The Covid-19 pandemic has led to the biggest and longest disruption for people’s lives and livelihoods in living memory.

With case numbers for the omicron variant dropping and the booster vaccination rolling out to younger age groups, there’s real hope that confidence will be renewed in 2022.

FINN caught up with Mark Goldsack, UK Director Department for International Trade Defence and Security Organisation, at the Dubai Airshow to find out how the Department of International Trade had been affected by the pandemic. Goldsack described being able to meet in person as a “relief,” but added that the response to Covid disruption and restrictions imposed on everyday life had also highlighted the value of trust in relationships and the UK population’s adaptability to using technology to progress projects.

He explained: “I think the thing that’s really surprised everybody is just how successful we have been in weathering working virtually, and that’s really a testament to two things: first of all the strength of relationships that exist in this space. What we’re trading in is trust, because we’ve got strong relationships, because we’ve got trust, we’re actually doing pretty well nonetheless and that’s been if you like underpins everything that we’ve done.”

Increased scope of virtual conversations is a pandemic gain

“Of course, the other bit has been this huge jump in faith with the technology because the technology, I think, has surprised everybody with how much it’s been able to do. If you told me two years ago I’d be working in an absolutely paperless office, I would not have believed you, but I am today. So, whilst I’m hugely relieved to be going back to a degree of absolute face-to-face real-life interaction, let’s not forget we’ve also gained an enormous amount in terms of our ability to sustain, develop and work conversations in a virtual way which gives us a reach we’ve not had before.”

Goldsack said he was looking forward to more in person events as 2022 progressed. The return of the Farnborough International Airshow on July 18-22 2022, would mark the first post-pandemic airshow in the western world. Goldsack said the event would help showcase innovation in the aerospace industry

Farnborough International Airshow will showcase “best of British”

“We know it’s always been a global leading event, it’s an opportunity for us to showcase the absolute best of our British product, our British technology, our British innovation, all of the education, the development, the intellectual thought that goes in behind it and we’ve been just waiting for an opportunity to get back out there and do this. When I’ve been walking around the show here, the anticipation of that is tangible – every delegation I’ve met with, every company I’ve met with, is really looking forward to us bringing that together and going and taking what we were doing there previously and taking it to a new level which is inevitable, I think, given the difficulties everybody’s had to face through the pandemic. Going back, selling what we’re doing, meeting our friends, meeting our close partners, allies and colleagues from around the world and sharing that experience for real. It’s going to be a good year!”

Clever answers to some of the most challenging capability requirements

Goldsack said the UK’s capability of finding solutions to some of the most challenging problems contributed to the strength of its offer. “To be brutally honest i think it’s our ability to innovate intellectually we are producing stuff against both a prime and SME base that is genuinely innovative, it’s sourced out of a profoundly capable educational and development system and that innovation is what leaves us on the cutting edge time after time after time. And if you’re at the cutting edge, you’re a partner that everybody wants to speak to.”

“We don’t have the answer to everything – nobody does – but what we have got are really clever answers to some of the most challenging capability requirements that we’ve that we face out there and the fact that we are able to partner with people, the fact that we’re able to share our IP in a way that few of our competitors can is what sets us apart in the marketplace and that’s backed up by the incredibly deep relationships we have government to government around the world which allow us to provide, if you like, a fully wrapped capability cooperation piece which is the underpinning piece of a partnership and at the end of the day it’s about trust and we have that trust with our friends and colleagues.”