Tuesday, 19 November 2013

And the winner is: Norfolk Network!

Norfolk Network and the University of East Anglia have collaborated in many projects: GradsEast, GENE, Project Evolve, Postgraduate Research Showcase and several business plan competitions.

For over seven years UEA and NN have collaborated to attract the interest of local SMEs upon the university’s activities and “smooth the access of business into the university” by creating mutual events and engaging with students’ societies so that the latter and the university could get to know industry in Norfolk.

The partnership proved successful and last year set a landmark for this collaboration as UEA became NN's Platinum sponsors and nominated NN for the Award for Excellence in Careers Service Engagement by the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS).

The NN won the prestigious award as the President-Elect of AGCAS recognized that “it can be particularly challenging for universities to convince students of the range and quality of opportunities to be found in the small and medium-sized enterprises with which the majority will enter work, and to provide both practical examples of these and contacts with them”.

Yet, this partnership was able to deliver.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Sowing the Seeds – Izzy Mair, City College Norwich

As I sit here in my office and look at the photos taken of the ‘Sowing the Seeds’ days (which were all the way back in 2006), my first thought is ‘wow – we look really young’.

Sowing the Seeds – for those of you who do not know, was a programme established to support young people into the world of work, enterprise and entrepreneurship. I have a dim recollection that it may have been Ruth Bullard, who, at that time, was the Enterprise Manager at Blyth-Jex School (aka Sewell Park College), who came up with the name with the view to developing the skills set of the younger generation.

Further thoughts of those days make me smile, as not only was I still teaching but it was my first contact with the Norfolk Network. I remember sitting in the Board room at the school with Bev and Lucy coming up with the concept and not really having a plan of where we were going but fearlessly, we set off on our journey.

Along the way, as you will see, we conscripted a few familiar faces – Frank, Xenia, Bev, Martin, Chris etc… became our willing business mentors, supporting the students through product realisation, marketing, finance, IP etc.

We also needed another educational ally, so you will notice Stuart Catchpole who at the time was working at Costessey High School (aka Ormiston Victory). He and I had worked together in education for several years and it seemed right that we worked together on this project. Needless to say, I too had worked at Costessey High and knew that we would have some willing volunteers in the students that went there.

We would not have been able to run the project without the support from our colleagues at BT’s innovation Centre at Adastral Park – www.atadastral.co.uk.

Below are some of the seedlings:

Students from the then Blyth-Jex School

Students from the then Costessey High School

We created some shining stars – one of whom is Sophie Connors – she sends her apologies for the 10th Birthday celebrations as she is studying in Scotland.

Those were the days and I look forward to the NNG3 phase of the Norfolk Network.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Norfolk Network Top Ten Speakers: Andy Pickles

Jive Bunny was another memorable speaker at Norfolk Network. No, really.

Those of a certain age may remember Jive Bunny from the '80s and their three number one singles of mashed up rock and roll and big band music – but younger generations may be more familiar with U-Explore, and its founder, Andy Pickles.

Andy told his story of being surprised by sudden fame and pop success – a dream come true, but one that is hard to sustain. And rather than being desperate to remain in the limelight, he started his own record label, Tidy Trax – but there was more to come.

Having always worked with sampling and programming technology, his expertise lead him away from the comfort zone of music to education. U-Explore began in 2009, creating interactive platforms for students to guide career choices and provide information for teachers, parents and carers. Easy to navigate with engaging content, U-Explore is now licensed to a third of UK secondary schools and colleges, linking business with education.

As Andy mentions, googling his name may be confusing – but his career path was perfect to share with NN's members, because a productive business life can take some surprising turns. White bunnies included.


Don't miss NN's 10th Anniversary with guest speaker, Scott Russell – click here to register.

NAME – A Year of Creative Partnering

There's more to Norfolk Network then just its speaker programme – it has delivered business support projects such as NAME (Norwich Action for Marketing and Exhibitions).

This year long endeavour began in July 2010 and was co-ordinated by Tom Howell, with Lucy providing support and valuable business knowledge. Delivered on behalf of 'Shaping Norfolk's Future' it gave guidance on planning effective marketing to SMEs, via an expert-led seminar series on subjects such as digital marketing, traditional PR and social media.

