Meet the Team - Nicky Witchell, Rural Consultant

By Rural Solutions & Nicky Witchell | 29.01.24

In the first of our 'Meet the Team' series, we introduce you to Nicky Witchell - Consultant at Rural Solutions.

Today, we are introducing you to Nicky Witchell, one of our rural consultants who works with a range of landowners on a variety of strategy and development projects. Nicky lives near Corbridge in Northumberland with her family and dogs (including new puppy Sika) and enjoys spending time on the beautiful Northumberland coast.

"What is the one thing you’d not be without? "

How long have you worked at Rural Solutions?

Nearly 3 years.

"Other than my trusty notebook, it would have to be my rocket stove which I use for cooking on the beach!"

What was your background before coming to Rural Solutions?

Having read Geography at University (over 20 years ago!), I was all set to go to Cirencester to complete a Masters in Rural Estate Management but was then offered a job at a sports PR agency so decided to park my love of all things rural for a while!

I worked on a number of sponsorship portfolios, communication strategies and in client hospitality, before moving into the world of tennis to manage the global, ATP Seniors Tennis Tour. From there I went to a small sponsorship and consultancy agency to develop the commercial side of their participation events. As the event part of the business grew, I was working with more and more estates and rural land owners who saw these events as a good diversification from their traditional businesses. Since then, I have worked with many estates to help them commercialise their offer by developing alternative revenue-generating schemes, firstly as a freelance consultant and more recently as part of Rural Solutions. So, I’ve probably ended up doing what I would have done had I not taken that job in sports PR, but I definitely gained a broader range of experience.

What team are you a part of and what can you tell me about your team?

Consulting – we are small, but extremely efficient team who cover a huge range of clients, projects and business development. We have quite different professional backgrounds which means that we all bring our own expertise to the team, and this really benefits our clients as we can approach projects in many ways.

What does a 'typical' day look like for you?

I work remotely from home in Northumberland, visiting clients and the office in Skipton when required. But, wherever I am my workday always starts with a list, my team will tell you that I like an old-fashioned notebook and am the queen of lists! The Consulting team works either remotely, or some are hybrid workers (home and Skipton), so we have a weekly team catch-up to find out what everyone is up to, share any conundrums and discuss our new business pipeline. Normally client calls, catch-ups with other colleagues on projects and project work fills the rest of the day. If we’re on a deadline for a project, it normally involves liaising with Sam our fantastic in-house designer as so often our work needs to be really visual as well as factually correct.

What do you enjoy the most about working at Rural Solutions?

I know it sounds cliched but it’s the people. Of course my team, but also my other colleagues, they’re a really talented bunch and great fun (our summer and Christmas parties are legendary!). My clients are wonderful and I have such a varied range of projects. The fact I can also work for Rural Solutions but live in Northumberland is really important to me.

What is the most exciting or unusual project that you have worked on?

I was lucky enough to work on the Chatsworth Whole Estate Plan which has given me a really in depth understanding of the estate, its people and communities, and its challenges and opportunities. As well as managing to bring together an enormous amount of information into one place which sets out what the estate wants to achieve over the next 10-15 years, the importance of engaging the many and varied stakeholders in the process has been equally as vital. Looking at a business at such a macro level brings another level of understanding which will be extremely valuable for many of the other estate clients that I work with.

Is there anything that you have learnt since joining RSL that really stands out to you?

No two projects are ever the same and if it was simple, we wouldn’t be involved - we really do specialise in 'tricky'! I’m always amazed by how we are able to find solutions to the problems that clients put to us (often problems that other consultants have not been able to navigate), by unlocking ideas that might not have been thought of before, using our understanding of the systems, frameworks and market demand of the rural economy which enables us to look at things in a more innovative way.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of joining the RSL team?

Be prepared to think differently, every day.

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