Taking over as CEO of the East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce in April this year Miranda Barker sees her role as continuing to build on the successes already achieved, whilst bringing a new perspective to the work of the chamber.
“I want to emphasise the importance of ambition, alongside council support.”
Acknowledging the excellent leadership of the Chamber by Mike Damms, Miranda confirms her agreement with Mike’s thinking.
“We agree on most policies and leadership matters relating to the Chamber.” This common thinking, and the fact that Miranda has been
This common thinking, and the fact that Miranda has been successfully writing bids with Mike for more than 10-years, guarantees a smooth transition into her new position.
Previously, Miranda was involved with Wigan Chamber of Commerce for more than 20 years, holding the role of President until 2013, and has made some impressive contacts along the way.
“During this time, I ran my own consultancy business dealing with international clients in Sri Lanka, Norway, China and Brazil. Working for brand leaders including Heinz and British Aerospace.”
Focusing largely on corporate environmental strategy the consultancy provided valuable international experience including the “face to face relationship driven Chinese business world and the commercial care required when establishing intellectual property deals.”
Miranda recognises the success of Burnley Bondholders and the Hive Business Leaders Network in Blackburn, and looks to support similar business groups in East Lancashire, such as the fledgeling #AmazingAccrington business group, seeing her role as the CEO as being “to fly the flag and the Chamber’s role being to put the business voice together.”
She wants to emphasise that the Northern Powerhouse must have a manufacturing industry focus.
“I have a role to show just how advanced the North West is in terms of connectivity and vibrant manufacturing business… not just financial centres of Manchester and Leeds but manufacturing business creating true wealth.”
Networking is clearly one of Miranda’s great strengths and was what her own business consultancy was built upon. She is passionate about creating a local supply chain.
“The Chamber of Commerce provides many services which are categorised into three distinct areas. These being economic services, creation of policy and networking.”
“We need businesses to tell us who they are and what they do,” says Miranda, “so that money can be put back into and grow the local economy.” She is equally enthusiastic to work with big businesses to create this local supply chain.
Speaking with Miranda you get a real sense of her passion and enthusiasm for local businesses which she describes as her “church spire principle – doing everything possible to support the businesses in the immediate area.” She is clearly proud that Accrington and District is already doing well: “There are some tremendous local businesses and so many deal internationally.”
From previous experience she advises, “by investing in local businesses, the results are great, not only for trade but for the community. With ancillary benefits, such as reduced vandalism when young people engage and identify with the businesses they live amongst.”
Reaching out to businesses is more important to Miranda than just driving membership numbers.
“I am very confident that businesses will recognise the value of the Chamber and wish to engage.”
Miranda has ambitious plans for the Chamber to take the lead in helping to drive the environmental technology sector in Lancashire. Her expertise and passion for this comes from her environmental consultancy background and she sees the Chambers role as being to support businesses who can turn research and innovation into strong business products which will sell.
“Expertise in renewable energy and low carbon technology creates the opportunity for successful new businesses which will be the catalyst for more jobs.“
As part of her role, Miranda will also take over the chair of the Regional Manufacturing Forum from her predecessor and is prepared for the job.
“I plan to ensure this vitally important sector of industry has a strong clear voice with national representation.
“Lancashire has some world-leading manufacturing businesses with particular strength in aerospace and East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce plays a part in influencing national strategies and in ensuring that the Northern Powerhouse delivers commercial results.”
Miranda is a firm believer in the bright future of the area. “Lancashire engineers will play a part in the post-Brexit future of the UK.”
A black belt in kickboxing and a former lead singer in a rock band she is looking forward to moving to East Lancashire together with her dachshund, Zeus, who is, “going to have to learn to be a country dog.” She shows a clear commitment to the role.
Miranda at her desk at Red Rose Court, Clayton-le-Moors.
“It’s important to live close to the businesses I will be representing.” Speaking with Miranda it is plain to see that she is someone who supports local businesses and will bring new initiatives, whilst remaining sensitive to the mix of existing business events on the calendar. One event in the making is a winter/New Year Ball, “with a charity angle but also a focus on business collaboration.”
Miranda’s vision is very clear…
“To drive the whole local business community to work for everyone, not only the members. It’s a business community I understand, I know how it works, and I am confident I can help it grow, making local businesses stronger and benefiting the local community”
East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce is lucky to have a new CEO with such obvious pride and enthusiasm for the local community. She has a track record of success bringing new initiatives, underpinned with strong commercial focus.