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Introduction by TAG Net w or k M idlan ds In sider M agazin e's Editor-In-Chief, Denise Morris. 08







TRU POWELL Multi-Award winning Serial Entreprenuer & TAG Network Midlands Non-Executive Director



KEITH FRASER Chair of the Youth Justice Board for England & wales


NICOLA LATHBURY Managing Director of Hexagon FM & Chair of WIFM




CEO & Co-Founder of Evenfields Careers & MurrayMyers Recruitment

DANIEL BRAITHWAITE Managing Director of Pertemps Network Catering Division

YETUNDE DANIA Cover: Partner & Head of Office at Trowers & Hamlins LLP (Birmingham)

PROFESSOR M ONDER RAM OBE Director of the Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship (CREME) at Aston University.



CHANGE-M AKERS ASSEM BLE Double page feature


Development Manager (Campaigns) at Perfomances Birmingham Limited/THSH

BEHIND THE SCENES - TAG NETWORK M IDLANDS INSIDER M AGAZINE PHOTO SHOOT A reportage that reveals how this issue was inspired by strong leadership talent within the Midlands.




Owner/Director of FleetMilne & Chair of Colmore BID 28

TIM E TO REVIEW OUR NEW WORKING HABITS Article by Hannah Floyd, Director & Co-Owner of Pi SQ


CHUKWUDI ONONYE Spotlight: Introduce Yourself To The World


Special Th an k s Photoshoot Venue: Symphony Hall, Birmingham with special thanks to


Ch r is Sm it h & M ich eal Spoon er & Soph ia Lor en at Ju st Nevaeh

INEZ BROWN Partner at Harrison Clark Rickerbys & President of Birmingham Law Society

Yet u n de Dan ia's M ak eu p Ar t ist Marcia Blackwood




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dsInsider Magazine's PRODUCTIONPARTNER

EDITOR'SINTRODUCTION This issue is an editorial acknowledgment to the inspirational Leaders, Entrepreneurs, and Professionals within the region who; during difficult times and an ever-changing landscape that COVID-19 has delivered on a global scale, there have been those who have galvanised change, stood against inequality, steered a new dawn of leadership, and have made history by breaking barriers.

Back in August 2020, I assembled a group of impressive members of the business community within various industry sectors to share their extraordinary career journeys, and their legacy.

With our featured professionals; their ability to create an authentic shift in perceptions, their tenacity to achieve strides that will open opportunities for future generations, and their ability to overcome challenges captures the essence of our region.

Special thanks to Chris Smith and the team at Performances Birmingham Limited for granting us the privilege of hosting our photo shoot at the iconic Symphony Hall.


Disclaimer: Shortly after the photo shoot for this issue, the government ordered a second national lockdown which was necessary to keep us all safe once again.

TAGNETWORK MIDLANDSAPPOINT AWARD-WINNINGPR GURUTOTHEIR NON-EXECUTIVEBOARD OFDIRECTORS TAG Network Midlands are delighted to announce that our Non-Executive Directorship is expanding as they welcome their latest appointment. Tara Tomes, Managing Director of East Village, a multi-award winning PR, marketing and events agency that specialises in retail, property and hospitality brands will be joining the board of Non-Executive Directors chaired by Denise Morris. Announcing the new appointment, TAG Network Midlands CEO & Chair Denise Morris said: ?I have always admired Tara's integrity and commitment to supporting fellow entrepreneurs, and leaders within the city. During lockdown both TAG Network Midlands and East Village has stood out as brands that have stepped up in delivering assistance to a wide range of individuals, so to have Tara on board as a NED is very exciting. Myself and the board members are delighted and looking forward to working with her.? Tara states, "I?ve always been a real champion for personal and professional development through the city?s amazing networking organisations - they?ve helped throughout my career so I know, first hand, the value. The work of TAG Network has always stood out; not afraid to go against the grain to deliver things that * really* make a difference, they are always pushing towards a bigger, better and brighter future for professionals. Throughout the pandemic, in particular, TAG Network has been the most active, visible and impactful membership group, and I?m delighted to be getting more 06 TAG as Network Midlands Insider involved a Non-Exec Director. I believe in doing good things through business and always focusing on people, which absolutely sits at the heart of TAG Network?s values too!?

SPECIALFEATURE BEHINDTHESCENES: PHOTOSHOOT Symphony Hall, an iconic venue suited for this particular photo shoot, with the main stage, the grand setting, and splendor was the perfect Birmingham landmark to celebrate Midlands' finest Leaders, Entrepreneurs and Professionals who have been raising the bar and adding exceptional value to their sectors.

With the stage being an ample platform, the need for equality, inspiring change, and diverse leadership is the spotlight.

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DIRECTOROFCENTREFORRESEARCHINETH ENTREPRENEURSHIP(CREME) ATASTONBU Meet established author, scholar, public speaker, director and champion of ethnic minority entrepreneurship Professor Monder Ram OBE at Aston University. His research and goals have been to successfully deepen the understanding of diversity and entrepreneurship, generate and share knowledge with practitioners on diversity and enterprise, and make a difference to the diverse communities who own and work in small enterprises. Monder explains his endeavours as well as his impressive credentials, ?I am Director of the Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship (CREME) ? a Centre I founded in 2004 ? which is also based at Aston Business School, Aston University. I manage an active group of researchers at CREME and work closely with a network of practitioners engaged on our projects. ?I have held visiting Professorships at Lund University and Turku University in Finland. I am also an advisor to the Group for BAME Business Owners. ?I secured my PhD at Warwick University back in 1992, and have held Professorial positions since 1996 at University of Central England (1989 1999), De Montfort University (1999 ? 2013), University of Birmingham (2013 ? 2018) and Aston University. I established CREME in 2004 and have run it ever since.



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?I am regarded by my peers as one of Europe?s leading scholar on ethnic minority businesses and have developed an international reputation for my research in this field. My research documents the rich and multi-faceted contribution that ethnic minorities play in enriching the entrepreneurial life-blood of the British economy. My achievements can be considered under three headings: scholarship; policy influence; and local impact. Monder continues, ?I am one of the most widely published academics in the field of ethnic minority entrepreneurship in Europe. Two recent reviews of the subject of ethnic minority entrepreneurship have identified me as the most influential academic in this discipline for the last decade. Over 100 publications have appeared in books, high quality journals and leading conferences. For many years, the contribution of ethnic minorities to business had been neglected, or at best, subject to stereotypical depictions that tended to either ?exocitise?or ?victimise? the entrepreneurial activity of ethnic minorities. I have aimed to place ethnic minority enterprise in the mainstream of academic work on entrepreneurship. My success in this endeavour is demonstrated by the receipt of four awards from the highly prestigious Economic Social Research Council, and from the Leverhulme Foundation. Such awards are highly sought after, and subject to considerable competition. The resulting publications have highlighted the vibrancy, complexity and force of ethnic minority entrepreneurship in its myriad forms. In short, I have been at the forefront of establishing scholarly respectability in this field.? The esteemed Professor also holds many seats at the table of regional and national organisations within the UK including being a member of Citizens UK Birmingham Leadership Group, Member and Research Advisory Group of Food Farming & Countryside Commission, Chair of the 16 TAG Network Midlands Insider

Advisory Group for Common Purpose Birmingham, and Member of What Works Wellbeing Centre. He states. ?I have contributed to key committees that advise Government and public agencies on ethnic minority enterprise and small firms. These include: the Ethnic Minority Business Task Force (at the Department for Business Innovation and Skills [BIS], 2002-2009), the Small Business Council (BIS, 2005-2009), ?Equalities Advisory Group?(BIS, 2010-2015) and the SME Intermediaries Group (BIS, 2012-2015). I worked with the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and the British Bankers? Association (BBA [now UK Finance]) on the ?Access to Finance Review?, which was initiated by the then Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg in 2011. I worked closely with BBA on several initiatives aimed at improving their engagement with ethnic minority businesses. I was Co-Chair of the national ?Diversity and Inclusion Business Council?(2014-2016), sponsored by the BBA.? Speaking more in depth about the influences his research has had on policy, he expresses ?The influence of my research extends to national policy-making circles as well as the academic community. I have been instrumental in developing and advocating a more strategic approach to policy directed at ethnic minority businesses in the UK.I have a detailed understanding of stakeholder contributions to policy development. This is based on my experience of serving on several key committees that advise Government on ethnic minority enterprise and small firms. ?Collaborations with locally based businesses, agencies, and communities has been another important facet of my work. My work at a national level runs parallel a concern to ensure that local initiatives to support ethnic minority

reflective about all his accomplishments. ?I led the first and largest research project on ethnic minority businesses and banks in the UK. The three-year project (1999-2003) was funded by the British Bankers?Association (now known as UK Finance), which represented the main high street banks, the Department for Trade and Industry (DTI, now Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), and support from the Commission for Racial Equality (now, Equalities and Human Rights Commission). The findings, which were welcomed by the BBA and DTI, were an important reference point for financial and business support stakeholders working with ethnic minority entrepreneurs. They also acted as a catalyst for a number of initiatives to improve relationships between the banks and ethnic minority businesses. CREME was at the forefront of such convening such initiatives, many of which focused on fostering mutual understanding between minority businesses and banks.I helped to develop activities to the implement insights from this body of work in my role as Co-Chair of the national ?Diversity and Inclusion Business Council?. businesses are informed by sound principles. I work closely with specialist and mainstream agencies, particularly in the Midlands?area. The result of these collaborations has been a series of initiatives aimed at improving the services available to ethnic minority businesses. In summary, I have aimed to achieve the highest standards in education in its broadest sense: by being at the leading edge of scholarship; by influencing policy so that it is attuned to the lessons of research; and by striving to ensure that world of academe to the communities that it serves. I was awarded an OBE for my work on ethnic minority businesses in the Queen?s 2004 New Year ?s honours list.? Commenting on his wide-span of professional successes, Monder is open and

?I have been engaged in a major programme of research and knowledge transfer activities on procurement and disadvantaged firms since 2003. The resulting activities have produced; A substantial research programme with awards from funding bodies ? The European Regional Development Fund, Equality & Human Rights Commission (EHRC), Economic & Social Research Council, Higher Education Innovation Fund, Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), Migration Policy Group.Further pioneering initiatives involving the corporate sector. The Supplier Development East Midlands initiative was established in 2004. It brought together 20 leading corporations with TAG Network Midlands Insider 17

minority businesses in order to promote supply chain relationships. It was successfully ?spun-out?in 2006 and operates to this day as Minority Supplier Development UK. It was followed by a similar initiative, based on a cross-sector collaborative for Leicester City Council in 2010. In addition, long-term engagement (over a 10-year period) with policy-makers, including the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (now Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Chartered Institute for Purchasing and Supply, Business in the Community, East Midlands Development Agency (EMDA), Advantage West Midlands, the EHRC and the Migration Policy Group."

He continues, " Key leadership qualities

during Covid-19 we need are; Boldness, empathy and persistence. The latter is important because showing up ? time and time again ? can be transformational. What of CREME's future plans with Monder at the helm? He adds " To achieve CREME?s

mission, which is to ?make diversity and enterprise everyone?s business?. My colleagues and I will do this by firstly, being at the forefront of debates on diversity and enterprise, secondly, working with policy and practitioners to make a difference, and thirdly supporting entrepreneurs and communities from all backgrounds. On a personal note, my As a region in recovery and trying to bounce advice for others is to be kind, be bold, and show up (repeatedly)? and always back from a pandemic, it is important for listen! organisations to stand out and leaders to step up. Monder shares his thoughts on positive company strategies. "Thinking differently is important to organisations, it's important for professionals and enterprises because it promotes innovation and creativity. This is a key feature of my work at the Centre. We are the only Centre in Europe that focuses specifically on ethnic minority entrepreneurship. We recognise the importance of making a distinctive contribution; and we do this by our clear focus and our commitment to use our research to make a difference to the communities we serve. "It is vitally important for leaders to be visible at times of crisis. We have responded to the pandemic by mobilising our resources and convening powers in order to ensure resources are provided to businesses and communities in greatest need. We are working with a range of partners to support firms badly affected by the pandemic. "Major societal challenges ? Brexit, Covid-19, Black Lives Matter ? have deepened longstanding divisions and inequalities. It will take bold leadership and systematic change to come to terms with the gravity of situation we face. 18 TAG Network Midlands Insider


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Daniel Braithwaite is an entrepreneurial recruiter with an eye for spotting talent within the region and a keen spirit to impact change. As Managing Director of Pertemps Network Catering, Daniel shares is career journey, his values, his vision as a change-maker, and ambassador for equality.

the biggest industry to be hit by the pandemic has put extra strain on the sector, but with the right attitude to ensuring you see this period through has been the mantra I have communicated to my team as they return into the business.