Tom Howell on badge detail – Tom now works in client services at The Point Intergrated Marketing.

The essense of Norfolk Network is getting talented people together and NAME acheived just that – defined by its identity strapline 'Creative Partnering' (designed by Darren Leader Studio), it profiled the expertise of the region and matched client with the ideal supplier. Clever stuff.

Perhaps it's time for NAME to make a comeback.


Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Norfolk Network Top Ten Speakers: Yvonne Mason

After business success, what then?

As well as hearing stories of the challenges and rewards of business life, it's interesting to hear how a successful business person can reach beyond their core expertise and engage with their community. Yvonne Mason shared with the Norfolk Network her story of building Fendercare, a successful business providing marine products.

However, a re-newed purpose came in 2005, when Yvonne sold her company to found The Mason Trust.

The objective of The Mason Trust is to provide inspirational guidance to young people, either isolated or deprived in town or country, and raise their aspirations to acheive their full potential. The Mason Trust continues to forge links with education, providing events such as 'Fit For Your Future' to offer career advice and create opportunities for training and first steps to employment. The Trust also created a funding programme to help individuals and organisations with their ideas and projects.

Yvonne shared a great story for NN members – to hopefully suggest another way of working and pay it forward to others.


Don't miss NN's 10th Anniversary with guest speaker, Scott Russell – click here to register.

Norfolk Network Top Ten Speakers: Michael Nutley

In 2010, Norfolk Network welcomed Michael Nutley, Editor-in-Chief of New Media Age.

As well as the main speaker event, Lucy organised a busy day for Michael. First stop, was visiting Norwich University of the Arts and their new Media Lab, a world-class facility for digital design and meeting Principal John Last and various Course Leaders. Later, Norwich's leading digital agencies met Michael to discuss their work and the continued growth of the creative industries in our region.

In the evening, our main event was held at NUA's lecture hall at the recently renovated Duke Street Building. A varied audience of NN members, tutors and students heard Michael speak about 'Promoting Digital Excellence' – the importance of telling our business story, especially when there is innovation to engage his readership.

It's important for our talented region to spread the word of our successes, challenge the dominance of the capital and show there is expertise beyond the M25 – and take that message worldwide.

Since his visit, Michael Nutley now works as a Interactive Media Consultant, writing for Marketing Week and this year was one of 50 people shortlisted for BIMA's Digital Hall of Fame.

Don't miss NN's 10th Anniversary with guest speaker, Scott Russell – click here to register.

Hot Source

A little-known feather in the cap of Norfolk Network is sparking the creation of another networking group.

The Hot Source Team:
Tom Wood (Foolproof), Nania Tait (Special Design Studio) & Jake Hithersay (Soak Digital)

Hot Source is a meet-up group for the creative digital community in Norwich. It’s been running for three years and organises talks, hacks and creative events for an informal network of about 400.

"Lucy noticed that whenever she organised Norfolk Network events with a digital theme then a particular group of techies, creative and a digital folk would suddenly appear in the audience. Norfolk Network’s remit is across all the business sectors in Norfolk so Lucy convened a group of people from the digital creative scene and pointed out the opportunity to convene a new community.

A couple of meetings later and Hot Source was born. Because of her role in its foundation the Hot Source organisers still give Lucy the unofficial title of ‘Mum’ when she comes to their events. [This month,] Hot Source is finally doing an inclusive design event, and it's a cracker!" - Tom Wood, co-founder of Foolproof and member of the NN

For more details on the next Hot Source event, visit: www.hotsourcenorwich.co.uk.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Norfolk Network connections: one thing leads to another

Here’s a brief success story, thanks to Norfolk Network and Lucy’s genius for making connections.

You can see at least three connections in this picture: NN ambassador and apprenticeships champion Antony Howell, New Anglia LEP’s chairman Andy Wood and Hethel Innovation Centre. But there are lots more connections in this picture that you can’t see: past, present and future.

