Meet the people of Central Park South

Marj Boyer

Chief Executive, One Central Park - Newton Heath

Marj Boyer’s ‘Yes you can!’ attitude to business cooperation and partnership permeates through all that goes on at One Central Park (OCP). This positive approach has proven crucial in bringing together all the organisations within this ‘hub of enterprise.

“It’s fair to say my first impression of OCP was one of confusion,” admits Marj. “I didn’t fully understand it. But I soon learnt that OCP is a unique combination of enterprise, education and the community.”

Dozens of small and medium-sized businesses are here under the umbrella of Manchester University Incubator Company and Manchester Science Parks, and tomorrow’s entrepreneurs are studying at the National Enterprise Academy, (see Grant Ridley’s story). The Manchester College is here too, with local students getting the benefit of business experience without having to even leave the building.

Looking around Central Park, not only is there a lot of positive progress but there will be many more opportunities over the coming years. 

“Part of our role is to facilitate the cross-pollination of ideas and opportunities across the building,” explains Marj. “For example, we have graphic design students from the College working with a variety of smaller businesses. The students benefit from an understanding of real life situations and the companies benefit by having a fresh approach to their business challenges. Certainly you achieve much more by collaborating than trying to do things on your own.”

But OCP does not restrict itself to supporting and developing enterprise within its own walls. “We support the regeneration of East Manchester by procuring products and services as much as possible from the local area,” says Marj, “and we encourage others to do the same.

“Looking around Central Park, not only is there a lot of positive progress but there will be many more opportunities over the coming years as we become an even greater catalyst for growth in East Manchester. It is hoped also that as OCP grows, these new companies and organisations that locate here will be able to employ people from the local community.

At OCP we are trying to encourage people wherever possible to use public transport and that will especially include Metrolink which should make an enormous difference to the travel infrastructure.

Why choose One Central Park?

“It’s a good time to be around East Manchester and a great time to be around OCP. The businesses are growing and the College is supporting everything we do. Combine that with the developments around us: Greater Manchester Police Headquarters, the Divisional Headquarters, Metrolink, Fujitsu and of course The Sharp Project which is its own massive success story. All give massive opportunities for companies and learners alike over the next few years.”

Image for - Marj Boyer

John Leach

Chief Executive and Founder, Winning Pitch - Newton Heath

Winning Pitch is all about helping businesses achieve high growth and regeneration through economic prosperity. For them there’s no better location than One Central Park in East Manchester.

“Our business is about encouraging high growth, progression and ambition. It’s about doing things bigger and better,” says Winning Pitch’s founder, John Leach. “I’m passionate about regeneration, but not just bricks and mortar – which are crucial – but the regeneration that takes place when businesses get moving, individuals take risks and entrepreneurs grow their businesses.”

John trained as a chemist but didn’t see himself in a white lab coat for the rest of his career. After he sold his stake in a previous venture he decided to follow his dream and started Winning Pitch back in 2006 when One Central Park first opened.

“I saw the building first at the end of 2005 and was completely bowled over by it... it’s one of those hidden gems. I really liked the brand and its location is perfect. I live north of the city and I really didn’t want to have to go into the city centre. It takes me 20 minutes to get here. Job done.”

Given what we’re about One Central Park has been instrumental in our success.

John’s business is one of dozens that have set up as part of the University of Manchester Incubator Company where fledgling enterprises can grow within the same location. “I started on my own with a little office the size of a toilet cubicle,” recalls John, “and since then we’ve moved four or five times within the same building.” Winning Pitch now employs nearly 30 people and has recently announced an annual turnover of over £4.5 million.

“We now have a fantastic network of consultants who have all ‘been there and done it’. You can’t have empathy with your clients unless you’ve experienced some of the same challenges.”

Why choose One Central Park?

“Given what we’re about One Central Park has been instrumental in our success. It’s a bit like baking a cake… it has been one of the ingredients. This place has given us access to the universities, the science parks, to the hotbeds of entrepreneurial activity. They’ve become great partners of ours. To be honest, I don’t think we’d have had the same levels of connectivity and personal relationships had we not been in this building.”

Image for - John Leach

Simon Lader

Managing Director, Salisi Human Capital Ltd - One Central Park

Simon Lader’s specialist recruitment company was about to expand into new offices across the city before he was persuaded to take a look at One Central Park.

“We were searching for a new base and had certain criteria,” recalls Simon. “They not only had to be cost-effective but the premises themselves had to be like a business card: clients would pull in the car park and be immediately impressed. That ‘wow factor’ was important to us.