Daniel begins, " I have worked in the recruitment sector for 18 years starting as a Branch Administrator working my way through each job category, Receptionist, Temps Consultant, Perms Consultant, Team Lead, Branch Manager and I proudly achieved Directorship in January 2019.

"I think this is crucial, when leading a tribe through troubled waters it is important they have a path to follow, I have actually worked throughout 2020 and upon welcoming my team back, I felt a welcome sense of relief to have them return. I feel that for them to deliver and give you at least 100% commitment throughout what are arguably tough times is essential for them to feel you are in the boat rowing also. Things can only get better trading wise from here. This is my second recession in my working life and the one thing I know is if you can see yourself through the storm then the benefits on the other side are plentiful.

"I have worked for many of the large corporations in the sector including the S3 group, Reed and Blue Arrow, but have found my home at Pertemps Network Group, and I have been with group for seven years this year. "I only started networking and attending networking events last year, and if you knew how huge my personality is then you would definitely question why it took so long. However due to my personable nature, and the need to be a visible leader during challenging times, I look to become an avid networker next year. On the topic of challenges, and the impact the a global pandemic has had on the hospitality sector, Dan is very candid about this current situation, stating "The furloughing of my team, and the day to day running of my business, over the last two years, my transition from Management to Director involved more strategy and planning, working on the business as well as in it. Due to Covid19 and the crisis this year, we are having to pivot constantly to adapt to whatever changes or rules are enforced by the government. "Working in catering & hospitality which is

As organisations find a new path and ways to adjust, Daniel expresses his thoughts on the future approaches of the wider business community. "It is important for both leaders and professionals to think differently because marketing is crucial in this day and age, especially when it comes to consumers. As many people know marketing was once a novelty, now it is imperative to a company's survival as perception is everything. "To stand out from the crowd a clever piece of marketing could push a client your way instead of to the competition. I think as individuals we have to be flexible and willing to pivot at all times as the landscape for the future can be unknown and unpredictable. TAG Network Midlands Insider 21

"I feel that you have to be open, of course there is a mission for your business and a figure you want to achieve but without the team you will find it harder to deliver the figure. Everyone has been affected differently by this crisis, and a one hat fits all approach to managing people through this I personally think could be detrimental to that team achieving its goals/aims. I do think you have to be quicker at making decisions."

even now at director level. I feel that my journey is far from over and I still have a lot more to learn from my seniors at board level, my existing team, and my counterparts moving forward.

"My dad worked in sales and my mother worked in office clerical, our first PC had windows 95 and I remember she had a touch type programme on the computer, I used to test myself back then and at the age of 11 on how fast I could type the latest Through this year of uncertainties, Daniel school book I was reading. I could touch has maintaining confidence in his ability as type 68 words per minute which I thought a leader and his achievements to date, was impressive at the time for my age. I stating, "Personally, I feel achieving had always mentioned that I wanted to directorship in a corporate company at the age of 34 is my professional highlight. I think that was a watershed moment for me because to come from where I come from, facing the challenges that a young black male faces when in the corporate world to achieve this in my early thirties within a structured professional organisation was testament to the years of hard work I have put in to better myself and personal circumstance. On a personal note the birth of my daughter in 2010 has to be crowned as the best day of my life to date and is a major highlight in my life, she continues to amaze and perform academically to a very high standard making me a very proud father." He adds, "For me I have so far achieved professional success by always pushing myself to do and be better than not only my competition but my colleagues and peers.

""If youareuniquethen let it standout,never trytofit inaboxalways trytoshowcaseyour full rangeof skills,abilities andyouwill findthat peoplewill buyintothat first andforemost.""

"Growing up I was taught by my parents that I would always have to work ten times harder and in most cases be ten times smarter than the majority if I wanted to make it in the professional world and I have kept that lesson close at all times 22 TAG Network Midlands Insider

work in an office and to be a manager, but I never knew in what field or sector, just that I wanted to wear a suit and feel important. "A key component of my growth has not only been my own drive to achieve, but good timing, I do believe in you create your own destiny somewhat, and you can overstay your welcome or outgrow a position. I have always moved on when I felt it was right to do so, and so far I have no regrets as this trait has contributed to my advancement professionally. What has stood out, is the canvas for equity and inclusion as well as the

acknowledgment that representation in the workplace is vital. Daniel is someone who sees the value in supporting individuals from different backgrounds as he explains, "This year is my time to do more in the community and networking. I have signed up to be a mentor to mentees who are part of BITC ? Business In The Community as of 2021, and that will be mentoring BAME employees within white collar businesses regarding career progression, this will be my first actual experience of giving back to the community as a local leader. "I have recently had the chance to sponsor an upcoming fighter from Birmingham who won English Heavyweight Champion ? Mr Shakan Pitters, as someone I grew up with to be able to support him on his journey and to see him lift that title was a proud moment for Birmingham and our company. "Locally we have sponsored Camp Hill Rugby teams kits and dress shirts for dinners after a game, we do what we can where we can to invest back into our local community. We do this separately to the larger Pertemps Network Group who run a number of charitable events, and make numerous donations to Birmingham Children?s Hospital and other charitable services in the Birmingham area." Daniel is optimistic about the future as he shares, "My plans for the future involve becoming a mentor to young business professionals which in turn adds to my skill set. I plan to be networking more to increase my profile locally, whilst ensuring I am supporting my team to deliver the company?s aim throughout 2021 and beyond. This in turn should help promote my brand allowing my team to grow internally doing more whilst I am growing as an influencer in my geographical area." TAG Network Midlands Insider 23 19




Nicola Fleet-Milne, is a multifaceted, straight talking businesswoman who's influence holds no bounds. To understand the impact she has had in Birmingham and the wider region, we must recognise her experiences. Nicola jokes, "I was born in? . just kidding, I won?t start there. However, I will say that I came to Birmingham (from London) to attend the University of Birmingham, and I never went back. I love this city, its people, its friendliness, its supportiveness, and I found my place firmly in the city centre. "It probably didn?t hurt that I won a TV game show which gave me an apartment in The Mailbox, rent-free, for a whole year. Though don?t ask me what I did with all that money I saved." Nicola has never shied away from taking an opportunity when it presents itself, stating, "It?s been twenty three years since I arrived, and I?ve loved every minute of it. I am an opportunist, so I have sought out my chances and taken them. I think it?s fair to say it?s worked. "Property wasn?t my plan; I was going to join the Royal Air Force. To my great disappointment at the time, I didn?t pass the medical to get in, so I was left wondering what on earth I should do with my life. It was the first time I learned to have a Plan B. These things have a way of working themselves out, and I have not suffered by not being a pilot, and I often wonder how I would have fared being told what to do, unquestioningly, every day. "After a few years in the property game, I knew I could do this better myself, so FleetMilne was born. There were some doubters at the time, but I think I can hold my head high after 17 years of being a market leader. My business not only survived the first 5 years, but has won awards and acclaim. I was thrilled to pick up both a BYPY Award and an IoD (Institute of Directors) TAG Network Midlands Insider 25

Award in the same year (2007)." She continues, "I am proud to have clients who have been with me since 2001, I?m proud of how tight my team are ? and how proud those who have left seem to be about having been a part of it." With all the success Nicola has had, there has also been challenges. Recalling some tougher times, she shares, "The departure of my business partner after thirteen years because we just weren?t on the same page anymore. It was a really tough call to make, and ultimately the right one, but it was a rough ride for a year or so. We?d been professionally inseparable for so long, there was a hole left behind. "But I?m pretty resilient, so I focused on what I needed, what the business needed, and made sure I didn?t get distracted. It?s how I?ve always been in life, I can be very single-minded when I have a clear vision."

""Theworldisyour oyster! Youcanbe,do or haveeverythingyouwant fromlife, you'vejust got togoout andgrabit"". 26 TAG Network Midlands Insider

What makes Nicola stand out is how she decides to utilise her time and how she gives back. "My volunteer work has tended to revolve around areas or communities I know well and I have a vested interest in. With anything voluntary opportunity, I believe you have to have a personal hook, or you may find your interest wanes. "My industry frustrates me because it has a terrible reputation (rightly so in many cases) but is such an important part of people?s lives: where they call home. Home should be a person?s sanctuary; a place to be safe and warm. Greed and narcissism play a huge role in some agents failing to remember their responsibility towards both their clients and their residents. I spend a lot of time reminding people of this responsibility, and also trying to influence change in how this is central to all processes. "One area I?ve worked hard in is the emerging Build-to-Rent arena, where the product is specifically designed for the rental audience.

It?s still maturing, but it?s got a clear vision to provide the rental sector with long-term desirable and safe homes, that have been designed for easy long-term management. I have spent a lot of time advising on what this means for design and the management processes. The result is that FleetMilne deals with the majority of the BTR schemes in central Birmingham; the successful ones, anyway. "I?ve also led the JQ neighbourhood planning forum for the past four years to bring about meaningful change in the planning process for the Jewellery Quarter as an area. This is coming to its conclusion (a referendum) in early 2021 and will see real impact on issues such as architecture, heritage, connectivity and greening." She continues, "I have recently brought together a group of city property agents to make sure our city centre thrives throughout the winter. The suburbanites may be reviewing their decisions to come into the city, but those of us who live here want to make sure life doesn?t disappear. We love our venues and we need to work hard to protect our cultural offering. Between these agents, we will collaborate to make sure our city residents know that it?s safe to venture out and support the life outside their apartments."

stating, "We need to thrive! It?s boring being the same as everyone else ? everyone needs to be interested in their work, so thinking differently provides us with inspiration and energy. I think it inspires trust from clients, too. "Without thinking differently, about success and failure, then we?re only going to produce the same old results. We won?t learn. First sign of madness is doing the same thing and expecting different results." Her closing advice, "Never burn bridges, be true to yourself (not the self you think people want you to be), be polite, be responsible, be accountable. Be a good human being, really. "And always give yourself some time to reflect before you hit send on that sh* tty email."

Talking frankly on the subject of leadership in its broader spectrum, Nicola believes, "Leadership is absolutely necessary. What kind is needed will depend upon the audience that needs guidance, so that?s a tough one to answer. Some people need a strong example, others need emotional guidance, some need definitive advice. A good leader knows where their strengths lie and can ?read the room?to know when to step up and when to pipe down." Navigating the new terrain laid down by the effects of the global crisis, Nicola has a clear message for organisations to think differently

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BYHANNAHFLOYD Back in March when we were hit with our first lockdown, many of us had to quickly adapt and alter the way in which we work mainly by moving to working from home. Most of us assumed this would be temporary and so have since ?set up shop?on our dining room tables, sofa?s, beds or anywhere we could attempt to sit and concentrate for the day. The Office for National Statistics have recently reported that only half of UK workers had returned to their workplace at the end of August, with many still working from home it?s not surprising that this may be the ?new normal? for many, hopefully with some flexibility thrown in. This brings new challenges to all businesses but none that cannot be overcome if dealt with collaboratively and with employees best interest in mind.



With the 2nd lockdown looming, the prospect of flexible working being a permanent fixture for many and people?s mental health becoming an increasing concern it?s time to review our at home working habits and make some changes for the better of our physical and mental health 1. Having collectively worked within the workplace for many years and 28 TAG Network Midlands Insider

subsequently having an ingrained interest and understanding in wellbeing we wanted to share some of Pi?s tips for a healthier, more productive lockdown ? series 2. Your environment ? If you are reading this article (thank you) then stop for a moment, take a look around you and take stock; Are you sat in a task chair to support you ergonomically? If not, reach out to your employer and see if there is a way to borrow a chair from the office or if they have considered a work from home budget. Are you at a desk or with your laptop literally on your lap? Again, speak to your employer about this. If you are short on space there are some really cool options out there at the moment such as desks that attach to a wall and fold away as shelves (pictured above is an example from Frovi but there are other options in the market). Your posture will thank me for this advice in the future Do you have to slouch to use your laptop/PC/tablet? If yes, there are many products online now at a reasonable cost




to elevate your screen to eye level - this is important for your back and neck health How is your lighting? This is so important as we delve into winter - If it?s rubbish, buy a desk lamp! Can you shut off from the distractions of the house? If not, consider moving the workspace completely, mine is upstairs in my back bedroom, if that?s not possible, buy a headset. Make the space personal to you ? have an accent wall, get some planting, artwork, anything that you love that can make you feel comfortable.

make your way into a different space for either the whole evening if you can or just half an hour to reset if your workspace is also your living space. 4. St ay con n ect ed ? Make time to socialise virtually both with your colleagues (as they are probably feeling lonely too!) and with your friends and family. Once lockdown has lifted meet for a coffee or lunch dependant on current social distancing guidelines. Personally, when at home all day every day I feel isolated so it?s important to keep our interactions going to boost both their and your mental health.

