How times have changed. For the first time ever, I found myself on a female only panel. Did it feel odd? No, not really as apart from Vicki who I had only spoken with on the phone I knew all of the other panelists. The panel had nothing to do with gender anyway, yet it was interesting to note.
The place was the magnificent great hall at the Discovery Museum in Newcastle and the event was the Creative Fuse North East conference. Although I am still involved in the programme it was not on the back of this that I was there.
Vicki Stone, owner of Stone Collective, had pitched an idea for a panel session at the event asking ‘Is the business community in the North East truly collaborative?’ She asked the following questions while the rest of us responded.
- How does your business collaborate with small and large organisations?: Catherine Coulter (Director, BeaconHouse Events) told us about bringing together leading suppliers to deliver the best ever events.
- What are the benefits of collaborating with others?: Charlotte Windebank (MD, FIRST Face to Face) had lost out on some work and ended up collaborating with the business who won the contract.
- What are the challenges in collaborating in your sector?: Catherine Boland (Business & Community Engagement Lead, Baltic Training) showed us that while her sector is competitive she had experience of a rival reaching out to collaborate and speak at an event which was refreshing. She feels that there really shouldn’t be any challenges as there is enough demand for the skills they are delivering.
- How do you future proof future collaborations?: I talked about how we should show results and ensure collaboration is built into the business processes, for example there must be someone from outside your sphere on a project, or try bringing artists and creatives into business projects. Vicki advised that when taking on new suppliers, you should test them with smaller projects first. Get freelance agreements written up and agreed up front and never refer to someone for a service unless you know their track record.
All good stuff. Of course there were many more answers and we had a few questions from the floor. I really enjoyed the session and as a group I think we nailed it.