An Interview with Our CEO, Alex Gajic

Learn more about the work we do here at Portobello Business Centre from our very own CEO, Alex Gajic. Interview conducted in October 2021:

1. What is Portobello Business Centre all about?

“PBC is all about making a positive change, particularly helping North Kensington residents who have a business idea and would like to start their own business, alongside supporting small, existing businesses to become sustainable and thrive”

2. When did you join?

“It’s been a long time… when Portobello Business Centre incorporated in 1995″

3. What is your day-to-day role?

“Other than ensuring the office is running smoothly and the team are happy, supported, and motivated, I spend my time developing partnerships with local organisations, funders, and with the local authorities to ensure that our services are part of a wider support package available to the community”

4. What do you value most about PBC’s culture and vision?

“Having an incredible team of passionate people committed to delivering our services in a holistic, respectful, and professional way”

5. Can you give us an example of a success story or an accomplishment of which you are really proud?

“We have recently taken on board two people under the Government’s Kickstart Scheme, both local residents. In just a few short months and after being trained by the team, they are making a significant contribution to PBC”

6. What are the key challenges facing business in North Kensington?

“The last few years have brought some significant challenges to the area. Just as businesses were slowly recovering after the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The pandemic highlighted the need for digital upskilling and how businesses needed to adapt in order to build resiliency. We are proud that all 90+ members of the North Kensington Connected Business Forum became resilient enough to have survived all these challenges”

7. How has business support changed in the last 5 years and specifically over the last 18 months?

“The main change was the delivery of PBC services online: webinars, one-to-one business advice sessions via Zoom, remote working. The focus also shifted towards digital skills and business resilience”

8. How do you measure PBC’s success?

“The number of and survival rate of new businesses is one of our measures; we also keep track of how many new jobs are created by those businesses which was undoubtfully difficult during the pandemic.  Honestly, there’s nothing better than reading a customer’s lovely review of our training courses and business advisors!  We tend to share these among all staff as it makes our day”

9. What do you hope PBC will accomplish in the next 3 years?

“We want to develop more women-only entrepreneur programmes. We are currently running our fourth ‘MyLifeMix’ programme with the support of Kensington + Chelsea Foundation and we would like this programme to continue beyond 2021. We are also focusing on growing the membership of North Kensington Connected so that businesses continue to have an opportunity to collaborate, network, and support each other”

10. Any upcoming programmes that people should know about?

“We will be running our fourth ‘Meet the Experts’ programme as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week this November. Visit our website’s Workshops & Events page and follow us on social media for all the details.”