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Richard Burge Chief Executive, London Chamber of Commerce and Industry

UAE - Economy

Richard Burge

Chief Executive, London Chamber of Commerce and Industry


Richard Burge has been the Chief Executive of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry since 2020. He has led several million-pound organizations as chief executive over 18 years and has been on the board and a non-executive chair/director of five corporations. Burge has worked in over 55 countries. He was chief executive, commonwealth enterprise and investment council from 2017 to 2019. For the last eight years, he was chief executive of Wilton Park. He was also a commissioner for Commonwealth scholarships and on the council of Durham University. Burge is currently a governor of the National Institute of Social and Economic Research.

The London Chamber of Commerce and Industry seeks to play a major role in the transformation of London as an international global city and forge closer relationships with other major cities around the world.

What is the role of the London Chamber of Commerce, and how has it transformed since you arrived?

I came from outside of the chamber community, and my job is to come in and do something different. We have made some serious changes in the past 18 months. Internally, the management and performance systems have been updated. The crucial change for us is to turn the London Chamber into the Chamber for London as an international and global city. Our job is to reflect, respond, promote, encourage, and engage with the world, with London as that global city. There are a number of things that we have had to change. Just within London, we cannot deliver the granular level services that ordinary companies in London need from a chamber of commerce. We have made an effort to develop a network of chambers across London, some of which already existed. That enables us to focus on the international global city aspect. We will become much more than a trade advisory service. We are developing member venues across the city. There will be a large trade center in the west end of London. We are also opening our own accelerator unit and a sandbox focused on businesses such as SMEs being able to trade internationally. We will be focusing on areas of disadvantage. We want to move from diversity to inclusion. Transactions and the nature of geopolitics and failure to negotiate global trade deals are being substituted by bilateral deals, meaning there is great inconsistency in trade. We are passionate about globalization and believe that you share wealth and prosperity through business and secure peace through trade. Thus, we will work with cities that are like us. There are many global cities struggling at the moment because the two key things that they need are under threat: the central government that sees them a tool in their geopolitical arsenal and a judiciary that has become politicized. For me, global cities flourish when the underlying legal principle judges our independence and neutrality when enforcing contracts. For a country that has seven absolute monarchies, Dubai and Abu Dhabi are still in that space.

How do you see the role of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry in this recovery phase for the city?

COVID-19 and other underlying issues caused huge pressure in terms of productivity and global debt; however, it has pushed businesses to change things for the better. Productivity and effectiveness matter, and this is where personalized work solutions (PWS) come in. Everyone will start to implement PWS, which will lead to people living healthier, productive, and more enjoyable work lives. We are learning more about how businesses and cities have to be more resolute.

When we talk about sustainable growth of cities, what are the most important things to take into consideration?

Measure, measure, and measure: You cannot take action unless you are measuring things accurately. It is not just data but also the metrics too. For the moment, we do not have a consistent way of measuring and recording the greenhouse gas emission of businesses and entire cities. Many companies have portions of their business externalized. They have no idea what affect that has on sustainability. We need to make these matrices transparent. A company’s weakness is not about what they are doing but what their supply chain is doing. They could be doing everything right but find out their suppliers are doing something wrong. They are relying on someone being completely unsustainable. Unless we get the ways of measuring, validating, and verifying the validations right, climate change impacts such as water and waste will still be a major issue even with the best intentions.



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