This article was published before we became the Chartered Institute of Export & International Trade on 10 July 2024, and this is reflected in references to our old brand and name. For more information about us becoming Chartered, visit our dedicated webpage on the change here.

Kate Birrell

Katie Birrell is head of international sales for Nairn’s Oatcakes. She will be at MemberCon23 to take part in a panel discussion among representatives from businesses that have been recognised as trade champions, having won awards for international trade, such as a King's Award for Enterprise. 

“We’ll be discussing how we achieved our success in international markets,” explains Birrell.

“It’s always great to talk to other exporters in different industries and to swap the war stories as well as successes in those markets.”

There is, Birrell admits, lots of advice it would have been useful for her to know before she started out on her own export journey. She says the key is to not be afraid to ask for help and that events like MemberCon are an essential tool for would-be exporters as well as more experienced traders.

“Network frantically and find out as much information as you can.” 

Remain focused
But she also suggests being focused:

“Having a focused, rather than a scattergun, approach is useful. Knowing the markets you want to target and who your consumer is in those markets, those are the bits of advice that would have been really helpful right at the beginning.”

The last few years have been seen challenging conditions for UK businesses, with Brexit, the pandemic and the war in Ukraine – not to mention the UK’s domestic political upheavals and industrial unrest – causing major problems for supply chains and businesses of all size and in all sectors.

And yet, despite these challenges, businesses large and small continue to thrive and grow international sales.  

This panel discussion session at the Institute of Export & International Trade’s MemberCon23 will see export champions – including Birrell and Tom Stevens, operations director at Cambridge Commodities – share their award-winning stories, lessons learned and practical tips to help inspire fellow business leaders on their own journey in international trade. 

MemberCon23 is taking place on 5 July 2023, 9am to 4.30pm (5.30 pm if you’d like to stay for drinks) at Spaces at The Spine in Liverpool. To find out more and book a ticket, visit our website.