My North East: Jennifer Hartley

April 2, 2018

Jennifer Hartley leads on the Tech and Digital Sector Strategy for Newcastle – a private-public plan to allow for the best environment to facilitate growth of the city’s tech ecosystem. She has held a number of regional and pan regional roles, from deputy head and director of trade and investment at Tech North, investment manager at Invest Newcastle, to heading the Japanese inward investment desk at One North East. Jennifer is part of the Dynamo Advisory Board and works with North East Futures UTC on developing the industry mentor programme

I’ve lived in the North East for 15 years. After studying my undergrad and post grad in Newcastle, I left to travel and live elsewhere but, like so many others, returned to the region

The work-life balance in the North East is like nowhere else. You can have a career that you love, fly all over the world and work in a bustling city, but without the long commute times and property bubble. The North East is a real community where you seem to know everyone, or have a link to them somehow. Newcastle has all of the benefits of a big city, but without all of the trappings.

I’m a big fan of the North Tyneside coast and a lot of my friends have been moving out to Whitley Bay, Monkseaton and Tynemouth in recent years. When I’ve helped companies in relocating staff to the area I always point them towards the coast as a place to live as it offers so much, especially to families.

I love spending time in the Ouseburn and I try to get to as many gigs down there as we can. My husband plays in a band so we go to see him or others, but now we also come down to visit Seven Stories, the Ouseburn Farm or have a baby-friendly lunch at Ernest. It’s still the key creative part of the region for me.

Since having our little boy our restaurant choices have changed somewhat. Our go-to has long been Caffé Vivo next to the Live Theatre. The food is reliably fantastic, the staff are great and it still feels like a date with my husband – even though baby was in tow. Not to mention the hot mini doughnuts with salted caramel sauce.

Durham Cathedral thoroughly deserves its World Heritage Site status and is a spectacular sight in the daytime or lit up at night. My parents moved to Durham from Munich in 2005 when my mother studied theology at Durham University. You can see the Cathedral from their house and it blew me away every time I looked at it.

The Tyneside Café is always a good choice, especially recently when I’ve brought my son along to meet with people I know well. It offers a good balance between being child friendly yet in a professional enough setting with good food and coffee. I also find myself conducting meetings down at Flat Caps next to Campus North in Carliol Square. Another busy hangout for a lot of people I know.

I love business (and cultural) events held in the Boiler Shop. I’ve been working with the North East Futures UTC, which is due to open next to the venue on Stephenson Quarter in September. We’ve held a few events in the Boiler Shop so everyone attending can see the school building taking shape. It’s also impressive seeing the site of Stephenson’s Rocket workshop still in use.

The Kurdish Bakery on Coatsworth Road in Gateshead also does the best naans I’ve ever had. I became a bit obsessed with the Ottolenghi cookbooks a few years ago and every dish I made had to be accompanied by these Kurdish flat breads.

There’s nothing quite like the Great North Run. I’m a reluctant runner but am proud to say that I’ve completed it a few times. Every time it’s been an experience that I’ll never forget.

One of the things I think would fit in Newcastle is a good late night artisan market hall-style venue. Something similar to Borough Market or Altrincham Market Hall. The Grainger Market is great these days but I think something that is open a bit later and outside of Newcastle city centre would boost the night-time offer.

Jennifer Hartley

Scroll to next article
Go to

Viewpoint: Duncan Young