5. Be m in df u l of n ot givin g you r self a br eak ? Working at home can make us feel like we have to be available all the time but just being there can I know what you?re thinking, that most of the sometimes be counterproductive if you are not first tip involves some sort of monetary allowing your brain a break. It?s called ?presenteeism? investment but if you know where to look there and it happens a lot in the workplace. Therefore, are some great products out there at very making time for breaks is important, it also helps reasonable prices and it is worth it believe me ? manage feelings of stress. If possible set a time for feel free get in touch with me if you need help you to go for a walk, make a coffee, play with an on this. animal if you have one, anything just to get away 2. Applyin g t h e clean desk pr in ciple at h om e from that screen for 10 minutes. t oo ? Space at home will be smaller than what 7. Nat u r e, n at u r e, n at u r e ? I think we have all you potentially had in the office which is why it?s learned this year how important getting out in even more important to keep the space nature is, so here is your reminder to continue to do organised. This includes your wires/cable so ? yes, even in the winter months - that?s what management. Studies show that people are wellies and umbrellas were invented for! much more productive when their workspace is 8. Be k in d t o you r self an d t o ot h er s ? Be kind to not cluttered. At the end of every day, clear yourself and acknowledge that you might not be as your workspace. productive as you usually would be, we have never 3. Cr eat e a r ou t in e t h at w or k s f or you an d been in such a strange situation before! Be realistic st ick t o it - Without a routine, the lines between about what you can achieve given the circumstance work and personal time can become blurred and relax when your work is done. Try and limit and be stressful to get right. Get up at the same your news/social media time. Be kind to others by time every day (I know it's tough in the dark checking in on people, supporting local businesses winter mornings, I have just ordered a lumie and sharing good news/feedback stories because alarm clock ? hoping this will help), get dressed, lord knows we all need them right now! try using your normal commute time as time to Thanks for reading, I hope that I can even help one exercise and get energised, even some light person with some of these tips but if you need any yoga to stretch out is great ? there are some help/advice on your home set up please email me at great 10 minute yoga videos on YouTube. Or h an n ah k we will be working as normal use this time to listen to music or a podcast, (maybe even harder actually!) throughout lockdown whatever works for you but use this time wisely series 2. it may not be available to us forever. Most Take care, stay safe and see you on the other side importantly, when your workday stops, you stop ? close down your laptop/PC/tablet and



INTRODUCE YOURSELF TO THE WORLD Meet Chukwudi Ononye, an entrepreneur, young leaders, and TAG Network Midlands' Young Professional Board Member. Tell us about yourself Chukwudi.... M y Fir st Ven t u r e From an early age I have had strong business acumen. Setting up my first business at the age of 11 ? selling my school lunch. My mother would make large meals for me to take to school, consisting of meals such as noodles and ribs, rice and curry and more. It started off with people asking to trade their lunch for mine. Eventually this spiralled into taking orders, charging ÂŁ5 per meal. My mother of course wanted a cut and so I would give her a pound per meal. Each day I was making up to ÂŁ20 which at that age was a lot! Thus, began my first encounter with business. Of course, the school eventually found out and I had to stop. M y Fir st Bu sin ess Failu r e My first business failure came in school. In year 11 aged 15, I set up my first online business. Inspirational Martial Arts & Dance. Combining my passion for Martial Arts and my love for dance. The idea was to have a platform that posts everything related to these activities. I was fortunate enough to also organise and a few interviews with inspirational dancers and martial artists. This also included a scheduled interview with Britain?s Got Talent Semi-finalists. However, this failed due to my lack of understanding of the most fundamental element of business... Monetisation. Ch ef iest a Today, I am the Founder of a Chefiesta. We are a Catering company specialising in weekly Meal-Preps (A weeks' worth of International Meals ready made, delivered straight to your door), Corporate Buffets, Private Dining and Events. The idea came about whilst I was at University. Noticing that amongst other issues, students either TAG Network Midlands Insider 31

did not know how to cook or did not have the time to cook. Witnessing students having meals like beans on toast or takeaways made me realise something had to be done. Leveraging the 17-year-old family catering business?(Eagle Catering) expertise and experience, we decided to launch a new catering company. Ach ievem en t s One of our greatest achievements since the beginning of the Covid-19 period is our Free Meals for the NHS Campaign, which we continue with till this day. So far, providing over 500 meals in around 10 different Hospitals. Another great achievement has been launching our new brand of meat pies into over 5 stores around the UK. Selling out in its first few days, we now deliver over 100 meat pies a week to each store! Our biggest achievement was receiving a message from one of our customers who ordered a meal prep box for their 102-year-old dad. After being told he had no teeth, a lot of allergens, no taste buds and more, we had a challenge, but we accepted. The father 's last wish before passing was to taste great food again. To think that we did that for him really touched us. Never did we think that our food could be the change needed to impact lives. Goin g For w ar d Going forward we look to venture into street food and really promote our private dining offering especially during these times. Whilst people aren?t travelling around as much now, we intend to bring global cuisine to your doorstep! 32 TAG Network Midlands Insider

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INEZ BROWN A poised change-maker, social impactor, leader of the people, visionary, and the first ever black President of Birmingham Law Society. She needs no introduction, meet Inez Brown, Partner at Harrison Clark Rickerbys. Inez is an open and extraordinary woman, who has the responsibility of the direction Birmingham Law Society take as she creates opportunities and a number of initiatives being spearheaded by the legal membership organisation. Firmly tuned into the requirements of the city and society, Inez explains, "I am pleased to say that I have set up Birmingham Law Society?s first Diversity Inclusion Scheme. The scheme is run in conjunction with University of Law; University of Wolverhampton; Gateley Legal and Harrison Clark Rickerbys who will be supported by Pinsent Masons. "The scheme is aimed at helping talented young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and under represented groups to pursue a career in law. We have selected two successful candidates who will receive the following support; A university scholarship on the post-graduate law course; Advice on CV writing; Interview coaching; Training on presentation skills; Mentoring; A place on the vacation scheme/Assessment Centre; and Support from Pinsent Masons who will provide additional access to virtual work experience. "The scheme is for 2 years but I would like it to be TAG Network Midlands Insider 35

a legacy for Birmingham Law Society. I too have set up Birmingham Law Society?s first Law and Technology Conference. I believe that technology is going to affect the legal sector in a major way. Following the conference a number of meetings will take place with law firms and technology firms in order to continue the conversation. "I believe that it is important to give back so I speak at many student events in order to provide advice on the profession and I return to my former high school in order to offer mentoring to the students." Taking the time to share her own experiences and career path, Inez reminisces, "I qualified as a solicitor in 2020. I did not enter the profession within the usual route as I was a legal secretary for 15 years and decided to study law part-time whilst working full time. "I became a Partner at Harrison Clark Rickerbys in January 2012 where I head the Clinical Negligence team of 25 staff. I specialise in birth injury cases helping children and young people who have had a brain injury.

with an acquired brain injury. Also in that same year, I started volunteering with the "I am passionate about the legal Birmingham Law Society as a member of the profession and try to raise the profile PR & Media committee. I became Chair of the of the profession at every opportunity. Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence As such I mentor children and young Committee in 2016. people who wish to enter the legal "I was invited to become the Joint Honorary profession. Secretary in 2017, after which I was invited to "In 2010 I was appointed as a Trustee of the Child Brain Injury Trust. As a charity they provide support to families of children and young people 36 TAG Network Midlands Insider

become the Deputy Vice President in 2018. On 28th July 2020 I was inaugurated as the first black President of Birmingham Law Society in 202 years.

"I became a Trustee of the Society of Clinical Injury Lawyers (SCIL) in 2017 and was the Secretary for two years. Plus, I am a panel member of Action for Victims of Medical Accidents which means that I am considered to be a specialist in my field. "I am also listed in the Chambers and Legal 500 directories as an Elite specialist solicitor in the area of clinical negligence." Given Inez' determination, she is justifiably proud of her accomplishments adding, "Qualifying as a solicitor was a major

achievement for me as I am a first generation graduate and come from a disadvantaged background." She expands, "Becoming a partner in June 2012 was a major achievement because statistics demonstrate that it is very difficult for black people to enter the profession; there is an issue with retention of black lawyers and few black solicitors are able to progress to partnership. "It was also a major achievement for me to be asked to head the clinical negligence department at Harrison Clark Rickerbys as earlier in my career I was informed that I would never make it as a solicitor and I was not considered to be managerial material. I have been able to prove those who doubters as we are considered to be a competitive and respectful team. "In 2016 I won 'Partner of the Year ' at the Birmingham Law Society Legal Awards. I was competing against five white corporate male lawyers who had secured multi-million pound deals for their firms. Many advised me that I that there was no way that I would win and I should just be grateful that I was in the finals. At the interview I told the panel about myself, about the work that I was doing for brain injured children around the country and making a difference by securing multi-million pound settlements that would provide care and support for the rest of their lives. I informed them about my case of David Gray (deceased) 2010, that changed UK law in relation to locum practitioners from the EU practising in the UK. On the evening of the awards, prior to the announcement of the winner my friends and colleagues told me not to lose heart because they did not believe that I was going to win. "The presenter talked about the candidate who was selected to win this category was such a worthy winner and it was a unanimous decision that they were the most TAG Network Midlands Insider 37

worthy candidate. When they called my name, I could not believe that they were talking about me. That was one of the best evenings of my career. "Becoming President of Birmingham Law Society in July 2020 has been one of major achievements, especially because I am the first black President in 202 years. I preside over 5000 solicitors and barristers and this is a real privilege.

subsequent two years studying the post-graduate course. "Overcoming negativity in the form of unconscious bias/racism which is used by some to discourage black people progressing within the profession."

As Inez, continues to challenge thoughts and conventional norms, her need to help others to achieve their purpose is key. She conveys, "My firm, Harrison Clark Rickerbys encourages all staff to have a vision and career pathway in "Being asked to become a member of order to grow. This also includes those who the Town Hall Gospel Choir in 2006 to join the firm as office juniors with no sing at the re-opening concert of qualifications. They are invited to indicate Birmingham Town Hall. It was really whether they would like to obtain enjoyable and I had to be really qualifications in marketing; legal accounts or disciplined to learn all of the songs. law. The firm will fund courses to enable them The highlight was performing with the attain their vision. This has resulted in so London Reggae Philharmonic many staff being able to achieve their vision. Orchestra when we did a tribute "In addition, I believe that it is really important concert of Bob Marley songs that was to help others achieve their professional and awesome!" personal growth. I have made it one of my aims to ensure that I observe all anyone who With all the highs, there have been joins my team to see if they are struggling or some areas of opposition as Inez elaborates, "When I decided that I was need support. I believe that it is important to nurture, supervise and support those going to study law as a mature struggling within our teams. As a result of this student, I recall approaching a university and at the initial interview I approach, three young people that I have was asked why I wanted to study law. I brought into my team have gone on to qualify as a solicitor or legal executive. explained that it was a dream to become a solicitor for some time and I "I love going back to my local high school in had finally make up my mind to return order to inspire and encourage children and young people not to allow their environment to studies. The interviewer queried to determine their future but to work hard, why law as ?my kind?tend to go into aim high and always strive to improve. nursing or social work?. Whilst I Mentoring is key to change the mind set of believe these are admirable young people who lack confidence. They need professions, I wanted to become a to be able to see someone like me in this solicitor. Following the interview I position to give them hope to change their decided not to progress my future." application with that university and decided to apply to the University of It has been vital to also acknowledge the shift Wolverhampton who provided support within our society and a current climate during the four year degree and the geared for change. "There has definitely been 38 TAG Network Midlands Insider

a shift in relation to diversity and inclusion / social mobility over the last eight months. Sadly on 25th May 2020 the world woke up to the news of the tragic death of George Floyd. His death has brought to the forefront the issue of inequality, racism and unconscious bias. So many people from different races have condemned this act. As a result of all peoples and nations coming together to condemn this brutal killing it has created great discussion at all levels but we need to ensure that it also brings about positive change.

managing partners agree that more needs to be done in this area. They were mindful of the fact that there have been so many debates; surveys and discuss and it is time for change. As a result it was agreed that we need to set measurable targets that are reviewed on a regular basis. So, regarding future plans, what is on the agenda for Inez?

