Name: Joel Blake OBE
Tell me about your role
I lead on Growing Businesses within the GBSLEP region with a specific focus on scale-ups, access to finance and inclusion. My role is focused on helping to improve the quality of support for businesses, so they can move from start-up to scale-up to significant high growth. This includes working with our academic, public sector, private sector and community partners, to provide a business support offer for all our businesses across the region.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
The wonderful and humbling opportunity to bring my experience as an entrepreneur, into the strategic development of regional business support. This enables me to combine my passion and understanding of the practical challenges of running my own businesses, with the strategic planning and service delivery of business support in the LEP area.
What did you study at university and why?
I didn’t go to university. I went straight into the world of work at 16 and started my first business when I was 21.
What is your favourite place in the GBSLEP area and why?
I don’t have a favourite place, but Birmingham offers such an array of options – from a diverse mix of amazing offerings, such as Symphony Hall to the Balti Triangle to Chinatown and everything in between. I believe that anyone who lives here, or who comes to the region, is spoiled for choice. Greater Birmingham is fast becoming a go-to destination for the world and we need to embrace that, more than ever before!
If you could host a talk show, who would be your first guest?
Given the fantastic level of diversity in our region and the unique opportunity this provides for significant regional growth, my first guest would be Lucius Septimius Bassianus, commonly known as Caracalla. He was a Black Roman Emperor who ruled from 211 to 217. Caracalla’s reign was notable for the Constitutio Antoniniana, granting Roman citizenship to freemen throughout the Roman Empire, which laid the foundation for a peaceful multi-ethnic, multi-cultural empire.
If you had a superpower, what would it be?
The ability to travel through time. I would go back in time to meet and speak with some of the greatest leaders that the world has ever known. I would listen and soak up the lessons from their insights, knowledge and experience. I would then go forward in time to apply all that priceless knowledge into the future world…