The Q&A: Hilary Watson, Investment Manager

"It's a great feeling to watch clients succeed knowing that I played a small yet vital part in their journey."

How long have you worked for BEF and which other roles have you held?  

I’ve worked for BEF for 5 years and 6 months. Prior to BEF, I was a Business Development Manager at Yorkshire Bank where I worked for 15 years.

What would you say most motivates you to do what you do? 

Working with clients who are passionate, determined and have a great product or service. It’s a great feeling to watch clients succeed knowing that I played a small yet vital part in their journey.

What are some of the stand-out businesses you have supported at BEF?

Defib Machines. There are individuals and families who would have lost a loved one were it not for this innovation product and service that literally saves lives. The Defib Machines team were a joy to work with and epitomise the passion and determination that underpins business success. 

What are the goals you most want to accomplish in your work?

I’d like more companies to know who BEF are and what we do, especially our different approach to business finance. In many cases, we are the answer to the question: “How can I finance this great idea?”

What excites you about the part of the region that you support?

Leeds is a vibrant growing city - the cultural, financial and commercial heart of West Yorkshire. It’s a diverse and fast-growing city that offers opportunities to people from every background.

What key things stand out to you about an exciting business when you get the business plan?

It’s great to see a viable business idea that is out of the ordinary. Defib Machines is one that comes to mind. So is, White Label, a fintech company that builds and maintains world-class crowdfunding platforms for companies all over the world. This kind of technology is normally associated with companies in Silicon Valley in California or Silicon Roundabout in London. It’s good to know that a local company can compete in this global arena.

Any words of advice for someone looking to start a business or grow an existing business?

Test trade. Prove to yourself that your business idea is viable. That’s central to receiving the support and finance you require.

Five dinner party guests (dead or alive)?

Prince Harry, I think he will be a good laugh; actor and former footballer, Vinnie Jones; football pundit and former footballer, Robbie Savage; presenter and football analyst, Chris Kamara; and TV presenter and model, Holly Willoughby.

Favourite technological advance to date?

Red Button Tuesday! It lets me watch every midweek Championship match live. That’s the perfect way to follow my favourite football team as they fight for promotion to the English Premier League.

Best piece of architecture in Yorkshire or the North of England?

The Billy Bremner statue outside the South East corner of Leeds United’s Elland Road stadium.


Need finance to help start or grow your business?

To discuss any lending requirements that you may have, please call Hilary on 07711 004362 or email hilary.watson@befund.org.

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