Why Nottingham? Alex Alcock explains all

As one of our featured articles this month, we sit down with Distinct Recruitment, Director, Alex Alcock to find out why he loves living and working in Nottingham.

Q1: When did you first start to work in Nottingham?

That all depends whether you count handing out promo flyers and selling tickets for Uni Club nights during my time as a fresh faced student at NTU (2002-2005)

I’ve always enjoyed and appreciated the benefits of working, so when I first moved to Nottingham from Manchester in 2002 to study at NTU, working in such a public/student facing job was as much an opportunity to meet people, as well as make a few quid.

Getting the insight on the best night out and the chance to get me and my mates in ahead of all the queues was no bad thing either!

My first “proper job” in Nottingham was with Enterprise Rent-a-Car on their Graduate scheme, that was 2006 after finishing Uni and doing the travelling thing. I figured out pretty quickly for a couple of reasons that wasn’t what I wanted to do long term and a chance meeting renting a car to a recruitment consultant saw me land my first job in what would turn out to be my chosen career path – Recruitment.

I’ve been here ever since.

Q2: What first attracted you to the city?

Simple. University life.

Growing up in Manchester, I’d known for a long time that I enjoyed city living and that the opportunity to spread my wings and move away was the right thing for me to do. I knew I wanted to be based centrally in the country as I have family in Manchester and Lincolnshire so in the end Nottingham was perfect. I looked at a couple of the Midlands based Uni’s and I guess it’s a little like looking at houses, “when you know you know”. Looking around houses for my first year (because back in 2002 NTU didn’t have anywhere near as many Students Halls places available) I instantly clicked with a couple of people, guys that are now lifelong friends, so in the end it was a pretty easy choice.

Q3: How has it changed during your time here?

I’ve been here for 17 years now (yikes!) and safe to say from where I sit the city has changed a lot, for the better. In my role at Distinct, with strong ties to Nottingham, I’m really lucky that I get the opportunity to meet & speak to a real broad range of people from various sectors. The investment in the city is clear to see and I feel we have a city centre to be proud of. There was probably a few years ago, a number of areas in the city centre that needed some TLC but the independent scene in Hockley is booming and there’s so much choice.

I’m really looking forward to seeing how the area in and around the train station and the Broadmarsh shopping area turns out – from the initial plans I’ve seen it looks like it should be really impressive.

Q4: What is/are the biggest challenges we face as a city compared with our regional “rivals” and nationally

The University of Nottingham and NTU both work really hard to attract people to our city, yet we have one of the poorest student retention rates post-graduation. If we’re going to continue to punch above our weight, competing with our national and regional rivals, the city needs to be doing all it can to retain more people to work and put down strong roots in Nottingham, breaking the myth that if you graduate and don’t want to work for the likes of Boots, Capital One or Experian that you have to go to London.

We have SO MANY amazing SME businesses where people can create great opportunity for themselves. We’re lucky at Distinct to deal with lots of them as their trusted recruitment partner.

Staying put turned out alright for me! 🙂

At Distinct we have a mission to make the East Midlands the BEST PLACE IN THE UK to develop a career. So in June this year we created and hosted the first ever East Midlands Finance Awards. With such a wealth of talent and good news stories we thought it was plain wrong that a sector that’s so significant within our business didn’t have an event which brought the entire East Mids Finance community together to celebrate all their hard work and contributions (interestingly two thirds of our winners were Nottingham based).

Q5: How long is your daily commute and how do you get into the city?

I live 7 miles from our city centre office, in Radcliffe on Trent. As I’m out and about quite a lot within my job, when required, I’ll take the car and door to door it’s usually around 30-35 mins. At home we try to do our bit for the environment so have been a 1 car family for a couple of years now, meaning I’ll also regularly take the bus (around 40mins into town) or jump on my bike (my PB is 22 minutes!).

The added benefit of not taking the car means Mrs A can use it to take our two daughters (3yrs old and 2yrs old) out and about, so the brownie points are always welcome too.

Q6: What are your favourite places to eat and drink for business and pleasure?

As a family we have a few favourites for breakfast/brunch/lunch… we really like the Atrium in Radcliffe (great Veggie breakfast!) and the Portello Lounge in West Bridgford, both are really good for the kids with plenty of options and things to keep them entertained! On the odd occasion me and Mrs A get the chance to venture out without the kids, we tend to be creatures of habit. Heading into town we love Wagamamas & Yo Sushi and if out in the villages near home we really like The Radcliffe (in Radcliffe on Trent).

On the work front, The Alchemist and Bills in town both have a great lunch menu and are nice and centrally located to get to/from.

Q7: Finally, if you had a blank canvas, what would you like to see happen in the next 12 months?

Quite timely this as it happens… as Distinct continues to grow we’re in the early stages of preparing to move premises in the next 12-15mths. Having begun the process of speaking to a few of the property agents that know the city well it’s clear that there’s an opportunity to make it more appealing to inward investors to create space / renovate existing spaces to become more attractive and inspiring places to work. It’s too easy for developers to get hold of city centre space and turn it into Student/Residential space that yields a higher return.

Obviously I make no apology for the biased nature of this view! 🙂