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Ruth Duston in conversation with In and Around Covent Garden

Marketed and Promoted  

April 2, 2015

In And Around Covent Garden, our neighbouring community magazine, has written up a wonderful chat they had with The Northbank's CEO, Ruth Duston.

To see the original article please click here.


Covent Garden People

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Ruth Duston

Chief Executive, The Northbank Business Improvement District

Describe your role as the Chief Executive of The Northbank Business Improvement District

Working with my team, board members and our business partners across the area, we are driving forward an ambitious transformation and regeneration programme. Highlights include improving the public realm, supporting businesses and promoting the area as a destination for businesses and visitors. There are over 40 ‘BIDs’ in London and The Northbank is London’s largest, covering an area between Trafalgar Square and the Royal Courts of Justice. Over a five year period we are investing more than £8 million to give this area a makeover, enhancing what’s here already and ensuring the area’s potential can be realised. It’s my job to ensure that what we say we are going to do becomes reality.

Who inspires you?

I have come across so many inspirational people in my life, both in and outside of work, it’s hard to identify just one. Looking at all those people though, there are common traits: they are all people who really believe in what they’re doing and they exude commitment and integrity.

What does it take to make a good Chief Executive?

Being able to work collaboratively is essential. I am a big believer in gathering bright minds together to deliver the best solutions. The ability to communicate a vision and inspire others is also important, especially when it comes to large regeneration programmes which require the involvement of several partners and stakeholders to bring strategies to life. Finally, as a general rule, it also helps to have a sense of humour!!

What is the most inspiring thing about being a Chief Executive for the BID?

I am inspired every day when I see something that started life as a good idea or Business Plan ambition, coming to life and making a real difference to peoples’ lives. Ultimately, our job is about helping businesses and this area achieve their potential. It was therefore inspiring to see a room full of people at the launch of our Small Business Network last month and to see how workers and visitors appreciate the work of our street cleaning team and Ambassadors.

What is your favourite part of your job?

Working in the heart of the greatest city in the world – realising that the things tourists travel from far and wide to see are on our doorstep and we can enjoy them every single day.

What is the most difficult thing about your job?

Prioritising the work we do is always challenging. There are so many great initiatives and ideas in the mix but it’s important to not try to do everything at the same time. It’s a challenge, but good forward planning helps us ensure we deliver the best result for the area and best value for our businesses. Our priorities are improving the public realm, supporting businesses, attracting investment and promoting the area as a destination – the next three years are going to be very busy!

What advice would you give to anyone else who wishes to follow in your footsteps?

Always do things that you care about – when you care you often instinctively do the right thing. Regeneration can also sound a bit ‘aloof’ and difficult to define, but remember, the best regeneration is all about people. We are creating places that people want to live, work and play in – it’s important we don’t ever forget that.

Describe your typical day

No one day is the same, which is why I enjoy my job so much. I am often out and about meeting partners but it’s no chore as that often means me visiting stunning venues across The Northbank, such as The Savoy and St Martin-in-the-Fields. I like to make the most of this wonderful area, sampling the dining options over breakfast and lunch and enjoying the cultural highlights, perhaps a gallery or a show in the evening. Perhaps best of all are the ‘hidden gems’ in The Northbank, such as Temple Gardens, which are perfect to grab a few minutes of calm in between meetings!

If you weren’t doing your current job, what would you be doing?

I can honestly say this is my dream job. I have always worked in the regeneration sector in one guise or another and it never fails to be rewarding. It’s an area that can transform not just places but people and communities too and this is why I enjoy it so much. Of course it’s challenging at times but when the outcomes emerge I don’t think there is a better, more satisfying feeling.

What do you love about working in The Northbank?

The Northbank has such a rich and fascinating history, but it is an area that has not stood still. It combines all the things that make London such a popular 21st century city. From the famous landmarks, world class hotels and famous architecture, to renowned cultural offerings such as the galleries, theatres and London Fashion Week – I think The Northbank is arguably London’s most fashionable district. It’s a privilege to experience this place every day – there is always something new to discover. Speaking personally too, the plans we have to make the area even better are truly exciting, and I am thrilled to be part of the next chapter in The Northbank story.

What’s your top tip for getting the most out The Northbank?

We are surrounded by some of London’s most wonderful architecture and while there is much to take in at ground level, my tip would be for people to ‘look up’ more. In fact, in May we are holding a Street Photography Walking Tour around The Northbank encouraging people to do this very thing – for more information contact nina@thenorthbank.london