I knew before I stepped into the building that we’d become tenants.

“We also wanted somewhere with a buzz – an ideas hub if you like – the possibility for cross-pollination between businesses.”

Simon had already been in the recruitment industry for eight years before he set up Salisi Human Capital from his back bedroom. Within a year he had taken on three staff and moved to a small office in Prestwich which they soon outgrew.

“I knew before I stepped into the building that we’d become tenants. The reception area itself is stunning, and this was before I understood about the encouraging philosophy that the University of Manchester Incubator Company and One Central Park both have towards their tenants.”

In Filipino Salisi means ‘a surprise encounter with someone you had not anticipated meeting,’ and its niche in the recruitment market is in the growth of SMEs across Europe. “What we do particularly well is help embryonic US businesses grow in Europe.” Since relocating to One Central Park in April 2007, Simon has also set up a sister company, Cherry Path, that specialises in bespoke IT solutions and it is the growth of this fledging company that he puts down to the connections he has made with other businesses in the building.

“Many of our neighbours are in similar areas of technology or emerging growth and there are lots of opportunities for networking. We would certainly recommend One Central Park to other companies.”

Why choose One Central Park?

“If you come here you’re signing up not just for great premises but for a philosophy about the cross-pollination of ideas, about the growth and resurgence of East Manchester, about access to world-class facilities, a good talent pool and enormous networking opportunities through well-connected supporters.”

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Grant Ridley

Student at the National Enterprise Academy - One Central Park

Founded in 2008 by entrepreneur Peter Jones of Dragon’s Den fame, the National Enterprise Academy (NEA) aims to ‘bring the boardroom into the classroom’ and make studying entrepreneurship more mainstream. One of its first students, Grant Ridley, talks abo

“I’ve always been obsessed with programmes like Dragon’s Den and The Apprentice and
I just couldn’t believe it when I first heard about the Academy. I was studying for my National Baccalaureate back in Newcastle and stumbled across the course while I was researching online. I thought, I just have to be there.”

There’s a great café here and for us business students the networking opportunities are terrific,

Grant quickly filled in an application and was invited to an interview at the new Academy at One Central Park. “When I first came to my interview and saw OCP it looked as if it was at the heart of business. I was excited just walking through the doors – it’s a bit posh!

“They described the course as The Apprentice every day, Monday to Friday and, of course, I was hooked and have been since. I just love every day I am here.”

With 50 other business hopefuls, Grant started his one year course in September 2010. They’re working towards a BTEC Diploma in Enterprise and Entrepreneurship which is equivalent to two A-levels.

As part of the course each student has to start their own business. Grant has set up the Guerrilla Marketing Company and already has his first clients. “Traditional marketing can be so expensive for start-ups and small companies but Guerrilla marketing is about thinking outside the box,” explains Grant. “So I’ll be working with companies to come up with fresh ideas to attract new customers. My first client came here to give us a talk. She heard about my idea and commissioned me straight away!”

Why choose One Central Park?

“When I first started here I lived close by which was very convenient. I’m now sharing a place in town and it’s only 10 minutes on the bus from the city centre. Metrolink will make it even quicker. There’s a great café here and for us business students the networking opportunities are terrific as there are so many businesses in one place.”

Image for - Grant Ridley

Mary Jillings

Receptionist, One Central Park - Newton Heath

Receptionist Mary is the ‘public face’ of One Central Park and part of a small team that manages this unique building in East Manchester.

I like everything about working here. I like my job, I like the staff and I like the building.

Tenants include The Manchester College, Manchester University Incubator Company, Manchester Science Parks and the National Enterprise Academy. “As well as helping the tenants,” says Mary, “I also meet and greet all the visitors to the building as we regularly host meetings and networking events.”

Mary used to work over in Salford but as she lives locally in Failsworth she finds working in Central Park much easier. “It’s nearer to home for me and as I only work mornings then the travelling time is a lot less”.

“I like everything about working here. I like my job, I like the staff and I like the building. We have a great restaurant here which all the tenants use and, although I have my lunch at home, I have enjoyed their wonderful breakfasts from time to time!”

Who choose One Central Park?

“Everyone is really friendly here – I really enjoy coming to work!”

Image for - Mary Jillings


New East Manchester Ltd
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New East Manchester Ltd is the urban regeneration company overseeing the renaissance of East Manchester. Find out more about our work.