As the North East England Chamber of Commerce’s recently-appointed chair, John Marshall is central to the organisation’s endeavours in ensuring members receive the support they need to thrive. Here, he tells Steven Hugill more about his role and how he aims to channel his passion for the North East to help existing firms further succeed and new operators find a welcoming home in the region
Chair of North East England Chamber of Commerce
You are the chair of the North East England Chamber of Commerce. What does your role entail?
The role of chair involves me focusing, with the board, on the Chamber as a business in its own right.
We offer support and also constructive challenge to James, David, Julie and the wider Chamber team, to make sure we deliver what our members want from the Chamber now, as well as being the best we can be.
We also ensure we have a sustainable plan for our future to serve our members for many more years to come.
What do you enjoy about your position?
I enjoy being part of a really motivated team that is totally committed to supporting North East business and lobbying Government to make the region the best it can be.
We promote the positive case for support and investment, and we do that consistently.
I have long admired the Chamber and enjoyed the benefits of its work, so it is a real honour for me to be able to play my part.
How important a role do you think the North East England Chamber of Commerce plays in supporting the growth of the region’s business community?
The Chamber exists to serve its members and we listen to their needs and adapt our offering to meet them.
There have been some great opportunities for collaboration, which we are uniquely placed to facilitate in the COVID-19 pandemic response.
We have also created a significant membership relief fund, using our resources to make sure those businesses hardest hit have been able to stay in membership to benefit from the support we can offer.
You worked for many years in the legal sector with Dickinson Dees LLP – now Womble Bond Dickinson – practising dispute resolution and later became a senior partner at the business. How much are those experiences informing your role as North East England Chamber of Commerce chair?
I learned many things from my career in law, but one of the most significant is that successful organisations provide a consistent and excellent service and value to their customers and communicate well at all levels.
Putting your people first as your most important asset to achieve this is also borne out in my work with the North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust and Believe Housing.
I will apply this learning, together with my other experiences, to both leading the board and supporting our team and membership.
You refer to a couple of them in your previous answer, but alongside your position with the North East England Chamber of Commerce, you hold a number of other roles, which include being chair of NewcastleGateshead Initiative, non-executive director at Believe Housing Limited and chair of trustees at Newcastle United Foundation. Why is it so important to you to see the North East succeed?
I have been fortunate to build a successful career in a region I love, and I want others to be able to do the same.
I want anyone who wishes to stay in, or move into, our great region to be able to access the opportunities they need.
By working collaboratively to create a stronger and more inclusive regional economy, I know we can unlock the full potential for the North East as a truly great place to live, learn, work and invest.