Freelance interview - Networking in the Northern Powerhouse
Retail & Strategy Consultant
One of the key aims of MMO Freelance is to help our freelance members connect with each other. Through freelance events, guest blogs and personal introductions, we’re hoping to create a freelance network that is better connected and hopefully able to lend a helping hand to each other through project leads, introductions, or just a Friday beer.
Here’s a guest blog from one of our northern freelance members – Becci Blues, a former OC&C Consultant.
When a (wo)man is tired of London she’s tired of life
According to Samuel Johnson. Sorry Sam, but I beg to differ.
As a strategy consultant freelancing in Yorkshire and the north of England, life is pretty awesome. Don’t get me wrong, my love affair with London that started as a fresh-faced graduate continues to this day. It’s a dynamic, fabulous city full of interesting people doing inspirational things. London was where I started my career at OC&C, later moving to Amazon (at the time-based in glamorous Slough but let’s stretch our imaginations and include that in London). I’d always had a passion for retail and working first on projects for leading multinationals, and then operationally for the market leading online retailer was in equal parts challenging and rewarding. And it didn’t hurt that my role at Amazon involved buying a lot of shoes.
London had served me well.
However, a few years down the line the grass was starting to look greener elsewhere. To be specific, the soft grass of North Yorkshire was looking particularly appealing. So in 2014, looking for new challenges and a garden, I moved to the beautiful, ancient city of York and embarked on a crazy, fun-filled and somewhat smelly 18 months running my own award-winning cheese business. It had always been an ambition of mine to run my own retail business and whilst the cheese business was a gouda (sorry) and delicious introduction to the world of small and startup businesses, I eventually decided it wasn’t going to grow to be the right business for me. In late 2015 I sold the business and found myself based in beautiful Yorkshire and looking for the next challenge.
With my CV now encompassing strategy consulting and operational skills from businesses large and micro, I decided it was time to go back to consulting. Wanting to remain (to some extent!) master of my own destiny, freelance consulting seemed the way forward, operating across all sectors but specialising in retail and charity, having undertaken and thoroughly enjoyed several pro bono projects alongside my retail experience.
I am now in the process of building my freelance network in the north, and whilst it’s not quite trail blazing, it is certainly a little unusual as a freelancer to be based outside London. The upside is that there are fewer people with my specific skill set, knowledge of local markets, and willingness to be based on projects north of Watford Gap. The downside is that there are fewer projects, and making the right contacts to find out about opportunities takes a little bit of creativity.
In reality, if I were London-based I’d probably keep my eye out on movemeon, sign up to a few agencies and I’d hope to have a fair stream of work in the pipeline. But then I’ve never been one to take the easy option!
Movemeon have been invaluable in helping me explore the options for freelancing in and around Yorkshire and further afield. The importance of establishing a strong network of local contacts is coming through clearly, and one area I am hoping to strengthen is my connections to other freelance consultants working in the north of England. The goal would be to set up a boutique network of consultants allowing us to share contacts, experiences, and the odd coffee, raising profiles and increasing access to projects.
Perhaps you are looking for a way into new companies, perhaps you want to explore a new sector or want to be able to offer a trusted, alternative consultant to your clients when you are too busy to take on more work. Whatever you are interested in, let’s chat!
And if you don’t live in Yorkshire you should come visit – it’s only 1hr 50 minutes from London on the train and the grass really is greener.
– by Becci
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