Outside interest: Networking group chairman

Written by: Jez Abbott
Published on: 7 Oct 2015

Will SteelMake-York is a networking group for young professionals chaired by DTZ planning consultant Will Steel. The group conducts surveys and holds relaxed, informal events such as breakfast, BBQ and evening gatherings featuring speakers or Question Time-like Q&As for up to 100 young lawyers, bankers, business start-ups and, of course, planners. Steel recently hosted an event on influencing the plan-making process and how to submit views to emerging development plans.

How did you get into chairing Make York?

I heard about the organisation from friends, went along to a few of the events and was eventually head hunted to go on the committee. I proved quite adept at collaborating and so two years ago I was made chairman. 

What does it involve?

Make York is an events-focused organisation and we have committee meetings at least once a month, more if we're building up to a big event such as publishing a new survey or arranging a conference. I help compile and send out newsletters and use social media feeds to maximise attendance. A fair amount of time is spent promoting the group to enlarge our mailing list.

Why do you do it?

I do this for my own professional development but also for the enjoyment of meeting new people and other professionals. It's good to learn about their careers and what makes them tick. I enjoy the collaborative working and, of course, there is the social element, which adds enjoyment to the mix.

What’s the toughest thing about it?

Ensuring events run well is hard work – there's an anxious risk factor and you must explore different types of events, themes and professionals to achieve a good balance.

What’s the most rewarding thing about it?

One of the best aspects of my networking role is making connections and seeing people benefit professionally from attending events - some even end up marrying after meeting at Make-York.

Are there any similarities between your day job and chairing a networking group?

My work with DTZ involves working with a range of different teams within the organisation such as residential, industrial, retail and property management groups, so the need to collaborate with a wide range of groups is common to both my day job and outside interest.

Do you have any unusual interests or hobbies that you would like to tell us about? If so, please email planning@haymarket.com