Jenn Hazlehurst Chair of pro-manchester: Outgoing Address

Wednesday, 20th January 2021

When I gave my incoming speech as chair of pro-manchester back in July 2019, I talked about the power of collaboration – and how pro-manchester works on behalf of its members to develop strong working relationships locally, across our region, nationally and between the membership.

Little did I know how true that sentiment would be in the second half of my tenure. Covid has taught us that we are stronger together and that by working together, in partnership, we will pull through.

Before lockdown, it was business as usual: we hosted two visits from the Lord Mayor of the City of London in July and November 2019, we held our annual sell-out corporate finance lunch in February and an amazingly flamboyant Made in Manchester (MIMA) awards evening.

Then in March the pandemic saw everything change. pro-manchester itself, as an organisation built around enabling professionals to connect and network, has had to completely rethink its delivery model.

Sam, Nicola and the team have found new ways to support members to connect and collaborate. pro-manchester has provided practical support through skills seminars, as well as signposting to other sources of support and events outside of the organisation.

Our events didn’t halt. In May I hosted a webinar with Manchester Combined Authority and Liverpool City Region Mayors Andy Burnham and Steve Rotherham, in conjunction with Professional Liverpool.

And it was most appropriate that our tech seminar should go ahead in August and be 100% virtual. Indeed, we found that delivering the event in this way also made it more accessible to a much wider audience: more inclusive for those how ordinarily might have struggled to get in to the city centre and enabling members to flex attendance around work commitments more easily.

On the back of that success we decided MIMA should go ahead as a virtual event in February of this year, with a new award for “lockdown hero”.  We have received the highest number of entrants ever – testament to how much our members want to recognise and give praise to their hard-working team members.

Internally within pro-manchester we have also had to make changes, whilst ensuring we deliver more value than ever to our members. Our team is small but perfect; diverse and inclusive – with a new culture lead appointed and breaking down historic hierarchical structures.

As I step down as Chair we have not sought to appoint a new Chair, instead creating two sub working groups of the non-exec directors to work more closely with the exec team and increasing the number of Board meetings.  We will be looking to appoint a new chair in the new financial year.

By making the pro-manchester board less hierarchical during this time, I believe it will grow stronger, with greater collaboration and a more diverse and inclusive environment.

Sam continues to represent pro-manchester on a number of boards including the Greater Manchester Business Representatives Board; the Economic Resilience Group; and the Business Sounding Board and she remains Regional Deputy Chair of TheCityUK, where she helps to engage on a regional level on behalf of individuals in the financial and professional services industries.

Whilst I am stepping down as Chair, I will remain a director and stay close to the team. We are focussed on ensuring that we continue to deliver valuable events and skills training for our members to help support you through this difficult time.

I’d like to thank the team and you, the members, for the opportunity to chair pro-manchester; it has been a privilege. I wish you all good health and happiness in 2021.