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Karen Berry

Karen lives in Sunderland and when she’s not running, gardening or baking, she also volunteers as a mentor for The Girls’ Network. She’s one of the Growth Hub Connectors, who you can make an appointment with to discuss any challenges you’re facing with your business.


A big part of my job as a Connector is listening: I listen to what people’s business challenges are and then I can signpost them to schemes and programmes which can help them.

So for example I might signpost someone to a leadership development programme or I might refer them to some of my colleagues in the North East Combined Authority, like the skills team, who are experts in helping businesses upskill their teams and access training. This kind of support can be much more valuable in the long term than a one-off grant or piece of funding; it can help you be a better leader, help you develop your team and help your business grow and be resilient.

I talk to a lot of business leaders who need someone to act as a sounding board and help them build their own confidence and skills, and in that case, I might refer someone to our Growth Through Mentoring programme which can match them with a really experienced mentor who’s been through the process of growing a business themselves.

Tell us a bit about your previous experience and the areas you have particular knowledge in.

I’ve worked in the North East for 30 years in roles spanning marketing, business development and leadership development.

I have a particular interest in helping female founders and business leaders but, ultimately, I’m happy to talk to people working in any sector who want to grow their business but who might need some support to help them achieve this.

Talk to one of our team who will help you connect to the support you need to grow and develop your business.

if your local authority isn't listed above, you can view details of how to get in touch with your local Growth Hub

What makes the Connector service so useful for North East businesses?

It’s an opportunity for people to discuss all aspects of their business with someone who’s impartial and to find out what’s available to support them in different areas.

As long as you’re open to advice and support then we can help you grow your business.

What are your top tips for anyone running a small business in the North East?

Find out what support is out there and use it. And seek out your peers. There are groups, meetups and networks out there for everybody whether you’re a freelancer, or you’re focused on a specific geographic area, or you want to meet other people in your sector.