He has been one of the best-known business figures in the Sheffield City Region for nearly three decades. Nowadays you are more likely to find former Sheffield Chamber of Commerce boss Nigel Tomlinson in the Middle East – but he retains strong links to South Yorkshire as unLTD found out on his latest visit to the UK

From Doncaster to Dubai and back again – Nigel Tomlinson may have left Sheffield Chamber of Commerce in 2010 but he certainly maintains his links with the Sheffield City Region (SCR).

After leaving the Chamber, Nigel continued working with the Chamber movement overseas and in 2015 become a strategic adviser to the Council of British Chambers of Commerce in Europe. In 2015 he received their highest honour, the Award for Excellence in Business.

“But bit by bit I have moved away, working now through a Swedish registered company we set up which has a £15m turnover,” he says. “I am and have been working with some of the great companies and organisations in the world including the European Union and countries.

“I am doing all that work out of the Middle East, I’ve got an office in Dubai, an office in London, in Holborn, where I am also associate lecturer for London School of Business and Finance. So, I’ll be doing more work in London next year and possibly less overseas.

“My company car seems to be an Emirates Airline A380! It’s just been an amazing ride and the great thing is I work three months on and three months off.  When the three months are on, I work overseas and the three months off I work in London, it’s a lovely balance.

“The downside of being away from the region is I’ve not seen my beloved Blades (Sheffield United) in three years. My sons have played hell with me as they haven’t seen them either! I have missed this wonderful ride from League One to the Premier League. The last match I saw was a 2-2 draw at Doncaster Rovers – we were lucky to get a point that day!”

Nigel is full of praise for how his hometown of Doncaster has embraced change. In particular, he is playing a key role in the emergence of DB4C – Doncaster Business for the Community. Started two years ago by well-known business figures from the town, it is a unique and ground-breaking charity raising much-needed funds for Doncaster-based charities and the local community which has already raised more than £70,000.

“Our strength is that everyone is a volunteer and funds raised go to chosen local charities and community projects, typically using the power of sport to raise these funds.”

But back to Nigel and his team’s work overseas.

“It is about Business Capacity building – the teaching of skills for certification and academic qualifications – including supply chain and quality and lean management systems. My area of expertise is leadership, change management, corporate strategy international trade and now my new one, organisational behavior and development – the big subject going forward which will replace HR.

“For organisations to succeed and be sustainable they have to change their culture. It’s not just about acquiring skills – it’s about how you implement them. This is why organisational behaviour and development is taking over from HR.

“It’s all about how you can run things better and this is where most of the contracts are coming from now – big organisations that have become overly bureaucratic right the way down to smaller family companies which are too paternal.  it’s all about innovation and leadership.”