Meet the MD: Yvonne Gale of NEL Fund Managers Ltd

Meet the MD: Yvonne Gale of NEL Fund Managers Ltd

Yvonne Gale heads up NEL Fund Managers, which delivers funding to growing SMEs in the North East. Her day-to-day working life involves ensuring that every business benefits from their support, and in her spare time she performs as part of the Whitley Bay Women's Community. She caught up with BQ to tell us a bit more...

Describe your role in no more than 100 words.

Keeping the money moving: delivering unsecured and unsupported funding to growing small and medium sized businesses that meet their needs and those of our funds' investors.

Most of our time is spent working with individual growing businesses so my role is making sure we work as a team and every funding enquiry and every growing business benefits from our professional approach to their needs.


What is it the company does?

Provides tailored unsecured funding to small and medium-sized businesses across the North of England strengthening their finances and the local economy.



Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?

I qualified as a Chartered Accountant with a national firm in Newcastle then put that knowledge to use in finance teams within a series of high growth local businesses. I applied to NEL for an accounting role and our then CEO thought I would be bored too quickly and put me forward for a role working with the ambitious businesses NEL funds. He was right; I would have found only accounting too restricting. I enjoy making money work. I was repeatedly challenged by bigger roles within NEL until the CEO’s role was the last step.



What do you believe makes a great leader?

You need to be prepared to learn constantly and that means knowing you rarely have all the answers and need to keep developing. This open mindedness goes for the wider team so we can be open to understanding what our investee businesses and so the local area need to prosper.



hat has been your biggest challenge in your current position?

I wasn’t happy with the awareness local businesses had of their funding choices. Plenty of people knew about secured lending through banks or peer-to-peer and venture capital was well known but the unsecured growth loans we specialise in could work for so many more businesses than we were seeing. As an accountant, a full overhaul of the marketing was not easy to tackle as they are very different specialisms. At first I didn’t even understand the terminology. The whole team has pulled together to solve it and I’m very pleased with the result so far. Since we announced £4m to invest across 2016, enquiries for funding have been amazingly high.



How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?

Performing with the lovely ladies of the Whitley Bay Women’s Community Choir is a fun distraction. We raised over £3,000 for Stroke North this year.



When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Alas I really did want to be an accountant.



Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about then?

Surprises only belong in birthday parties. We encourage all our investees to plan for tomorrow based on today’s facts.  We use the same in planning our business and how we report to our investors.




Where do you see the company in five years time?

NEL has been providing funding to growing smaller businesses benefiting the North East economy since 1989 and I expect in 5 years we will be still here doing exactly that.



What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?

Business growth is often portrayed in the media (sorry Editor) as a straight upwards line. Reality is much messier and you will need a team including customers, suppliers, and funders who will stick with you in the downs and wrong turns as well as the big wins.