MEET THE CEO Gavin Cleary
Locate in Kent CEO Gavin Cleary on helping businesses large and small achieve their potential
Tell us about you
I’m originally from Belfast but have lived in England for 23 years. I studied Engineering and then Economics at Cambridge and was sponsored through university by Ford Motor Company. I worked in financial services in the City for 11 years before moving into economic development. My last role was running an economic development consultancy with a particular focus on Fintech and alternative finance.
What attracted you to the job?
I was excited to take the lead in promoting a location with such a strong offer across many sectors. Kent and Medway’s close proximity to London for businesses seeking a costeffective location with a deep talent pool, which is a fantastic place to live along with the connectivity to the rest of Europe, were also of key importance. There is clear co-operation between the private and public sector across the county, which is hugely important in economic development. Thanks to previous leader Paul Wookey’s expert stewardship, I inherited a wellestablished, successful company with a great team in place.
Tell us about Locate in Kent Locate in Kent exists to promote Kent and Medway to any business looking to trade from the county. It also supports the growth and development of existing Kent and Medway businesses. Since starting in 1997, Locate in Kent has helped more than 1100 businesses set up or expand in the county and supported the creation or retention of more than 70,000 jobs. The support we provide is free of charge to all of the businesses we work with – and this is across our portfolio.
Impact of Brexit?
It’s clear that greater certainty about the withdrawal process is required by businesses, and we have this front of mind. However, the uncertainty does not prevent us from making our county strengths clear; we continue to be a highly connected region, not only to Europe by rail and road but via the international airports of Heathrow and Gatwick. Commercial property is still up to 60 per cent lower in rental or purchase price than in London, evident in the very recent distribution space taken by Amazon in Medway.
Any career advice? Understanding the drivers and motivations for businesses to expand is essential, whether this be access to more customers or markets, access to talent and expertise or the right physical location. Successful people in this sector can come from consultancies, business-facing government roles or business development roles in fast-growing companies. A keen interest in economics, politics and how the world works definitely helps. Building networks is key, so the ability to always keep at the back of your mind those whom you have met and to connect them at
the right time, can make all the difference. Understanding how to put together and appraise a business plan and a balance sheet is also a bonus.
How do you relax?
I have a very lively eight-year-old boy and seven-year-old girl who both keep me busy. I love cooking new things and also traditional dishes for family and friends, often inspired by my travels (or MasterChef). I love reading and keeping up with politics and current affairs.
Breakfast this morning? Brown toast, home-made jam from Kent, fruit and black coffee.
Get in touch
Locate In Kent, First Floor, International House, Dover Place, Ashford TN23 1HU
ABOVE:Gavin Cleary, CEO of Locate in Kent