"I have set out my plans to raise the profile of the profession and help others. At this stage, I would like to get through my Presidential year. However, I am always "On 31st July Birmingham Law Society dreaming and striving to do more. arranged its first virtual roundtable for senior " I keep joking that I will retire at the age of leaders/managers with the legal profession to eighty so watch this space. However, discuss diversity and inclusion, but in whatever I do I will definitely continue to particular access for black people into the enhance the Birmingham region as I am profession; retention and progression within proud to live and work in Birmingham and I the profession. It was encouraging to see was definitely ?made in Birmingham?! that the majority of senior leaders and TAG Network Midlands Insider 39


Meet Chris Smith, an emerging leader, an ambassador for Arts and Culture, and talented young professional in the city. Catching up with Chris during the photo shoot, he shared his enthusiasm to showcase the iconic Symphony Hall that played host to a variety of leaders within the region. He describes the experience, "I?m delighted TAG Network Midlands asked me to take part in the shoot for this issue, as it meant I got to reinforce my network and meet some of Birmingham?s best and most talented professionals. "It was great to hear about the amazing work Birmingham and West Midlands professionals have been doing during lockdown, and in this new period outside of all of that, supporting the communities and key workers that have kept the city going. "This shoot was an absolute joy to be a part of, from start to finish. I came at it from the unique position of representing the venue, and you can?t get many better spots in the city than on the Sym ph on y Hall stage. Normally, as a fully operational concert hall and event venue, a gap in the Symphony Hall diary is a very rare occurrence, so I?m very pleased we were able to give TAG Network Midlands full access to the hall. "I?m glad that once again Symphony Hall is in the spotlight, and I?m happy to have the opportunity to talk about some of the great work Town Hall Symphony Hall (THSH), the music charity responsible for both of Birmingham?s world-class concert halls, has been doing during this time ? the arts sector is in a very different and perilous place compared to where it was before March." As Development Manager, Chris has had an interest in the arts. Chronicling his career journey, he shares, "I have worked in the arts from the moment I really

understood where I wanted my career to go. Having decided to come to Birmingham to study a Masters?Degree in Creative Writing in September 2013, I started my postgrad at University of Birmingham, and shortly after joined Town Hall Symphony Hall (THSH) as a casual steward to top up my income and allow time to study. "From the beginning, I completely bought into the opportunities these two iconic venues created for the community and the world-class talent that was appearing on stage and I knew I wanted to progress within the charity. "In my first permanent role with the charity I was responsible for the scheduling of casual staff, so I quickly learned about the different work each department did, booking staff to meet their needs. This knowledge was invaluable when I eventually joined the Development team, as I was able to draw upon my broad knowledge of THSH?s broader operations when speaking to supporters and prospects about our work." Chris continues, "I have played my part in growing community initiatives like Generation Ladywood, which is made up of a whole suite of works that support the local community in the district of Ladywood, where both halls and indeed much of the city centre are situated. The project engages local young people and adults, and provides opportunities to experience music in all forms, genres and musical styles. "Since May 2019, I have been heading up the capital campaign undertaken by the charity, 'Making An Entrance'. This redevelopment of Symphony Hall?s public spaces will allow more people to access the arts in the city and will create another space for up and coming performers to showcase their talent, in the form of a bespoke performance space within the Symphony Hall footprint. To date, this TAG Network Midlands Insider 41

campaign has been fully funded, and my work during the public phase of the campaign has yielded a total pledged donation value of almost ÂŁ250,000. This campaign has seen some great results, specifically the growth in numbers of regular givers to the charity from 54 donors to 316 donors. This vast increase in regular, committed supporters has allowed me to completely re-frame my approach when asking for support from the arts community and audiences. Having such an engaged pool of donors allows me and the team to really understand what it is the charity?s supporters want to see us do, and it?s a real benefit to have their input.

fundraising. This has been extremely timely, as it has provided the framework for continuing to cultivate support during the COVID-19 crisis, allowing my work to adapt.

"I am an awards-nominated fundraiser through my work on the Making an Entrance campaign, where my efforts in engaging the Birmingham & West Midlands public were acknowledged by Achates Philanthropy, who acknowledged the campaign by shortlisting it as part of their annual national Philanthropy Prize awards evening.

As 2020 has been a blend of challenges and opportunities for individuals and industries alike, Chris discusses what he has experienced as well as the impact on fundraising efforts, stating "Working in the fundraising sector, for an arts organisation that has had to cease much of its concert and events programme, has certainly led to a great number of challenges.

"I have also been a guest speaker at the Chartered Institute of Fundraising?s Cultural Sector Network Conference earlier this year, in March 2020, at the National Gallery in London. Working closely with ticketing solutions provider, Spektrix, an international company, I spoke about the success Town Hall Symphony Hall has had in terms of digital approaches to 42 TAG Network Midlands Insider

"From the beginning of my career in my sector, I have always sought to push the boundaries of what is possible in arts fundraising and constantly seek to adapt and progress the ways in which donor communications can be presented. "I relish the opportunity to be intrapreneurial, and always like to ask questions of processes and really understand how things can be made more efficient and productive in the longer term."

"Where I could ordinarily invite prospects and donors to a concert, and host them at a reception, I have had to conduct all communications from behind a phone or a screen, and still get a sense of what each individual or organisation is looking to achieve when considering their support of THSH. "I have had to ensure that

more than ever, I am keeping up to date with the priorities of existing and prospective funders to understand where support may be withdrawn, or where priorities have changed, meaning the organisation?s work may no longer be a perfect fit. Having set up Google alerts to quickly discover what is going on in the world of philanthropy has been a good start and has kept me up to date on changing trends. With the COVID-19 crisis, I?m having to consider how this new set of priorities can cross over with the work being done by my organisation in order to remain attractive to funders. "Throughout this time, cultivating and stewarding relationships has remained a priority. Even though supporters or prospects may switch their focus away from my organisation, it is vital to keep existing relationships alive. As a fundraiser, it is my job to maintain a relationship, and create enough of an opportunity for the supporter to maintain their support or feel encouraged to come back. However, without that in-person contact, it?s become a lot harder to create that environment for relationships to grow and strengthen.

was great to reunite, albeit digitally, and one of the donors even encouraged us all to raise a glass at the end and celebrate the shared success. This event has also helped spark conversations about further support for the project. "Good communication has been the most consistent challenge, both to supporters and prospects, and internally with colleagues in the organisation. Having honest conversations with project supporters about changes to projects has meant that they have been reassured their priorities are still being met. From an organisational point of view, being physically removed from the rest of my team has meant that gathering information has become less simple than when we were all based in the same building. While we?ve all been living and working on Zoom or Teams, it?s been helpful to just pick up the phone and ask questions. This has helped to both fight video-call fatigue and to mix up the way in which the team communicates.

"I?ve found that talking with peers across the fundraising sector has been invaluable, in reducing that feeling of isolation and in getting inspiration and "However, this new way of working has had some positives. I ideas. I?ve tried to make use of webinars and networking set up was able to host THSH?s major by sector support groups, and Making an Entrance supporters with a drinks evening over Zoom, by the organisation?s ticketing where guests heard directly from provider, Spektrix, which has myself, Chief Executive, Nick Reed enabled me to connect with others in the industry who may and Chair of the Board of Trustees, Anita Bhalla OBE, about be experiencing similar issues to myself during this time." the project and its progress. to TAG Network Midlands Insider 2 celebrate the shared success. It Understanding the strength of TAG Network Midlands Insider 43

""I wouldreallyrecommend seizingasmanyopportunitiesas youcan. Gotonetworking events,speaktopeopleandwork out howyour skillsandthe servicesof your organisation canbenefit thosearoundyou.""

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communication and enhancing leadership visibility, Chris has applied his own theory on the type of leadership that is effective and has merged it with his own style. He enthuses, "Personally, I find communication to be the absolute most vital tool in demonstrating leadership. Any individual with the ability to articulately put across their thoughts, to motivate other members of their team or organisation, or to stand up and have the difficult conversations is someone who can absolutely lead a team.

brighter future. "Albert Einstein said, ?in the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity?, and I genuinely believe that no matter how difficult the last six months have been, the people who will be seen as great leaders are those who reacted to this global problem and used it to create great progress and positive change for all of us during the time that follows.

"I feel that I am at an early stage in my career in terms of ?traditional leadership?. I can?t wait to continue learning, to continue "Perhaps even more important than that, is using my voice, and to continue to put the ability to listen. Listening is often the myself out of my comfort zone and have overlooked part of communication, which the difficult conversations that are needed is fascinating, as in order to truly in order to grow into a confident leader in communicate effectively, we must be able the future. to take on board what is said to us. Great leaders listen to those around them, to the "For me, ultimately, leadership is the information that is being shared with them, example you set to others, in its most simple form. It?s in acting with integrity and and understand what that truly means, honesty, every time. It?s in making the hard before deciding how to proceed with any decisions, but also in being courageous to conversation or task. make difficult decisions in the first place." "Leadership can, and should, come from every direction. You don?t have to be a chief Despite concerts and events being executive to be a leader. The most junior postponed until 2021 as a result of the colleague in any team is, and can be a coronavirus outbreak, Town Hall Symphony leader, particularly when given the right environment to prosper. With that in mind, Hall has continued to bring live music to we all have the potential to be leaders, and the people of Birmingham and beyond. a lot of the time, we are demonstrating Chris explains, ?Digital broadcasts from leadership without even realising it. Any Town Hall and Symphony Hall have time you positively contribute to a meeting, amassed over a quarter of a million views any time you challenge an idea, and any since they began in April and an array of time you move your organisation forward, musicians have entertained online no matter how small a distance, you are audiences with pre-recorded concerts from leading. Symphony Hall. "Now more than ever, society needs ?One such musician is Birmingham based leadership to come from all directions. The rapper and MC Lady Sanity, who has long ongoing crisis puts the decisions we make been an advocate of Town Hall Symphony under the microscope even more, as the Hall and has engaged with the charity from stakes feel much higher. I believe that a young age; from attending a yearlong those with the force of will to do what they music production course at Symphony Hall believe is right, no matter how hard or when she was 14, to headlining the Inside laborious a task or project might be, will Out festival project in 2017 with a ?cosy, make the difference and move the atmospheric? gig in the hall?s orchestra pit community and society into a much and then returning last year to pass on her TAG Network Midlands Insider 45

insights in a THSH workshop to a group of talented female producers. Speaking at an event at Symphony Hall last year, Lady Sanity said:?It would be really difficult to make it without the support of places like Symphony Hall.? Chris continues, "Along with jazz pianist Ashley Allen, Lady Sanity recently filmed a set as part of Town Hall Symphony Hall?s continued Watch Party Series. This unique performance is available to watch back on Town Hall Symphony Hall?s Facebook and YouTube channels. "As a result of funds raised prior to the global pandemic, the transformation of Symphony Hall?s public spaces has continued throughout the coronavirus outbreak and will introduce dedicated spaces to host learning and participation projects, supporting a vital education programme that reaches over 20,000 people every year. "Town Hall Symphony Hall wants to fill these spaces with live music activity as soon as safely possible, kick-starting the charity?s future and enhancing the lives of the people of the West Midlands. The already strong support from donors is helping to make this a reality, and the charity can?t wait to bring audiences back to experience an even broader, accessible and amazing programme of music." 46 TAG Network Midlands Insider

Chris expresses his call to action as the business community can and should support the charity. He advises, "The future of Birmingham?s Town Hall and Symphony Hall, and the future of the music charity responsible for them, looks very different from the plans the organisation began the year with. "Over the last few years THSH has evolved into an organisation that earns more than 90% of its turnover from its trading activities and this supports every aspect of the work done in the community, from presenting international superstars on the venue?s stages to supporting emerging talent and creating first musical experiences for children in local schools. "When this global pandemic struck, all income to the charity stopped overnight. "THSH?s vulnerability to the current enforced closure is a direct consequence of a business model that is less reliant on public subsidy than most. Ultimately, the charity?s viability now depends on additional support from the local community. The charity has continued to experience the incredible generosity of its audiences throughout this time, who have already donated the value of their cancelled tickets back to the organisation, but THSH still needs help during these challenging times."

