Entrepreneurship Panel Event: The AI Advantage

“…in a rapidly emerging AI economy, organisations will be split into two groups: those who are good at AI and those who are bad at business

                                                             Michael Beckley, CTO, Appian (AI Outlook Jan report, 2024)

Artificial Intelligence is a tidal wave of tech that is transforming industries. As such, we were delighted to welcome 3 outstanding speakers for our May 2024 event. Our Moderator Sam Steele hosted our guest speakers and moderated an outstanding discussion and open forum.

Every entrepreneur needs to grasp both what’s at stake and the new horizon of possibilities.  

The WCIT Livery Hall was once again close to capacity with Members and Non-Members and the buzz in the room following the discussion, was testament to the excellent feedback from all of the attendees. Our elite panel discussion with three AI thought leaders, offered invaluable and tangible insights into both the high impact opportunities and the more alarming implications of AI adoption that we face.

The key focus was the recommendations to utilise Gen AI to drive productivity and efficiency gains, augmenting the human interactions to benefit your business and use AI to help solve business problems and drive growth. Indeed, today only 9% of businesses in the UK are ready and actively utilising the benefits of AI technology and that will naturally grow, as the technology matures and evolves through innovative new releases and technical advances

Our acclaimed speaker line up featured AI thought leaders, entrepreneurs, and policy makers

Speakers in photo above (left to right) Paul Excell (Chair, Global CxO, Advisor & WCIT), Mark Bridger (WCIT), Sam Steele (Moderator and MD of CebAI at Bayes Business School), Dr Indranil Naith (Market Consultant & WCIT), and Kir Nuthi (Head of Tech Regulation at the Start Up Coalition)

117th Business Lunch

On Wednesday 15 May, we held our 117th Business Lunch at Apothecaries Hall. Members and guests thoroughly enjoyed the May sunshine in the courtyard, before heading inside for a delicious lunch catered by @partyingredients.

We were delighted to welcome as our guest speaker, David Schluter from Fluid IT. David has built a successful business providing technical solutions with a team of people who have a background of what may best be described as ‘a chaotic lifestyle’. Concentrating on training, support and development of his team, many of the staff stay for the formative and developmental years of their career. Indeed, the current CEO started as an apprentice with the company. David also spoke about building a business around social value and putting people first which chimed perfectly with the theme for the Master’s year of ConnectivITy!

Guild of Young Freemen Annual Quiz

The Guild of Young Freemen transformed the impressive surroundings of Merchant Taylors’ Hall into an all-out intellectual showdown as their annual inter-livery quiz got underway on the 12th February. There are of course a few similar events across the city during the year, and WCIT’s formidable reputation for quizzing weighed heavily on our shoulders as we arrived.

For those wondering, the Guild’s definition of ‘young’ draws the line at 40 (which I’m sure inspires lively debate), however their events are well-attended by members and guests of all ages. In my book, winning this particular quiz comes second to the real prize: demonstrating that your company has a vibrant and active budding membership!

Always a highlight of the calendar, the event does a fantastic job of bringing together members from across different Companies, including from the increasing number who have created subcommittees or social groups specifically for their younger members.

Being one such company, the WCIT team were keen to intimidate the other teams by displaying just how young we were. We achieved this by strategically answering questions incorrectly about events prior to about 1998 and muttering in mock frustration that certain questions were ‘before our time’. Our plans to play music in public without headphones to help us concentrate were sadly scuppered by a strict ‘no smartphones’ policy.

The team performed well on the music round, quickly identifying pop and rock across a few decades. There was an unfortunate merger of two groups into a fictional Kool & the Sunshine Gang, and we failed to identify the classical piece. Cruelly, no points were on offer for naming the Building Society that deployed it in a recent advert.

The quiz is run by professional events outfit Quiz Coconut – freeing up the Guild’s own members to enter a team (decidedly fishy). One of Coconut’s innovations is the Cryptic Underground Stations round (Where could you be measured for underwear in public? Belsize Park! That sort of thing), and I’m delighted to say that our team scored 3 for 3 in this tricky round.

Overall, we performed well as a team, but were ultimately denied a podium position. The event is a great opportunity to informally meet with younger members from other companies, as is the Guild itself, and we thank them for organising the event (youngfreemen.org.uk). Thanks also to the Merchant Taylors for the use of their beautiful hall – and for crossing ‘enjoy a white-glove service of pizza’ off my bucket list.

Elliott Brooks

Congratulations to Freeman Ji Li for raising over £3,000 for the WCIT Charity in the London Marathon

Thank you everyone for your very generous donations to the WCIT Charity and your super kind support before and after the race! Even though my run was shy of my 3 hours 20 minutes target, together we managed to raise over £3,000 for the WCIT Charity.

So how was the marathon?

I started the race really well and executed the pace exactly as planned: the 5K mark at 23mins, 10K and halfway still on target. Then just as I thought it was going to be a new PB (personal best), both my calves started to cramp. Saltstick pills and gels didn’t help much, so I had to walk, jog, stretch almost every 10 or 20 steps for the second half. I crossed the finish line after 3hrs 42mins 48sec, ranking 14,077 out of approximately 50,000 runners.

