For over 100 years, Go North East has connected the region’s towns and villages, employing over 2,000 people and generating an annual turnover of £100 million.
Commercial Director of Go North East, Stephen King is no stranger to understanding the complexity of business having worked his way up through the ranks at the region’s largest bus operator joining on its Youth Training Scheme at the age of 16.
Starting his career as a trainee traffic administrator in the depot operations team to now heading up marketing, retail and sales functions, Stephen’s current role as Commercial Director at Go North East involves managing the company’s commercial department, who design, price and promote the Go North East bus network. An active member of the company’s executive board, when he isn’t busy with the day job, Stephen is also expanding his networks and knowledge with qualifications that include a business management degree and diploma in Company Direction with the IOD (Institute of Directors).
More recently he has been putting his expertise to good use supporting small businesses as a mentor on Newcastle University’s Captured programme.
“I first became aware of Newcastle University’s Captured course last year through an article I had read and was immediately keen to find out more. I love getting to know different people, building networks, sharing knowledge and learning from other businesses so it seemed a great opportunity.
“Alongside my role at Go North East, I am also a LEP Enterprise Advisor helping support children and school leadership teams so Captured seemed like a good fit and something I could add value to. The time commitment in being involved wasn’t too taxing, accounting for around four days, so I knew it was something I was able to easily fit into my work schedule.”
On signing up as a mentor, Stephen was paired to work with Laura Weaving, Managing Director of Duo Global Consulting, a company focused on creating cultures that attract, engage and retain high performing people to help businesses grow.
“It was great working with Laura and to learn more about her business. To see a company leading the way in the world of recruitment with new approaches has been inspiring. It was really interesting to understand how they work with businesses to build long-term recruitment strategies, creating cultures and developing training programmes to attract and develop the right people.
“Being a relatively new concept to the market, we spent a number of sessions talking about their value proposition and the best way to articulate that to businesses through their communications. We also looked at the strengths of individual team members, the structure of the company and ways they could redefine their brand and marketing collateral in line with the future direction of the business.”
Aside from the mentoring role, being involved in Captured has also given Stephen the opportunity to learn about the challenges faced by many of the other small businesses on the course and the perspectives of their mentors which include representatives from companies including Nexus, Brewin Dolphin, HSBC and Virgin Money to name just a few.
“The course has been beneficial for my own personal development too, taking me out of my comfort zone and giving me the chance to look at my own business through a different lens. It’s also highlighted the importance of making time to step back from the day to day operations of running a business, to give yourself headspace and much needed strategic thinking time.
“Essentially it’s about getting the right balance of working in the business as well as on the business which Captured really helps with. It’s been great to be part of. I’ve already expressed my interest to support the programme again and would thoroughly recommend anyone considering it to take part.”