No Better Degree

24-02-2017

We can’t really put into words how appreciative we are of Maureen Foers OBE’s support.

This truly awe inspiring lady is backing James Legal – The Business 2017 as a partner, and will be speaking at our female talent-focused masterclass at the end of June. She will also be judging our Business Booster competition.

As sponsor of Women’s Enterprise in the Humber, Council Member with the Hull & Humber Chamber of Commerce, Chair of the John Cracknell Youth Enterprise Bank, and owner of Durban Ltd, her own network of independent business support companies – as well as helping to run Carr House Rescue Centre in East Hull  – you could say her time is at a premium.

Yet within seconds of meeting this formidable character, you are struck by two things: firstly her approachability and humility, and then by her absolute passion for all things business. And, above all else, her commitment sharing her own knowledge and expertise to help others succeed, whether women, young people or those from less affluent backgrounds.

Which is why, thankfully, we are privileged to have her on board.

Maureen on James Legal – The Business 2017

“Among the things I hope this campaign will achieve, is inspiring the region’s young people to take that vital next step.

“After all, they are the future of our city and I hope what we are doing will help to show them what their next step could be, and what they can strive for.

“I’ve been working with the Youth Enterprise Bank for 13 years now and in that time we’ve helped 400 talented young entrepreneurs with grants of up to £1,000.

“To be eligible for this funding, they have to have a well-thought-through idea and a proper business plan. If they are successful, we surround them with mentors from the private and public sectors, to help them bring it to fruition.

“This is a Hull based initiative and is the only example of its kind worldwide. And I’m proud to say it has paved the way for some incredible success stories.”

More established firms need help, too

I think there will be company owners out there who will see this initiative and will take heart that it is worth them continuing, by offering them the vital step up that they need.

“Very often, start-up companies can attract grants and funding, but that proves to be just enough for them to fail rather than succeed. It’s the ongoing support that is so often lacking.

“When you think about helping local entrepreneurs, it’s easy to imagine physical things like telephone and computer hardware or office space, yet it’s often the human aspect that’s missing, and this campaign fills that gap.

“Not only will it involve sharing lots of really useful information and insights, the two businesses that win our competition will be effectively surrounded with the kind of expertise and experience they might not otherwise have access to. That really is invaluable.

“The Business 2017 is offering a real added opportunity for the future of business in our city.”

A career cracking glass ceilings

Clearly, Maureen knows a thing or two about such matters. She went into business in 1971, becoming only the fourth woman in Hull to do so. Her Humberside Staff Bureau became the first woman-owned business to join the Hull & Humber Chamber of Commerce.

From that point on, her career has been characterised by similar firsts, too numerous to mention here, but highlighted by her OBE for services for small businesses in 2001. She has acted as a government business adviser, represented business matters in Europe and liaised with  organisations from the CBI to Yorkshire Forward.

Yet through all of this, she has never lost her empathy for real business people and the challenges they face.

“I managed to make it in business at a time when that wasn’t easy to do – with just four women business owners in our City. It was a school of hard knocks but I got on because I am a lateral thinker.

“I always spotted new opportunities to diversify and stay one step ahead and I think this is what characterises an entrepreneur – the ability to make something out of nothing.

“The most stressful experience I can remember was going to my bank manager, as a woman, to ask for a £50 loan to be able to pay my two staff.”

Maureen even managed to turn reactionary male attitudes to her advantage.

“My biggest advantage was actually the fact that all my potential clients were men and this meant they would sometimes agree to see me out of sheer curiosity, which gave me a foot in the door.

“Far from being offended if they wanted to look at my legs, I turned this into an opportunity – I didn’t mind because at the end of the day, I got the business!

“Added to this, I was an avid cricketer and this gave me something to talk about with the men I dealt with, given the popularity of the sport in Yorkshire.”

Keen to share the love

“I’ve been fortunate enough to succeed to the point where I can now choose what I do, and that is mainly helping others via a range of different organisations including the Women’s Enterprise in the Humber network.

“I’m honoured to be part of The Business 2017. James Legal is to be commended for its initiative in providing a platform for growth in the region. I urge as many people as possible to get involved, either as partners or potential beneficiaries of our competition.”

Maureen will be sharing more of her inspirational experiences as a female trailblazer in business locally, at our June masterclass. For more details of the seminar, click here.

In the meantime, for more details about our campaign and how you can get involved, visit www.jameslegal.co.uk/the-business-2017. Or, get in touch with us at thebusiness2017@jameslegal.co.uk, or by calling Lindsey Nicklin on 01482 225566.


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