Suzanne is an advocate for hybrid & remote working, an award-winning flexible office workspace provider, Flexible Space Association member & a workplace strategist & coach mentor. She’s on a mission to educate around hybrid, flexible and remote working best practice & helps champion the opportunities & choices that the future of the workplace can bring to us each with our unique nuances and needs.
Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?
With a degree in Accounting & Finance I’ve centred around relationship management for over 20 years within the corporate finance & property sectors. Accidentally falling into the coworking & flexible office workspace scene back in 2012 I realised I was pioneering the new office concept before it was even recognised within the wider industry in much of Ireland. Co-creator & MD of the award winning ‘The Hub Newry’ network of coworking & flexible office workspaces founded in 2012 I’ve not looked back!
How did the idea come to you for the company?
Growing up in Epsom, Surrey in a small family I moved to Newry, Northern Ireland back in 2009 with my husband & son, 18 months at the time. A little daunting was a massive understatement, knowing no one and having no support network was lonely.
At that time I was self employed, trying to build a house and working out of a portacabin which was completely impractical, unproductive & draining. But the biggest struggle for me was the loneliness of working from home, the juggling, the not knowing the next step and it was all quite overwhelming.
I’d seen the concept of coworking in Europe and the US around that time and decided to develop a workspace with my partner in Newry. The hopes were to help build a supportive business community network to help each other to grow and succeed although at that time there very few coworking spaces in Ireland.
How did you achieve awareness?
Starting from ground zero, gradually over time we attracted many different business owners with various backgrounds, ages & industries from website designers, H&S consultants through to accountants & creatives. We organically built a community of people sharing common struggles, shared skills, experiences and stories!
Roll on 10 years, a lot’s evolved, we now have a network of award winning flexible office spaces and members have become like a family to each other, some have been with us since the start and we’re now home to local businesses, corporate and remote workers. We partner with many other operator and trade bodies in this industry both across Ireland and all over the world understanding.
How have you been able to gain funding and grow?
Self funded we have grown organically with our member business over the last 10 years. We’ve worked in partnership with our member businesses, listened to what they’ve needed from us to succeed & grow. A big ethos for us is partnering with local business and charitable organisations to champion local community and economical sustainability.
The world of work has changed more in the last couple of years than over the last 20 with the future of the workplace constantly evolving at rapid speed! We’ve developed partnerships with workspace operators & trade bodies across the globe working together to understand best practice and leading edge thinking in the flexible workplace.
What are the key successes?
- Multi award winning network of workspaces, still here 10 years on…
- Brought a new concept of working to Northern Ireland
- A close & supportive network of member businesses
- Urban regeneration, social & economical value to the local communities
- Our sustainable ethos & reductions in carbon emissions
- Written, implemented and been certified with our own set of ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management Standards for coworking & flexible workspace operations through NQA
What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?
Covid; the current energy crisis with it’s impact on costs; Brexit and often the lack of awareness of the benefits of the flexible & hybrid workplace industry have all brought challenges but similarly have offered opportunities.
What are your plans now/for the future?
I’m on a mission to educate around the benefits and choices that hybrid, flexible and remote working best practice can bring. The exciting future of the workplace can really impact in a truly positive way and open up opportunities to local communities especially in rural areas, to employers and employees.
As a coach mentor I’m also passionate about helping and sharing experiences around career transitioning and more general workplace & business guidance as well as helping other establish, develop & grow their own flexible office workspaces.
What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?
- Go with your gut instinct
- Surround yourself with people that align with you & your values
- Understand & get comfortable that not everyone will get you & what you’re about, but that’s ok.
Can you share your top tips for entrepreneurial success?
- Never be afraid to change direction, the path with always meander
- Find a mentor, the stories, experiences and that shoulder can make a lot of difference
- Take time out, sleep, find time to create and breathe
Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most and why?
I grew up in Epsom in a small, close family, surrounded by heritage & garden fanatics and these wonderful, genuine characters have shaped my life & love of history, nature & creativity.
Jo Fairly – Founder of Green & Blacks Chocolate
Lucy Worsley – Chief Curator of Historic Royal Palaces
Monty Don – Garden Presenter & Broadcaster
My amazing, gently yet strong & determined Grandma who lived until just short of 101 narrating wonderful stories and experiences from her life.
What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” Winston Churchill
“The tools of his trade included faith, perseverance, resilience, and the ability to learn—to change and to grow. But his greatest tool of all, always, was hope.”
― Shimon Peres, No Room for Small Dreams: Courage, Imagination and the Making of Modern Israel
What are your Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn social handles and also website links so our readers can connect with you?
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