Five minutes with Roz Bird
Roz Bird is the driving force behind MEPC Silverstone Park – the technology-based business park that sits at the heart of Northamptonshire’s growing high-tech cluster. Celebrated as a Face of a Vibrant Economy for the park’s impressive growth and its record of bringing innovation to market, Roz tells us about jetpacks, Brexit and building an economy where no one is left behind.
Describe your organisation’s purpose
The organisation’s purpose is to attract the best talent in the world so we can grow Silverstone Park and it can play a leading role in the booming local cluster of engineering, electronic and software businesses.
How would you describe the culture at your organisation and how do you maintain it?
We pride ourselves on our strong sense of mutual regard for the people who work here. You have to have that respect when you’re working alongside people who don’t necessarily work at the same organisation.
We have embedded this friendly, collaborative culture into the design of the park’s physical environment. We are creating a campus-style facility which includes footpaths, cycle lanes, green spaces and picnic benches. We believe this environment helps motivate and gives people the freedom to be the best they can be.
We also want everyone to enjoy working here so we encourage social activities across the park: we regularly host socials, from BBQs to boot camps, which give people an opportunity to get to know each other.
In your experience, what is the best way to build diverse teams?
The best way to teach people about the importance of diversity is to start at a young age. I am currently looking at ways to combat sexual discrimination in the workplace. Respect has to be built and maintained in the workplace – and it falls to all of us to create working environments that are respectful, professional, forward-thinking and, therefore, attractive to everyone.
What has been the biggest challenge to your growth and how have you tackled it?
The biggest challenge to our growth are economic forces out of the business’s control. Brexit, for example, has led to delays in decision-making – all the way through to board level. At MEPC we’ve reacted by investing in specialist facilities to help the high-tech companies in the cluster and we remain as open to new opportunities for collaboration. We want to be at the forefront of our industry, and to do that we’re always looking for new partners and ways to help companies to grow.
What would you say represents the biggest opportunity for your organisation in the next five years?
One of the biggest opportunities is the development of connected and autonomous vehicles. The expertise in the cluster and how these skills and capabilities can be applied to autonomous cars, jetpacks and drones is a really exciting prospect. Our campus will play a big role in bringing this technology to life.
What is the best piece of business advice you’ve ever been given?
If you want to be successful, then I think you have to put real effort in personally to understanding the complexities of a situation. This mindset then provides insights which, coupled with some lateral thinking, can produce novel ideas. My grandparents used to say, “if a job’s worth doing, then it’s worth doing well.” I apply this every day to everything I do.
What does a Vibrant Economy mean to you?
A Vibrant Economy means prosperity and thinking about future generations. A Vibrant Economy inspires young people and brings the whole country together. But a Vibrant Economy requires leadership that can help the country succeed on a global scale. Together, we can build an economy where no one is left behind.