Michelle Craig is a connector, bringing the people and businesses of the Brightfield Business Hub together
You’re no stranger to running business centres like the Hub; in your last few roles you ran the Allia Future Business Centre and then the Eco Innovation Centre
That’s right. After moving back to Peterborough from Cyprus I took on a job at the Future Business Centre. It was just launching at that point, so my first task was unpacking boxes and getting it ready to open! Originally I was a receptionist but then I took on the role of events manager and then team leader in charge of all the staff on reception. My background is mainly admin, but in every job I’ve had I have always moved up to the role of manager, in charge of where I’ve been. It’s a job I really enjoy and I love organising events and bringing people together.
In both instances you worked with entrepreneurs and start-ups, just as you do now. You clearly enjoy that side of things too.
I have always enjoyed working with people. I like talking to people, knowing about people, and helping people. The business side of things naturally follows on from that because I enjoy the process of getting people started and helping them to better their business. It’s to be expected that entrepreneurs will struggle at times, but I like to be able to connect them with the people who can help grow their business.
Would you say you are a bit of an agony aunt as well then?
Sometimes, I do feel like that yes! I have had people come and talk to me and say ‘I am stuck on this’. Then I will have a think about who I know that I can put them in touch with to help.
That makes you quite a useful person to have in the Hub
Yes, I have my uses!
So how did you get involved with the Brightfield Business Hub?
I was thinking of handing in my notice at the Eco Innovation Centre when someone came along to ask if I was looking for another opportunity! That person was Spencer. Apparently he’d been told I was the right person to run a business hub! As much as I enjoyed running the Eco Innovation Centre and building it up, there wasn’t much more I could do there. I’m the sort of person that has to be getting on with things you see. So the timing couldn’t have been better. I met Spencer in July 2018 and accepted the role in October. It took me such a long time to decide because the Brightfield Business Hub is such a big building and such a large project – I wanted to be sure I could make a success of it. We had lots of meetings to talk through figures and make sure this was going to work. Even a couple of months after opening I was still worrying about whether or not we’d get people through the doors. It has meant a lot of hard work and some very long hours but I’m pleased to say it is paying off.
What kind of occupancy are you now at and has the take up been as quick as you’d hoped?
It’s happened quicker than I thought possible. I began work in November 2018 but the doors didn’t open until March and already we are at about 85%occupancy, so it’s going really well. All of the extra amenities make the Hub quite a unique offer. I get a lot of people coming in and saying they have been told about us and would like to knowmore. So then I explain that we are not just another public serviced office; we run a lot of business support and social events, and people like the idea of an on-site café. Most of all, I think that once they become a tenant they just appreciate the very unique atmosphere that’s here.
And how would you describe that atmosphere – friendly, informal?
Definitely. Also the staff here are very good at their jobs and incredibly helpful, which is essential when we host meetings. In fact we have already got bookings for meetings throughout 2020. It is going to be a busy year – we’re going from strength to strength!
The website is a good place for people to take a look at what is on offer at the Hub, but you are happy to give prospective tenants a bit of a tour too aren’t you?
Anyone can enquire on the website and I will get back to them to organise a time to show them around and explain what goes on here over a coffee. I know that once people walk through the doors and experience the incredible atmosphere and facilities for themselves, they are usually hooked!
Brightfield Business Hub Bakewell Road, Orton Southgate, Peterborough PE2 6XU. 01733 595885, brightfieldbusinesshub.co.uk
Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash