TrendBible CEO to spotlight breakthrough talent in keynote at 2023’s North East Fastest 50 Awards
11th October, 2023
For more than a quarter of a century, the North East business community has come together each year for a momentous occasion: the Ward Hadaway North East Fastest 50 Awards.
Celebrating its 26th year, the awards are a key highlight in the region’s business calendar and celebrate the fastest growing independent businesses from across the region.
The awards recognise fast growth, but they also represent a celebration of the unique character of North East businesses, from startups to established companies, and their spirit, tenacity and innovation. They showcase those businesses that are not just growing but doing so with energy, determination and, most importantly, talent. Talent that we must develop, nurture and retain within North East businesses.
The emphasis on nurturing talent within North East businesses is pivotal to their success – as Joanna Feeley, the keynote speaker at this week’s North East Fastest 50 awards, understands very well. Joanna is the founder and CEO of TrendBible, a trend forecasting business that helps brands and businesses to understand what their customers will need in the future. Establishing her business in the North East, TrendBible has become an international force, demonstrating the potential that lies right here in our region.
“When I started my creative career, the job I wanted didn’t exist in the North East. I had to go to London for that,” explains Joanna, whose business provides insights into upcoming trends, enabling companies to make informed decisions about product development, marketing strategies, and range planning.
“Today, as a founder of a North East creative business, I know how crucial it is to create the right pathway for the region’s talent to excel and improve the employment opportunities within our area. I understand that recruitment is a key challenge, but I feel that it’s my responsibility to create jobs first and foremost for those in the North East through apprenticeships, graduate schemes or other routes to work. As leaders, we must ensure there’s a balance between nurturing emerging talent and bringing in expertise from other regions whether that’s nationally or internationally.
“I have always said work provides a foundation for a better, more enriched and fulfilled life and, as business owners in the region, we need to ask ourselves, what businesses do we want to run? What legacy do we want to leave? For me, that’s about ensuring we nurture and develop regional talent appropriately through the right teaching and training. It’s not just about recognising potential; it’s about constantly investing in it.”
Ward Hadaway employs nearly 500 people across its headquarters in Newcastle and other offices in Leeds and Manchester. Developing breakthrough talent is a key value of the firm which is evident across its people and development strategy where trainee support and progression is prioritised. Approximately 30% of the organisation’s current management team began their careers as Ward Hadaway trainees. This year, the Newcastle office has also achieved a 100% retention rate for its newly qualified solicitors.
Damien Charlton, a partner at Ward Hadaway, said: “Throughout the years of the North East Fastest 50 Awards, we’ve seen so much success, innovation and growth that’s been driven by emerging talent – something also aligned with Ward Hadaway’s ethos. Our firm believes in cultivating an environment where aspiring professionals can lay the foundations for successful and rewarding legal careers through comprehensive training, ongoing development, and continuous support.
“And it’s this razor-sharp focus on talent that we often see within successful North East businesses that feature in the Fastest 50. They’re growing and achieving great things because of one key reason – their people and an investment in nurturing and developing their talent and potential.
“I am really looking forward to hearing Jo speak of her experience as an entrepreneur. TrendBible has been exceptionally successful at helping businesses to understand the future, so they can innovate and meet change, rather than follow and catch up. I am sure her experiences will resonate with our Fastest 50 businesses, and further encourage them in the next stage of their journeys.”
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