Meet Denise Higgins, Pure Offices’ Regional Manager for the North
Every month we’ll be shining the spotlight on a member of our team to give you an insight into our people and culture.
Our inaugural interviewee is regional manager, Denise Higgins, who oversees our centres in Leeds and Scotland. Denise has been with the company for seven years, and has played a big part in its success.
When she’s not running our Leeds Thorpe Park centre or taking in the sights from the scenic train journey between Leeds and Edinburgh, Denise is busy spending too much money doing up the house she and her boyfriend bought back in November, finding the next best gin to drink and restaurant to try, and looking for the next adventure to go on. (They’re just back from Sardinia, and have booked Vegas + New York for Feb next year!)
Hi Denise. First off, how did you get into the serviced office industry?
I fell into it by accident actually!
I moved to Leeds back in 2008 and started working in a hotel, then quickly established that the hospitality industry wasn’t necessarily for me – especially given the unsocial hours. Around that time a recruitment consultant happened to approach me with a receptionist role at a serviced office.
I took the job and was there for just over a year, and although I enjoyed what I was doing, I didn’t necessarily like working for that particular operator. I also really wanted to sink my teeth into something new. So I took the job at Leeds Thorpe Park and I’ve been here ever since!
Considering most people stay in a job for no longer than four years, you must really enjoy it!
I do. I’ve been really fortunate when it comes to how I’ve progressed in my career. I started as a receptionist and joined Pure Offices as a client services manager, which is a bit like being a supervisor on reception.
When I first started at Thorpe Park the building wasn’t owned by Pure Offices – they took over in October 2012. Shortly after that I was promoted to assistant centre manager which was fantastic, and when the centre manager went on maternity leave I stepped into her shoes.
Things had progressed so much with the centre that when she came back I was lucky enough to be able to stay on as centre manager. We then started acquiring more centres up north and I became an area manager.
We’ve got 20 centres now and I’m one of three regional managers. It’s been a crazy 9 years in all honesty – in a good way!
Charity fundraising at Pure Offices
What’s working for Pure Offices like?
We have so much autonomy as centre managers (and even receptionists if the centre is large enough to have additional members of staff). It sounds cliche, but you can really make the role – and the centre – your own. Of course, there are procedures we have to adhere to, but having flexibility to be creative and run events for clients is great.
We’ll be throwing a hog roast get-together for our clients this month as a small thank you from us. There’ll be a pop-up bar too so people can help themselves to a drink and some food. We’re really fortunate at Thorpe Park in that we’ve got a lot of outdoor space and we have a wonderful decking area overlooking a pond too.
We have anywhere between 150 and 220 people in the building on any given day so we’ll be dragging out some tables and chairs from inside – weather permitting!
The “serviced office” is still quite a niche concept. How do you explain it to people?
It’s really rare to come across someone who knows what a serviced office or “flexible workspace” is if they haven’t been involved in it themselves, either as an occupier or employee.
When I tell people I work in the serviced office industry I can tell straight away whether they’re clued up or not. For people who don’t know, I tell them it’s like a hotel for businesses and that seems to work best.
I explain that, like a hotel, it’s an all-inclusive cost, easy in easy out, we own the building, they rent a room in the building from us…and it sort of clicks into place. However, if I go on a big spiel about how we buy a building and separate it out, you’re on a monthly contract that includes such and such, etc, people tend to glaze over.
Does Pure Offices run regular social events?
It varies from centre to centre. Each one has its own personality. For example, the centre manager at Farnborough, Dawn, is always throwing social events because they go down so well. With it being a smaller centre, everybody takes part.
At Thorpe Park we usually do something in summer and then again winter (involving mulled wine and mince pies – of course)! We’ll also run charity events and informal networking events as well, just so people within the building can get to know each other and exchange details.
We have various pop-ups too. Pure Gym come in and give body MOTs to clients; they take blood pressure and check cholesterol levels. We’ve also had people selling everything from candles to make-up on pop up stalls at reception – it’s really varied!
Summer hog roast at Leeds Thorpe Park.
What industries do your clients tend to work in?
Absolutely everything! We’ve got shipping companies through to marketing, construction, professional and business services, solicitors, recruitment consultants and everything in between.
Finally – what do you love most about your job?
The variety probably. You aren’t shoehorned into one specific “role” at Pure Offices, and that’s what’s so interesting. You don’t just specialise in accounts, sales, or marketing – you deal with a wide range of things, which means my day can involve anything from creating a new agreement for a customer, leading a tour with a potential new client, dealing with queries, billing, maintenance, health and safety…the list goes on.
There’s never a dull moment, and I love it!