Hugo is a Belieber in increasing Israel trade

HUGO Bieber is focused on developing bilateral trade between the United Kingdom and Israel.

Chief executive of London-based UK Israel Business, Hugo succeeded Daniel Seal in the post three months ago.

"It's about innovation and improvement in the way we go about our business," he said.

"In recent weeks there has been positive news about the British economy, so greater trade with Israel can only help the British economy."

Born in London in 1983, Hugo's family moved to Sussex when he was a toddler.

The eldest of John and Joey Bieber's four children, Hugo attended Middle Street Synagogue and had a traditional Jewish upbringing.

"We always celebrated the High Holidays as a family," he recalled.

"The synagogue is in the centre of Brighton and is a Grade II listed building.

"It closed over a decade ago, but is renowned for its stunning architecture and historic stature."

Hugo's father was a lawyer before becoming an author. His mother is a photographer and two of his siblings, Kara and Leo, followed her career path, while his other sister, Lark, works at the Israeli embassy in London.

Not affiliated to any youth groups specifically, Hugo went on Israel tour at 16 with RSY-Netzer.

Academically, Hugo was educated at St Bedes, Sussex, where he was marketing director of a local area award-winning young enterprise company.

Jewish Society chairman at the University of York, where Hugo graduated after studying management and Information Technology, he was a member of an IT consultancy team that won a prestigious competition.

Hugo was also Student Union rules committee member and National Union of Students representative.

His working career began in management consultancy before experiencing a "boom to bust" time at Humbert's Group.

A mergers and acquisitions executive for a rapidly expanding publicly listed national chain of estate agents, Hugo recalls this period as "learning the ropes of business".

"It was a very useful experience as I was involved in 18 acquisitions of other business in my first year," he said.

Hugo was then responsible for marketing activities across London, Paris, Frankfurt and Hong Kong for the European Financial Advisory Services division of global investment bank Houlihan Lokey.

Away from work, he has been chairman of Young Norwood's business, finance and entrepreneur committee for three years.

"I wanted to give something back to society," Hugo said. "At Norwood, it was possible to make a significant impact by raising a lot of money for a very good cause.

"We took an event from raising 20,000 as a cocktail evening to a dinner raising 45,000. And this year's dinner raised 65,000."

Hugo was working on a start-up business when an opportunity to join UK Israel Business arose.

"I come from a very Zionist family," he said. "They have always been very keen on Israel and at university I did a lot of pro-Israel advocacy.

"I'd been to a few events organised by UK Israel Business, so was well aware what the organisation did.

"I had a save-a-date reminder for its annual dinner last March, which prompted me to think what was happening with the organisation and discovered about the chief executive post."

Hugo had to create a two-year strategy paper and landed the position after two rounds of interviews.

UK Israel Business provides cutting edge information on emerging business opportunities in creative industries, healthcare technologies, information communications technology, industry, trade and logistics, energy and the environment, and real estate.

Services include networking events, business introduction services, market intelligence reports, investment forums and business delegations.

Israel's bilateral trade has been in excess of 2 billion over the last decade and is estimated to reach 3 billion by 2015.

"My main vision is to go out to the wider business community and not just focus on London," he said.

"A lot of British businesses, particularly outside London, aren't aware of the opportunities for trade with Israel.

"To raise levels of trade between the two countries, we have to start looking to a wider business community."

He added: "Daniel Seal built up a good following and strong brand image in the marketplace.

"He made us into the go-to port of call for trade between the UK and Israel. I aim to build upon those strong foundations.

"British businesses comprise the majority of our membership so I'm looking to showcase opportunities to invest in Israel, export to Israel and purchase from Israel.

"We are in contact with around 10,000 key decision-makers and 2,000 businesses, so it's important to showcase different sectors to audiences across the country."

Hugo added: "I'm focusing on innovation as opposed to technology.

"Innovation covers all sorts of areas, including water, materials, healthcare and life sciences,

"With technology, investors are aware of internet, semi-conductors and commuter-related areas as opposed to more innovative ideas that come out of Israel, whether it's growing algae in the desert or self-healing paint for vehicles."

Hugo kicked off the London breakfast speaker series with Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary, while Lloyds Banking Group chairman Sir Win Bischoff is lined up for October.

UK Israel Business is based in London and has a branch in Leeds, but there are early discussions to run events in Birmingham for the Midlands region.

Longer term plans also cover Scotland.

© 2013 Jewish Telegraph