Case studies, fact sheets and interviews offering hints, tips, and inspiration to help your business grow. 

From 7 May 2024, the North East Growth Hub is a project of the North East Combined Authority. We may still refer to "the North East Local Enterprise Partnership" (or "the North East LEP") in some of our older articles. 

In Conversation with Emma Gaudern, Managing Director and co founder of EMG Solicitors, on the Power of Values-driven Leadership

What inspired you to start your own business and ultimately become a leader in your field?

It was all down to babies! In 2013, I was seven months pregnant with my second child and it was at that point I decided that I wanted to branch out and took the momentous decision to hand in my notice. Following my maternity leave I founded EMG Solicitors with Jemma Morland, who at the time was a Court of Protection solicitor with whom I’d worked with at BHP Law.

Jemma also wanted to have a family, and this shaped the way we formed the business. We have dispensed with desk-based PCs and everyone at EMG can not only work remotely from home using laptops, but work in a flexible manner which has made us family friendly.

As a result, we have attracted many working mums to the firm. We actively discourage the often-ingrained practice of presenteeism and support our staff to fit work around their home life. The important thing is that the work is completed, not that it is done from an office within traditional business hours.

Our long-held practice of remote and flexible working also stood us in good stead during the Coronavirus lockdown. We took the decision to ask our staff to work from home several days before the announcement was made and many continue to do so to this day.

Because we already had the IT systems in place and our staff were familiar with working remotely, we were able to make the transition smoothly and without disruption. 

What are the key values that drive EMG Solicitors and how important is it as a leader to foster a strong culture within a business?

Our culture governs how EMG interacts with people, our relationships with clients and each other and how we achieve results in a competitive environment, helping set EMG apart. Our values support everything we do and how we conduct ourselves. As we expand, that real sense of who we are and what we do can get diluted without a clear set of values. That’s why we’re committed to living and breathing them and making sure our team understands them. The benefits of having a strong culture include improved morale and relationships, the team going the extra mile, better customer service and improved colleague retention.
1.    Co-operation – We pro-actively support our clients and each other
2.    Courage – We are ambitious and think big
3.    Excellence – We deliver excellence
4.    Integrity – We are open and transparent
5.    Kindness – We value people, communities, having fun and being happy
How has building a business with deeply ingrained values positively impacted your clients, employees, and stakeholders?

Having ingrained values has been transformational for us in terms of how we deal with our colleagues. We let our values drive how we expect to engage with each other, and it makes conversations with colleagues so much easier, to have a shared vision of how we should act and interact. Our next drive is to create a frame of reference as to exactly what that means when dealing with clients – my project for 2024! 
What leadership courses or programmes have you taken part in and found useful?

I was a Vistage member which was a great starter in terms of mentoring and taking time out of the business to work alongside others in a similar role and learn from their experiences. I then went on the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses course which was truly transformational in terms of shaping how I thought. I completed the Scale Up programme via the Entrepreneurs Forum a couple of years later and used this to kick start our second office and next phase of growth planning. We also found the Help to Grow Management Programme, delivered by the Small Business Charter, really useful. 

Each round of learning has felt like the right thing at the right time. I am now a member of the Entrepreneurs Forum and try to regularly attend their courses. I am also a non-executive director of the NECC and Durham Cricket and these are really useful roles for learning in another business.

What leadership books do you find useful?

I have just subscribed to Harvard Business Review on the back of buying their 10 Must Reads on Strategy book. I find it to be excellent – a really well put together selection of articles on all sorts of topics, which are both information and thought provoking. The strategy book has been crucial in helping us work out how to set out our strategy – we have chosen to use the balanced scorecard.

Can you share a significant leadership lesson or experience that has had a lasting impact on your career?

Effective communication with staff is vital, keeping everyone updated with developments in the business. In the past, due to intense periods of work, this has sometimes slipped. Having a clear and constant communication flow within the business is at the forefront of what we do and encourages interaction.
What advice would you give to other aspiring business leaders?

Don’t be afraid!  Give things a try and keep learning. I am trying to be more open about the challenges I face because I have found that it actually helps others to know that I don’t have it all sorted. I am focussed on reading as many leadership books as I can – there is always at least one valuable nugget of information in there.

EMG Solicitors is an award winning Legal 500 law firm with offices across the North but acting nationally, specialising in Court of Protection, Deputyships, Family Law, Residential Conveyancing, Commercial Property, Litigation & Disputes, Employment Law and Wills, Trusts & Probate services.

You can access a range of useful resources to support your leadership journey by visiting the Leadership Toolkit.