Having spent years working on the trading floor at one of the world’s largest financial institutions, I’m very used to no two days being the same.
Now as engagement manager at Nexus – the University of Leeds’s innovation hub – the pace of change is still the only constant and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Far away from the hustle and bustle of Canary Wharf, I now start my day in York. It usually starts around 5.45am praying that my new puppy Ruby, a Shiba Inu, hasn’t found any new furniture to snack on overnight.
It's then off for a walk on the green to set us up for the day, I spend my time convincing other dog owners that she is indeed a dog not a fox (google Shiba Inu), then answer a few emails and check the calendar for the day ahead.
I arrive at Nexus around 8am. Anyone who’s visited us knows that you can’t get by reception without a good catch up with our lovely reception staff, Lorraine and Sophie. Coffee in hand it’s time to hit the desk and continue catching up with a few emails.
I’m at my most pensive in the mornings, so I usually read a few articles, keeping me up to date with thought leadership on the emerging technology scene and checking in on the start-up deals overnight.
From my time working in JP Morgan’s FinTech team, I learned a great deal about how to harness emerging technologies to transform the future of finance and I worked with numerous start-ups on their journey from ideation to distribution.
I became and continue to be a firm FinTech advocate and developed a real passion for translating complex ideas into actionable strategy, something that is invaluable to my role here at Nexus. I’m still incredibly passionate about all things FinTech, RegTech and LegalTech – in fact I could happily chat all day in meetings on these topics.
From a technology perspective, my focus was on data analytics and therefore I’m really enjoying seeing how these fundamental technologies are being used in case studies across health, environment and engineering.
My day normally is a mix of meetings with a wide variety of businesses – from entrepreneurs with an initial concept, to established SMEs and large corporates. Over the last year I’ve spoken to over 400 businesses and the number is growing.
We discuss their business and talk through the milestones in their product roadmap. I translate this information into opportunities utilising the skills and expertise across the University of Leeds and then, start making connections.
This really is the essence of what Nexus is all about – bringing the business and academic world together to solve real-world challenges.
It’s often the most informal meetings, which lead to the most useful introductions for business owners – whether it’s advice on access to finance, or linking them up to like-minded entrepreneurs, academic experts from the university who specialise in their sector, or business support networks.
That is the beauty of being back in Yorkshire, Leeds is a fantastic, vibrant ecosystem that genuinely wants to help businesses. This makes introductions and connections to the wider ecosystem the easiest part of my job.
As Nexus has such a strong position within the ecosystem, my time is also spent as a stakeholder in regional working groups – from defining the funding landscape to deep dives into the entrepreneurial ecosystem through our work in MIT Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Programme.
As someone who is new to the region, it’s great to see that we’re taking an evidence-based approach to establishing an entrepreneurial ecosystem and I’m looking forward to seeing the impact this work will have on our region.
As part of my role, my diary normally includes representing Nexus across Leeds and beyond. This may range from speaking at events and chairing panels to promoting Nexus and the wider region with the Department for International Trade at trade delegations.
Alongside the face to face time with businesses, I usually spend some of my time in our many collaboration areas at Nexus. It’s great to immerse myself in the community we’ve created here and it’s a pleasure to work amongst a network of so many brilliant minds.
By Chelsea Boothroyd, engagement manager at Nexus, the University of Leeds’s innovation hub.