With our local authorities merging this spring, the Brexit deadline imminent (whatever shape or form that ends up being) and DCCI’s 70th anniversary, there is a lot going on during my presidential year!

I have been quite outspoken about the issues which concern me and the areas where I feel passionate about trying to make a difference. Dorset is a fantastic place to do business, and it has certainly served us at Liz Lean PR well, but we are often not credited as the vibrant place to live and work which it deserves. I am fortunate to have grown up in Cornwall which has so many creative and positive associations; I would love nothing more for Dorset to have its own identity which positions it clearly on a global map.

As a result I am seriously excited to hear about the Cultural Enquiry for Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole, aimed to shape a new creative future by looking at the role culture plays in people’s lives. A long-term vision for Culture is aimed to be at the heart of the UK’s newest City Region. Supported by Arts Council England, it is a high level, heavyweight exploration and I can’t wait to see what comes out of it.  But this needs all our input – use the opportunity to look it up and contribute where you can. We have a serious skills shortage; the creative industries need to attract talent from other major parts of the UK. We are not going to do that if we do not have an appealing, cutting edge and stimulating environment to offer them. I have strongly believed for a long time that to attract and retain talent, which fuels our economy and reputation as a region, we have to get our cultural approach right. I am hoping this might get us on track to enhance the wonderful assets we already have to really create something special.

Another aspect I have been vocal about is the need to address wellbeing and stress in the workplace. I have been overwhelmed with the response, particularly to this issue across the business community. It is obviously something very close to people’s hearts and we need to discuss it more openly and make changes in our personal and professional lives to manage it.

I have my own experiences which I am quite open about. And I witnessed from a very early age the impact that stress in business has; watching my dad flying in and out of our home running his business whilst sitting on all sorts of boards and committees. He enjoyed a position of steer and leadership for years, and ironically was also Chairman of Truro City Chamber of Commerce for some time. Sadly his business partnership became challenged when I was 10 years old and I believe it is no coincidence that he developed angina and died, pretty much in my arms in our back garden on Good Friday, of a fatal heart attack within two years of that. These experiences shape us, give us drive to succeed, and you could say happen for a reason. We need to learn from them. Managing stress and admitting defeat from time to time does not make you a failure or ineffective leader or team member. If you lose your mojo, it’s OK. It’s normal. And we should feel empowered to ask for help. I endear us all to do a sense check for burn out and do something fast to manage it.

I look forward to writing more in Capital about my year as it evolves and to meeting more of the business community in the process. Come and find me, there’s always lots to talk about, collaborate on and experiences to share!





(Copy first appeared in Capital Magazine, January 2019)