Why Nottingham? Wesley Hodelin provides his opinion

In our second Why Nottingham feature for 2020, we recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Wesley Hodelin, former NPS Futures committee member and current Director of Healthcare Finance at Midlands Asset Finance, to find out why he loves living and working in Nottingham.

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

My first job in Nottingham was back in 2007, when I started my banking career as a clerical officer at the Royal Bank of Scotland.

As a youngster I wanted to be an Architect and even read the subject at University, however a summer job at RBS led to a passion for working in the financial services industry, which so far has given me a great 13-year career.

Q2: What first attracted you to the city?

I moved to Nottingham from London as a teenager with my parents, so you could say it was family that brought me to the City.

After settling in Nottingham as a teenager, I harboured ambitions of moving back to London as soon as I was established in my career. What has kept me here, however, is the close-knit community, both personal and professional, as well as the hope that I can make an impact and make this city a better place.

I have also started a family here and they love the city and wouldn’t want to leave. As much as I loved the idea of London, I feel like Nottingham is a great city, that will give my daughter every opportunity in life.

Q3: How has it changed during your time here?

I remember the days of starting a day out shopping at the Victoria Centre and being able to take a leisurely stroll down Clumber street, past Berrys Jewellers on Bridlesmith Gate and then down to the Broadmarsh.

Witnessing the gradual decline of the Broadmarsh area of town has been disappointing, however it has been great to see the developments and infrastructure improvements that are currently taking place.

I may be unpopular in this opinion, but I have been pleased with some of the planning policies of local government in Nottinghamshire. From the numerous commercial developments taking place, which 10 years ago wouldn’t have been granted planning permission, to the residential developments that have sprung up throughout Nottingham providing quality housing to the city’s residents.

My views may be generational, as younger professionals typically welcome the new developments more than our established counterparts. This may be due to the complications and financial implications of buying a house, which makes new build initiatives particularly attractive to those starting out in their respective fields. Anything that enables the younger generation to get on the property ladder easier can only be a good thing, as it keeps our young professionals within the county.

On the professional side of things, I remember my first outings in the city and being intimidated by senior professionals who all knew each other. It was like being on my first day at school!

As the years have progressed it has been very rewarding to become part of this close-knit business community and move from being the new boy, to becoming well acquainted with my peers. It is also now a pleasure to see the younger professionals  coming through the ranks. The pathways for young professionals here are second to none.

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

A key advantage of transacting out of Nottingham is its excellent rail and motorway links. You can get to most places in the country within a two-hour drive or train ride and with the recent news about HS2, transport times I hope will only get quicker. Our public transport network in and out of the City are also great and I’ve always found the City is a safe place to live and work in.

Nottingham does have its disadvantages though. I’ve always found it a challenge to get into the city centre quickly for business by car, especially if you have meetings in more than one city on the same day. I sometimes find it more convenient to get into Derby or Birmingham where I can park quickly and that can very much influence where I decide to meet a client or prospect.

Whilst I understand the considerations that must be made in terms of the environmental impact of car usage, I think we could take a more pragmatic approach, similar to that of our regional rivals. The combination of difficult parking and the decline of the Broadmarsh area of town can sometimes make the centre an unattractive meeting place for business.

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

I previously worked across the Midlands but always maintained a desk in the city centre. Living in Ruddington meant my commute was an enviable 15 to 20-minute drive if I didn’t hit peak traffic.

My current role sees me travelling across the country to meet with clients and funders to structure and then project manage debt transactions. That said, I have an office at home and MAF Healthcare Finance has well located offices just off of Junction 28 of the M1.

I still regularly go into the city for business and to network with contacts from Nottingham’s professional community.

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

As a family we regularly visit Jaspers café or Philos Deli in Ruddington. Jaspers has the added benefit of an outside seating area so we can bring the dog if it’s not too cold. The Ruddington Arms is great for an evening meal and drink too.

When visiting the city as a family, we enjoy the sweet treats at The Kitchen or Fox Café on Pelham Street. Harts is great as a family treat and I enjoy the odd drink or lunch with professional contacts at Browns.

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

I am not unique in the view that completion of the commercial and infrastructure development work in the centre would be welcome. Witnessing the slow decay of the south side of the city has been disappointing and I harbour the hope that once complete, this decay will be reversed and will provide the incentive for investment from businesses looking to deploy capital in what is, a growing regional centre outside of London.

Finally, a smooth and favourable conclusion of Brexit that will provide businesses with the certainty required to start hiring and investing again. This combination will only help to drive this city forward and take its rightful place as an attractive regional hub outside of the capital.