How to deal with change in business? We explored business innovation and much more during a visit to the ProfileTree studio by Head of W5 Lydia McClelland.
W5 is one of Northern Ireland’s top attractions, bringing science and technology to life for all ages through interactive experiences.
This, of course, requires constant innovation, making Lydia the ideal ProfileTree guest to share some business development and business change insights.
She also explained some exciting plans for W5 (see our full video) and outlined her own path to such a fascinating role.
“My background is in business development and marketing, I’ve just recently joined W5 but before that I held roles with the Ulster Orchestra, University of Ulster and Castlereagh Enterprises. So quite a mixed bag of background in terms of economic development, the arts and higher education sector.
“The key thing for W5, and why my role was created, was about creating sustainability for W5 in the longer run to make sure we’re here to safeguard the site of W5 as a science centre for the people of Northern Ireland. My focus is on the commercial development of W5 over the next number of years and on securing its future.”
Lydia gave an example of how innovative thinking had been used by W5 to keep introducing new ideas into the end product experienced by visitors.
“This year we piloted W5 Late, which is an adults only event. We’re now running those three times a year. These have been a great event for W5 and the audience who have come along have really enjoyed it.
“It is positioned at the 18+ market, we use the hashtash ‘No Kids Allowed’ and we have bar facilities on every floor. We have found that it has been predominantly the 18 – 35 market and it tends to be those who want to recapture their youth having grown up with W5.
“Not only is it just access to W5, we curate content for the night as well. So there’s lot of added value content in terms of lecture theatre talks and exhibits. We bring in face painters and music to create a bit of atmosphere on the night as well.”
Lydia also explained how business development plays a major role in W5’s success.
“I think it’s really important always to be future-focused and do your horizon scanning, you need to keep your eyes open and see what’s happening out there not only in terms of the local markets but the national and international markets as well.
“It is key to always be looking for the next opportunity and to be exploring all opportunities. I always say ‘no idea is too crazy’ and encourage the team to bring ideas to the table and we can either rule them in or rule them out.
“Business development for us is key not only to the growth of W5 but to the whole site in terms of the SSE Arena and the Belfast Giants as well.”
ProfileTree Director Michelle Connolly, during our Business Leaders video interview with Lydia, asked how the differences between marketing and business development can be defined.
“They are very different skill sets, the roles I have held to date have always been a hybrid of the two and I’m comfortable floating between business development and marketing. I have a mantra that a marketer is only as good as the product they are given to market.
“So in terms of the business development team coming up with the opportunities and new product ideas, the marketing team is only as good as those ideas.”
To hear more about how business development is used at W5 explore our full video.
W5 – www.W5Online.co.uk
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