Every month, we’ll be shining the spotlight on a member of our team to give you an insight into our people and culture.
When she’s not riding off into the sunset with her husband on their motorbike or taking part in another one of her many hobbies, you’ll find Julie running the show over at our workspace by the sea.
We spoke to Julie about how she got started in the flexible workspace industry, what the atmosphere is like at her centre in Portsmouth and what the Pure Offices brand means to her.
Hi Julie! Tell us a bit more about what it’s like over where you are…
….Well I must admit, I think I have the best centre – but don’t tell anyone!
First of all, the water is just a few metres from the building, which is really, really lovely. We have benches at the front of the centre for members to use and we supply picnic blankets too.
It’s so nice to walk around the marina at lunchtime or after work: there’s a variety of restaurants, shops – and our favourite chocolate shop. We often get a group of us together and head over to indulge in (a few too many) delicious handmade chocolates.
We’re more than a little bit jealous of this view…
What industries do Port Solent’s occupiers tend to work in?
It’s a real mix – our clients come from a range of industries and backgrounds. We have an ear clinic, a handful of website design companies, recruitment agencies, IT – and more.
We also have an international engineering design company who recently did some work on a Tesla motorcar. They shipped it over from Germany and parked it in our carpark. It was really exciting to go out and see their designs!
How much cross-collaboration, goes on at Port Solent?
Quite a lot actually!
For instance, a teacher training company who have been at the centre for a while are collaborating with a teacher recruitment company who also have an office here.
When I was walking through our breakout area last week I also happened to notice that one of our web design companies is designing a website for one of our recruitment businesses.
People often pop in to my office and get me to introduce them to other companies within the building to talk about new business. It works really well and it helps that everyone is super friendly and open to chatting about what they do.
My door is always open and all our clients know they can come and talk to me if there’s something that’s bothering them or if they just want to have a chat.
Have you always worked in the flexible workspace industry?
Not at all. I was born in the UK and I moved over to South Africa with my parents when I was little, so grew up there. When I graduated from school I flitted around for a bit and eventually ended up in the tourism industry.
I worked as an executive assistant for a CEO for around 13 years. Eventually my husband was offered a position in the UK and we decided to take the plunge (my family had already moved back by this point).
After we returned to the UK and settled the family in I didn’t really want to take on another executive assistant role. So instead, I decided to start up my own business. I had a laser cutting business for five years.
However, I realised that in working alone I was missing the interaction with others, so when my hubby was made redundant a few years ago it gave me the push I needed to get back into an office environment.
I registered with a job agency on a Friday and told them I just wanted to temp, try out a few roles and see where I fit in. I had my very first assignment the following Monday which was at another serviced office provider.
And I loved it! I still absolutely love working in the industry.
Your role as centre manager must be so varied – do you have a lot of skills?
Well, yes and no! I remember when I had my interview I said that “I am absolutely rubbish at selling – I’ve never sold anything in my life.”
When I joined, Port Solent was a new centre (it opened in March 2017). And within the first three or four months we’d already let multiple offices.
I was letting around one office a week, thinking back to my interview, what we do is not selling, it is having a chat with a potential client about our offices and what they really need from their serviced offices.
That said, our offices are really lovely and they do sell themselves.
How would you define the Pure Offices “brand” and what does it mean to you?
For me, Pure Offices is about people – our clients and the Pure Offices team. The other serviced office company I worked at felt to be sales and targets focused, whereas in comparison, Pure Offices is about the clients and the centre teams.
There’s a real culture of trust and as centre managers we have a lot of autonomy over our centres – if it’s good for the clients when the answer tends to be “yes”.
When businesses decide to leave one of our offices the first thing they tend to say is “it’s not the office, it’s not you and we love the centre”. In other words, the reason for them leaving rarely has anything to do with the centre itself.
I recently had a call from a client in another Pure Offices location who are looking for an office in Portsmouth and said they’re not even looking at any other offices in the area because they really want to stay with us.
And finally, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
My hubby and I own a motorbike, so we’ll often go on trips. I have some really random hobbies on the go at the moment – I’m making soft toys for premature babies, for instance, and I volunteer at a care home every other week.
Coming from South Africa we were outdoors all the time; we are divers, bikers, enjoyed boating, etc. For me, in the UK it’s about having a mix of indoor and outdoor hobbies.
I also have an 18 year old son who keeps me on my toes and we’re often out and about … anything we can do to get us outdoors!