Jamie Meredith, SME Account Manager, discusses his role at the Hub and provides his insight into how leadership and employment has changed over the years.
What were you doing at the hub when you first joined and how did you end up in your role now?
I started within the Growth Company as a Credit Controller but soon realised that I was more of a people-person and that I thrived off face-to-face meetings and interacting with the many entrepreneurs and small businesses that were looking for support.
With the Growth Company’s support, I found a new position at Aspire Recruitment working on the finance and HR desk. From Aspire Recruitment, I secured a role with GC Employment, where I worked closely with the enquiry team. I soon joined that team as an Enquiry Advisor, serving at the front line for all business queries coming into GC Business Growth Hub.
A great thing about the Hub is that there are always opportunities to work closely with internal teams on projects and shadow advisors when they are supporting businesses. For example, I went on to be a Business Advisor for the Hub’s People Skills and Talent Team within Salford. After two fun years with a great team, the Account Management function was rolled out – this role was very exciting and one that I thought was perfect for me and my background within the wider group. I felt like this role was created for me!
What does a standard day look like for you as an Account Manager?
I am currently the Account Manager for businesses in Wigan. I’m the BGH man on the ground there and I’m driving the businesses in Wigan to engage with Hub and GC services. I work with more than 50 businesses, and my role is to support those businesses with their growth challenges, identify their priorities, help them source information, and gather support from external and internal partners. Our aim is to be the go-to team for unlocking the potential in business; connecting ourselves with the local landscape to understand what businesses are asking for.
Especially now with the pandemic, my role has changed a lot. The past two years has seen me giving more reactive advice, such as advising on Brexit and Covid. During the pandemic I was informing businesses on furlough schemes, and the array of funding available as part of our wider #HereForBusiness support for businesses.
What kind of problems do companies come to the Growth Hub with?
All businesses face their own challenges. Some have similar goals but as Account Managers we need to understand each individual business and what makes them tick. It is important for us to diagnose specific problems and help business owners think of the wider context instead of fixating on one challenge.
How has the SME landscape changed during your time at the hub?
I believe that SME leaders are now being more proactive in looking at better practice, agile working, health and well-being, reducing carbon emissions, and retaining staff. These aspects have been key for businesses to survive beyond the pandemic. Having a positive impact on employees and the environment is something that all businesses are trying to do better at.
How has leadership changed in SMEs over the years?
SMEs now understand that their growth will come from how they inspire, motivate and value their employees, local community and business networks. A lot of SMEs struggle to find the time to benefit from leadership and management training but are now seeing this as a key priority going forward.
They are realising that they need to transition from being a business-owner to a business-leader. They need to be hands-on and do the tasks that other employees might not expect them to do. Leading from the front and sharing knowledge to improve staff is vital.
What are some of the strengths of Greater Manchester?
One of Greater Manchester’s key strengths is its community of people who want to make a difference. The sharing of knowledge between organisations supports all businesses and individuals. I’m excited by how close businesses and support organisations have come together over the past 10 years.
How has the Hub changed during your time here and what are some of the milestones you've noticed?
The Hub has become a community, all employees are passionate about their offer to businesses and individuals and really want to help make Greater Manchester thrive. One of the milestones has been Be the Business, which offers SME leaders the opportunity to speak to people in larger businesses. This mentoring programme went a long way in giving SME leaders that sector-knowledge insight and was even rolled out across the UK.
The services we offer have become stronger and more ingrained in the business community. From our mentoring service to our livelihood programmes, I’m proud to work here and can see how we make a positive difference to Greater Manchester. We are all working together to ensure that this can continue for another 10 years!