The mechanics of business!

Alexia McClure

Head of Operations, Jersey Business

Could you tell us a little about your early years, where you grew up, your hobbies and your schooling?

I grew up in the north of England with my Mum, Dad and sister. We moved a few times when I was young, so I went to three different junior schools and then we settled in Lancashire for my senior school years. Moving made me learn how to make friends and grab opportunities and I got really involved with the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, getting my gold award and eventually becoming a DofE leader.

You started out as an International Trade Advisor for UK Trade and Investment in South Africa providing in-country advice and assistance to UK companies visiting and doing business in South Africa. What experience or qualifications did you need for this role?

By the time I worked for UK Trade and Investment, I had spent a number of years designing and delivering corporate conferences. I had also run my own event and marketing business in South Africa which gave me a really good understanding of the political and business environment and a network of contacts. It was then a natural move to share my knowledge with other businesses operating there. Working in another country whilst supporting people from across the UK broadened my perspective. It helped me appreciate the value of diversity and how it can enrich workplace culture and enhance productivity. It is especially important to embrace different approaches, so everyone learns from each other.

Working in another country broadened my perspective and helped me appreciate the value of diversity and how it can enrich workplace culture and enhance productivity.

You attended the School of Business at Wits University in South Africa, completed an MA in Arts Management at City University in London and then a few years later read Law at the University of Strathclyde. What were your reasons for choosing each of these areas of study and becoming a prolific scholar?

I’ve been in or around business all my career and early on I found it really helpful to get formal training in all things business. The first two courses covered a lot of ground but having formal training in accountancy and law has given me a great understanding of the mechanics of business. Having these technical skills combined with the creativity of delivering events and marketing has given me the ability to see and respond to the changing business landscape. But, fundamentally I’m very curious, so for me, every day is a learning day if you have the time to ask, listen, reflect and consider.

Ten years ago you started working for Jersey Business initially as Business Manager, then Head of Operations and becoming COO with the responsibility for the functions that underpin the operation of JB; marketing and communications, service development, finance HR and IT. Could you tell us about your time at Jersey Business before the pandemic hit.

I’ve worked in the world of economic development in South Africa, England, Scotland and Jersey and was lucky enough to be one of the first members of the team at Jersey Business. We were a small team for the first few years as we established our position as the support agency for businesses operating in Jersey. As our remit expanded so has the team and with that comes the need to operate with more formality and structure. My background meant I was able to step into the operations role and my experience of leading and developing teams has helped shape the way the organisation has grown and how we operate today. I’m happy to say that the culture we have at Jersey Business is incredibly important and I’m proud to have played a part in developing that.

Fundamentally I’m very curious, so for me, every day is a learning day if you have the time to ask, listen, reflect and consider.

In 2020, Covid hit. Could you explain what impact this had on you and the team at Jersey Business?

It’s now almost unbelievable to remember the events we lived through during the Covid-19 pandemic. As for every organisation, the lockdown changed our work completely. Overnight we stopped supporting business growth and opportunity and instead helped businesses navigate the support packages to keep their organisations going. It was incredibly challenging, but now when I look back at that period, I know we got through it because of the strength of our team working together to support each other and the business community. Of course, like every business we continue to evolve and I know that the experience of the team gives us skills that are now helping us navigate the new challenges that the current global economic turmoil is presenting.

In your opinion, what can we do to encourage start-ups and young entrepreneurs to set up business and flourish in Jersey?

Young and old entrepreneurs are already starting up businesses in Jersey. To see their business flourish entrepreneurs need tenacity, energy, and a good understanding of the business fundamentals, especially their key numbers. Of course, they also need to be providing a product or service that people want to buy. I’d encourage Jersey’s entrepreneurs to have a growth mindset not necessarily to conquer the whole world, but to expand outside the confines of the Island. Businesses that export are much more efficient, innovative, and sustainable than those that don’t.

You have a music degree and passed Grade 8, could you tell us about your love of music and which instruments you are most proficient in.

I love everything about music from the creativity of composition to the variety of performance. There are so many genres that music can speak to anyone anywhere, and for every mood or activity. My skill and enjoyment were in playing the piano, it’s such a versatile instrument that, although I don’t play anymore, I can still remember the satisfaction of my fingers mastering the keys.  

What is Alexia McClure’s definition of paradise?

A good walk on a bright day with a great view and then home to love and laughter with family and friends.