve purchased on two occasions and is highly recommended.

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Waking up to the news, young leaders from the Chamber Henrietta Bealey, Anna Assinder and Mark Hipwell have been recognised as three of 30under30 to watch illustrates the future is in good hands.

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A fabulous night in Brum and a new bench mark reached for delivering an Awards Event.

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One of the evening’s many special touches was a recognition of the sponsors, without whom, an event of this magnitude would not be possible.

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It was inspiring to see a theme of tackling homelessness and knife crime threaded throughout the evening from Saqib’s speech on business as a force for good to Jean Templeton’s award and the performance from Aston Performing Arts.

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It was a pleasure to be a part of it, enjoy the full set of images: https://www.flickr.com/photos/92331272@N06/sets/72157677677910927

Join the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce: https://www.greaterbirminghamchambers.com/membership/apply-to-become-a-member/

Jas Sansi is a freelance photographer based in Birmingham, a Trustee for LoveBrum, the charity for a better Birmingham and contributor to the Asian Today newspaper.

@jassansi 07930 837 505

 

 

 

Complex Relationships

The last three years have demonstrated the complexity of relationships.

Jas Sansi tries to make sense of a problem that has troubled humans since the beginning of time; How do we solve a problem like us? All of us…! 

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Relationships are complex. People are complex. Put two people together, you double the complexity. Each has diverse opinions, different motivations and a distinct outlook of the world around them.

Each arrives to the relationship along different paths. Joined through destiny or accident, they try to forge a new unique entity; build a home, start a family, write a new chapter in their life story. Some even succeed. Quite remarkable when you consider the odds.

Consider a relationship between twenty eight countries. Countries that share a geographical region on the planet but little else. Countries that have a history of going to war with one another, then signing peace treaties only to repeat previous mistakes. That’s the UK and the EU.

Imagine a relationship between fifty three countries. Countries that don’t even share geography or history. A relationship where one partner dominated, benefitted and ultimately walked away with the children, property and assets but somehow remained on speaking terms with their ex. That’s the UK and the Commonwealth.

Reflect on a relationship between two countries that share the same language. Where one tried to dominate the other but found themselves kicked out of the relationship. Where the balance of power radically shifted from one to the other. And through all of this, managed to display the strained veneer of a ‘special’ relationship. Special in that one side suspects they are in an abusive relationship but perhaps its best to adopt a stiff upper lip, keep calm and carry on. That’s the UK and America.

Brexit is infinitely complex. We don’t know if it’s the end of a relationship or a change in the relationship. 

Do relationships ever really end? They are so complex, even death fails to sever them. The church got it wrong when it proclaimed ‘til death do you part.’ If death hasn’t the power to end a relationship, what chance has a paper document called Article 50 got?

We, the United Kingdom are in a four way relationship; with the EU, the Commonwealth and the United States of America.

The USA advised us not to break ties with Europe. We ignored them. And now, under a new administration, they have their eyes on our lucrative health and meat markets. But surely they won’t take advantage of our weaker position outside of the EU? 

And what of the Commonwealth? Surely they can paper over any economic cracks caused by investment no longer attracted here, assets moving to the continent, skills and labour drained?

Commonwealth member Brunei are addressing complex relationships by stoning their citizens to death and Commonwealth member India may be distracted by the 100 year anniversary of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in Amritsar to be overly concerned about our problems.

So, as is often the case in addressing complex relationships, we can not reach out to the partners in those relationships. We need guidance from those around us.

If we have the luxury of an extension in Brexit talks, why not use it to ask the people what they think about our relationship with the EU having being dragged over shattered glass for three long years.

Complex problems need complex solutions. If there’s no complex solution to Brexit, let’s go back to a Yes or No question. Let’s ask the people who have had three years to consider the reality of our relationships. Let’s ask the people. Again.

Jas Sansi is a freelance photographer based in Birmingham, a trustee for LoveBrum, the charity for a better Birmingham, and a contributor to The Asian Today newspaper.

@jassansi 07930 837 505

 

 

 

Colmore Curry Club; Six and the City

Congratulations to Simkissguy Recruitment who celebrate the Colmore Curry Club’s sixth birthday today.

Jas Sansi hears the words Cake and Curry and he’s there. 

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The Twitter bio on Simkissguy Recruitment goes ‘a multi award winning office support recruitment consultancy founded by Rebecca Simkiss and Richard Guy.’ That’s like describing a Ferrari as a car, often painted red.

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Simkissguy are much more than this; they are brand ambassadors for Birmingham and the region, plugged into Brum’s business network unlike any other company I know and support an infinite number of initiatives, projects and individuals. I’m very lucky to call them my friends.

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Let me share a personal story, my daughter Aman was invited to interview at Liverpool University. My wife has worked for the same school for 15 years and I’ve been self employed for 10, needless to say, we know nothing about interview techniques. I asked the team at Simkissguy if they could walk Aman through a structured interview. They immediately agreed, coached her and Aman got an offer. Boom.

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Today Simkissguy celebrate the sixth birthday of their flagship network event, the Colmore Curry Club. As always, every seat in the house was sold and guests were welcomed with a glass of fizz.

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Colmore Curry Club was the first networking event the company established and remains as popular as ever. It is held on the first Friday every two months and if you would like to attend, register as soon as possible because every seat is always taken.

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It’s held at Itihaas Indian Restaurant in Birmingham, guests are provided with vouchers for two drinks and a fabulous lunch after networking over canapés. The food, service and venue is awesome.

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This is a quick blog to wish the team at Simkissguy Recruitment a very happy birthday for Colmore Curry Club. Congratulations on all your achievements, thank you for supporting LoveBrum and finally for helping the next generation of the Sansi family, I will forever be indebted.

