ONE OF Hampshire's biggest business organisations has a new chief.

A top director with extensive experience of membership bodies Ross McNally has been appointed as the new executive chairman of Hampshire Chamber of Commerce.

His previous roles include managing director of the Guild of Master Craftsmen, chief executive of the University of Brighton Students’ Union and chief executive of the former South East Chambers of Commerce network.

Ross will work alongside chief executive Maureen Frost and fellow board directors to shape the chamber’s strategic growth as the county’s independent voice of business.

Among their key priorities is the need to ensure members continue to see the chamber as the ‘go to’ destination for support and trading contacts during and beyond the Brexit process.

“I understand the nature of membership organisations,” he said. “Members need to have a sense of pride and ownership. That means genuine two-way communications with everyone involved listening and responding positively. I want to give members confidence by ensuring a practical and pragmatic level of engagement at all times," said Ross.

"I’m keen that all leading stakeholders in business support can get round the table and work in partnership to help individual firms of whatever size and sector. On the lobbying front, I’ll be working closely with British Chambers of Commerce and policy makers within national government so that Hampshire Chamber continues to be seen as a leading organisation of trust and value.”

On Brexit, Ross acknowledges believes there are huge opportunities to be gained from moving into new markets, particularly for middle-sized exporting companies and their supply chains.

“I take a glass-half-full approach,” he said. “Businesses will say they want a greater degree of certainty but that is now blended with wider opportunity. It’s about expanding horizons worldwide while navigating risks appropriately.

"The government has to hear the message loud and clear that businesses want a stable future and a solid, well-managed landscape of opportunity with risks being controlled. Hampshire Chamber is ideally placed to take a leading role in helping exporters through our unrivalled network of contacts in the chamber community internationally.

"My message to those who currently trade with the EU is that I am confident we will still have a good relationship with Europe after Brexit. I don’t think that relationship is as yet fully tapped.”

Maureen Frost said: “I have worked with Ross over many years during his time in the chamber network and seen first-hand how he goes about strategy and planning with huge insight, intelligence and energy. Among the projects we’ve worked on are port development, help for people seeking self-employment, and support for exporters. Ross has tremendous experience at engaging with individual businesses as well as government and other stakeholders and he is a most welcome addition to our team.”