Business Profile: David Hersey, of Birmingham Community Foundation
The chief priority for David Hersey this week is to put the final touches to a business plan.
Never one to let the grass grow under his feet, the new chief executive of the Birmingham Community Foundation is devising a strategy to tackle the undoubted challenges that the next 12 months will bring.
“We need to hit the ground running this year,” he said from the foundation head office of a converted Victorian Baths, part of the acclaimed Nechells regeneration project.
“These are tough economic times for business and the charity and voluntary sector alike and I am sure 2010 will not get any easier.
“We need to ensure the correct priorities are in place to enable us to do our job serving our donors, supporters and disadvantaged communities in the very best, most efficient and effective way we can.
“The local community groups we support need help now more than ever.”
Mr Hersey is no stranger to helping businesses develop and grow and is especially in tune with those with a Midlands bias.
This quietly spoken but very determined character retired last year from a top role at RBS after 35 years of service, the last six of which as the regional director for corporate banking for the West Midlands.
During his long career Mr Hersey held a number of senior management positions and worked throughout the UK. His final stint in Birmingham was his second in the region after a period working in the city of London.
He commends the region’s professional and finance sector as being the strongest outside London and believes that it will continue to be a powerful asset in helping to support the region’s future prospects.
”We have an exceptionally talented pool of professionals in the region who support businesses nationally and internationally,” he said.
“It’s a tremendous asset in a competitive world where added value and innovation is crucial.”
Mr Hersey started working two weeks after reaching 16 years of age.
With a head for figures but no fixed ideas on a career, the banking world seemed a good place to start.
So after one job interview and one job offer he started a journey that spanned many different locations and fascinating assignments including running the group chairman’s office in the early 1990s.
The eldest of 20 grandchildren, his first wage packet was spent on a present for each for his grandparents who he describes as key mentors in his life.
“They headed a very close family and provided advice on all aspects of life without us really being aware of it, as only grandparents can do,” he said.
By the way he talks you can see how important deeply-rooted strong family values continue to be.
Born in Buckinghamshire, Mr Hersey and his wife of 25 years Jenny, moved to the West Midlands 12 years ago where they have brought up their three children after falling in the love with the region.
Even when Mr Hersey accepted a London-based role, the family agreed that he would commute daily rather than uproot them from somewhere they enjoyed living so much. He did so for more than two years.
“The reputation of Birmingham and Black Country does get a serious grilling from outside the region mostly very misguided and a legacy of the distant past but you cannot beat the warmth and friendliness of those living here. People make places and both Jenny and I felt instantly at home from day one,” he said. “From a work perspective I have always admired the hard working ethos and determination that exists here in Birmingham. I am constantly amazed at what can be achieved and never stop learning from the many individuals, small businesses and large multinational clients I have been fortunate to work alongside.
“The region has some very talented people running some brilliant businesses in manufacturing, services, construction, retail, IT in fact right across the spectrum and we need to make our voice heard more widely that this is a great place live and develop thriving businesses with strong links around the globe.”
Education and learning is clearly a great passion of his. Recent experience has been gained as governor of a local school, as chairman of the Birmingham and Solihull Employment and Skills Board and playing a keen role in developing Birmingham City Council’s prospectus for the future.
“Helping people of all ages to learn or improve their skills and gain qualifications is massively important. I left school with modest qualifications that were reasonable but not outstanding.