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Three years on......

This week marks my 3-year anniversary as CEO at Britain’s Energy Coast Business Cluster. These anniversaries always generate a certain amount of reflection, so I thought I’d share some of that reflection with you.

When I came into role in June 2021 we were about to do our first in person meeting for over a year. You’ll no doubt remember how things felt around that time. Big in person meetings, in fact anything over 6 people, felt alien and, frankly, rather scary. The worlds of those of us who usually worked in offices had become much smaller and the connections between us all had become weaker. Through that time I know BECBC had become more important than ever to the smaller companies who were members, providing them with a connection larger companies had been able to provide internally.

I distinctly remember the sense of joy when we had that first in person meeting. In fact I still get a sense of it now at every meeting we have & there’s definitely a different energy to those meetings compared to pre-Covid. Our members refer to it as their human energy contribution and it’s invaluable to us as an organisation.

So there we were back in the room with a hybrid delivery that allowed those who weren’t yet ready to come back physically or were unable to due to travel or illness, to still be part of the meeting. In the meantime in the background I was doing a lot of listening & getting my head around the systems we had in place. Some things that became apparent were:

  • members really liked what BECBC did & while we needed to evolve they didn’t want it to change too much so we needed to be careful about the changes we made.
  • our systems really needed updated to facilitate communication with the team, members and external stakeholders, give us the data we needed to make the right decisions and most importantly to make the members journey more intuitive.
  • as a society we weren’t just going to “snap back” to pre Covid behaviours. This was going to be a transition & in fact we ended up with two more lockdowns before all restrictions ceased. For an organisation whose main “product” is events that’s challenging.
  • The curated tender portal we provided, bringing together opportunities from the myriad of tender portals nationally, was really important to those growing companies who’d reached the stage where they were tendering for work but hadn’t yet reached the stage where they could invest in someone to monitor all the portals for them. I still to this day get feedback from members who say “we won that tender & we’d have missed it if it hadn’t come through from Liz” (for anyone who doesn’t know her Liz is our amazing Tender Opportunities Consultant)

So where are we now? Well three years later:

  • We’ve introduced a number of new systems to improve the member journey including Glue Up which provides members with easy event registration and check in as well as an online community (almost a members LinkedIn) to stay connected between meetings. It’s also given us an App-something we’d talked about previously.
  • We supported James through his Digital Marketing Apprenticeship and have wished him luck as he moved onto full-time employment.
  • We’ve taken on Ellen as a full-time Membership Secretary to provide a higher level of support to members and free up my time to evolve the organisation and connect with stakeholders.
  • Meetings are now, in the main, in person, though our Social Value Group still does hybrid meetings and we have a few members who’ll access other meetings online.
  • We’ve increased our membership by 12% since June 2021.
  • We’ve established a strong financial model that makes BECBC economically sustainable in the long-term with cash reserves at just the right level (as a not-for-profit membership organisation our income should be used for member value rather than creating a sizeable cash reserve).
  • We’ve developed our 2024-7 strategy (see above) and are now going into our first-year review of that.
  • We’ve delivered two amazing awards celebrations with rigorous award judging & are looking forward to our third in November.
  • We’ve said goodbye to some amazing team members, both contractors and volunteers, and hello to some more amazing ones.

For me one of the main things that has changed reflects something I talked about in my interview (they grilled me for an hour and a half by the way!). I said at the time that we needed to really believe in our value here at BECBC. I believe we are something special (check out our Unique Offer section in the strategy above for my reasons) and unless we, as a team, truly believe that how will anyone else? That’s not about being “full of ourselves” as we’d say in Cumbria but about acknowledging our value and not understating ourselves (both a British & a Cumbrian trait!)

If you’re reading this as a member of BECBC thank you for trusting me to run the organisation, I’m really proud to represent you. If you’re reading it as an organisation who needs to engage with a clean energy supply chain who can deliver across the whole project life cycle please get in touch, we’d love to help you. If you’re reading it as someone who’s wondering whether you should become a member we can offer a guest membership that lets you “try before you buy” because as know how important it is to spend money wisely as a business.

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