After the finish line, in the runners only section, I found a quiet corner, shed a few tears, then washed them away by spilling water onto my face. Pretending to be Brad Pitt just out of the shower, I limped to a nearby Korean BBQ to join my wife and children. Had I been thinking about a cold beer during the painful moments? Oddly enough, not this time. My primary focus instead had been an inner push to complete the race and to not let anyone down.

Thank you again for your support, it means the world to me!

Ji Li

If you would like to celebrate Ji’s incredible achievement by donating to the WCIT Charity there is still time so please click on this link: WCIT Charity (justgiving.com)

Visit to the Honourable Artillery Company

Twenty-five members of the Company and guests visited the Honourable Artillery Company (HAC) on 10 April through the good offices of Freeman Brian Best of the Government Panel. Armoury House, the headquarters of the HAC, is a veritable oasis of calm in the middle of the City and includes in its ground the only cricket pitch in the City – which can also be used as a helicopter landing ground!

The evening started with a presentation by the Captain of the Pikemen and Musketeers (P&M) who explained the history of the HAC and in particular the P&M. The HAC is the oldest regiment in the British Army and traces its history back to Henry VIII, while the P&M was set up in 1924 and provides the ceremonial bodyguard for the Lord Mayor.  (You will also have seen them at certain events such as our Summer Banquets in the Mansion House.) The HAC still has a Territorial Army Volunteer Reserve battalion and provides the ceremonial artillery salutes from the battery at the Tower of London. While the P&M are all volunteers, they all have had some connection with the HAC in the past.  The Captain’s presentation of the history was clearly well-received and there were plenty of questions, which resulted in his overrunning his 30 minute slot by nearly 20 minutes!

Following the presentation, we split into three groups for a tour around the historic building, including a visit to their fascinating museum where we could have spent all of the allotted time. After this, and while plied with champagne and a finger buffet supper, several of our group tried on some of the armour of the Pikemen, handled the muskets (unloaded) of the Musketeers and modelled the hats of both.

Not surprisingly, the visit significantly overran is scheduled finish time of 8pm and all of the visitors had a very enjoyable time. We are grateful to Brian for his organisation and to the HAC P&M for allowing the visit.

The Role of IT in Health Building Design & Medical Device Management

Graham Stanbury, with a rich career in health IT, presented on an often unseen aspect of healthcare, the importance of software in NHS standards and hospital building. His small company’s software has set standards for managing hospital construction and medical devices and is now widely used. His presentation shed light on architectural briefing and design, touching on the Health Building Note (HBN) program and the complexities of medical device management. Graham highlighted how these tools integrate activities and equipment requirements for effective health facility creation and operation. He also provided amusing anecdotes on some of the realities of implementation and the challenging requests set by real-life clinicians.

The presentation was well received and was followed by a number of probing questions from the participants. It is hoped that other panel members will be encouraged to provide similar insights into their respective areas of expertise.

Storytelling for STEM Entrepreneurs

On 14th March the WCIT Hall was filled once again for a WCIT Entrepreneurship Panel event with guest speaker Liveryman Dave Robertson presenting a fascinating insight into the art and structure of storytelling. He very clearly :

  • Defined what stories are and explained how our brains have evolved to use stories to process information
  • Explained how effective storytelling can help the communication of ideas that are novel, abstract or esoteric, or a combination of all three
  • Provided a high-level framework for developing and delivering effective stories in a startup setting

Other take outs from Dave’s presentation:

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”.

So said the sci-fi writer Arthur C Clarke. Whilst not aimed at STEM entrepreneurs and innovators, this quote touches on a perennial challenge that we all face. Namely, presenting new concepts and discoveries to the world at large, in ways that overcome skepticism, confusion or resistance and foster understanding, acceptance and adoption.

Another writer, Stephen Fry, said that “using facts on someone who doesn’t have a shared understanding of the subject comes across as lecturing. The best approach to common understanding is to tell stories.” By utilising a well-constructed and well-delivered story, entrepreneurs can reveal the significance and value of their offer in ways that resonate with their audiences. Yet, few entrepreneurs are good storytellers. Storytelling is a skill that can be learned and, at the same time, it unlocks open dialogue with a range of key stakeholders, beneficial for us and our respective businesses.

Following the presentation and interesting Q&A’s, Members and Non-Members created a real buzz in the room over drinks and snacks during networking, which was testament to the excellent feedback received from all of the attendees. Tremendous insight, great clarity and sound advice, that captivated the audience. For those who attended we feel sure you now have the capability to be “EPIC” in your storytelling exploits !  For those who weren’t able to join us why not book below for our next event.

Thank you to Dave Robertson for the presentation and our attendees, for making this such a special event.  

