At Big Cat we have always tried to drive conversation around digital and we believe the region needs a step change in its digital competitiveness. To achieve this, we need a Mayor to lead the charge to bring digital skills and jobs to the West Midlands. Therefore, we were excited to invite former Managing Director of John Lewis and West Midlands Mayoral hopeful, Andy Street to share his vision for creating a world-leading digital economy across the region.

Street is no laggard when it comes to digital. He pioneered a ‘digital first’ retail strategy at John Lewis, being one of the first national multiples to adopt Omni-channel marketing.

So as we are nearing only a few weeks away from deciding which candidate will deliver devolved powers from Westminster, Andy Street shared with over 100 delegates from a range of industries across Birmingham and the wider Midlands, what his digital priorities will be and his mission to prepare for a regional digital revolution.

Street launched the session by saying, “Digital is vital to the continued success of the West Midlands economy because it is the golden thread across all the industries, which will provide jobs in the twenty-first century.”

Throughout the session, Street touched on three key areas of focus which really struck a chord with us here at Big Cat – Talent, Creative Business and Storytelling.

  1. Talent

Birmingham, the youngest city in Europe, is the home of not one, but six universities which provides us with so much fresh, young talent which Street says, we need to focus on, keeping hold of in our city and wider region.

“Attracting, nurturing and retaining the best talent in the city will be an imperative part of the West Midlands vision.”

The creation of a Digital Skills Institute and a new graduate retention programme are included in proposals by the Mayoral candidate. Street spoke about how this will see the support of innovative new approaches to skills training such as digital apprenticeships, digital boot camps and online learning.

  1. Creative Business

Street went on to discuss the growing opportunities for Broadcasting in Birmingham with the BBC, announcing it was part-locating BBC Three at the Mailbox next year, and there are now calls for Channel 4 to relocate here too. Experts in the broadcasting sector think the city has a strong offer and Street explained how he is 100% supporting the bid to bring Channel 4 to the region.

“These leading broadcasters play a major role in driving innovation, investment and the jobs which will attract the best talent across the UK. In addition, they will help with expanding the crop of up-and-coming young talent in the city through apprenticeships and training programmes which will help develop a new generation of content makers and story tellers.”


Street stated the importance of lobbying Government to make sure the West Midlands is at the top of the list when any national, cultural or creative organisation, such as Channel 4, is considering relocation.

  1. Storytelling

Street’s further message to us was how imperative it will be for our region to create an eco -system that will attract larger companies and investors. And as part of that, it will become more important than ever before for businesses within our region to start storytelling. “We need to share the great work and successes that we have to promote, as well as the passion and enthusiasm to build excitement and inspiration in Birmingham and beyond,” Street said.

At Big Cat we couldn’t agree more with the value of getting your brand or business heard through content. Your stories are one of the most important things you have. After all, we all remember a well told story!

The breakfast concluded with an engaging Q&A session where Street emphasised his plans to embrace this renaissance by growing the economy in a way which will benefit everybody. By adopting a West Midlands first attitude, promoting the great brands and businesses which will attract talent as well as investment, and supporting innovative new approaches to skills training will all be vital for building the digital talent and skills the region needs to make the digital revolution success for the West Midlands.

The power is in your hands so make sure that you all use your voice and vote on the 4 May, 2017.


Posted by: Rakhee Rathod on