When did you start working for Sussex Innovation?
I started at Sussex Innovation in November 2015, so I have been here for nearly four years. My first role was as Receptionist and then I started to take on more of a facilities role; I became Community Manager in the spring of 2017.
How did you get to where you are now?
I studied English Literature at Sussex and did the classic “I love Brighton, I want to stay in Brighton” after university but didn’t quite know what I wanted to do. I had been living in Cornwall which I loved but Brighton is a very exciting place. I came back after the holidays and had a flat lined-up and ended up working in town in a café for a couple of years before I got to Sussex Innovation.
What is it that you do?
I am a part of the Facilities Team here. There’s three of us in the team, there is Sam on reception, Helen as Facilities Manager and my role. The idea is that Helen looks after the building and I look after the people in the building and the wider membership, as we have members based here and some members who are a part of our network but are not tenants. But really, we all do a bit of everything, so sometimes I do some building management and then there’s the fortnightly members breakfast, which is something that Helen has been organising.
I am also involved in onboarding new members, so I send out proposals and welcome people to the centre. I see myself as a sign post for members here, as we have the Support Team and the Catalyst team upstairs, and they all have lots of knowledge which is there for members to exploit, so I point members to the right people to speak to if they have something specific they want to talk about. This might also mean putting members in touch with each other; we have so many different types of businesses in our network, there’s almost always someone who can help.
I also handle the events which might be social events or more business-related events such as the Knowledge Hubs that we run regularly. I find speakers for them, promote them and then I am there on the event day to help.
What is the most recent event you organised?
The summer party. It was the first one we had done off-site that I had been involved with. It was Nigel’s, the Interim Chief Executive’s idea. I had to make sure that everyone could find the venue and get there, I was very nervous about the taxis! But it went really well, it was a good evening and I feel like everybody had fun. However, I have already started thinking about the Christmas party and where it should be in town!
What’s your favourite event?
The hackathon. Chloe Peacock, the former Insight and Market Research Advisor, came up with an idea to run a hackathon as part of the Brighton Digital Festival. It focused on promoting women in tech and women in business. Neither of us had ever been to a hackathon but learning about them, and how they’re run was really interesting. The general vibe on the day was very inclusive which made it a very fun event. And some really good ideas came out of it, 4 teams were presented with a challenge and they presented their solution at the end of it.
It’s not running this year but I’m thinking it could be a bi-annual event, and it could be bigger as we have that knowledge about it now.
What’s the hardest thing about your role?
A couple of years ago, we had a power outage which went on for several days and it had a clear effect on the businesses within our building. The unexpected things that come up and learning how to manage the issue, letting people know what is going on and how to best manage everyone in the Centre is very challenging. Thank god, they don’t happen very often!
What’s the best thing about your role?
The people. I meet a lot of interesting people that I wouldn’t necessarily meet in everyday life. Working here is an incredible place as it’s nice to see how the support of the Centre helps these businesses, whether it is on a strategic business level or day-to-day little things helping someone out with their post or booking something for someone. Just being able to help people in the Centre is very rewarding.
How many people do you think you have met since working here?
Hundreds! Hundreds and hundreds! The whole idea of Sussex Innovation is that businesses come in and then with the support of the team here, they grow and move on, so there is a constant flow of people coming in and coming out. Over the four years, I have met so many interesting and wonderful people.
What do you do outside of work?
I go to a lot of pubs and tap rooms. My partner is a home-brewer so I join him in going to a lot of pubs and trying lots of different kinds of beers.
I studied English so I love reading. I get the bus to and from work every day so I get a good two hours of reading. At the moment, I am reading Tangerine which I am really enjoying.
My friends and I have also started a book club and the first book we read was called Educated, it was nonfiction which is something I didn’t think I would like as I am all about the fiction but I ended up really enjoying it. I feel like a book club is something we could do at the Centre. I am always trying to think of different things to do here. We want events that are useful for businesses but also activities that make Sussex Innovation an enjoyable place to be by creating a sense of community, such as a book club or the regular lunch time dog walks that we do.