In this series we ask key spokespeople from across the region and from our core sectors to share their insights.
Here, we speak to Delroy Beverley, Chairman of the Institute of Director’s Yorkshire and North East region about the influences, obstacles and opportunities for success.
You chose a picture of you aged 5 to accompany this article – what would you say to your five-year-old self today?
I consider myself very blessed to be where I am today and like most people, owe a debt which remains unpaid to my parents and grandparents and the sacrifices they made that allowed me and my siblings to benefit from those sacrifices. I guess I’d repeat the same message I have given to my sons, of whom I am incredibly proud – a lion doesn’t turn around when small dogs bark; it keeps on walking. There will always be distractions and detractors when you’re working hard to reach your objectives, but if you keep focused and keep your goals ahead of you, you will succeed.
When people read about a boy of Jamaican descent, at a school designated “poor”, who at 14 years old got up at 3.45am every day to do a milk round before school, but went on to study at both Oxford and Cambridge universities – there will be an assumption of hard work, but I also got lucky. I was given a chance and took it. However, just because I got through the storm, doesn’t mean that the sun came out. It just means that the rain stopped.
As business and society emerges from lockdown, what are your hopes for our region?
I’ve remained humbled by the privilege to work within the healthcare sector – as MD of York NHS Facilities Management company – during the past 12 months and have seen first-hand that when challenges need us to come together, it has brought out the very best in people.
Over the past year we experienced something even more far-reaching – a pandemic that has enveloped the entire globe and changed it permanently. It has both exacted a horrific human toll and transformed the way we live – the way we work, learn, access everything.
I’ve seen doctors, nurses, porters, cleaners and facilities staff, be the real CEOs and captains of industry: taking daily risk assessments and making crucial decisions. We must never forget the appreciation we have for the role they continue to play in society.
In addition, we have all seen the benefits of digitalization and for the younger generation who have grown up with that, this is a huge opportunity. We have tremendous talent here and they are our future: what we must do to avoid an exodus of that talent, is to ensure the region is an attractive place for students to stay, or to return to, after higher education.
That means you cannot keep doing the same things, which always have the same beneficiaries – 21% of UK wealth residing with just 1% of our population, concentrated in London and the South East.
The “levelling down” agenda must address the issue of more equal distribution of wealth and opportunity. For businesses across our region, we need to prioritise support for the entrepreneurs and start-ups, which will generate jobs, innovation and growth.
Previously, you were chairman of the Bradford University School of Management, and currently a member of the Council at the University of Huddersfield, on top of being an active volunteer for Speakers in Schools and a student mentor – what role does academia play in our future success?
Education remains a key enabler for changing the course of history – but universities can’t teach you lived experience: how to manage, lead and be an active listener. Many schools teach you how to be an employee, not an employer.
As a mentor, I’m able to draw on more than 30 years’ experience in the private and public sectors, which means I’ve been able to develop and share insights and solutions to overcome challenges based on that lived experience.
I remember working with a group of excluded students, who happened to be people from backgrounds of ethnic diversity. I asked one of the students, who was the most disruptive, to stay behind for a one-to-one chat. I was able to spend additional time finding out more about his personal experience – a poor, single-parent family with no guiding figure to set boundaries – I shared my own experiences and challenges with him and we continued to meet and work towards him finding his way in life. Seven years later and he secured a place to study at Pembroke College, Cambridge. Learning is a gift, even when pain is your teacher!
What would you now say to your grown-up self about success and how to achieve it?
There is no elevator to the top – you have to take the stairs. I’m still on those stairs and I know that failure isn’t failure – it’s simply a setback for a step forward. Reward yourself along the way as you accomplish things, so when I see something I want, I attach it to a goal to keep the drive and determination alive.
You should ask yourself that if everything ended right now, what you would want to be remembered for. I guarantee it will be around what you did for others and what you meant to them – not about any material or financial things you achieved. Your career is what you are paid for, but your calling is what you are made for. I regard my various roles now as a calling. We are merely custodians of the nation’s memory and must choose carefully how we pass that on to the next generation.
I’ve still got a great deal I want to do and people I want to support and encourage in order to add to that collective memory. It remains a lifelong interview, which – happily – hasn’t finished yet.
Explore more insights from our ‘the view from here’ series:
The view from here – Richard Stubbs, CEO of the Yorkshire & Humber AHSN
We speak to Richard from the Yorkshire & Humber Academic Health Science Network about the new traction for innovation across the NHS, his passion for driving diversity in healthcare and his mission for our region to be the UK’s epicentre for life sciences.