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30th October 2018 Verity Sanderson

Frank conversations at Shared Ambition

Zoë Walker, Head of Development, and Liam Verity, Senior Marketing Manager, at Northern Ballet, recently attended the Shared Ambition — fundraising and marketing together residential programme in Leeds. Here they reflect on their learning.

Image of Zoe Walker from Northern BalletImage of Liam Verity from Northern Ballet









Going on a residential in your home city is an odd feeling! We weren’t really sure what to expect, but as it turned out two and a half days away from the office was exactly what we needed. The course started at 4pm on Monday afternoon and by 5pm we were already thinking big and bold about what we wanted to achieve by that time on Wednesday.

In amongst all our big ideas, everything we discussed over the residential somehow came back round to the idea of the customer experience and how we could work together as teams to create a real journey of engagement that was mutually beneficial. As a touring company that doesn’t sell our own tickets this is no mean feat — we had already talked between ourselves about the need for a new CRM system, but the key thing we took away from the programme was really how vital this business case is and how soon it needs to be done!

It was really valuable for us to have the time away from the office to think creatively about what we want to achieve together, and to be supported in planning how to do this. It’s very rare that we have so much time for forward-thinking and one key takeaway from the programme is the importance of making this time to plan ahead together, rather than in our separate teams. Just the few days at the residential have opened our eyes more to how each department works and how we can both benefit from each other. We also had some amazingly frank conversations (which we probably wouldn’t have had in the office), and think we can honestly say we left feeling more able to challenge each other.

We now have a very clear timeline of actions to follow before our next call with Julie Aldridge (one of the trainers on the programme) at the end of November. We’ve already set up various meetings with CRM providers and have started on our business case. Our next step is to bring together our teams to get everyone thinking about how we can work together more effectively and set some shared targets – a first for Northern Ballet!