TOWNHALLSYMPHONYHALLSUPPORTS #LIGHTITINREDCAMPAIGN For more than 180 years, Town Hall has been a hub of civic and cultural life in Birmingham having featured artists such as David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, Black Sabbath, Nina Simone and many more. Alongside venues and buildings across 28 countries, today Birmingham?s historic concert venue joined the #Ligh t It In Red campaign to highlight the critical condition of the live events industry and issue a ?Red Alert?to government and the press. The live events sector employs over a million highly skilled professionals in the UK, most of whom have had no work since March 2020. The sector supports a huge supply chain of companies ranging from event production, audio, lighting, video, logistics, planning, transportation and some of the world?s leading technology manufacturers. Town Hall and Symphony Hall entered a period of redundancy consultation with staff in July 2020, following an extended period of closure as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic. This period of closure has already resulted in huge losses and it is still unclear as to when it may be possible to re-open. In order to have a chance of survival, the music charity responsible for the two Birmingham concert halls took the painful decision to reduce staff in anticipation of the continuing uncertainty ahead. Nick Reed, Chief Executive for the music charity responsible for Town Hall and Symphony Hall, said: ?Earlier this year, I applauded the superb team of staff at our venues who care passionately about what they do and who openly share their love of live music with everyone that we connect with as a music charity. Over the last few years we have evolved into an organisation that earns more than 90% of its turnover from our trading activities and this supports every aspect of what we do, from presenting international superstars on our stages to supporting emerging talent and creating first musical experiences for children in local schools. I am proud to see Town Hall join the #LightItInRed campaign tonight and join our industry voices in raising awareness for the dire situation currently being faced by the live events industry. Our sector was the first to be hit by the pandemic and without help it won?t survive. The job support scheme will not adequately support a sector that is not allowed to work: we need urgent and targeted action from the government now.? UK live music has been one of the UK?s biggest social, cultural, and economic successes of the past decade. As a sector, the music industry contributes ÂŁ4.5billion in gross value added each year. But the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has meant the future for venues, concerts and festivals and the hundreds of thousands of people who work in them looks bleak. When this global pandemic struck, Town Hall and Symphony Hall?s income stopped overnight. Beyond the 800 events and performances on our stages every year, the music charity responsible for Town Hall and Symphony Hall provide life-changing experiences to over 18,000 young people and adults including a first-class talent development programme. Every day that Town Hall and Symphony Hall are closed puts the livelihood of musicians, artists, emerging talent, staff and suppliers in jeopardy. A survey conducted by the Music Venues Trust revealed that only 13% of venues could open with 2-metre social distancing in place and of those the majority said it would be financially ruinous to do so due to the reduced number of attendees. The management team at Town Hall and Symphony Hall have made applications to the government schemes announced and support the industry calls to the government for a three-year extension to the reduced cultural vat rate on tickets in line with DCMS recommendations.

To f in d ou t h ow t o su ppor t Tow n Hall Sym ph on y Hall visit h t t ps:/ / w w w.t h sh .co.u k / join -an d-su ppor t / t h e-f u t u r e-of -live-m u sic-in -bir m in gh am



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YETUNDEDANIA In January 2020, Yetunde Dania was appointed Head of Office for the international firm, Trowers & Hamlins LLP's Birmingham location, making her a true triple threat; esteemed Partner, Solicitor with over twenty years of experience advising social housing and private sector landlords, as well as steering the regional success of the organisation. With all that Yetunde has achieved, her ambitions were evident in her early years. She recalls, "On telling my teachers that I wanted to become a solicitor, they did their very best to try to dissuade me from embarking on a legal career.

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"At that time I was supported by one of my teachers who encouraged me and as a result of that I ended up at Farnborough College of Technology where I did a HND in Business and Finance. I then went off to Leicester Polytechnic where I studied straight law at undergraduate level before going on to study my postgraduate degree at Leicester University, and the Legal Practice Course at De Montfort University. "My natural calling has always been towards helping people in some form or another and I have always had a sense for what I consider to be right in terms of fighting for those who are not best placed to fight for themselves. Initially, as a paralegal I represented tenants in disputes with their landlords with a leading Legal Aid firm in Birmingham. They then offered me a Training Contract and I qualified as a solicitor in 1996.

"My foster mum was aged 60 when I went to live with her and her husband. I was so young that I grew up calling them Mum and Dad. Mum and Dad had fostered fifty-two children for Barnardo's, one of whom they adopted. Due to their age they unable to continue fostering for Barnardo's, so the arrangement they entered into with my parents was a private one. My foster Mum also had a twin who lived with us because he had learning difficulties.

"I ended up growing so attached to my foster parents that on the one occasion my parents tried to remove me, I cried the house down and so I end up staying with them. My foster Mum was a bit of a nomad and so we lived in various places including Kent and Somerset, but the biggest part of my pre- university life was spent in a tiny village called Belton (about five miles from "Since 2001, I have still undertaken the same Great Yarmouth) which is on the East Coast. work but now I represent landlords in "Growing up in Great Yarmouth through the disputes they have with their tenants and I 80's and 90's, I was one of very few black made partner in 2005." people in the area and the presence of the Reflecting her upbringing, Yetunde opens up National Front was high, that was the time about her background as she shares, "I was that I faced the most overt racism and to be honest it really was not that much. born in London to Nigerian parents and my full name is Yetunde Enitan Atinuke Omolara Dania. Yetunde is a Yoruba name which is the name commonly given by Nigerians to the first girl child born after their grandmother has passed away and means 'Mother has returned'. "At the age of one, I went to live with white foster parents. In the 60?s and 70?s it was quite common for Nigerian parents to place their children into foster care in England whilst their children were young before sending them to Nigeria to undertake their secondary school education. 50 TAG Network Midlands Insider

"My experience of inter-racial fostering was a very positive one and I really had the very best childhood, and this is because my biological parents were always a part of my life. Whilst growing up, I got to spend my holidays blackberry picking in rural Norfolk with my foster parents to city life in London with my natural Mum and trips to Nigeria which enabled me to experience the very rich culture that Nigeria has to offer. I'm also part of a very large family in that on my Dad's side I am one of thirteen children, and most of my siblings live in the UK.

""I believeif youare honest withpeople,it allowsthemtomaketheir owndecisionsinan informedwayandnot be manipulatedinwaysto suit thoseinleadership positions.""

22 TAG Network Midlands Insider

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"I had no identity issues and I believe growing up in the environment I did played a crucial role in my later success as my foster parents instilled in me that despite being black, I could be anything in life that I wanted to be.

I did my under and post graduate degrees. I secured a job in a law firm in Birmingham and commuted from Leicester to Birmingham for a year before making the wonderful city of Birmingham my home in 1996."

"At the age of 18, I left Great Yarmouth and eventually I ended up in Leicester where

Her determination in achieving professional and personal success through a

52 TAG Network Midlands Insider

strong sense of purpose and tenacity is clear, as she adds, "Qualifying as a solicitor at a time when the legal professional looked very different. My resilience and determination enabled me to achieve something which I thought may not have been possible as when I first stated I wanted to be a solicitor, however, my

teachers did their very best to achieved. The Birmingham office opened with about 14 deter me from following my people in July 2011 and it is dreams. now an office of just over 100 "Being made a partner in people." 2005 and joining Trowers & Hamlins, which I did in 2011 to help open our Birmingham office are also great highlights. "At that time, despite being quite senior in my career, I found myself leading a team of amazing people. I had to almost start again in terms creating a name and brand for myself. I found it quite daunting in the early days however, again my resilience stood me in good stead. "I also found mentors and gained support from a wide variety of people which also gave me the strength and determination to succeed. "In 2019, in front of my wonderful husband and a group of close friends, I was awarded the Lawyer of the Year Award by Birmingham Black Lawyers which was a hugely proud moment and yet another highlight. "With effect from 1st January 2020, I was promoted to Head of Office and I now lead our Birmingham office which is a great privilege. It was a bittersweet moment as sadly I lost my Mum a few days later, but I know she was extremely 50proud TAG Network of whatMidlands I have Insider

family were travelling from abroad and so it was not practical for me to stop working as I would have soon got fed up with my own company. I decided to open Within her position of up to my colleagues and influence, Yetunde has a strong presence of mind and sent an email to the office telling them what I was going openness when it comes to through and in doing so let supporting others through difficult times as she explains, them know there are times in everyone's career when it "I am fortunate to have bags of optimism and fortitude, as is okay to not be okay, no matter what stage someone such I tend not to see challenges, I just see obstacles is at. Doing this really helped as just bumps in the road that me and I think it helped with my authenticity as a leader. need to be navigated. "I have two recent challenges: "I was not long back from firstly, my Mum passing away compassionate leave when bang, the pandemic started this year. Being in a new to take a real hold and what leadership role, I initially did not want anyone to know and feels like overnight, life as we I tried to carry on working as all knew it changed. Covid-19 normal, that old stiff upper lip has been the most daunting experience that we have approach. However, I soon ever experienced. I was very realised that such an early into my Head of Office approach was neither role, and like other sustainable, healthy or genuinely me. I felt I was okay organisations a decision was to work but I just did not want made before the formal lockdown to allow people to to get dressed, do the daily work at home. Many of my commute or engage in small colleagues chose to work talk so I worked from home from home however, I had for about a week. This really helped as I was receiving lots some colleagues who, at that time, were unable to work of phone calls from family from home.I felt that it was abroad and I was leading on paramount that I was seen the majority of the funeral to be shoulder to shoulder arrangements. with my colleagues and as "We had a six-week delay such I went into work for a before the funeral because week longer than I had to in

order to support them as they were going in so that the wider office could work from home smoothly.

to believe that they too can have a successful legal career, and that it is possible to attain partnership as well as work at a top "During lockdown I have tried to be as visible as 50 UK law firm. possible. I have held whole office meetings via "I pride myself in being the best leader I can video conferencing and I have interviewed be as I have experienced poor leadership senior colleagues about their lockdown first-hand and it is draining which can have experiences at these meetings because I felt it a devastating effect on people. I like to instill was important that, notwithstanding what job confidence, help people to reach their full title people have, we are all having to deal with potential and good leadership is required for the impacts of lockdown in our own way. this to happen. "As such, colleagues have found my style of interviewing extremely interesting especially when I have asked any senior of the more senior partners about how they went about doing their shopping during lockdown! I also spoke to my fellow partners and asked them to let me know of anyone who was struggling during lockdown so that I could give those people a call as I feel that the very simple act of reaching out to somebody in a time of need is the easiest thing to do.

