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. 


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.


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..!


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.’


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


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.’

0280 Presidents Awards - Jean Templeton (St Basils).JPG

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.’


#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


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.


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.



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.’


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

0678 Excellence in the Community - Birmingham St Marys Hospice

Excellence in Customer Service – Handle Kingdom Ltd

0696 Excellence in Customer Service - Handle Kingdom Ltd.JPG

Excellence in Hospitality – Conference Aston

0726 Excellence in Hospitality - Conference Aston

Excellence in International Business – AFL Architects

0756 Excellence in International Business - AFL Architects

Excellence in Manufacturing – KEP Print Group

0779 Excellence in Manufacturing - KEP Print Group

Excellence in People Development – National Express

0798 Excellence in People Development - National Express

Excellence in Retail – Loki Wine

0822 Excellence in Retail - Loki Wine.jpg

Excellence in Sales and Marketing – Amplify

0853 Excellence in Sales and Marketing - Amplify

Excellence in Technology & Innovation – MET Cloud

0874 Excellence in Technology & Innovation - METCloud

Excellence in Training & Education – Services for Education

0898 Excellence in Training & Education - Services for Education

Greater Birmingham Business of the Year 2019- Amplify

0993 Greater Birmingham Business of the Year - Amplify

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.


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.


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


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.

0641 The Sponsors.jpg

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.


It was a pleasure to be a part of it, enjoy the full set of images:

Join the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce:

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…! 


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. 


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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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:

Simkissguy Recruitment @SimkissGuy

Itihaas Indian Restaurant @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)

11 Bham Weekender

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. 

130 Zakir Hussain, Satnam Rana, Aktar Islam, Nick Reed and Zane Dalal.JPG

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?’


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. 


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.’ 

032 Zakir Hussain and Zane Dalal.JPG

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.


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

066 Zane Dalal and Aktar Islam.JPG

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.

081 Zakir Hussain,  Zane Dalal and Aktar Islam.JPG

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

140 Zakir Hussain and Satnam Rana.JPG

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. 


Go and see the Symphony Orchestra of India, details of their UK Tour can be found here:

Opheem are finalists in GQ Restaurant of the Year, website link:

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

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

@jassansi 07930 837 505

LoveBrum Turns 4

LoveBrum welcome guests, members, ambassadors and friends to Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery to celebrate the charity’s 4th birthday proudly sponsored by Tank Top. 


Figures are yet to be confirmed but I suspect 2018 saw Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery smash the ceiling of one Million visitors. Over 250,000 came to see Dippy the Dinosaur who spent summer in Brum as part of a national UK tour. Brum knows how to put on a big event. 


Here’s four reasons, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery deserve your attention right now;

  1. The Leonardo Da Vinci exhibition ‘A Life in Drawing’,
  2. ‘Women Power Protest’  
  3. The Edwardian Tearooms
  4. The Lucifer Sculpture by Jacob Epstein in the Round Room. Ironically just a few steps up from Paradise.  


LoveBrum were joined by 200 guests to mark the charity’s fourth birthday. LoveBrum has come a long way in a very short time. In a recent strategy meeting, trustees painted a picture (literally) of where we want to be in 5, 10 and 20 years.

It would have been a very ambitious soul to have predicted the achievements so far. It certainly warrants a celebration.


Co-founders of LoveBrum PJ Ellis and Tim Andrews welcomed guests thanking them for supporting the charity as it comes of age.

LoveBrum’s Chairman Tim Andrews shared his pride in ‘the level of engagement we are now achieving…with so many Brummies celebrating the change and pulling together to make that change.’ 

PJ Ellis tweeted from the event ‘An amazing turnout for LoveBrum’s 4th birthday bash. To say I’m humbled by the support we have received over the last 4-5 years is an understatement. Birmingham, be proud. You are full of some amazing people.’


Vice Chair Rebecca Simkiss announced the launch of Membership March; individuals who introduce the highest number of new members to LoveBrum have the opportunity to win some amazing prizes.


Thank you to Julia’s Cake Co for providing us with this amazing cake. Please give them a follow on Twitter @JuliasCakeCo 


Many thanks to Glenn Richardson (below left) doing his magic with his Photo Booth. Glenn’s website is


Thank you to everyone who supplied Raffle Prizes. Award winning Networker Henrik Court won a night at Holiday Inn Express at Snow Hill and immediately auctioned it raising an additional £60 on the night contributing to a total of £773.16. Fabulous. 


Editor in Chief of The Asian Today, Ifraz Ahmed won a beauty treatment. Look out for the Anjum’s Butler cartoon on this one. 


Huge thanks to everyone who came along last night to make the birthday celebrations a great success. We appreciate you all giving up your time and hope you had a fabulous night in the museum. 


The full set of images:

For more information about LoveBrum:


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

@jassansi 07930 837 505

The Italian Master in Brum

Jas Sansi photographs the launch of the Leonardo Da Vinci Exhibition at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery.

Drop your pencils, pens and paper and go see it before we bid ciao to the Renaissance Man on May 6th. 


Birmingham is the Events City, there’s a lot going on a, a lot of the time. A city like ours has the gravitas to attract the great and the good, secure in the knowledge its citizens and those from the region will appreciate the opportunity to witness something extraordinary. 


Last Thursday saw the preview of ‘A Life in Drawing’ by the Italian Master Leonardo Da Vinci at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. It is extraordinary.

0148 copy.JPG

The drawings form part of the Royal Collection, and are on public display to commemorate the 500th Anniversary of Leonardo Da Vinci’s death in 1519. 


They are mesmerising and I encourage everyone to go see them. The drawings are usually stored, out of sight, away from the harsh effects of light and oxygen. This a rare opportunity to enjoy them in all their glory.


The Exhibition is free to attend but donations are always welcome to support the work carried out by the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery.


Da Vinci is recognised as one of the most gifted people who ever walked this earth. If you have never seen any of his work, begin your journey at Birmingham.


The drawings are on display until 6th May. There is a book available to purchase of the Da Vinci drawings for £9.95 available in the Museum gift shop. Pick one up and Enjoy it over a coffee in the Edwardian Tearooms.


An incredible way to spend a few hours inside, away from the winter weather.


Leonardo Da Vince ‘A Life in Drawing’ is exhibiting at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery from 1 February to 6 May 2019.

Chamberlain Square, Birmingham B3 3DH   0121 348 8000

Free Entry (Donations Welcome)




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