Monthly Archives: March 2019

Liberty turns 21

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Liberty is 21 years old today. I remember the day that my bank manager told me the business would likely fail within the first two years so it’s good to think we’ve reached this milestone and we’ve had some successes along the way. To celebrate, I thought I’d share some of the things that I believe make for good business advice. I hope you enjoy!

  1. Be brave but trust your instincts

It’s a given that most people who start their own businesses are risk takers. It’s really part of the DNA that makes an entrepreneur. But risk taking for the sake of throwing caution to the wind isn’t a recipe for success. I’ve always believed in doing things differently and that’s really the Liberty “secret sauce.” We challenge the status quo and don’t settle for the same. Generally in business there is a balance between a crazy idea formed in the middle of a sleepless night and a tendency to not do anything that might rock the boat – but with all the decisions I’ve made, I have relied heavily on my own instincts and the instincts of the people around me I trust the most – professionally and personally. Call it a sixth sense, a feeling in your gut or whatever you like, but ultimately the buck stops with me and the decisions I have made, and continue to make on a daily basis affect others – it’s never a bad thing to remember that and whilst pushing forwards with new ideas through an innate self-belief it’s the right thing to do, it’s helpful to consider those your decision will affect too – this is what makes for a good decision.

  1. Surround yourself with talent

Being the founder of a business doesn’t necessarily mean you are great at everything. In fact, every successful business owner needs a team of trusted, talented people to complement their own skill set. I’ve known from day one of Liberty that the business would only be successful if our workforce was diverse. I’m proud to say I’ve learned a lot from the people who have been on this journey with me. There is absolute truth in the adage “no man/woman is an island.” A team is just that, a culmination of a plethora of views, opinions, skills, ideas – and that teamwork is very often the thing that makes the difference for any business. People make it work.

  1. Stick to your knitting

We hear a lot about diversification and very often a business can adapt, pivot and morph themselves successfully. But it can also have an adverse effect. Brand recognition matters and there is a reason your customers buy from you – so it’s never a good idea to try to become something you are not.

  1. Do the maths

Business leaders are generally experts in their particular field and not good at the financial side of things. Yes, you’ve managed your own finances but running a profitable business is a skill. Understanding the P&L, being able to read a balance sheet and knowing the difference between debtors and creditors is paramount. Hire a great finance team who can crunch the numbers but also understand your business – together you are a powerful business asset – and believe me when I say “cashflow is king” – it sounds obvious, but it’s painfully true.

  1. You can’t please all the people all the time!

Don’t be afraid to say “no”. Not all business is good business. Liberty’s ethos has always been based on working with likeminded clients in partnership for mutual success. If there is no relationship or partnership approach, it’s best to step away. In my experience there needs to be trust and respect on both sides to make things work – never be afraid to say no – it will benefit you and the business in the end.

  1. Be yourself

Relationships matter. People will only want to work with you if they like you. Just because you run your own business, don’t get above your station. Remember where you started and treat people the way you would wish them to treat you. Most of the time you need the support of your network anyway, so being full of your own importance isn’t going to cut it. Liberty’s ethos was built on exceptional customer service and value for money. We want to make a difference to our clients’ businesses so we’ve always got them in mind first and foremost. Their success is our success in the end, so there is absolutely no reason to have to puff ourselves up and try to be something we aren’t. As with most things in life, honesty and integrity count for a lot – and in business it’s very much the same.

Here’s to the next 21 years!


World ATM Congress – Day Three

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As World ATM Congress 2019 draws to a close today I’ve been reflecting on what I’ll take away from the event. Admittedly this was my first time in attendance, but my main impression is that unmanned traffic management (UTM) has moved from the periphery of discussion in the aviation industry nearer to front and centre.

There were somewhere between 40-50 talks at the show that included UTM as a focus, and the prevailing message is that the opportunities provided by UTM are real. This isn’t the future, it’s here and now. Fully commercial operations (not trials) are happening all over the world, and AirMap, the leading global airspace management platform for drones, is at the forefront of many of these in partnership with air navigation service providers including skyguide and ANS CR.

It would appear that we’re at a hugely exciting time in the history of aviation, with the skies busier than ever. Indeed, according to a special report from Airbus distributed at World ATM Congress 2019, at any one time there are more than one million people airborne around the world.

However, digital change is upon us and the need for a UTM system to monitor and manage the increasingly busy skies is touted as being more paramount than ever before. Consider for example the rapidly increasing use of drones, not only by hobbyists but by enterprises in industries such as utilities, public safety, oil & gas, mining, construction, agriculture and many more.

Off the back of such operations, the value of the drone industry continues to soar. In 2016, Goldman Sachs estimated that drone technologies would reach a market size of $100bn by 2020, while a more recent report from PwC forecasts commercial drone applications have a total addressable market value of $127bn globally.