"I have been really impressed with the way in which the management board at Trowers & Hamlins is steering the business through the pandemic. The way they have communicated with colleagues has been timely, has been understanding of the challenges faced and has been honest. I am also a big believer that leaders should be authentic and to a greater degree should be the same at work as they are in their private lives. This is something that I hold very dear and as such there is little or no difference "I'm fortunate enough to have a lovely home with a garden and so in the main, the lockdown between the views I hold in personal and work lives because they are very intertwined experience has not too bad however, I really feel it for those living on their own, or who have and as such the values that I hold and no outdoor space. So, at work I invited some of display are consistent. our senior partners to talk about their "I treat others how I would like to be treated lockdown experience so that colleagues could myself and that is with interest and respect. gain insight into how they were coping with the I've worked with one of my team members sudden changes. From the feedback I received for almost twenty years now and another for my colleagues found these sessions extremely around seventeen years. There have been useful." times in the last twenty years that they could have moved on, but we have stayed together Making an impact within society and inspiring and have such a supportive working change within a landscape of uncertainty is relationship. I have even stayed connected essential. Yetunde understands too well that with several people who have moved on with every ounce of authority, responsibility from my team and that is because I believe follows as she adds "We all have a role to play in bringing about change. I very much hope that in creating strong and lasting relationships. throughout my career I have tried to push the "I am a huge supporter of mentoring, and boundaries, to inspire black people in particular during my career I have had the privilege of 54 TAG Network Midlands Insider

mentoring many people. My real difficulty is letting go! As such, some of the people I have mentored are still in my life. In 2002, I started mentoring a woman who is now a partner at a fantastic law firm. I started mentoring another woman in 2003 and she is now a senior solicitor leading a team of her own at a local authority. I was even invited to her wedding and we have celebrated the birth of her first child together? there really is no getting rid of me! "Most recently, someone contacted me through LinkedIn as they had seen my profile and requested a chat as they wanted to talk about how to approach seeking a promotion. I could not say no. I met the individual and allowed her to use me as a sounding board and to give a productive critique of their promotion application. I am so pleased to say they were promoted; it was a beautiful moment when I got the phone call to say they had been successful, and we have formed a lasting friendship. It is such a privilege to be part of someone else's career journey. I very much hope that by being accessible and a source of knowledge for others, it means that even when times are difficult, they have someone to talk to, help them to re-energise so they can continue working towards their goals. If some of the people I have helped speak as fondly of me when they are further into their careers as I do about them, I will have achieved my goal of leaving a lasting legacy. Yetunde concludes, "The one thing that I have asked all the people I have helped is to also mentor to ensure a cycle of strong role models, at all levels, continue to be visible." TAG Network Midlands Insider 55




Truchio Powell is a true maverick, social impactor, spokesperson for equality, and formidable multi-award winning serial entrepreneur. He runs four incredible businesses in the Midlands which includes, The Alternative Events and Wedding Company; an event management company that specialises in corporate and youth events, the incredible social enterprise, Aston Performing Arts Academy; that seeks to empower the lives of young people through creative and performing arts; kids brand, Kandy Girl that offers unique pamper parties, and Stepping Stone Supported Accommodation; a home that supports teenagers get ready for independent living. Tru's credentials and accolades extend to his additional roles within the business community such as, Non-Executive Director of TAG Network Midlands, Board Member for West Midlands Regional Tourism Board and Creative Academies Network. He is a speaker, a guest lecturer and a mentor and when he is not doing all of this he is regular guest on the Good Morning Britain panel. Tru has over 15 years experience in events and wedding planning and has planned and delivered in excess of over 500 events. Tru first official event management job was at the Drum Arts Centre based in Aston where he was the Operations Manager. His job was to ensure all events went smoothly without any glitches. The events he oversaw ranged from music concerts, theatre productions, comedy shows

and more. He recalls, "That was the role that kick started by passion for events and working with a range of different people. Everyday was different so thinking creatively and on-your-feet formed the inner entrepreneur in me." He then went on to Marketing Birmingham, now called the West Midlands Growth Company where heading up the companies corporate events ignited confidence in his abilities to deliver outstanding levels of excellence. During his time at Marketing Birmingham Tru gained more expertise in delivering events for many prestigious political names such as Jeremy Hunt and Vince Cable. Tru is also very passionate about working with young people and empowering them through creative arts. He has been extremely influential within the entertainment sector. If you haven?t seen Aston Performing Arts Academy wow the crowds at an event or awards ceremony in Birmingham, we have no idea where you?ve been! They continue dominate event entertainment scene over the last 10 years; showcasing social issues, highlighting the greatness of the community and inspiring conversations through their thought-provoking performances and have showed no signs of slowing down. As well as performing at the majority of charity and corporate events, they have also provide Christmas entertainment for both Selfridges, and the Bullring annually. A true force to be reckoned with. As the group's creative director, Tru says, TAG Network Midlands Insider 57

"It has been an amazing journey and I am very proud of what we have achieved. "At an early age, I realised that I had a passion for the arts. Often my twin brother and I would perform to anyone who was willing to listen. At school, in the park, at youth groups, at church and to family members. We were quickly known as the singing and dancing twins in the local community." Tru actually planned his first event at the tender age of seven years old which was a talent show with his twin brother. The talent show took place in a derelict garage near their where they lived in the inner-city of Birmingham. The talent show featured talent from young people around the area. Its this event that combined all Tru?s loves... planning and delivering events, offering performance opportunities for young people and exercising entrepreneurship. An interesting fact is that Tru does not let his crazy work schedule stop him from a very strict workout schedule. He is up at 5am every workday for an early morning gym workout. However striking that fine balance of self-care, business, and family life is a trait that Tru is more successful with juggling as he explains, "I always maintain my quality time with the family. Yes, it can be strict balancing act, but you have to be disciplined with your time."

Tru has achieved many things in business. He has won many awards including Birmingham?s Young Professional of the Year, Natwest Great British Entrepreneur Award, The Phoenix Award and also Future Faces of Entrepreneurship. As well as Tru delivering major events for some of the regions senior leaders, in 2019 Tru delivered both #InspiringBrum2 a youth production highlighting social injustices and also the Midlands Business Community & Charity (MBCC) Awards that recognises and celebrates the regions unsung heroes of both the business community and charity sectors. In 2019 in its third year, the ceremony attracted over 300 nominations, 60 finalists and produced 14 worthy winners as well as awarding soul diva?s Jamelia and Beverley Knight honorary awards who attended the awards. Tru expresses, "Not only was it a great event, we were truly able to acknowledge the extraordinary work of talented individuals who have done outstanding things, survived unimaginable experiences and their resilience has been inspirational, or have become change makers whose light needs to shine brighter within the community.

"I had to pinch myself when, during the awards, both Beverley Knight and Jamelia Tru?s family is absolutely everything to him and performed on stage with Aston Performing everything he does in life is to leave a legacy for Art Academy. It was phenomenal. Totally his children. unexpected, but as everyone sang along He adds, "I pride myself on being a family man. and danced, I looked around the room and This is important to me as being a husband and felt the deep unity that the MBCC Awards a father to four children (of ages 8, 10, 14, and had created." 17) it is important to be present. It is important to be a strong male role model. I prioritise In 2018, Tru also launched Kandy Girl Kids their school run as well as football visits and Spa. This was the first ever Kids Spa that performing art rehearsals. These are the really did disrupt the market place. As a nurturing years that you can't get back, so I result he managed to secure a substantial enjoy being with them. My amazing wife Tara amount of media and press for the brand. and I share the same family values." 22 TAG Network Midlands Insider 58

Myplaninthefutureis tobefinancial free. I aimtogrowtheKandy Girl intoaglobal brand. I hopetocreate employment opportunitiesinthe regionandgivebackto thenext generationof entrepreneurs"

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This included articles in the Sun, Mirror, Daily Mail, Birmingham Mail, Metro and also appearances and mentions on Good Morning Britain and Loose Women. Kandy Girl has set the bar for other children?s salons to come through and still continues to grow the brand. Kandy Girl has also had pop ups in Selfridges Birmingham. Inevitably, this year has created obstacles for businesses to manoeuvre. During COVID everyone has faced quite a few challenges. Given most of Tru's businesses are in the events and entertainment sector, all business has ceased with no clear indication as to whether things are going to be improved. Leaders were called upon as beacons of strength, knowledge, and stability as Tru explains, "Being visible during the pandemic for most people is the only thing we could?ve possibly controlled. I took this role very seriously. "During the pandemic, I said yes to everything. All online speaking engagements and all virtual events. I wanted to ensure my presence was there and valued. "In addition I picked up several different freelancing roles with COAL whereby we delivered five TikTok campaigns. My primary role was to source the cast for the adverts. We supplied well over 40 creatives over 30 adverts. "Also during the pandemic I felt it was important I be a voice for marginalised groups. Unfortunately, George Floyd lost his life in the most horrific way which put race as a topic of conversation across the globe. Black lives and the treatment of it was catapulted in the spotlight. I felt it was incumbent upon me to talk about some of the injustices and adversity both myself and my family have had to overcome due to police brutality. I therefore quickly became an social activist speaking on many platforms 22 TAG Network Midlands Insider 60

pushing for a fairer society. Using my social media platforms has truly kept me visible and otherwise engaged during a time of uncertainty."

TAG Network Midlands Insider 39

Keith Fraser is a formerly a police Midlands police. Whilst in the West Superintendent, an ambassador of the Midlands, I ran multi-million pound justice system, and dedicated to departments, led hundreds of staff and creating opportunities for children had strategic responsibilities for within the UK. business crime, victims, children and Growing up in Birmingham, Keith had young people amongst other things. a keen sense of duty as he knew what Just before I retired after 32 years service, I applied to become a board he wanted to become. He shares, "I was born in Birmingham and proud to member for the youth Justice board. be a Brummie along with my two brothers from parents who came from Jamaica to the UK. "I always wanted to be a police officer from an early age, I think it is because I saw what my parents selflessly gave to society. Everything I did in school was geared around ensuring that I got qualifications I needed to become a police officer.

"After two years as a board member I applied to become chair of the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales and I was appointed by the Lord Chancellor in April 2020. I am passionate about serving communities and using the power of communities for the benefit of others.

Continuing, "Around five or six years ago, unbeknownst to many people, behind the scenes I worked tirelessly to "I first applied to become a police officer when I was just fourteen years help form Wolverhampton?s first gangs community reference group. This of age and fortunately some kind, brought together frontline, grassroots faceless, civil servant in the Home community groups who worked Office took the time to write back to me and send me more information as tirelessly and mostly unrewarded to help prevent gang involvement and well as a letter of encouragement. youth violence. The way the police and That spurred me on to apply to join the community work together was the police as soon I was 18 ½. innovative and rewarding. It helps to "I successfully completed the save lives and develop new ways of application process to become a thinking about how the police can work police officer in the Metropolitan together with communities and also police service in London. That was one how communities could collaborate for of the proudest days of my life. I the wider good." served in many parts of London from Romford to Stoke Newington, with my Strong community values and their ability to positively thrive is Keith's final posting in London at new motivation as he explains, "I am Scotland Yard, before transferring passionate supporting communities to home to the West Midlands police. help themselves and that is why I am Speaking of his rise in ranking, Keith also the chair of the board of proudly made history which solidified Employability UK, a charity based on his current path, He adds, "I bridging the gap between education transferred at the rank of Detective and employment, a trustee for Sport Chief Inspector and retired as the only Birmingham and I?m particularly black superintendent in West 62 TAG Network Midlands Insider


interested in using the power of sport to help turn communities around, a trustee for the National Emergency Services Memorial, a charity dedicated to building a lasting tribute to the U.K.?s 999 services. In addition, I am an ambassador for Clean Sheet, a charity which supports ex-offenders into work, a trustee for the Workforce Development Trust, a charity which amongst other things helps to up skill public sector workers, and being a patron for Old Saint Monicans, one of the largest educational providers in Ghana. With his list of impressive credentials, Keith is tuned into working to impact real change within society at large. He has vast experience and knowledge to support its success. Keith states, "As a police officer and even more so as a senior police officer, I am passionate about preventing issues and harm to communities. I saw the waste of human capacity and lives that happened when people did wrong to each other or just because of people?s circumstances. "I led an innovative approach to targeting those in most need across the West Midlands Region. Using coordinated long term sporting aims to reduce health inequalities, prevent crime and anti social behaviour and improve the trust as well as confidence that young people have in their police service. West Midlands Police serves a population of almost 2.8 million. The project was bespoke and served the needs of the communities in focused localities. West Midlands Police was divided into 10 local policing units. They consisted 50 Network Midlands Insider TAG 64 TAG TAG Network Network Midlands Midlands Insider Insider

of 171 neighbourhoods, each policed by dedicated neighbourhood teams consisting of police officers, police community support officers and special constables. Neighbourhood policing is supported by local partners. The identified areas that were rated 25 or more on the indices of multiple deprivation. Academic research identified those areas which suffer higher than average levels of crime and anti-social behaviour. The areas also have higher than average areas of deprivation, unemployment, education and health provision.

""Bethebest versionof youinthat wayyouwill feel themost fulfilled. Youwill sooncometo realisethat youare better thanyouever thought youwere. This mantraissomething whichmust constantly berepeatedtoyourself astherewill betimes whenyoudoubt yourself andyour abilities.""

"Research by Sports England also demonstrates that we are focusing some of the areas of highest need in the country. The areas identified had disproportionate health requirements and we consulted 100s of local young people in the identified priority areas. The young people completed a survey. The findings of this consultation were used to identify what we should be delivering. A constant theme amongst young people was that they could not travel and would have taken up their chosen sport if they could.

