A forensic expert has taken over as president of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce – becoming only the third woman to fulfil the role.
Deb Leary has begun a two-year term today, succeeding Steve Allen, head of the Birmingham office of law firm Mills & Reeves.
She is chief executive of Forensic Pathways, an international consultancy and technology design company specialising in the development of technologies and services in the threat intelligence and forensic sector.
She said: “Being Birmingham born and bred, I am incredibly honoured to have been elected as the new president, even more so as only the third woman in the 208-year history of the chamber to hold this position.
“I would like to extend my own personal thanks to Steve Allen who has helped steer the chamber through challenging times and I am committed to continuing one of his themes, that of innovation.
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“I know the importance of continued innovation and its impact on growth. It brings increased opportunities for collaboration and positive social impact regionally, nationally and internationally. The past two years have been a test of our resilience and commitment.
“Brexit and the pandemic have shown how globally connected and reliant we are and while this brings challenges, it also brings opportunity.
“The pandemic has highlighted the brilliance of collaboration and innovation and the acknowledgement that, on many aspects, we have to come together globally in order to address fundamental challenges.”
The previous female presidents were Bridget Blow in 2008 followed by Christine Braddock two years later.
Ms Leary officially took up the post at the chamber’s annual general meeting today and her nominated charity for her presidency is Pans Pandas UK which raises awareness of the conditions of pans and pandas.
These present primarily with symptoms such as OCD, eating restrictions, anxiety and behavioural regression.
In a separate announcement at the AGM, Aston University director Mark Smith was awarded the President’s Medal for 2021.
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It was awarded by Mr Allen in recognition of his outstanding contributions to Birmingham, the West Midlands and the wider business community over the past 30 years.
Mr Smith is executive director of business and regional engagement at Aston University where he is responsible for all business engagement activities at the university.
Mr Allen said: “Mark’s passion for the chamber and driving business activity across the region has been evident for a number of years.
“He has made a significant contribution to the chamber’s policy output via his role as a chamber council member and Aston University’s sponsorship of key campaigns such as Growth Through People and the Sustainable Business Series.”