Geoff Shepherd
Tom Keighley

Mafia boss offers Leeds businesses week-long MBA

Leeds is the economic centre of Yorkshire and needs enduring collaboration between businesses, the boss of networking outfit Yorkshire Mafia says.

Geoff Shepherd is calling on city region businesses to get involved in the upcoming Leeds Business Week and talk to each other.

Over 60 events will take place across the city as part of the week, ranging from seminars and panel debates to advice and lecture sessions.

Geoff explains: “There’s loads of regional stakeholders including the IoD, the chamber, the universities, the council, large corporates, SMEs - you name it. These people don’t really talk to each other as much as they should - they’re not paid to.

“We thought that Leeds should have a Business Week to facilitate this. We’re describing it as a one week MBA because it’s packed with content that you would usually have to pay for - but we’re delivering it for free.”

The B2B week will see big name partners such as PwC, the IoD and Rockstar Games deliver events for participants and provides a soft business development opportunity for them to raise their own profile while offering useful information.

“We’re one of the few organisations that has got a membership base big enough to pull it off, but even we can’t do it alone, that’s why we’ve got these major organisations working alongside us,” adds Geoff.

“Some of the events are more general and some are very niche - for instance Sky is doing a seminar about the digital life of a football match whereas we have an accountancy firm doing top tips for SMEs in their accounting - which is fairly general.

“I’m really looking forward to a seminar on setting up overseas offices for your business, as that’s the stage we’re at now.”

The Business Week, to which Bdaily is a media partner, intends to cover different ground to a ‘conference’ format: practical advice is the provides the thrust.

“It’s hands on and interactive. The week culminates in the City Summit - a panel Q&A discussion featuring Andy Clarke, the President and CEO of Asda Stores Ltd; Tom Riordan, chief executive of Leeds City Council; and Hilary Benn MP, among others.

“I’m looking forward to that as it’s a bit of an unknown. I think there will be some difficult questions posed, and these leaders will get chance to respond so I think it could be quite illuminating.”

A youth component to the Business Week is also designed to cater towards 16 to 18 year old audience who might want advice from established entrepreneurs.

Geoff adds: “There are a lot of young people setting up their own businesses now. It’s quite cool to be an entrepreneur but there’s not a whole load of information out there about the realities, certainly not in Leeds.”

Leeds Business Week runs between September 23-27, across numerous venues in the city. For more information, visit the website here.

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