Lord Bilimoria gave a speech to the Oxford Union on Monday evening, having been invited to speak by the Union’s President, Parit Wacharasindhu. The Oxford Union is one of the most prestigious organisations in the world and hosts hundreds of speakers from the world of politics, business, activism and academia every year.
In a wide-ranging discussion – Lord Bilimoria talked about his formative years at university in India and the United Kingdom, noting where he first gain the inspiration for Cobra Beer when he was first introduced to Real Ale, before going on to describe his experiences in establishing the company from scratch. When the first batch of Cobra Beer was brewed in India, Lord Bilimoria noted that he had even had to borrow money from the owner of the brewery in order to purchase his inaugural pint!
Lord Bilimoria also outlined him main tenants for ensuring the success of Cobra Beer, even during times of adversity. He especially noted how the presence of a strong team and a supportive family had given him strength during difficult times. Taking the view that “good judgement comes from experience, experience comes from bad judgement” – Lord Bilimoria also explained how even in times of crisis, the business had emerged all the stronger from it.
In concluding, Lord Bilimoria also cited his views on political matters, particularly regarding defence, immigration and House of Lords reform. He said that, despite cuts to the Royal Navy, Britain still had much to give to the world, especially in terms of engineering and design.
Following this – the President of the Oxford Union then fielded a number of questions from the audience, before those present decamped to the Union’s Gladstone Room, where further discussion took place over numerous bottles of Cobra Beer.
At the end of the evening, Lord Bilimoria was shown the Oxford Union’s famous debating chamber. As a former Vice-Chair of the Cambridge Union, he was pleased to have the chance to see the building under less strenuous circumstances than the last time he had visited!