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The UK Business Response to COVID-19


Digital Roundtable
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The UK Business Response to COVID-19

As the global economy reels from the impact of COVID-19, the British economy is struggling to adjust at a time of already heightened uncertainty over Brexit. The government, however, has provided substantial support through furlough pay schemes and other incentives, such as a pledge to cover losses to lenders from cheap loans to businesses.

Never has a crisis been felt so differently sector to sector, however. While IT and textiles are receiving a boost as firms adapt to distance working and look to British suppliers to fill gaps, sectors from hospitality to retail and energy have suffered from a drop in demand and supply chain disruption.

So while state support for UK businesses during the COVID-19 crisis has been substantial, for how much longer can some survive, what must be done to adapt to a “new normal," and what further support might be needed? This digital roundtable will gather players from across the business environment to discuss all of this, as well as ask what opportunities the crisis may present.


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Mehmet Öğütçü
Mehmet Öğütçü
Global Resources Partnership

An internationally recognized authority on energy, geopolitics, finance and investment, Mehmet Öğütçü currently chairs Global Resources Partnership, a UK strategic advisory group, serves as Chair of The Bosphorus Energy Club and The London Energy Club, and is Special Envoy of The International Energy Charter. He is also the non-executive director for Trinus Capital.

Previously, he served as the prime minister's advisor and career diplomat in Beijing, Brussels, Paris, and London. He was a principal administrator for The International Energy Agency and moved to the OECD to lead an international investment program.
He was also a director for the BG Group (formerly British Gas), now part of Shell. He has also sat on a number of national and international company boards as independent non-executive director including at Genel Energy plc, Invensys plc, Saudi Crown Holding, and Turkish conglomerates such as Sisecam Group, Yasar Holding, and Toya Group.

Alia Hawa
Alia Hawa
Managing Director UK & Ireland

Alia Hawa is the Managing Director UK & Ireland for The L'OCCITANE Group. Born in 1981, she is a Swiss citizen with an international heritage and outlook and has always had a deep interest in beauty, fashion, and luxury. She studied economics and political science at the University of Geneva, culminating in a master's degree in 2005. While still studying, she started working at Clarins Group in 2003, where she stayed until 2006 and where she forged her first experience in cosmetics. She then joined The L'OCCITANE Group in 2006 as an area manager overseeing export markets in Europe. Over an 11-year career at L'OCCITANE, she has taken on increasing responsibilities, growing her business rapidly before being promoted in 2016 to the position of general manager export & travel retail Europe, Middle East and Africa. In July 2017, she moved to London and joined the American fashion brand Coach as a senior regional brand director in charge of the EMEAI region, also in charge of distributors & travel retail. After two years with Coach, she was again recruited by L'OCCITANE for her current position as the Managing Director of the UK & Ireland. She is married with two children who reside with her in London.

Leon Cook
Leon Cook
Atticus Communications

Leon Cook is an internationally experienced corporate communications and government relations specialist with over 20+ years demonstrable achievement both in-house and agency-side, engaging with governments, media, and stakeholders across EMEA and beyond. He is a senior strategist offering strong leadership and advocacy skills across international multicultural teams. He has worked for the global big three communications agencies, the largest independent, spearheaded government affairs for several foreign governments, completed secondments leading the communications teams within two national oil companies, and worked in-house for the likes of Anglo American and SONY. He has directly coached a number of corporate and political leaders on effective communication and reputation management strategies. Most recently, he has advised CEOs on effective COVID-19-related communication and campaigns. He is a politics and modern history graduate of Brunel University and a fluent Dutch speaker.

Han Le
Moderator: Han Le
Managing Director LATAM
The Business Year

Han Le is The Business Year's Managing Director for the Latam region. During his career in TBY, he has been based in Latin America, Africa and the Middle East. Before joining TBY, he worked in various media outlets in the Middle East and North Africa region.