Exclusive Interview with Laura Citron CEO of London and Partners
By Jayjay Epega – http://epegamedia.pressfolios.com/
Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner / That I love London so / Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner / That I think of her wherever I go / I get a funny feeling inside of me / Just walking up and down / Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner / That I love London town.
– Hubert Robert Harry Gregg MBE (19 July 1914 – 29 March 2004)
London oh London! A city I call home, and a city much loved all over the world. It was certainly eye opening and a real pleasure to meet and to be able to interview Laura Citron, the CEO of London and Partners and to get the opportunity to learn more about the organisation, the great opportunities available and why it is such an important asset to this great city.
How and when was London and Partners formed/put together.
We formed in 2011 just before London hosted the 2012 Olympic Games. It was formed by merging together three organisations that had already existed for a long time, into one organisation.. so that was the tourism one which was called Visit London, the higher education promotion agency which was called Study London, and the inward investment business agency which was called Think London…and for the first time all of those different functions that promote London around the world were brought together into a single not-for-profit company called London and Partners. It is actually quite a unique model for a city to have an organisation like London and Partners and so we are very lucky as Londoners to have it, and I very often get asked by cities around the world about how they can set up something similar.
What is the role of London and Partners and why is it vital for this great city?
Well London is a global city , it’s in our DNA and it is what makes London special and so it is really important to have an organisation that is out there promoting London around the world and the best place to live, study to come on holiday to invest and to go and visit.
Can you tell us a bit more about your role as CEO, also the team you work with?
We are a team of about 220, most of us are in London. We have offices in North America, so we have 5 offices across North America – from Toronto down to LA, we have 4 offices in China…we have two offices in India..one in Mumbai and one in Bangalore and then we have two in Europe, France and Germany. The team are really talented and passionate about London and have a whole range of skills. We have lots of fabulous marketers who are brilliant at showcasing everything that London has to offer for our audiences around the world. We also have people who are real deep experts in doing business in London and in particular sectors that London is really great at, like for example experts in creative industries , or experts in AI, or experts in Fintech, so that we can really help businesses in those sectors to come to London and thrive… and also for London businesses in those sectors to become global players.
What’s the best advice you would give businesses who want to learn more or get involved with London and Partners?
I would say get in touch! We would love to hear from you. If you are a business that is outside UK and you are thinking about expanding to London please talk to us because there is so much we could do to help, and it is all free. If you run a business in London and you are an entrepreneur and you run a start-up or scale-up business and you want to want to grow and you are thinking about international expansion outside the UK, please come and talk to us, we run a phenomenally successful programme for London based companies to become global players. If you are in the tourism/hospitality industry we would love to talk to you, we work with over 500 different tourist organisations in London to help them understand how to best promote themselves for visitors and be part of our marketing campaign promoting London around the world for tourists. There is so much that people can do to get involved, and if you just Love London and you want to use your networks and your influence, to be an advocate and an ambassador for the city we would love you to do that too.
We work with networks of influencers who have fantastic connections in the sectors in our target markets, so for example if you have a lot of influence in the Fintech sector in the US, we would love to work with you… and what we do with our influencers is that we share key messages about London and back the statistics which really show London’s strength but we can also give our Ambassadors access to lots of content and interesting information about London but also we provide really regular updates of good news that is happening in London so that advocates of London around the world always have something fresh and new to say so that you can always be talking about the latest most exciting things that’s happened or about to happen in London.
What are plans going forward and in what ways does Partners reach out globally?
We are looking forward to 2020, we’ve got some really exciting global events happening in London that we are quite involved in. So one of the big ones is that London at Wembley is hosting the semis of the finals of the Euros football championships …which is one of the hugest events watched not only in Europe but is watched by billions of people all around the world… so when all eyes are on London, we will really be using that event to show London and Londoners in their best light .
Another really big event next year is that we have once again the NFL and MLB – American football and baseball, playing their London series which is really exciting and brings lots of Americans into town. Formula e is back in London and particularly with the focus on sustainability I think that is really exciting for the future of motorsports. Then there’s London Tech Week which is held in the middle of June every year, it’s a is a free worldwide cutting-edge tech hub for the global tech industry, who will all descend into London, so we are really focussed on those events that are happening in the city.
But of course everyday our teams in market are at the big tech and innovation events around the world meeting the most exciting fast growing companies to help them with their expansion to London and every year we support over a thousand different companies promoting tech start-ups and scale ups with their expansion. Everyday our teams are meeting companies and making introductions.
What would you say makes London such a unique city?
I think for me what makes London Unique is its mindset. London is an open, welcoming and tolerant city and it has been for many hundreds of years… and it’s that openness that gives London its incredible creative energy and its buzz and it is also what has allowed London to re-invent itself so many times.
London has been a gleaming global commercial trading business city since Roman times and the reason we have been able to do that is that for thousands of years, is that we have constantly re-invented ourselves and we are constantly re-inventing the city and we can do that because we are so open. So, if you take the example that’s really clear to see in the urban environment, look at Kings Cross or Battersea or the Olympic Park at Stratford and how they have been reinvented by new generations of Londoners and we can do that so brilliantly because we are so open. Look at Battersea which has a British Architect Foster and Partners – along with an Uruguayan Architect and an American architect, and the developers are Malaysian , Apple from California are also involved .. that tells you everything you need to know about London!
Laura Citron is CEO of London & Partners, the international promotional agency for London. She leads the organisation to grow London’s global reputation and to attract business, tourists, students, events and talent to London.
Thank you to Laura and her team for granting this interview.
***All Images Courtesy London And Partners