David Parkin on the changing face of the media, a Trump card in the Middle East and crisp thinking

A TWEET earlier this week from my former colleague Ian Briggs reminded me it was 10 years to the day since we launched TheBusinessDesk.com.

I knew it was a decade since I took that leap into the dark from the Yorkshire Post to launch the first regional business news service in the UK but I couldn’t remember the exact date.

Well I was never very good with figures.

The photograph above was taken when Ian left the Yorkshire Post to become the second member of the team and such was his commitment that his first day at work was Christmas Eve.

We’d had a taxi decorated in our branding and decided it would be a good idea to pose with it for the publicity shots announcing Ian’s arrival.

It was a snowy day and the two of us thought we were the bees knees…until someone told us we looked like Del and Rodney.

Well, I did keep saying to him: “Next year we’ll be millionaires.”

Ten years on and we’re both doing something different, a bit thinner on top but still with our unique verve, swagger and zest for life (well that’s what I tell them in job interviews).

I was apparently described as a “digital disruptor” by Alex Turner of TheBusinessDesk.com at an event earlier this year.

I’m happy with that, but at the time we were just seen as a pain in the arse by other media.

Business is about relationships and that helped us attract some launch advertisers that gave us serious credibility, despite being a start-up.

Neil McLean at DLA Piper, the biggest law firm in the world, pledged support, as did Sandy Sanderson and Jamie Allison at Lloyds Bank and Ian Beaumont at BDO.

My co-founder Paul Snape knew someone at Jaguar and so we had a video advert for its new XF model on our website.

Receiving a morning email with the latest business news headlines on it and clicking through to read stories on a website doesn’t sound revolutionary now, but at the time most people got their daily diet of business news by waiting for the next day’s Yorkshire Post and Financial Times.

The characters who supported the launch of the business were an eclectic bunch.

Lawyer Chris Jones was chairman and brought in investors Martin Joyce and Simon Padgett while finance director Colin Glass helped us get a small firms loan from Yorkshire Bank.

Sadly two people who were huge supporters of the business are no longer with us.

Richard Burns, a colleague of Chris Jones from law firms Hammonds, was a launch investor while later on Tim Edwards came in to advise on strategy and finance and generally give me the benefit of his wisdom and his wonderfully cynical sense of humour.

Both died far too young, are much missed but strongly and fondly remembered.

Reflecting on 10 years ago, I recall going to see our lawyer, Tim Ratcliffe of Gordons, at his office in Bradford prior to launching TheBusinessDesk.com.

Like a good lawyer should, he counselled me that I should be thinking very hard about such a move.

He said I would be risking a good job, my house and my savings.

He hadn’t seen my house.

The reality was that I had already decided that the biggest risk was not doing it rather than making such a leap of faith.

I didn’t want to look back in ten years’ time and wonder if it would have worked.

Suddenly things didn’t seem so risky, just exciting.

And looking back, 10 years on, I made the right decision.

We spotted the changing media and digital landscape and created something new that is still thriving, driven by a new team, a decade later.


READING an article in the Sunday Times this week I had the feeling that I knew the person that it was about.

Given the subject of the piece was an Egyptian-American who is emerging as a key player in US President Donald Trump’s Middle East diplomatic initiative, it was pretty unlikely.

Dina Powell, who speaks fluent Arabic and is a former executive at investment bank Goldman Sachs, was recruited to the White House earlier this year by Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka and is working closely with her husband Jared Kushner, who the President has entrusted with brokering a deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

According to reports in Washington, Powell has been described as the mission’s “secret weapon” with an influence that far exceeds her title of deputy national security adviser.

Even though she is only aged 44, Powell served in a number of senior positions during the George W Bush administration and that must make her one of the most experienced White House officials.

And then it struck me.

I have met her.

In the glass meeting room at the Round Foundry Media Centre in Leeds which overlooks the car park and a disused mill.


At the time she was president of the Goldman Sachs Foundation which oversaw the bank’s initiatives to support women in business and the growth of small businesses.

TheBusinessDesk.com was partnering with Goldman Sachs to produce a series of supplements and round table discussions about its 10,000 Small Businesses programme running in collaboration with UK universities including Leeds, Manchester and Aston.

Cynics might suggest it was driven by a need for the bank to improve its reputation following the financial crisis, but those who took part in the programme said it gave them the tools to grow their businesses and themselves.

During a visit to Leeds, Dina Powell came to visit us and I remember sitting across the table from a glamorous, poised, experienced and highly intelligent individual.

I thought to myself: ‘Here is a very impressive older woman.’

Then I found out that she was younger than me.

She’s achieved a lot in her 44 years.

But if Dina Powell can help broker any kind of a breakthrough in the Middle East then that will top it all.


LAW firm Ward Hadaway held an event at their Leeds office at Wellington Place this week, a year on from when it opened.

There was a good turnout at the do – I’m not sure whether the main attraction was the opportunity to debate the announcements from the Budget, regional devolution and Brexit with like minded members of the business community or the fact that the firm held a beer and crisp tasting challenge on the evening.

I saw Tim Parr, from accountants RSM – a man whose bow tie goes before him – chatting rather conspiratorially with Jamie Martin, managing partner of the Newcastle-headquartered Ward Hadaway.

I thought they might be discussing a big business deal. When I gatecrashed the conversation Tim admitted they were indeed on the verge of a major transaction.

They both then pulled out their wallets and Jamie bought £280 of Hong Kong dollars from Tim.

It turns out Tim has recently returned from the former colony while Jamie and his family are off there for New Year to celebrate his wife’s birthday.

“Do you get David’s blog? It is such a wonderful read every Friday,” Tim said to Jamie, ensuring he got a mention today.

Jamie confirmed that he does, I told him that was reassuring as his colleague Philip Jordan had told me he doesn’t receive this blog and I was concerned it might have been blocked by their IT system (there is no accounting for taste).

“You could have fooled me,” replied Jamie, “he always forwards it to me, usually when he gets a mention.”

I drifted off towards the bar to sample some chorizo crisps with a nip of Kirkstall Brewery pale ale.

En route I found myself in the middle of a serious conversation between an earnest young thruster from the Leeds business community and Andy Davidson of Yorkshire Bank.

“How is Brexit affecting your business?” he asked Andy.

I decided to make myself scarce.

Or Dexit, as I now like to call it.

Have a great weekend.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top