Ahead of the Leicester Business Festival, we talk to Alister De Ternant

Ahead of the Leicester Business Festival, we talk to Alister De Ternant

With Leicester and Leicestershire having the fastest growing regional economy within the UK outside of London, it’s little wonder that since its inception the Leicester Business Festival has been so well received within the city and county.
With influencers and innovators from around the county and the world congregating in the Leicester and Leicestershire between the 23rd October to 3rd November for the third festival,we talk to Alister De Ternant about his background in business, what visitors can expect from the festival and what makes the city such a great place to do business.

How did you first get involved with the Leicester Business Festival?
I met Corin Crane when we had both started new roles within the city and were networking hard. It came out that we were both fed-up with the sheer volume of networking sessions; all of these late night events, that were all talking about the same thing but with different people hosting them. Don’t get me wrong, some of the city’s networking events were absolutely fantastic and absolutely well placed but what struck us was that there was no collective approach.

We also noted that there was no collective voice about what was going on in Leicester and Leicestershire and this was at a time when Leicester and Leicestershire were starting to grow substantially and noticeably– and it wasn’t just about football or Richard III! The economy was really starting to make strong strides forward and investors were starting to look at the city seriously.

We wanted to do something that, with a consistent voice, let these people know this is what Leicestershire is doing, how it’s innovating and how it’s positioning itself to be a leader in business, not just in the UK, but globally. Through support and discussions with a few people including David Simms
at the Mercury and Maxine Aldred who used to be at the Federation of Small Businesses along with the support of Sally Kowal, who was communications manager at the LLEP, we fleshed out how we could address this and the idea of the Leicester Business Festival was born.

Very quickly the idea clicked with people; in year 1, we did 80 events, 7.500 people attended and about 14% were from outside the county. Year 2 saw 118 events in the space of 2 weeks, c.12,500 people attended with 24.8% from outside the Midlands. My own company, Associate Events, now has the contract to run
Leicester Business Festival for the next 3 years. We’ve already got some great headline supporters for year 3 and have already had 38 expressions of interest to put on some really good, high profile events- some of which are moving from London into the Business Festival.

So would you say Leicester a good place to do business in?
The proof really is in the pudding as last year Leicester was the fastest growing economy in the UK. If you want an eclectic, focused, driven economy it is a phenomenal place to work and to invest in. It has huge amounts of assets, and the breadth and diversity of that is actually one of its selling points. It’s hugely culturally diverse, commerce is booming, the location is fantastic and it’s got everything that you would want out of a major city in the UK. But also, it’s somewhere that is friendly and is small enough that the people who live/work/play here, are able to do that in a comfortable way. It’s a great place to invest and it’s a great place to do business.

What’s the biggest challenge that you’ve faced in relation to the Business Festival?
I think it was getting people to buy into the concept. It was something that was new and at the time it came about people only just started having faith in the local economy, let alone shouting about it openly.

What are you most proud of with the Business Festival?
I think it is the amount of support we have received from the local business community. It is now seen as a flagship event not only in the region, but in other areas of the UK – particularly in the inward investment, public sector realms, and I think that from those early conversations about, how could this work, to now seeing it being delivered at such a high level, is something we should all be proud of.

What can people expect from this year’s Business Festival?
We’re capping the number of events this year at 150 and the type and styles of events coming through are hugely representational of the current issues that businesses face, the political positioning, and the advancement of the area. The reach of the festival has continued to increase, so our national and international platform will increase, so there is ever more reason to get involved.

And how can they get involved?
People can get involved in a number of different ways. We want people to put on events and shout about what they’re doing, but more specifically we want them to shout about what they’re doing as part of driving the local region. We also want people to go to the events; the majority of them are free to attend and we really want people to engage, not only with the local business community but with outside visitors – don’t forget that 24% of attendees last year were from outside the county so there’s a huge amount of wide ranging business opportunities for attendees to take advantage of.

To find out more about the Leicester Business Festival visit leicesterbusinessfestival.com
#LBF2017 @LBFestival
Tel. 0116 464 5995

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