Guy Bashford is part of the Durham Business Opportunities Programme, helping companies in East Durham to access support to help them grow.
In this issue’s ‘My Working Day’ feature we sit down with Guy Bashford from Business Durham to find out more about his role within the organisation and what he’s doing to help businesses in the east of the county.
EDB: Tell us more about your role within the DBOP team.
GB: I am one of four people who work within the Durham Business Opportunities Programme (DBOP) team. My remit is to engage with and support companies in the east of the area, while my colleagues Michael Harriott and Lisa Wall look after the north and south areas respectively. We also have a support officer, Pam Reynolds, who covers the ERDF monitoring and financing side of things. A key aspect of my role is to proactively contact businesses in my area, find out what needs they have and their barriers to growth, and advise on any support which might be available through Business Durham and our wider networks to help them grow.
EDB: Is there such a thing as a typical day for you?
GB: In essence, no, as the role is so varied and no two days are the same. The job is a real mix, so some days I might be visiting companies for one-to-one meetings, while other days can be spent on the admin side of things and following up with businesses to see how we can support them. There’s also a fair bit of follow-up engagement required for businesses that have been through one of the intensive strands of DBOP support, for example the Durham Food & Drink Network or Routes To Contract Success. We also have to monitor and record impacts through our monitoring system, BuDi, and share information with our Business Durham and external colleagues.
EDB: What do you enjoy most about your job?
GB: How varied it is. I’m left within limits to develop my own role as I see fit, which for me is to enable and empower businesses to grow. What I enjoy most about the role is visiting companies in the area that have not previously engaged with Business Durham or had any sort of business support in the past.
It’s my role to listen to the business owners and employees and, based on the conversations I have with them, do all I can to help them fulfil their goals and objectives. For businesses in the East Durham area, it’s also great that they get involved with the Peterlee and Seaham Business network meetings and activities, which is a group I particularly enjoy being involved with.
EDB: Your focus is on the east of the county. What’s the business landscape like here?
GB: The East Durham area is full of vibrant and ambitious businesses that are keen to network and grow. It never ceases to amaze me how much of an impact their goods and services have on their customers and within their industry, even for very small businesses.
EDB: You’re also involved in the Peterlee and Seaham business park groups, as you’ve mentioned. Tell us more about that?
GB: I’ve taken over the role from my colleague Joanne-Urquhart Arnold, who was integral in getting the Peterlee and Seaham business parks groups started. Although Joanne is still very much active within the group, my task now is to maintain and build on the strong foundations of these groups by arranging events which help engage with more companies. I am also becoming more actively involved in strategic initiatives such as the Spectrum Transport Working Group.
Where possible, I try to assist with circulation of East Durham Business too, and am very proud to have been a part of the success of the PBP and SBP newsletters, which the magazine now encompasses. Going out to deliver the newsletters – and now the magazine – is an ideal opportunity to engage with local businesses that know about the networking groups but may not be aware of Business Durham and the support we can offer. I’d also like to stress the success of the PBP and SBP networking groups would not be possible without the companies and organisations in the area who have supported it either by sponsorship or in kind, the likes of Seaham Hall Hotel which kindly hosts our Network With Your Neighbour events.
EDB: What are the priorities for you in 2020?
GB: I am involved in the development of the new construction strand, so that’s something I’ll be focussing on. I am also keen to build on everything that’s been achieved so far and continue to play an active role in Business Durham and the Peterlee and Seaham business park groups.