Paul Wookey is the chief executive of Locate in Kent, which aims to attract businesses to Kent and Medway. He tells BQ about his role and why he finds it so easy to be passionate about his work.
What is it the company does?
Locate in Kent provides confidential and free business investment and relocation services to international, UK and Kent-based companies. Our services are designed to help attract businesses to Kent and Medway and support the growth of those already in the county. Whether businesses are starting up or looking to expand, they can utilise our in-house expertise, work with a number of high profile Kent partners, and tap into legal and accountancy advice, access to financial incentives, relocation support and specialist sector and skills expertise.
Describe your role in no more than 100 words
To direct Locate in Kent’s operations in ways that help promote Kent as a prime business location and to help investors make the right decision where to invest and help create jobs in the county. Kent has fantastic connectivity to the capital and the continent, as well as a highly skilled work force and attractively priced land and property just outside of London – so it’s easy to be passionate about what I do, Kent has so much going for it.
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?
I’ve always worked in the development profession. I really enjoy my field of work, so that’s why I worked for a range of development agencies before moving on to Locate in Kent – where I’ve been for the last 16 years. I really enjoy building relationships with businesses and helping to find solutions for them with the backing of my expert team.
What do you believe makes a great leader?
I strongly believe that having great and talented people working in your team contributes to being a good leader – all working together towards the same goal and achieving great things as a collective. Communication with the team is also vital and something I feel like we do very well, and that’s how it should be as Locate in Kent is all about forging strong relationships with investors and understanding their needs.
What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
I think the biggest challenge has to be not necessarily being totally in charge of our own destiny – because of the nature of an agency. Being reliant on many other external people/organisations can be challenging, and it’s all about building strong relationships.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
I find walking my 7-year-old working cocker spaniel in the fresh air is a really good stress-buster. An opportunity to think things through and clear my head.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to play rugby for Wales! But then I thought running Locate in Kent would be more glamorous…
Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?
Instant coffee is my pet hate – decent coffee is a must!
Above all else I need my team to be loyal and committed to the vision and values of the organisation – that’s a recipe for success as well as a happy workforce in my eyes.
Where do you see the company in five years’ time?
In five years Locate in Kent will be delivering on its strong track record and continuing to help companies to invest in Kent from the UK and Europe. There will always be a role for Locate in Kent, especially as the county attracts an increasing number of new and established business – all realising that Kent is a great place for connectivity, workforce, skills and property prices.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
I think it’s really important to work with the right people, because if you have a strong and well-constructed team, you can achieve great things. A business leader must also have a genuine passion for the company, which will then be transferred to the workforce. Finally, it’s key to always look beyond the short term, consider where you’re going in the future with clear goals and objectives.
What do you wish someone had told you when you started out?
I was very lucky and pleased that someone told me to ‘stay focussed’- I think that’s the best advice ever and it’s something I still live by.