2017 has been an exciting year for many reasons. An early sign of the year-end is watching the BBC Sports Personality of the Year. Congratulations to Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis-Hill, both incredibly deserving of the recognition they received this year.

I was privileged to mix in esteemed sporting company at a recent awards dinner. Left to Right Kyran Bracken, Geoff Miller, Me and Paul Merson

Elsewhere in sport we saw some kind of return to normality after Leicester City’s fantastical Premier League win in 2016.   It was down to earth with a bump for them in 2017 as they finished 12th thereby setting a new record for the worst Premier League title defence.  In a kind of symmetry they take that record from 2017’s title winners Chelsea, who set the previous record in 2015-16.   It’s nice to see the Jose and Pep show hotting-up; I’m a fan of the Blue half of Manchester – although not everyone at JMCL is  – and it’s great to see City’s breathtaking version of the beautiful game and our 17 year-old wunderkind taking the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year.

Both the ladies and men relinquished the urn this year in Ashes Cricket, but at least in Rugby the Lions came away with credit in New Zealand and England smashed Australia in the autumn internationals to retain second place in the world rankings.

Politics has been dominated by Brexit, the type of Brexit, the cost of divorce and for much of this year even whether we’ve had grounds to start the negotiation.  The issue on which there is full agreement is that the economy is still in desperate need of a productivity boost.   We’re also having to increasingly factor in the effects that rising in inflation will have on business over the coming period, something that we’ve not had to seriously consider for a generation or more.

This year’s craze seems to be virtual assistants in the home and artificial intelligence in business.  Their rise is inevitable and we need to harness it for productivity but for the time being at least JMCL will be staying human ..sorry to Cortana, Alexa, Siri et al.

It’s certainly been an exciting year for us as we’ve extended our work with existing clients and won new & diverse clients.  The scaleability of our offering is demonstrated by two new clients, the first a nationwide estate agency/property services group and the second a chain of GP Practices.   Their diversity is further demonstrated with the former being a listed PLC and the latter our first Community Interest Company (CIC).  It’s a good balance with the benefits we’re delivering going to diverse shareholders in the PLC whilst for the CIC they’ll go straight back into the local community.

It’s been great to see success for existing JMCL clients, with Pure Gym being snapped up by a US private equity house and UniGreenScheme (UGS) picking up multiple awards. During 2017 alone UGS picked up a Green Gown Award, The Welsh Business Awards start-up of the year and Monmouthshire Business Awards Young Entrepreneur.  Well done indeed!

Looking back on what I’ve learned, 2017 has reinforced the value to me of openness, long-term relationships and doing business with people we like working with.  It’s also been a year where we’ve experienced real and growing receptiveness to our Enlightened Procurement approach with people recognising that it’s not just about Procurement it’s about the wider business. Looking at the risks, opportunities, social impact and bringing them together to build better, more resilient and profitable businesses.