Consultancy earns place at forefront of global influence

Stephen Mitchell of South Yorkshire-based Universal Projects at the World Chambers Award event in Qatar's capital, Doha.
Stephen Mitchell of South Yorkshire-based Universal Projects at the World Chambers Award event in Qatar's capital, Doha.
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International recognition has come quickly to Universal Projects. The South Yorkshire consultancy has won a series of contracts to establish itself on a global stage and, earlier this year, secured a top international accolade for a project to boost sustainable development in Cambodia.

The company secured second place in the social responsibility section of the World Chambers Awards, at a ceremony in Doha, the capital of the Gulf state of Qatar.

Universal Projects has carried out projects in Cambodia and Vietnam, including organising one of the biggest inward missions to the UK.

It is now organising another inward mission with Cambodia and inward missions for Turkey and Malta.

“The Maltese mission will involve delegates from a number of sectors and from the Maltese government, too. It aims to encourage trade both ways and will involve two road shows – one covering the area from Liverpool to Hull and the other in Ireland,” says Nigel Tomlinson, who also sees further opportunities opening up in Central and Eastern Europe.

Meanwhile, the Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce and World Chamber Federation has called in Universal Projects to develop an accreditation scheme and quality standard that could be used for Chambers world wide.

“We said it was impossible to create a ‘one size fits all’ standard, but we could develop a modular system that allows Chambers around the world to pick and choose the level of accreditation they want,” says Nigel.

The two organisations have also engaged Universal Projects to develop a new concept, called a Business Innovation Network that will enable Chambers around the world to exchange ideas and tap in to a network comprising the world’s 19 leading research universities, including Sheffield. In addition to winning contracts for a series of initiatives around the world, Universal Projects has also been prepared to turn some down, too, if they didn’t fit with the organisation’s own principles.

“We are prepared to pick and choose,” says Nigel Tomlinson. “We have turned down contracts involving nations that are suppressing democracy. It doesn’t matter if they are getting EU or UN money – that doesn’t mean it is a stamp of approval.”

Despite Universal Projects’ burgeoning business, most recently augmented by a strategic alliance with the Council of British Chambers of Commerce in Europe, Nigel still manages to devote a significant amount of time to advising a number of growing companies as a non-executive director.

“I’ve been successful in balancing both activities so far and that’s what I plan to continue to do,” says the former Sheffield Chamber chief executive.