Up close and personal with the founder of diversity consultancy Cultiv8 Solutions and board member of Town Hall Symphony Hall, Joel Blake
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF
I’m Joel Blake OBE, board member of Town Hall Symphony Hall, multi-award winning businessman, founder of diversity consultancy Cultiv8 Solutions and growing business lead for Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP).
HOW DO YOU GET INTO TOWN?
I’m based at Baskerville House, so I commute in by train, which takes 20 minutes, or by car if I am travelling across the region for that day.
HOW’S THE COMMUTE?
By train it’s relatively easy. I don’t view e-mails until I get in, so I use this time to prepare for the day, either by listening to audio book or business/motivational videos. By car, again, I don’t listen to general radio. I’ll have some form of audio development CD on! It’s important to keep your mind clear and free from work first thing.
IS BRUM A GOOD PLACE TO WORK IN?
It’s the best. Just walking around you tend to bump into contacts, colleagues and even people who know me from Twitter who I’ve never met in person! The friendly and supportive vibe of the city makes it easier to do business – people cherish the opportunity to build relationships. But, as a city, we do need to balance that with more inclusive support to ensure we engage and include those who feel marginalised and not a part of the ‘city centre’.
I’m a bit of a ‘rebel in a suit’, so one day you might find me in Starbucks, another in one of our fabulous independents like 200 Degrees, or just inviting people to the office and making them a cuppa myself! I’m a peppermint or green tea kinda guy for future reference…
It depends who I’m meeting and why. For something more professional, I may have lunch in Primitivo in the heart of Colmore BID, or for something more senior it may be Cielo or even Opus. But knowing me, I might even take them to an inner city spot for a bit of cultural experience – jerk chicken and Guinness punch over a chicken caesar salad and a glass of vino… no contest!
I tend to find peace where I can, but you can’t beat a stroll along one of our many canals.
WHERE’S YOUR FAVOURITE PART OF THE CITY?
Pigeon Park (if you know, you know), the eclectic mix of people reminds you of the diversity, the opportunity, but also the reality of Birmingham. It makes you reflect on what your own contribution to the city is and why. We have come so far as a city yet have so much to do for ALL our citizens
Pitcher and Piano for a brandy and apple juice, one ice cube.
HOW CAN THE CITY BE MADE BETTER?
We need to have a more honest conversation on what it means to be an inclusive city and how we leave a legacy that future generations are both proud of and are empowered to evolve. Often, we have the same conversations that do not manifest into impact and I’m fed up of the talk. Birmingham is not just the city centre and the richness of diversity that we have ought to be something we celebrate and leverage, for the benefit of all.