The story begins about four years ago. At the time most of my company’s business was in Westminster. The upside was the endless diversity – from the surreal corridors of the Cabinet Office to the research councils and the physics of the universe; from the warrens of the Treasury to the wild open spaces of Dartmoor and its prison fortress. The downside – apart from the awful train journeys – was that I knew very little about our Norfolk economy. I wanted to find out what’s happening here, on my doorstep, so I joined Norfolk Network.

Lucy introduced me to East Publishing; they sent me to meet two PhD students who’d won an entrepreneur prize to visit the Caribbean (nice work if you can get it!). That story for Norwich Magazine led to a dream project for another publisher, identifying and writing stories about the Norfolk and Suffolk economy. And that connected me to Antony; I wanted to find out about the skills crisis and knew he’d have an expert view. He said: “You must talk to Andy Wood too….” so we arranged to meet at Hethel.

Meanwhile, Lucy told me about a new NN member, photographer Gary John Norman – and this is the connection from the past. He’d been a student of mine, almost twenty years before; it was wonderful to catch up again. He set up this photoshoot at Hethel, with Antony and Andy. Since then we’ve done several assignments together and hope to do many more.

And the connections that followed on from there? Too many to describe here: the guys at The Point; more connections with East Publishing and Hethel; Norwich Research Park… the list goes on. Of course, the more I find out about Norfolk business, the more I want to know. Thank you, Lucy, for making those connections possible.

Written by Jane Chittenden

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Exciting times!

Ten years on from my first tentative steps into the world of networking, I have so much to thank the Norfolk Network for. 

Having established my company, Musicmakers UK to provide performance opportunities for the many talented musicians in the region, we are now working overseas and with clients from around the world. I have played for a Maharajah in Belvoir Castle and for Turkish Vodafone in Whitehall ! Our musicians have been performing in the US, China, France and shortly will also be in Lithuania. Yesterday I was booked to play in the Ivy, London early in 2014 for the launch of Women of Influence - a prestigious group who are working with Cancer Research UK to support young female scientists in their pioneering research into the disease.

There have been so many extraordinary contracts over the past ten years, many down to business relationships that have been established during my time as a member of the Norfolk Network. There is no doubt that the community of the network has been invaluable to my development of the company, and also to my confidence in now contributing to events as a presenter.

I thoroughly enjoy the role of Ambassador and can see how important it is for entrepreneurs to talk to young people both formally and informally about following your passions and your dreams to make your own reality.

I am looking forward to the next ten years and am excited about to move forward.

Friday, 8 November 2013

On the road

My journey to and with the Norfolk Network (NN) was filled with learning and excitement. 

At the end of May '13, I had the privilege to be offered an internship as a Graduate Research and Marketing intern. A month later I was welcomed to the Network during a NN event where I started learning the "abc" of business networking.

My first event (From the left: Fernanda Costa, Amy Shore, Lucy Marks)

Going to Southwold to interview Andy Wood (Adnams) as part of my 1st research project

Understanding the importance of branding (From the left: Amy, Lucy, Kellie Colby)

The internship involved taking forward two projects. The first was to research the finer profile of the membership of the NN while the second was to evaluate the UEA sponsorship of the NN.

As a result, I have gained so much insight and knowledge of the SME culture. Due to the nature of the research I had the privilege to meet and interview incredible professionals and I feel extremely lucky to have listened to their stories - from their struggles starting up to their joy in seeing their business succeed.

Being part of the NN allowed me to garner understanding of how both commercial and not for profit organisations work. I was  able to witness how enterprises and education interact, playing a vital role in generating wealth and prosperity in the local economy.

During the fast course of 12 weeks, the NN taught me how relationships, quality and brand are important but, most importantly, how all encapsulate one vital element: hard work.

To quote Edison, "Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration”, in other words, without a lot of hard work, a great business idea can almost mean nothing at all.

I see this reflected in the NN, in its members and sponsors; all the partnerships were established and continue to thrive through a great vision and lots of concentrated effort.

It was a true blessing to have worked within such a stimulating and entrepreneurial environment and to have had access to such ambitious and talented business people from all sectors.