"On behalf of West Midlands police the project was awarded nearly a quarter million pounds and this is a significant investment for a three-year intervention across the West Midlands. Through this project I was able to reach over 8000 children and we had a positive impact on youth related crime and antisocial behaviour and victims of crime in the first two years. I was also able to deliver bespoke interventions in every single local authority area across the West Midlands working with community groups and other statutory partners. "The project helped to demonstrate the power of sport to improve health and also help turn communities around on a significant scale. One moment that stands out from me in my mind was when I visited a project which had been set up by two local people. At the end of the session the young people and children agreed to have their photographs taken with me. One black lad who appeared to be extremely inspirational to the other younger children was happy to stand next to me pose with a police officer in full uniform with his arm around him. I heard from one of the fathers that set up this project and a few months ago the police would have been chasing him. I now call this 'the arm around the shoulder moment' and I want to do what I can to create that change for young people or prevent the need for that change in the first place." Naturally, the route to prosperity has obstacles to overcome. He explains, "On reflection one of the most significant professional challenges I have faced recently is being appointed as the chair of the Youth Justice board for England TAG Network Midlands Insider 65

and then think about recovery. As the chair, I also noticed that staff were having to work harder to maintain services, there working more flexibly, more innovatively, and there are also providing increased level of service. We had to ensure that staff crossed systems are "Covid19 had many impacts on children and these could be classed as also looked after as they were now working adverse childhood experiences. This is from home, and with little face-to-face contact with their colleagues and the usual support because there was a concern amongst networks. other things about increases in "The other aspects of the challenge was domestic violence, violence towards children, the exploitation and abuse of starting to head a national organisation and operating virtually, meeting senior government children and all of this is taking place out of sight of those services that would normally have regular access to children. This group of children and in fact all children were having problems experiencing increased vulnerability and requiring a significant investment by services to support their recovery and particularly in relation to mental health. and Wales during the pandemic. This was challenging professionally due the impact of Covid19 and personally because of the context in which I had to operate.

"There was also a likelihood that minority children were likely to be disproportionately and adversely impacted on as a result of Covid. Children were now spending significant time away from education and or training, which could have a long-term impact on their ability to succeed in the future. This is also potentially leading to an enforced sense of isolation, which could have made reintegration more challenging. Youth offending teams and the police were highlighting concerns that gangs were still attempting to groom children and exploit them during this time and in fact rich families were probably more vulnerable to criminal exploitation during this time. What youth Justice board had to do was it had to look at its immediate response 50 66 TAG TAGNetwork Network Midlands MidlandsInsider Insider

ministers operating on behalf of the UK and Wales, meeting many senior stakeholders from statutory and non statutory organisations and all of this was being done virtually. Also meeting the team within the department and the board. I managed this significant challenge by ensuring that I had a clear vision and a clear framework of operating, which I consistently communicated to the staff and people that I worked with and interacted with. My clear vision gave people a clear understanding of what I wanted to achieve in my framework of operating i.e.

listening, understanding, involving and acting insured that I had the support of those I interacted with. I also communicated and explained my values which provided people with a vehicle for understanding what drove me." In an ever-changing and progressive world, Keith is candid about the need for versatility in leadership as he states, "We often talk about leadership and the necessity of leadership. But what is leadership for me this quote by Nelson Mandela is a fantastic start. 'A leader is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realising that all along they were being directed from behind.' "This approach and philosophy to leadership reflects the need for a leader who is adaptable and flexible. So the premise that a particular style of leadership is needed during difficult times is flawed. What is needed is a leader who is able to bring out the best in the people around them. Utilise the talents of the people within their team and galvanise people around a common goal and vision. "In order to achieve this, you will need different styles and approaches depending on what is happening at that moment in time. All leaders have a natural propensity to assert a certain leadership style whether it be autocratic, authoritative, pace-setting, Democratic, coaching, affiliative or laissez-faire. The best leaders in my view the ones who are able to step outside their comfort zone and understand when a different approach is needed." TAG Network Midlands Insider 67


Nicola Lathbury is Managing Director of Hexagon FM, a recruitment specialising in the facilities management sector. She is also the current chair for Women in FM and Midlands Regional Chair for The Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management which is facilities management industry?s governing body.

It?s an area I am really passionate about.

On the subject of representation across her sector, she adds, ?We work in an industry that is historically male dominated at senior level. Yes, we have plenty of female cleaners or catering staff, but we still have a long way to go to balance gender within the facilities management sector.

opportunities. She conveys, ?I love that I have a platform where I can help people achieve their goals through finding the right business to work for and inspire others in the industry to push themselves to achieve.

?If you have a will to serve and enhance people?s day to day experience, then facilities management is the sector for you! It doesn?t matter if you?re not academic. You can enter at frontline, work hard and progress to management. It is a really Nicola?s lively personality, go-getting nature, diverse sector where you can move forward and focus for equality within her sector, she or diagonally. There are so many options. It?s herself has achieved great heights of success truly a hidden industry. For example, we during her career. Describing her professional gave thanks to the NHS, Supermarket life, Nicola states, ?As well as running my workers, however none of their work recruitment business, I also run events for the would?ve been possible without the facilities IWFM to bring together facilities and management staff such as the cleaners, workplace professionals to network, learn engineers and others making sure the and develop their skill base. I am passionate hospitals, transport and supermarkets were about attracting people the facilities clean, maintained and safe to let the public management sector and helping them rise and workers in to carry out their roles. It?s a through the ranks. unsung industry which people take for granted as it is not a glossy or sexy industry. ?I love working with clients who really care Without the contribution of FM staff globally, about their people and helping them create great teams who perform really well together workplaces wouldn?t be clean, safe or to achieve great things for their clients and to compliant to work in.? enhance people?s day to day workplace Revealing her motives and passion to experience. Something that we have all taken support others, Nicola explains why it is vital for granted until Covid19 hit.? for leaders to use their voice to highlight

?It is one of the reasons I got involved with Women in FM special interest group. I never dreamed that years later I would be their Chair. They have never had a Chair for WIFM from a recruiter background either. However, I have worked operationally in the facilities management sector for three years when I took a break from recruitment and I loved it.

?I also love to give back to the community and last year started volunteering with Unite 4 Homeless after one of my friends won the ?Unsung sHero Award?at the MBCC Awards. We decided to join forces and use my network to help them attract corporate sponsors to help fund the charity which feeds the homeless on a Sunday each week in Digbeth and provides signposting. We?ve since launched Community Relief TAG Network Midlands Insider 69

Foundation which has been helping other charities through Covid19.? When asked to chronicle her biggest challenges and achievements, Nicola expresses, "My achievements I am most proud of is Winning Networker of the Year at the MBCC Awards with my parents and friends being there to see it. My mum has Dementia and Parkinson?s so I just wanted them to go out and experience a black tie event never expecting to actually win it. As I network mainly in my sector, I was so shocked. It was voted for by the people as well as my industry that to came out and voted. I was lovely to see my work is appreciated for all the networking and key learning events I have put on over the last 8 years. It was very humbling to see my parents face, was very emotional and a memory I would treasure. "Another would be being appointed as Chair for Women in FM. It?s the most popular Special Interest Group for the Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management, so it was an honour to be Chair. It?s a platform to inspire, so I don?t take the responsibility lightly. Until I took over, it had been really London centric. So I set out to prove there were awesome leaders across the UK in our sector, not just in London. Last year I took the popular WIFM conference on the road to Birmingham. It was the first conference outside London and was kindly hosted by Interserve. It was a sell out event and this year we were due to do London, Birmingham and Manchester, but COVID put a stop to that! "The conferences have an extra challenge as we don?t have any budget, so we have to 70 TAG Network Midlands Insider

get sponsors, speakers, venues and catering all for free for 70-100 people. This is all outside our day jobs as unpaid volunteers for IWFM. I like a challenge and I wanted to make an impact during my term. So I went for it. "My biggest personal challenge was leaving a relationship where domestic violence was present. It was an awful situation to be in. I was trapped, isolated and scared. I ended up having to do a runner and leave everything to escape and move away, leave my job so he couldn?t find me. It was the lowest point of my life. When I look back now, I can?t believe it happened, when I have spoken out about it, I am surprised to see how many women you would think of as ?strong women? have been in this situation. I vowed I would never get into that situation again. They sneak into your life when you are vulnerable. My mum had cancer at the time, I didn?t realise until I was trapped and isolated. I speak out in the hope that it will help more people seek help. "I am proud of building the business that I have today. When I set it up, I had been out of recruitment for three years, working operationally in the FM sector. So to set it up from a standing start, after being away so long, I must?ve been mad. Luckily, I had always had a good reputation and people welcomed me back with open arms. I set up the business with a ÂŁ5k start up loan from Biz Britain and a ÂŁ10k personal loan, just to pay myself a wage whilst I got up and running as you can?t invoice in recruitment until the day the candidate starts.

"We were going great guns and expanding after completing the Aston Business Growth Programme (similar to Goldmann Saachs 10,000 small businesses), until Carillion/Amey took my biggest client under EIC, on the day which I had just exchanged and doubled my mortgage at 9.15am and at 10am I got the call to say they had gone under. My stomach dropped out! It was one of the worst moments of my life. To make things worse, it was a house which needed a full refurb. It was a nightmare. Unfortunately, I had to get lay the staff off and get rid of the office and then graft like crazy to try and dig myself out. People advised me to bump the business. But I started it to have integrity and I felt that I wouldn?t be true to my values. In hindsight now, that would?ve been the sensible thing to do. But my integrity is worth more. My clients have more respect for me for the decision I made to work hard and pay all the debt off which they had left me with. We are now debt free and I am really proud of that. "I now have a business partner and we have gone from strength to strength and are now looking to hire more consultants to keep up with the workload." TAG Network Midlands Insider 71

Denise Myers, diversity recruiter, career coach, and recognisably a big supporter of talent within the region. Her infectious trailblazing energy and 'can-do' demeanor is carving out a well-needed path of opportunities for individuals of all backgrounds. Denise has her own story to tell. To understand Denise's vision, you must firstly understand her roots. She recalls, "I grew up in Oldbury which is just outside of Birmingham, my parents came to the UK in the late 50?s to set up home and I am the youngest of six siblings. Being a hard worker, I would probably say my upbringing had a lot to do with that, my parents were very proud Jamaicans, and always told me and my siblings that we could do or achieve anything we wanted to, but education was the key! "I didn?t do fantastically at school and that was my fault, I loved to chat and get involved in what made people tick which has paid off for me in my career choice. "We were always told that you had to work twice as hard and I did. After school I went onto to do a secretarial course, my form tutor was quick to trample over my dreams and ambition and tell me that I could never become a social worker; why a social worker? ? well, I knew that I wanted to help people and the only careers that I knew that did that was a social worker or a nurse (and I hate the sight of blood so nursing was out). "I achieved a lot of first?s, I was the first black school secretary in my local council and I got that position straight from a YTS scheme, I worked for a Retail Head Office and was promoted to a Marketing Assistant which was unheard of if you didn?t have a degree. I was the first in my immediate family to go to University. I went to University as a mature student, I started my HND as a single parent with a six month old baby, and it was hard, but I never gave up, weekends I was in the library writing my assignments because I didn?t have a computer at home, with him playing at my feet. It was a tough journey but I graduated 72 TAG Network Midlands Insider




with a business studies degree with marketing or HR being an area I planned on going next. "I got as far as the recruitment agency to register for permanent opportunities, and I remember the day as if it was yesterday, pouring with rain, I had to drop my son off at nursery (20 minute walk, then catch two buses and then get back), I nearly never went, I filled in the necessary forms and met with the Perms Consultant and out of the blue, she asked my if I wanted to help them out until I found something. I said yes, and twenty years later I am still in the industry. "I found a career where I could manage my own destiny, pay check and I have worked for some great recruitment businesses over the years Randstad, Katie Bard, Search Consultancy and Kelly which have given me the experience of managing the recruitment for huge corporate clients and enabled me to start my own recruitment business in 2014."

'I wouldsay,nomatter what your backgroundyouaregoing toencounter barriers,someof usmorethanothers,but there isalwaysawayaroundit,over it or acompletelydifferent route."