Dave has kindly provided a handout document which can be viewed using this link


Busting Gender Stereotypes – an IWD Event

On Tuesday 5th March, WCIT hosted its annual International Women’s Day event, a collaboration between the Equality Committee and the Financial Services Technology Panel.
Our theme this year, in line with the official IWD theme of ‘Inspiring Inclusion’, was ‘Busting Gender Stereotypes’, and the event aimed to foster a true dialogue on how to make the financial services and technology industries more inclusive and welcoming to all.
The event began with a panel discussion, chaired by Maggie Berry OBE, and featuring three fascinating speakers: Kirstie Galloway, Partner at NextWave Consulting; Mark Freed, Co-founder, Men for Inclusion; and Kwaku-Kyei Manu, Director of Wealth App Support, SS&C. Each speaker gave a rich and often personal account of their experiences and work in championing diversity, before the floor was opened up to audience members to contribute their own thoughts and opinions.
Of the many topics discussed, some highlights were how to ensure that the coming AI revolution promotes social progress, rather than causing it to regress; how to influence organisational and professional politics; and what parents, carers, and teachers can do to counteract harmful gender stereotypes among children.
Following a closing speech from WCIT’s Master, Kerri Mansfield JP, attendees continued a very lively conversation over drinks and a buffet supper.
We hope that all attendees found the evening as enjoyable and engaging as we did. Special thanks to the Hall team for their impeccable running of the event, and to our speakers and chair for their valuable insights.
This IWD event was the first joint Equality Committee event in collaboration with another WCIT panel as part of our series of three ‘Busting Gender Stereotype’ events for 2024. The second will be on June 12th jointly with the Cyber Security panel and the third will be on October 3rd with the Education and Training Panel. Please put these dates in your diaries and continue to support DEI (Diversity, Equality and Inclusion) at WCIT.

Vicki Schmidt, Chair Equality Committee and Julia George, Chair Financial Services Technology Panel.

Use of AI in Gastrointestinal Imaging

Medicine and Health Panel, 29 February 2024

Despite a rainy February evening we managed a good turnout including a healthy mixture of Medicine & Health (M&H) Panel members, wider WCIT and Livery members and their guests. Attendees were treated to an entertaining and thought-provoking presentation from Professor Gina Brown of Imperial College London covering the latest insights on the use of AI in gastrointestinal imaging to deliver better patient and healthcare outcomes.

Professor Brown is a leading expert from Imperial College with a distinguished career in cancer imaging (including 400+ papers published!). She holds a pivotal leadership role in national cancer imaging programmes and has also contributed enormously to wider international organisations.

Professor Brown explained some of the challenges in simply using AI on images in her field. Detection rates were not nearly as good compared to the standard practice. This involves two expert clinicians working independently followed by consensus meetings for any conflicting interpretations. Researchers found that by using a combination of AI and one expert initially, followed by the other expert providing validation, not only were the best diagnosis results obtained but some clinician time was also saved.

Another problem highlighted was if the scan data (including the additional patient and biopsy data )was not recorded in a consistent way. Gina has contributed significantly in this field by driving the standardisation of data collected via standard forms both in the UK and internationally. This is an important step if future advances are to be made using analysis of existing data.

Other complexities in the field were also identified. For example, existence of lymph nodes in scans was previously considered an indicator of poor survival rates but in many cases the opposite can be true. Existence of tumours connected to a vascular system is also an important indicator for staging and prognosis. Not only can these images be complex to analyse but the meaning and interpretation requires expertise currently too multi-layered for an AI system.

Early experiences with AI interpretation for breast cancer has shown some positive results in identification but has also led to too many false positives. This can result in more diagnoses and a greater workload on clinicians and resources.

Overall Prof Brown indicated several areas where future technology could improve the clinicians and patients lives. Examples included managing the patient experience and workflows. Auto population of reporting templates, improved diagnosis and research outcomes from better data collection and storage and better management of the security and privacy aspects were all areas needing improvement. Plenty of work and challenges going forward!

A lively Q&A session followed with good interaction from all the floor.  Freeman Rosey Woodhead provided an entertaining summary of the event in her vote of thanks and even managed to include a reference to Professor Brown’s passion for the Japanese art of Niwaki!

Everyone had a good chance to mix and chat afterwards and we all walked away with a far better understanding of the challenges and reality of trying to apply Technology and AI in this vital area.

A big thank you to Professor Brown for her time and energy, to the Hall team (especially Mellissa) and the Panel team (especially Rosey) for their enormous help in ensuring the success of this event.

London Careers Festival at the Guildhall

The London Careers Festival took place at the Guildhall’s prestigious Great Hall on the 26th and 27th February 2024, marking a collaborative effort between the WCIT’s Education & Training Committee and the Careers Panel.

This year, the Festival was held in February rather than July in order to better align with secondary students’ timelines for making crucial decisions about their futures. During the 2-day event, the team engaged with approximately 300 students including those who challenged the notion that being a Youtuber or a Gamer was not a proper job. It’s our hope that these conversations will guide the young attendees in making informed decisions about any future courses and careers.

A special note of appreciation goes to Freemen Simon Perriton, Russell Macdonald, Alan Dainty, Sam Winterbottom, Ji Li, and prospective member Mark Flahant for dedicating their time and contributing to the success of this year’s Careers Festival. Additionally, heartfelt thanks to our exceptional Hall team and the Chairs of both the Education & Training Committee and Careers Panel for their invaluable support and assistance!