Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The wraps are off exciting networking venture in Newbury - could you be part of The Non Exec Set?

The first rule of ‘The Non Exec Set’ is - you do not talk about ‘The Non Exec Set’. The second rule of ‘The Non Exec Set’ is - you DO NOT talk about ‘The Non Exec Set’. Third rule of...

Well, whether you or not you are familiar with David Fincher’s 1999 Oscar nominated adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk’s novel Fight Club, you will get the idea that The Non Exec Set is something of a secret organisation – or at least it was! Now the wraps are off!

Yes, one of the toughest requests of a blogger is not to mention something you so want to write about, and the launch over a year ago of this innovative approach to networking has left us fair to frothing over the keyboard at times!

Peer support within large corporate organisations is one of the key elements so often missing among smaller businesses, however two enterprising women from West Berkshire have quietly launched an innovative group called ‘The Non Exec Set’ which remedies this. So successful has the group become that it is set to hold a dining event with a difference in May.

Michelle Lucas (pictured above right) and Lucy Venables (on the left) first met one another at a networking event and discussing their corporate backgrounds prompted a shared belief that there was a gap in what networking could offer. Michelle Lucas explains: “In our transition from corporate life to working in small business we were missing the peer support that you get within large companies; from management team meetings to discussions around the coffee machine.

“We felt that there were other small business owners who had made a similar transition and if we got a group of these people together, we could use the benefit of our joint business and professional experiences to provide that missing support.”

Marketing guru Lucy Venables of Red Prosper Marketing had started her career as a chef and career coach Michelle Lucas, who founded Greenfields Consultancy, had a dining table that held eight people, so the Non Executive Set group was born as a monthly informal dinner party meeting and Morgan PR has been lucky enough to find itself sat around the table on numerous occasions and has met some terrific people – and was never able to blog about it!

To be fair, the confidentiality bred content. The dinner party environment and the commitment to confidentiality allow for some candid questions around the table and some very honest answers and advice from fellow members of ‘The Non Exec Set’. There is rarely a problem that a business owner would be facing for the first time that someone else would not have already dealt with.

Lucy says: “The Non Exec Set is an informal forum where we can discuss the day to day challenges of running our companies - issues our members raise cover marketing, finance and HR, as well as having a setting where they are able to share new ideas – testing the water in a safe environment.”

The growth of the group has seen it move venues and it now alternates between The Square in Weavers Walk Newbury (sister restaurant of Morgan PR favourite Le Petit Square) and The Lamb Inn at Hermitage (although it is technically in Curridge!) and the energy and enthusiasm among members has prompted an ambitious idea which we are delighted to support.

Michelle Lucas explained: “There is a distinct bullish mood among the Non Exec Set members; we do not believe we should lie down and let the economic climate take over. There is lots of activity and positive energy in the group and we want to share this with others, which led to the idea of a larger dining event, on Wednesday 20th May at Donnington Valley Hotel, where we will open up the Non Exec Set and have a number of dinners focusing on topics including people, finance, IT and sales and marketing.

A website explaining more is currently being created by Morgan PR associate Adrian Scott of Companion Computers that will allow those interested in joining The Non Exec Set to discover more about the May event, and the aims and objectives of the group.

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