Finding her professional calling within recruitment, Denise has never taken for granted the role she plays in uniting various clients with the right candidates. Stating, "I am always pushing the boundaries, because I believe opportunities are out there for everyone. It is not always easy to find, but you can?t give up you must keep your foot on the gas. "Working in the recruitment industry for twenty years, I have a good handle on it from every single angle working with everyone from senior assumptions. This is an article all by itself, I leaders to school pupils who are exploring hasten to add that it has not always been options and starting to realise their dreams. directed at me, but sometimes when colleagues are comfortable with you their bias can come to "This area of work means everything to me, because it can give someone control over their the fore, and this is dangerous because it can life, it is what managing your destiny and social change the course of someone?s life with mobility. It's all about the best ways to achieve regards to their career opportunities. This is an social mobility which is through education and ongoing challenge, and I overcome it daily by being the sponsor, the person who will speak employment. My three businesses all centre up for you when you are not in the room, the around jobs, careers, opportunities, and person who will call out bias if and when I see it. fairness." Denise explains why being an advocate for the under represented can change the trajectory of their future, "One of the biggest challenges I have faced in my career I would say, has to be unconscious bias, stereotypes and 74 TAG Network Midlands Insider

"Most recently when my business partner Kareen Griffiths and I launched Evenfields Careers in June 2019, we started having conversations with organisations who were interested in and talking about the need for

competitors. We now live in a very ?social? world where causes such as sustainability, the environment, equity, work-life balance and mental health are very important and rightly so. "Without a doubt I am proud to say that every organisation that I have worked for or with will have seen a marked increase in the number of black and ethnic minority candidates presented to them and in turn working for their organisations. I haven?t waved a magic wand here or specifically gone out to find black or ethnic minority candidates let me tell you. It is not particularly hard to reach this community (which seems to be the rhetoric), I simply question the wish list given to me by employers that immediately impedes candidates from certain demographics. I have no problem challenging bias in the recruitment process which helps when you can view through a different lense and perspective ? and of course that is going to be a benefit to everyone involved in that process. "In my recruitment business Murray Myers we track at between 33 -35% when placing black and ethnic minority candidates, that is pretty much reflective of the demographic of the area we operate in, but unfortunately we are not the ?norm? as most organisations are tracking way below 20%. This is an impact I am very proud of and will continue to shout about. We are able to unapologetically focus on the section of the community that needs the most help at this moment in time."

diversity per se, the key focus was gender balance, however increasing opportunities for black candidates was not at the top of the agenda, it was highlighted as an issue but the actual figures when it came to black employees were hidden in the BAME category and attempt Summarising her career highlights, Denise to satisfy any requirements by hiring into entry states, "It is hard to pinpoint one thing when you are working with people and level positions. building relationships as there are new "So, what we were offering was not a priority as highlight and achievements every day. I they had it covered. However, the events of the would probably say what brings me joy is past few months has brought inequity in the helping someone to find the job or career of corporate world to the fore. their dreams, or giving them options and choice in the form of a promotion, or that "It is important for organisations to think key advice that helps them to nail that differently as this is the only way to grow, interview, or connecting someone to an achieve more and stay ahead of your organisation that is 100% right for them." TAG Network Midlands Insider 75 TAG Network Midlands Insider 71



Meet Guy Revell and M and young professiona a distinctive flair for bu entrepreneurial pursuit

With a taste of intrapre the sectors and respect they work for, these tw created a unique propo young professionals wi



Max Andrews, two friends als within the region with usiness opportunities and ts!

eneurial success within tive organsations that wo high flyers have osition and network of ithin their industry.



Guy introduces himself, "I?m an Investment Analyst at Colmore Capital, a boutique commercial property investment firm based in Birmingham city centre, and have working in Real Estate in Birmingham for about three and a half years now. "My role focuses on appraising new commercial property investment opportunities, asset managing our existing portfolio, and supporting new transactions. It might sound a little dry but it can be great fun; it means meeting and dealing with a very wide range of people, getting to travel and see new properties and working for a small firm, I really enjoy the day-to-day involvement in all areas of the business. My career has been quite varied prior to moving to Birmingham ? I actually studied art originally, then worked in sales, then studied Real Estate and started a micro-business at uni, first selling solar panel leads to local firms and later selling websites and mobile websites to small businesses, so definitely not the conventional route into property! "Outside of work I sit on one of the Colmore BID working groups where I have been working on helping link up charities and volunteering opportunities with the BID, and am currently working on a proposals to help get exposure for Birmingham?s artists, who have been hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. I have also (with some help from Max and Birmingham?s wonderfully supportive young professionals) helped organise volunteers for charities running access to employment sessions for the city?s young adults, including UpRising Leadership and Regeneration Brainery. I?ve been involved with BPS, the primary professional services network in Birmingham for a number of years, and am also involved with the British Council for Offices NextGen committee, which promotes new developments within offices and workspace. "Max and I are co-founders of RESki ? a skiing and networking trip for young professionals in Real Estate (hence the acronym). The goal of RESki started out fairly simply, we realised that there was a gap in the market, and demand, for a property ski trip that was affordable to people in the first few years of their career, and who didn?t want to be ?on the job?and learning to ski on the same trip as their clients, line managers or senior directors within their firms. "Following the success of the first year we realised that one of the key strengths of RESki was the diversity of the attendees, that you might not typically associate with Real Estate, which has lead to both our tagline and core goal: Real Estate?s Most Inclusive Young Professional Ski Trip. We?ve since sold out all 78 TAG Network Midlands Insider

"Therearejust somany opportunitiesandareasto get involvedandmakean impact or dosomethingnew, that alsoexpandsyour networkandcanbenefit your career,that it seemsa shamenot tobetakingthe chanceor seekingit out. "

TAG Network Midlands Insider 79

early bird places and are close to selling out the few remaining places for 2021, where we will be taking a cohort of 50 to Val Thorens. Property can be very London-centric and we are proudly focused on great regional cities like Birmingham for our growth plans. We?ve also got some ambitious plans for the future, using the momentum we?ve built as a platform to launch other, related projects that align with the goals of the trip to open up opportunities like skiing to people who haven?t had the chance before, to create fun and engaged networking opportunities for a diverse community of of young professionals in Real Estate and, now we have grown to a sufficient size, find opportunities to leverage this network to support important causes close to home." Max Andrews also introduces himself, explaining, "I'm an apprentice surveyor working within the commercial Real Estate market as an agent for the Industrial and Distribution Team at Avison Young. I have been in the commercial market for a little over three years now, during which I have had the opportunity to experience multiple sectors from industrial warehouses to city centre offices from both an agent and property manager perspective. Prior to joining the Real Estate profession, I was working in the hospitality industry whilst completing my A-levels. "Outside of the workplace, I have sat on the RICS Matrics Birmingham Committee for three years being involved in organising events to provide graduates, apprentices and newly qualified surveyors the opportunity to develop their network and knowledge to support them through the APC journey. I'm a member of the recently launched Suited for Success Young Professional Board where we assist with growing the charity's reach and network to grow the already great impact the charity has made within Birmingham. Finally, I am the 80 TAG Network Midlands Insider

Co-Founder of Real Estate Ski (RESki) a networking experience with a twist for all young professionals linked to the Real Estate market. "RESki is all about opening up the slopes to both those who may of never skied before and to the keen skiers alike, whilst providing the most picturesque networking backdrop of the snowy Alps you could imagine. We are now approaching our second year of operation and we have expanded the team forming a national committee of young professionals from all over the UK such as Hull, East Midlands, West Midlands and London. "In my spare time, I'm a keen sailor and

"Without theconnections youhavearoundyou,the opportunitytopushyour knowledgefurther intoother challengeswill belimited. Thenewnormal will change thewayweinteract inthe future,asI?msureweareall anticipatingbut it will not stopusfromcrafting genuineconnections."

spend plenty of weekends on the south coast assisting with boat charters. Last year I completed my RYA Day Skipper course which was a great step towards being a qualified skipper! More recently, I have become intrigued in aerial drone photography and cinematic videography which I am in the process of starting my own small business called Waterside Media focusing on nautical media production. Ultimately merging my two hobbies into a business! As I'm writing this, I?m also doing a bit of study for my upcoming drone qualification courses Why. Why not check Waterside media out on Instagram (@WatersideMedia) for a sneak peak at what I'm on about! "

With busy schedules, a commitment to supporting fellow professionals in the region, as well as embarking on their business venture and achieving so much, it is interesting to discover which particular career or personal fruition stands out. Guy advises, "I think a real personal highlight for me has been the incredibly warm welcome I received as a new arrival in Birmingham. I didn?t know anyone here when I moved up, and had no idea about the wide range of groups, events, and just everything going on in the city. I definitely feel like an adopted brummie now! "One thing that really struck me about Birmingham was this palpable sense of confidence and the feeling that this is the place TAG Network Midlands Insider 81

to be where things are happening, with all the announcements about fresh investment into HS2, new developments, the Metro, the Paradise scheme and so much more. It felt like the city was in the middle of a renaissance and I was extremely fortunate to have the chance to to live and work right in the middle of it. It?s one of the main reasons I got involved with supporting local charities, I think there?s something to give back when you?re essentially the unearned beneficiary of the huge growth and investment already underway in a city. Max adds, "I have so many highlights from the three years I've been working in the industry that it's hard to pick one out if I'm totally honest! A professional highlight and achievement which comes to mind was activating and spearheading the full management plan for 6 Brindleyplace, a 100,000 sq ft prime city centre office building in Brindleyplace, Birmingham. The whole project had some great outcomes for all parties involved which is why it's a highlight for me. The project was on an extremely tight schedule and the management plan fed into every party's agenda, so it was a great challenge to take on. As some of you may well know, 6 Brindleyplace is now fully occupied by the co-working business WeWork and the letting attributed to the largest single letting for the Birmingham Office Market in 2019, which the management of the building was key to securing WeWork as a tenant. "But on a more personal note, I?m sure Guy and I can both agree that for RESki there have really been quite a few highlights! Even when people started to sign up for the first year, it wasn?t until we were all at the airport that it kind of hit us that we?d really made it happen. I think our joint favourite moment from the first trip was when the group went out for a meal on the last day - as we walked back to the hotel everyone was talking about what a brilliant week they?d had which was just really rewarding and a great feeling. We hadn?t quite appreciated the reception RESki would get over the next few weeks when we got back and so many people were asking about it 82 TAG Network Midlands Insider

that it started to sink in that we really had something good that could be successful in the coming years so that was a great highlight. "Fast forward to when we opened bookings for RESki 2021 and we were both just blown away by the level of interest from people we?d never met or spoken to about the trip, despite everything going on with COVID-19."

Regarding the attributes required to be in a successful business partnership, Guy lends his thoughts, stating, "I think a major factor has been that we?ve both been close friends for a few years and we?re both really proactive people. My job encouraged me to go and get involved in a wide range of groups and things going on in the city, like BPS and the Colmore BID, and I never thought that I?d come across opportunities like that when I first moved here! I think my favourite thing about Birmingham has been that there really are opportunities to get as involved as you want to be with the wider business and charity community. Building a strong and broad network has been really key to success in my career and has allowed me to


make some great friends. I think it?s really important to be able to look outside your own industry too - I?ve always found all the new developments and news and just things happening that are driving the city?s growth fascinating, so it?s been great to meet a wide range of people who are all contributing to that in very different ways. Being very proactive is one thing I think has really been vital - I find it hard to sit on my hands without something else to work on. RESki is a good example of that - it?s so easy to be chatting to friends at the pub about something you all think would be a great idea and then don?t end up doing anything, but it?s such a small next step to having a go at doing it!"

a network of professionals working together. Therefore being able to work with your network and utilise your connections to your advantage is key. However to do so, you need strong personal relationships with your network and It is something I have always strongly focused on. Many of those who I work with on a regular basis are increasingly becoming close friends and with those friendships, comes ideas just like Guy and I had when we formulated the idea behind RESki with Niall, the third co-founder of RESki. These ideas generally formulate around helping others develop their network and to be able to do that with a common activity behind it such as skiing was Max concurs and adding, "I would say a strong something we thought was missing for the young professionals in our industry. Fast network has really contributed to a lot of my success over the last three years. Real Estate, forward two years and we have been amazed by the great feedback we have had like many professional services, is a people for RESki and we are constantly trying to industry... everything we do affects people from building an office for businesses to work expand our idea into something more than just a yearly ski trip...a community is the in to activating a public realm for people to enjoy. All of this wouldn?t be possible without best way I can describe it."

TAG Network Midlands Insider 83


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TAG Network Midlands Insider Winter Issue - Breaking Barriers  

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