100 Club: Paul Smith, LNER

Paul Smith, Head of Commercial Development at London North Eastern Railway (LNER), is a member of the Leeds Community Foundation’s 100 Club, a patronage scheme for individuals who are motivated to make a difference in Leeds.

Here, he discusses what he loves about the city, and why he’s involved in the foundation.

What’s your ideal day out in Leeds?

This depends… the city and wider region has so much to offer. If it’s a family day out then I’d say it’s something like a picnic at Roundhay Park or Temple Newsam. If it’s catching up with friends then I love eating and drinking in the city centre – all the new terrace bars in Leeds are great hangouts but there’s also some hidden gems and old favourites that I like to go to: Whitelocks and Maven to name a couple.

What is the best lesson you have learnt in business?

It’s a cliché but ‘teamwork makes the dreamwork’… it took me too long to learn this lesson but it finally clicked for me when I was running the marketing launch for Trinity Leeds back in 2012-13. The success of this centre and it’s contribution to the cities fortunes all lie within the great partnerships and collaborations that were formed during the building phase, and beyond. We had plenty of people in our boat and helping to row in the same direction… having a simple and clear brand vision also helped galvanise everyone on the journey.

What single thing do you think could help the city?

I think the city needs to understand what it stands (is famous) for and most importantly, become proud of it. I’ve been in too many meetings regarding the city and developing its proposition where this topic has always undone the discussions… because it’s got great bits of everything, the view is that the city is a bit of a Jack of all Trades and a master of none. Personally, I think it’s the cities Jack of all Trades and Welcoming qualities that makes it stand out from the crowd – it talks of an eclectic and diverse community with something for everyone.

What inspired you to join the 100 Club?

I’m not sure that I was inspired as much as I was beginning to think about how I could most effectively begin making an affordable contribution to meaningful causes. I like how LCF operate and how they focus their efforts on what they believe are the areas most in need of support.

What community issues are important to you?

I’m not that specific in terms of topics – there are so many important issues to tackle. What is important to me though is the ‘health’ of my immediate local community… ensuring we support some of the micro-issues that we see day to day amongst our neighbours