See the full set of pictures here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jassansi/sets/72157707744093765

Simkissguy Recruitment simkissguy.com @SimkissGuy

Itihaas Indian Restaurant itihaas.co.uk @Itihaasindian

Jas Sansi is a freelance photographer based in Birmingham, trustee for LoveBrum and contributor to The Asian Today.

@jassansi 07930 837 505

 

 

Diversity and Inclusivity

Jas Sansi starts the day with a Business Insider breakfast event at Growling WLG in Birmingham. An inspiring panel debate on Diversity & Inclusivity (D&I)

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Few businesses who wish to be sustainable would actively deter customers from spending hard earned money on their products and services. And yet, the actions or rather inactions of many companies do exactly that. 

If your company has an executive board or senior leadership team failing to reflect the market in which you operate, or mirror the customer base who are presently spending money with you, you may wish to consider the notion of sustainability.

A company is like a species; it doesn’t have to be the fastest or the strongest to survive, but it needs the ability to adapt. Click on any news service and you will read about the latest business failure. The rise and fall of brands is a common thread in the life cycle of corporate life.

Are you tethered to an organisation who have ignored Diversity and Inclusivity (D&I) as a strategic tool for future success? Are your best interests being served in such a company? 

This morning’s Business Insider panel debate on D&I was an incredibly valuable insight on the power of understanding and harnessing difference. Two panels of four people shared experiences of good practice as well as highlighting where challenges remain. 

Rosie Ginday of Miss Macaroon explained ‘Diversity is central to all we do. We have people training with us who have been written off but demonstrate great leadership qualities.’

Indi Deol of Desi Blitz suggested ‘if you’re not reaching out to all communities, you are heading for recruitment problems in the future. Oxford University research has found job seekers from minority groups have to send out 80% more applications than their white peers just to get an interview.’

Professor Kiran Rehan from University of Birmingham told a packed seminar room ‘Its dangerous to marginalise one group when promoting the interests of another. We need open and authenitic conversations and NOT safe spaces.’

This is just a brief glimpse of  this morning’s conversation. D&I remains a complex and as Professor Rehan described an ‘uncomfortable’ subject. If mistakes are not addressed now, we will see the same questions being asked in twenty years time.

Why waste two decades and lose the opportunities to harvest the talent around us? D&I is in danger of being seen as a tick box exercise. 

A number of attendees were HR professionals but it would be lazy thinking to consider harnessing D&I to be the responsibility of a single department. Change is necessary from the very top. HS2 represented by Mark Lomas explained ‘HS2 has Reverse Mentoring  where a junior coaches a senior member of staff over 12 sessions. And senior staff are held accountable if these sessions are rescheduled or cancelled.’ 

The success stories of the future will be those organisations that resisted the temptation of inertia. The panel suggested ‘Fear is the biggest single factor stopping senior leaders progressing the diversity agenda.’

Everyone makes mistakes but we should not be scared of doing so if a learning outcome is attained. Organisations who possess corporate DNA from the building blocks of diversity and inclusivity are tomorrow’s success stories. Ask anyone scanning the monitors in a betting shop, it’s always sensible to back a winner. 

 

Jas Sansi is Diversity Trustee for LoveBrum, the charity for a better Birmingham, a columnist for The Asian Today and a freelance photographer.

@jassansi @LoveBrumUK

 

Zakir Hussain and the Symphony Orchestra of India

The Symphony Orchestra of India begin their UK tour in Birmingham and are joined by Tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain.

The Town Hall Symphony Hall team host a media lunch at Opheem. Jas Sansi joins Zakir and conductor Zane Dalal for a meal orchestrated by our very own Aktar Islam. 

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First up, how many of you reading this knew India had a Symphony Orchestra? When I was contacted by Town Hall Symphony Hall (THSH) to photograph lunch with their conductor, my first reaction was ‘What?’

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The Symphony Orchestra of India (SOI) was formed in 2006. It is the first, and remains, only professional western orchestra in India. SOI is based in Mumbai, it includes 26 nationalities including nine Brits. 

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15 of the 89 players are Indian. A training programme has been established to identify and steer what conductor Zane Dalal explained over lunch ‘the most talented individuals in India.’ 

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Zakir Hussain and Zane Dalal

There are so many questions about the existence of a Symphony Orchestra in India.  Last night’s performance in Symphony Hall was mesmerising. My family is of Indian origin, and listening to them made me feel incredibly proud.

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The collaboration with Zakir Hussain demonstrates the SOI are an orchestra without walls. Diverse in their make up and unafraid of exploring new grounds. 

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If you have never seen an Orchestra perform live, consider this; you witness a finely tuned gathering of dedicated professionals under the leadership of a conductor communicating, through music, the message of a composer. The output is sound, but what you can only experience live is the physical co-operative action of the players.

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If you’re an engineer and you want to understand how the mechanics of an industrial machine should operate, go see an Orchestra. 

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If you’re a Business Leader, go see an Orchestra and witness how a team, under the right leadership, can produce magic. If you’re a Restauranteur, go see an Orchestra and recognise the processes that produce world class restaurants like Aktar Islam’s Opheem. 

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Go and see the Symphony Orchestra of India, details of their UK Tour can be found here: http://www.soimumbai.com/uktour

Opheem are finalists in GQ Restaurant of the Year, website link: https://opheem.com

Birmingham Town Hall & Symphony Hall; two world-class concert halls connecting people to music through inspiring live events: thsh.co.uk

Jas Sansi is a freelance photographer based in Birmingham, a trustee for LoveBrum and contributor to The Asian Today newspaper.

@jassansi 07930 837 505