NJL at MIPIM - Interview with Nick Lee and Rob Crolla
Nick Lee, Managing Director and Rob Crolla, Director at NJL, talk to Roland Dransfield Head of Media Alex Bell during a busy MIPIM 2016 in southern France.
It's been an exciting 12 months for NJL Nick, and here you are at MIPIM?
Yes it's been a good 12 months which resulted in us announcing the opening of our second UK office recently, which is in Leeds.
It's important for us to be in Leeds as well as Manchester.
How many times have you attended MIPIM?
I think this is my seventh or eighth time - I've got a gold badge apparently.
It's worth coming though, every time. People do rib you about being in Cannes in the sun, but it is, like anything, what you put into it that counts.
There are less announcements generally so far this year, compared with previous years - but how's it going for NJL?
It's interesting because, following Peel's MediaCityUK announcement this week, we can now say we are going to be going live with one of the biggest ever reserved matters planning applications in the country in May, which will encompass about five different architects and eight different reserved matters packages for the rest of the current MediaCityUK area. That's the big one for us at the moment and Peel only announced the project yesterday.
What else are you excited about right now?
Another thing I'm excited about is trying to really push forward the advanced manufacturing innovation district concept in Sheffield. And specifically looking at how that could be looked at and replicated elsewhere in the country as well. There'll be more revealed on that during the coming months.
What's your view on the Northern Powerhouse?
I'd love to see a more Northern Powerhouse focus here at MIPIM next year. While there is Manchester stand and other northern cities that have stands, I really do think we have to be promoting the Powerhouse at a more European and international level.
On Tuesday during the Northern Powerhouse conference in MIPIM's main auditorium, Global Cities expert Greg Clarke asked the audience where they were all from. Only a third of the people there, in a packed out crowd, we're not from the north of England.
To gain traction and inward investment, I think something more specific needs to happen with the Powerhouse, and I believe MIPIM can help that to happen. But there isn't a vehicle for that at the moment.
How many from NJL's team have made the trip to Cannes?
The whole team is here and lots of meetings arranged in advance. We have four directors and two non-executives here in Cannes.
It's the biggest force that we've ever sent to MIPIM. And we've done that because it's the right time to do it. It's also good for Rob Crolla to come over and connect with the Leeds people, following the launch of the Leeds office.
There are so many opportunities here at MIPIM. How do you approach speaking with who you want to?
There opportunities with both current clients and potential new clients.
We've been talking to people in Liverpool, Salford, Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham and other parts of the UK.
But at the same time we've got to think hard about how we get the most out of it and think what the right opportunities are for the business. Quality long term projects that lock us in for a long period of time is what we're about.
I just don't think you can ever go to MIPIM and expect things to instantly happen. What can happen though, is that potential of building long term relationships.
What do you like about MIPIM?
I think MIPIM is partly about being seen to be on the scene so to speak. As long as you do the advanced preparation, it does tend to pay off.
The other good thing is that our recent Leeds office opening announcement has been really well received, which makes our trip to MIPIM this time even more relevant.
NJL Consulting Director Rob Crolla is attending his first MIPIM, and said:
"Investing in Leeds is a good thing, it makes sense, especially as the Northern Powerhouse grows. The right people know we are in Leeds and operating there, and that we mean business.
“I'm having a great time here. It's very busy and all go. But as Nick said, you have to go in there and look to get out of it what you put in. Essentially, for me, it's very much about positioning NJL Consulting on both sides of the Pennines."
Image used courtesy of Karlis Dambrans on Flickr