Meet the Membership Team: Owen Warne

Priscilla Dibble
Marketing Executive
9th July 2024

The membership team play a key role at Business West. They are a friendly bunch, always ready to meet and greet you at Chamber events, excited to get to know you and answer any questions you may have. Whether it’s a membership query or you’re after some business advice, the team are always on hand to help. 

First up, we meet Owen Warne, Head of Chamber Membership, who tells us about his role, why his team are passionate about building a membership community and how businesses can benefit from being part of this.

What does your role as Head of Chamber Membership at Business West involve?

Sales is actually a small part of what I do. My role is to review our membership offering and ensure we give our members what they need. This ranges from onboarding calls through to the events that we run. 

Myself and the team (Sally, Jess and Stacey) work together to support our members and provide an offering that benefits them. We want to support as many businesses as possible and to do that, a key part of my role is getting to know our membership community, understand their needs and how we can help. This often involves taking a consultative led approach. For example, if for whatever reason I’m unable to assist someone within our community, I work with the team to find one of our members who can. Ensuring that we engage with and support our members is a vital part of my role.

What did you do before joining Business West?

Prior to joining Business West, I worked for a UK based business scaling up start-ups in the US. I helped businesses grow their teams sustainably, working with them to establish who they needed and when. This was very much a talent management and business support role, helping businesses understand their market and working with them to prepare for new hires joining. Similar to my current role, listening to businesses and supporting them was a key part of the job.

What does a typical week look like for you?

I enjoy a varied role and I certainly have that! Monday mornings start with a team meeting and Fridays end with a team round up. In between I attend many meetings and at least twice a week, these are focused on planning upcoming events. I’m always on hand to help the team and speak to members and other businesses on our patch. I spend a lot of time at various events - not just our events – raising awareness of what we do and how we can support the business community. I’ll spend time on calls with anyone that I’ve met to really understand what their business goals are and how we can help achieve these. I do a lot of networking so there’s a fair bit of travelling so I’m often in the car listening to podcasts.

Why is building a community so important to you and your team and what are you doing to build that community?

Times are tough right now and business owners can feel isolated. It’s really important to us that people feel like they can share information, expertise, ask questions, tell us and others how they are getting on and how their business is faring. Creating that community vibe encourages that. We want businesses to feel that by joining our community, they will meet like-minded people and will be able to get support not just from us, but from other members. We are creating an environment where people feel comfortable to talk about whatever they feel like talking about. It could be about what your business does, through to the challenges facing it. A community is about supporting each other.

Also, our networking events are varied. We know that people want to talk about different things. For example, the conversation at the inaugural early evening Bath drinks and canapes event in May was different to the recent Bristol Breakfast Networking event, held at the Watershed. Earlier this year, we ran a sports event where conversation wasn’t focused around business. 

Our community isn’t about being sold to. The great thing about it is what members find out about each other. We do encourage people to be clear on what it is they need, be that business advice or just to talk about a new business venture. As people get more comfortable, the community spirit grows and you find out more about your fellow members. It’s interesting to hear about other projects they may have on the go and you never know if it is something you may need in the future. 

What types of businesses are part of the community and how do they benefit? 

We have a real mix of businesses in our community, ranging from wellness consultants to professional service firms and venues. The majority are SMEs with a headcount of 1 – 10, with some at 10 – 50. We have a selection of B2B and B2C and always get a good mix of businesses attending our events. For example, at a recent networking event, attendees included IP lawyers, a Japanese restaurant group and the University of Bristol. 

Having such an array of businesses within the community is beneficial. You never know who you may need and when. It’s fantastic to see members learn something new, whether that’s at a community event or via a blog post. Being part of a mixed community is a chance for people to broaden their horizons and learn something new. It’s also not just about talking business. We’re fostering a laid back atmosphere where people can socialise and get together outside of our events. 

Another fantastic benefit of being part of the community are the recommendations that you could get. We know our members well and are happy to make recommendations and facilitate introductions. A recommendation from another member also carries great kudos. We want people to enjoy being part of the community, make connections and learn.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I really enjoy getting to meet and talk to so many different people. It’s so interesting to hear about what they do. What I get most pleasure from is seeing the businesses successes and hearing the positive stories. Another element I enjoy is seeing people engage in conversations that aren’t work related. Witnessing people feeling comfortable enough to share shows that the community is working. And it’s so satisfying to receive emails from community members thanking us for our support and what they’ve got out of being a member.

What do you like doing in your spare time?

I’ve got three children so I don’t have much spare time! I like to lose myself in a book if I can and I enjoy spending time outdoors with my family, in the beautiful Wiltshire countryside where I live. I do like sport, team sport if possible. Thanks for reminding me to pick up a sports related hobby again! And if anyone would like to find out more about our community, please do get in touch. 


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