Mike Hibbert, financial director of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce (GBCC), is to retire after 22 years in the role. When he was appointed in 1995 it was the organisation’s first full-time financial appointment at Board level, with the Chamber’s affairs having been looked after by honorary treasurers since its inception in 1813.
Since then the role has expanded into a broad brief and Mike, 60, has been at the forefront of managing the Chamber’s property affairs, its pension funds and also had spells in charge of the Chamber’s international division and work programme, which oversees start-up businesses.
“It was this wide diversity of the role which interested me so much,” says Mike. “I haven’t just been involved with the financial affairs of the Chamber but, of course, these have been central to what I have been doing.
“The possible development of the Chamber’s leasehold site in Edgbaston has been a huge responsibility in conjunction with colleagues and still very much at the forefront of the Chamber’s future.”
Paul Faulkner, chief executive of the GBCC, said: “Mike’s input at the Chamber has been invaluable. The job has required a broad area of expertise and he has been instrumental in guiding the Chamber’s fortunes, which at times have been challenging, over the past two decades.
“On a personal level, Mike has been a great support and source of counsel since I joined the Chamber. He has been a fantastic colleague and an important part of the Chamber's recent developments.”
Born in Oldham and educated at Aston University, Mike qualified with an administrative/management degree and joined the accountancy firm Whinney Murray, forerunners of what is now EY (Ernst and Young).
Originally, Mike joined the Chamber on a three-month secondment under the then chief executive Bob Moore.
“Since then I have worked with three other chief executives – Sue Battle, Jerry Blackett and Paul Faulkner. I have also worked with 22 different Presidents from many aspects of business life, including property, finance, law, education, engineering, television, entrepreneurship and marketing – and this has been one of the other appealing and diverse elements of the job.
“The other fascinating part has been involvement with so many business interests in the city through their membership of the Chamber.
“All of this has made the job an amazing experience and it has been an honour to work in an organisation that has such a magnificent and integral heritage as part of one of the most important cities in the world.”
Mike says that the most challenging period of his time at the Chamber came with the financial downturn at the same time as the Chamber’s Business Link contract ended following a re-organisation of business support by the government.
He says: “The Chamber had a turnover of £36 million when Business Link was with us and we had to cope with losing a large proportion of that as well as the impact of the biggest global financial downturn in living memory.
“Those were pretty challenging days and it has been particularly rewarding to come through them and establish a Chamber that is financially strong and making sustained surpluses for the benefit of our members.”
Mike and his wife Susan, who he met at Aston University, have a son and two daughters, and has recently become a granddad..
“That will keep me busy but I hope to have more time to pursue my other interests, including travel and walking” says Mike. Paul Faulkner added: “Mike will be a hard act to follow and we are starting a recruitment process for a Chief Financial Officer.