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HomeNews'The UK's business ecosystem is built upon networking' - in conversation with...

‘The UK’s business ecosystem is built upon networking’ – in conversation with Pierre Saunal

New members  •  Portraits

pierre-saunal-member-portrait-french-chamber-of-great-britain

Pierre Saunal, co-founder of airc.world llp, spoke to us about his professional journey in the UK, his expectations for 2024 and his new membership at the Chamber. 

Could you tell us a bit more about your professional experience? Why did you choose to settle your business in the UK?

Growing up in Scotland, Ivory Coast and France, I was lucky to be exposed to different cultures. It didn’t come without its challenges but it gave me an open mind which shaped my professional career. From Toulouse to Paris and then London, where I arrived in 2013, I experienced different aspects of the construction sector which led to co-founding airc with Jaime Ingram in 2020. Even if we are not from the UK, it felt natural to settle our business in London, one of the world capitals. Its diversity makes it the ideal location to connect with any place in the world.

What were the challenges you faced when you came to the UK and how did you face them?

Embedding myself in a local culture much more different than I initially thought was the most challenging part. Looking at the UK from France, I felt that we have a lot in common but there are some fundamental differences. Networking is one of them. Key when setting up a business in the UK but almost frowned upon in France, where it happens behind closed doors. I had to get out of my comfort zone to sell ourselves as expected in the UK. That is by developing long-term relationships with like-minded people through organisations like the French Chamber.

What’s on the horizon for next year? For your company and business in general?
2024 is a year full of hope for us after overcoming global challenges since we started in 2020. BIM (Building Information Modeling) is now mature in several countries in the world. Ireland, Italy or Spain recently made it mandatory for many projects. This follows to a certain extent France, Scotland, Germany or the UK. As enhanced collaboration is key to BIM, we feel that it is a good sign for the construction sector and beyond, hopefully showing a desire in people to collaborate more to build a brighter future for the generations to come.

What advice would you give to a French entrepreneur who wants to settle in the UK?

What comes first to mind would be to build a strong network through organisations like the French Chamber and not hesitate to ask for help. The vast majority of us benefited from the help of others when setting up our businesses. We are eager to do the same for any entrepreneur settling in the UK. The UK’s business ecosystem is built upon networking. It is vital to embrace it even if it can be challenging initially. So, to loosely quote Morpheus, ”take the red pill, come to the UK, and see how deep the rabbit hole goes”.

What do you hope to get from your French Chamber membership this year?

Meeting more and more people to build balanced partnerships. The first few months at the French Chamber have been mind-blowing in terms of the support we received. It has never dawned on me before that the French community in London could be so diverse and connected. It took my friend Sean Fleetwood to mention it some months ago for me to realise it. We also want to give back to the members by sharing our experience and setting up a BIM group for members to discuss and influence all aspects of this cornerstone of the construction sector worldwide.

airc.world llp is a Partnership formed by like minded individuals to better deliver the human ecosystem. It is the parent company providing services to the construction sector via a suite of sector specific companies.