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Patrick Cross

Patrick Cross is managing director at Gecko Programmes - a business development consultancy offering cutting-edge solutions to inspire, motivate and grow skills in the workforce. He launched the company ten years ago and now has a team of 30 working with businesses and individuals in the education, creative, cultural, heritage, digital and media sectors.

EXPLAIN A TYPICAL WEEK IN YOUR WORKING LIFE:  Every day is different, I could be working with a call-centre in Birmingham, helping a prime visitor attraction in Dudley, or attending to a curriculum development contract with one of Gecko’s educational partners in Europe. 

And then there’s the day to day dealing with contracts, PAYE, Health and safety, PR and marketing, and training enquiries...

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE FACING YOUR INDUSTRY RIGHT NOW? Like a lot of people in the region we thought that Brexit was going to have a negative impact on our international work. While the views of our European partners have reduced our export income, we have been able to turn that challenge into an opportunity.

AND WHAT ARE THE BIG OPPORTUNITIES? Gecko has many European partners and we have established a strong foothold in the European market. Brexit has given us the push to think beyond Europe and we are now working alongside the Department of International Trade to develop ourselves as a global business.

HOW DO YOU GET THE BEST OUT OF YOUR STAFF? I believe it is important to offer opportunities for growth to my staff. Working in the industry we do, we encourage other business leaders to boost their own skills and that of their workforce. I think working alongside staff to help them and the business grow delivers the best results.

WHAT WAS YOUR LAST MEETING ABOUT, HOW LONG DID IT LAST, AND WAS IT PRODUCTIVE? Our last meeting dealt with hitting all the volume, value and quality targets on a contract we have with the West Midlands Combined Authority.  And as long as we stayed on track, yes it was productive.

HOW MANY EMAILS DO YOU GET IN A DAY, AND HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU HAVE TO READ THEM? It’s definitely too many. I get up to 100 that need my attention, and that is with the aid of filters to reduce and redirect some of them. I read them all, but maybe take time to measure my response.

DO YOU ANSWER WORK CALLS OR EMAILS AT HOME? WHAT’S THE RIGHT WORK-LIFE BALANCE? I am OK with this as I have never felt I had a 9 to 5 job. I would rather address all, but at a slower and more regular pace.  It is the pace that gives me balance.

HOW DO YOU HOPE YOUR COLLEAGUES WOULD DESCRIBE YOU? Another aging bald white man who wears glasses. And has humour and style!

HIGHLIGHTS OF YOUR CAREER SO FAR? Which one?  I have had so many – careers not highlights.  What I am doing now seems to be a culmination of all the skills and capabilities I have gained through many jobs and careers. Seeing the impact of the work we do at Gecko Programmes to support and develop the region’s businesses and workforce is hugely rewarding.

PET HATES? Untidiness, not completing every detail, and people walking across the road looking at their smart phones not expecting the inevitable impact with a larger and faster object.

IF YOU COULD GO BACK AND GIVE YOUR YOUNGER SELF SOME WISE ADVICE, WHAT WOULD IT BE? Listen to the advice you are being given and put it into practice.

HOW DO YOU RELAX AWAY FROM WORK? I enjoy the time-warp of Cuba, staying with a family for bed and breakfast, and going to the park to read a book, play dominos and share a few beers with newly-made friends.

WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE IS SPECIAL ABOUT THE BIRMINGHAM BUSINESS COMMUNITY? Birmingham and the Black Country are second only to London for the quality and variety of talent they possess. People are attracted to live and work here for the vibrant, varied, and thriving business community.

Business leaders recognise the value in working together to become stronger and promote Birmingham nationally and globally.

TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOU THAT MOST PEOPLE PROBABLY WOULDN’T KNOW. I used to promote punk and new wave bands in Birmingham in the late seventies.  I found a band in Coventry that called themselves the Coventry Automatics, and signed them up for six weeks. Just before their first gig for me, they had to change their name as it was too similar to another touring band. I had to change all the posters to “The Specials” and the “Golden Eagle, Hill St”. So I was the first promoter of The Specials.

YOU CAN TAKE ONE BOOK, ONE FILM AND ONE CD ONTO A DESERT ISLAND – WHAT WOULD THEY BE? A book I am yet to read by Naom Chomski; the film 1917 (as I am still trying to get over it) and, of course, a Specials CD.

YOUR FIVE DREAM DINNER PARTY GUESTS, DEAD OR ALIVE? That would be Naom Chomski again, along with Winston Churchill and General Montgomery.  There should be some fireworks there! And for further entertainment, Joanna Lumley and Billy Connolly.



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