10 Questions: Gillian Marshall

November 16, 2015

Gillian Marshall is the Entrepreneurs’ Forum’s chief executive and works with the internal team and board to create an environment of opportunity for North East business owners

What was your first break in business?

When working for Barclays I was asked to lead a team of managers supporting new businesses. I’ve always been really interested in how businesses have grown and where they looked for help to reach their goals. This was the first role where I really began to work closely with entrepreneurs and professional advisers and it introduced me to some great network groups.

What did you want to be growing up?

I really wanted to be a home economics teacher, although I’m not sure that’s the right title anymore! I’ve always enjoyed learning about food and nutrition; even today I still love to cook at home and entertain family and friends.

What attracted you to your current role?

In previous roles I was lucky enough to attend some Entrepreneurs’ Forum events and saw the kind of inspirational speakers and people that were involved. I really wanted to be part of it. I’m not an entrepreneur, so when the opportunity arose to work alongside so many great leaders, I jumped at it.

What is your organisation’s mission?

To provide a dynamic entrepreneurial environment that helps entrepreneurs and business leaders to be inspired, create connections and share knowledge that leads to business growth and success.

How do you get the best out of your team/staff?

I try to lead by example and show a genuine interest in each member of the team, both in and outside of work. It’s all too easy to lose yourself in the day job and forget that people have other interests that are important and make them happy. Clear communication and trust are also huge factors.

What has been your career highlight?

I’ve had some great moments in my career, but I have to say that leading the Entrepreneurs’ Forum team tops them all.

What has been your biggest challenge?

I would have to say that people can be the biggest challenge, but once you have the right team and everyone is pulling in the same direction, then most things fall into place.

Who or what inspires you?

I’m inspired by people with passion and drive. Ambitious people who have the desire to improve both themselves and those around them are infectious. I’m not an entrepreneur so when the opportunity arose to work alongside so many great leaders, I jumped at it.

What are your organisation’s short and long-term goals?

As a self-funded, not-for-profit company, we are able to focus 100 per cent of our energy on inspiring and offering a helping hand to our members so that they can continue to grow their businesses and, in turn, create more wealth and better jobs across the region.

How do you achieve a good work/life balance?

I visited Facebook’s London HQ recently. It offered a fascinating insight into the company’s organisational culture, especially the way they describe people who work hard and enjoy what they do as having ‘work-life integration’ rather than a ‘work-life balance’. Like most, I try to make plans outside of work which usually involve seeing family and friends or going on holiday, but I would be a liar if I said the ‘balance’ works all the time; ‘integration’ is probably more accurate.

Entrepreneurs’ Forum
Baltimore House, Baltic Business Quarter, Gateshead, Tyne & Wear, NE8 3DF
0191 500 7780

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