In his relatively new role as chairman of the Institute of Directors (Tees Valley), Active Chartered Financial Planners MD Karl Pemberton has written these impassioned words to IoD members across the country…
First and foremost, do you know exactly where the Tees Valley is? If not, you may know us better as Teesside – before our early noughties ‘rebrand’ by a former government quango!
Either way, we are the collective area of revolutionary industrial towns donning the banks of the mighty River Tees – Middlesbrough, Stockton, Redcar, Hartlepool and Darlington. If your geography is still not that good, we are the beautiful coastal region tucked between the North York Moors to the south and fabulous cities of Durham, Sunderland and Newcastle to the north.
Our heritage as an industrial and vibrant region ultimately put Teesside on the map, and although some of those heavy industries are now something we only look back on with great pride, a new generation of industries is not only emerging but thriving. Despite what your perceptions may be, this is happening right now – and there are many great examples to prove it.
Our heavy industrial river industries are now building wind turbines for the world’s largest offshore windfarms, as well as decommissioning some of the world’s largest oil platforms that reach the end of their lives. We are therefore responsible for transforming the landscapes (and seascapes) for the next generation, as well as playing a vital role in the revolution of the energy sector and climate change.
Our university is also world-renowned for computer gaming, animation and programming. The idea and creation of Grand Theft Auto was born from graduates of Teesside University, and a business set up in their incubator hub! Our tech businesses also dominate the largest and fastest growing businesses in the North-East, many of which I guarantee you will have visited online – but just never known it.
Then there is our service sector, one that I am particularly familiar with. A thriving group of professional services businesses – lawyers, accountants, banks and financial planners – looking after some of the country’s leading (and largest) businesses due to our much lower cost base to service compared to larger city firms, yet with the same high levels of expertise.
As you can see, our history as a world-leading region still resonates today in much of what we do, with many pointing to our exceptional work ethic and down-to-earth, humble personalities as a reason we stand out. We are different – and we’re proud of it.
As one of the first regions to embrace devolved powers from the UK government in 2017, we have an elected mayor who has been championing our collective region for just over two years. The impact of having such a voice on not only a national but international scale is significant, and is one element that had been missing in our area for a long time.
Now, thanks to mayor Ben Houchen in getting the ball rolling, I intend to do similar for the business owners and leaders of Tees Valley – in uniting, upskilling and promoting our business community to a wider audience.
My role as branch chair for the newly formed region for the IoD is one that I embrace with open arms, and it could not have been better timed for our area. As a proud (and humble) Teessider myself, I want to make sure that we are all looking forward, and not backwards.
We certainly have plenty to shout about – and everyone needs to know about it.