The future - what does it look like and how do we get there? That was the question debated last night at the Business Leaders' Dinner.

Womble Bond Dickinson, which is celebrating its 20th year in Bristol this year, welcomed over 100 clients and guests last night on board the iconic SS Great Britain to discuss technology breakthroughs, new working trends and patterns, modern collaboration models and how this all fits in today's political backdrop. The dinner started with a drinks reception at the brand new Being Brunel museum. 

Amongst guests were the Lord-Lieutenant for the City and County of Bristol Mrs Peaches Golding; The Lord Mayor of Bristol Councillor Lesley Alexander and the Metro Mayor Tim Bowles. Keynote speakers at the event included James Shone, Founder of the charity I Can & I Am and James Woudhuysen, Visiting Professor of Forecasting and Innovation at London South Bank University.

Shone delivered an inspirational speech, recounting his story of when he was diagnosed with a brain tumour which left him blind. James' life as a 40-year old teacher, husband and father of four was utterly derailed by the incident but he told the audience we need to look up, look out and look forward because it is in the future where hopes, possibilities and opportunities lie. James concluded by saying that the past is a great teacher but a shocking master and that as individuals, parents, business leaders we need to reflect and refine as opposed to ruminate and define. 

Woudhuysen suggested that we make the future happen; the future isn’t just something that happens to us, or something we have to ‘future-proof’ ourselves against. He talked about the emergence of new sectors like cyber security and the role Bristol can play in boosting industries like robotics and housing. He closed his speech by talking about the opportunities presented by Hinkley, the Chinese market and further collaborations with SMEs, where he commended Womble Bond Dickinson for its recent report – Close Encounters: The Power of Collaborative Innovation. This report highlighted the collaborative deals between large corporates and SMEs, bringing together the power and operational excellence of multinational giants with the drive and dexterity of innovative SMEs.

Julian Kinsey, Partner and Head of Womble Bond Dickinson's Bristol office, commented:

"We had a fantastic evening with guests and clients at the Being Brunel museum and the SS Great Britain, two superb venues that bring to life the work of one of the greatest engineers who has ever lived and who will continue to inspire generations to come. As sponsors and members of the Being Brunel Corporate Club, we were delighted to host the inaugural corporate event at the new museum, offering our guests a unique experience. 

"I'd like to thank our two speakers James Shone and James Woudhuysen who offered some great insight on the future, not only on what could be in store for us but also on the approach and philosophy we should adopt when thinking about the future.

"The dinner presented the perfect opportunity for us to celebrate our 20th anniversary in Bristol and our recent combination with US firm Womble Carlyle, which enables us to increase our intellectual capital and innovate more readily. Womble Bond Dickinson provides our regional market with a unique geographical footprint, expanded capability and greater commercial opportunities that help showcase Bristol on the transatlantic stage."