NAJ News

2018 through the eyes of NAJ's CEO

14 Dec 2018

Simon Forrester, NAJ's CEO shares his high, and not so high points of 2018.

As we rush headlong towards the end of the year, it’s always good to pause and reflect on what have been the high points - and low points of the year gone by.

thumbnail 8383 NAJ 2018 Membership Infographic V2

The Highs

For me it has been a year of some significant high points, not least back in late January when I joined NAJ as your new Chief Executive. Since then it has been a bit of a blur of activity; getting to know our Staff team, our National Committee and steering group members, as well as some of our key partners, stakeholders, and as many members as my diary allows (and sadly it hasn’t allowed for as much as I’d like).

 It’s amazing where the months disappear to and yes, they do appear to speed up as time goes by. Nevertheless, some of the highlights for me that I can recall are the huge project to develop a new ‘customer facing’ website (the first phase of which was launched in late October, with lots more to come), plus the new-look Jeweller magazine, which together show off our new brand to great effect, with a tweaked NAJ logo and look to all our external activity. Alongside this, we developed our new strategic plan which can be summarised by five points:

 Source, monitor and share consumer and market insights that help members make better decisions

  1. Create ‘power networks’ harnessing expertise from inside and outside the membership
  2. Be a more active voice for the industry
  3. Create a comprehensive digital platform/ portal giving members quick and easy access to high value content and services
  4. Create a ‘must-have package’ of compelling reasons to join.

 We have begun to change the structure of the association’s volunteers, staff and resources to ensure we deliver this plan – it’s too important to fail. We are working with our colleagues from across the sector, and I hope you can see the positive direction of travel for NAJ.

 I’ve enjoyed asking the question ‘why’, and finding out your views along the way via our programme of industry events, from a stand at CMJ and Houlden, our presence at the major trade shows like IJL and Jeweller & Watch, to our NAJ Live events around the UK, and not forgetting the security and technology showcases we ran in London and Birmingham.

 More recently I’ve begun to get my teeth into some of the issues affecting you as jewellers, such as the loss of retail and manufacturing space, the Made in Britain campaign, and even talking to insurers about jewellery valuations – more on that in due course. I’ve been very pleased to welcome new colleagues to the Association, and sadly say goodbye to others.

 One constant that has been true wherever I’ve worked; membership organisations succeed when they put their members first. But understanding what our members need is often the single biggest challenge and this can only be done via reciprocal communication. What am I trying to say? We’ve started to ask questions, and will continue to do so!

 The Lows

I think the general economic situation has been a low point for all of us. Uncertainty plus austerity has made it difficult to trade, which is why it’s so important for us to support our membership, keeping them ‘fit for the future’ On a more personal note, seeing how some parts of the industry are pulling in different directions has been a concern – and I’m working to address this. I was also disappointed to read that a former colleague was undermining the work and reputation of NAJ – we need to work together in a positive way, not bicker or try to score points, too much is at stake.

  So what of 2019? Who knows.

The world has moved from relative stability to now be volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. We have to change along with our members to stay in the game. It will be an exciting year as we look to progress our strategy further, with the help of our new committees and our many stakeholders. One thing that I am confident of is that we will continue to have a committed and professional staff team, excellent volunteers who give up their time to drive the organisation forward, and passionate and professional members who are enthusiastic about making the industry a little bit better.

 Thank you for supporting your Association in 2018, and I’ll look forward to working with you in 2019.