But what’s clear from discussions at World ATM Congress 2019 is that for commercial opportunities from drone use to be fully realised and for safety in airspace to be ensured, UTM technologies must be integrated into existing air traffic management (ATM) infrastructure.

My overriding feeling after three days in Madrid at the world’s biggest ATM event is that the future of flight has never looked more exciting. The sky’s the limit.

World ATM Congress – Day Two

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Discussions around UTM continued to be at the fore on the second day of World ATM Congress 2019. Indeed, the topic was front and centre in the show daily publication World ATM Now, following a panel session featuring AirMap Chairman and Co-founder Ben Marcus, which for the first time in the event’s seven year history didn’t include any air navigation service providers.

Following on from three significant announcements released on day one of the show, AirMap shared news of another milestone on day two. The company today announced a collaboration with Fortem Technologies, a leading airspace awareness, safety and security company. Together, AirMap and Fortem will provide an integrated solution that allows for the safe operation of drones within geofences while also enforcing no-fly zones in cities, around airports and other critical infrastructure.

Announcing the collaboration, Ben Marcus, said: “The rapid increase in drone operations brings tremendous benefit to society in the way of public safety, medical logistics, infrastructure inspection and more. However, at the same time we are seeing a rapid increase in airport disruptions due to drone sightings. Combining AirMap’s industry-leading UTM for ‘known’ good drones with Fortem’s industry-leading technology will detect both welcomed and ‘unknown’ bad drones.”

Meanwhile, during an afternoon panel session titled ‘Anatomy of the U-Space: Tools & Technologies for Drone Enablement’, Andi Lamprecht, AirMap’s CTO, talked about how the company is helping to bridge the gap between technology providers and drone operators. He also highlighted how digitisation and automation is key to enabling authorisation for safe and secure drone operations.

It may be the final day of World ATM Congress 2019 tomorrow, but there is still a busy schedule of talks and demonstrations. And if the estimates from day one alone are anything to go by when there were thought to be over 1,000 more people in attendance compared to last year, the 2019 edition is sure to wrap up in front of a big delegation.

World ATM Congress 2019 – Day One

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Today, the IFEMA, Feria de Madrid opened its doors to attendees from 100+ countries around the world as the world’s biggest air traffic management (ATM) event kicked off. A partnership between the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO) and Air Traffic Control Association (ATCA), World ATM Congress brings together stakeholders from across the aviation industry to discuss their visions and showcase their solutions for global airspace today and beyond.

The theme of World ATM Congress 2019 is ‘Tackling the Big Issues is ATM – Capacity, UTM Integration, People’. In this respect, much of the focus of this year’s event is around integrating and managing drones in today’s crowded airspace and exploring the best ways to expand UTM capacity.

Day one of the show was particularly significant for AirMap, the leading global airspace management platform for drones. The company announced three new significant developments, starting with its work with the Air Navigation Services of the Czech Republic to enable SmartSky, the country’s strategy to enable and support the safe operation of drones and the development of drone-related services.

AirMap also announced the deployment of Low-Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) for drone flights in Geneva and Lugano in collaboration with skyguide, the Swiss air navigation service provider, as well as the development of a cost-effective drone tracking solution in partnership with Honeywell.

Events at Gatwick before Christmas last year where the airport was brought to a standstill due to suspected malicious drone use also dominated much of the discussions during the various talks given at the event on day one. The true scale of the disruption caused is estimated to have cost the UK economy somewhere between £5om-£70m, with over 100,000 passengers affected and 1,000 flights cancelled.

However, rather than dwell on the incident itself, the focus at World ATM Congress has been to move the discussion on to what needs to be done in order to prevent such incidents, which appear to be becoming more commonplace, from happening again. Key to this is the need to integrate a UTM platform/solution with Counter-UAS and ATM.

Celebrating International Women’s Day at Liberty

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Under the theme of ‘Balance for Better’, this year’s International Women’s Day (IWD) kicks off today with a whole range of activities and events designed to celebrate the achievements of women and call for a balanced and fair society. Brands too are leaning on the day as an opportunity for marketing – some with more purpose than others.

For us though International Women’s Day celebrates the achievement of our Founder Dee Gibbs as she founded the agency 21 years ago this month and this week also celebrated being listed in PR Week’s Power Book 2019. Dee has always called for a balanced workforce.

It was one of the agency’s founding principles and remains key to the way we work today. We pride ourselves on having a diverse and fair workforce – one centred around equality and opportunity for all. We work together to support and help each other and have a very special culture focused on getting the best out of people.

We’re proud of how far we have come and as we celebrate Dee and Liberty’s success we also use the opportunity to support the call for #balanceforbetter.

If you’re interested in the work we do get in touch!