Shropshire Star

Business high-flyer Charlie Blakemore's winning journey on and off the football pitch

Charlie Blakemore says he has had more than his fair share of 'pinch yourself' moments.

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Charlie at the Typhoon Assembly Hall in Warton

As a high-flyer, from Albrighton, he can reflect on a career path which took him from young apprentice to leading BAE Systems' £1.2bn Global Combat business.

He has since become group managing director of Intercity Technology, a company just celebrating two years of record growth.

Hosting a visit from Paul Scully MP Minister for Technology and Digital Transformation at Intercity HQ Birmingham in May this year.

And then there's football.

The beautiful game brought Charlie plenty of wow moments, guiding non-league minnows Chasetown on two epic FA Cup journeys, taking on the likes of Oldham Athletic, Port Vale and Cardiff City.

But saying they are 'pinch yourself' experiences partly does Charlie a disservice. That almost suggests an element of surprise.

And yet the success in both fields is down to more than that. Success in business and sport both need special qualities.

"I think the two are very similar," says Charlie, who still oozes passion for football. "In both, it's about having a collective goal."

Charlie at Chasetown

"It's about tactically getting things right, whether that's beating League One Port Vale, five leagues above you, or closing a business deal.

"You need to have that meticulous planning, preparation and belief.

"In my position at Intercity it has been about developing a strategy, understanding the competition and the strength of the business, where the market is going.

"You need analysis and preparation and, just like football, it's about getting a good team around you and playing to their strengths, encouraging and giving people a goal, inspiring and motivating them."

Bringing out the confidence in people is a key skill, adds Charlie, who is also on the board of the Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce.

"I have seen how powerful it is if you can get people behind you," he adds. "You have to give people that belief in whatever field you work in."

Charlie Blakemore at BAE Systems

"It doesn't matter what background someone comes from. It's important to give people a chance if they are capable and it's lovely to see someone gain confidence and flourish in business.

"And that's like football too. You can see, at every level, a player who might just be lacking in confidence.

"It's not rocket science – if you get them feeling a million dollars about themselves, and encourage them, players will perform better.

"Equally, don't be afraid to tell them when things aren't right either. Being honest and authentic with your team helps build trust and can unlock their potential and belief they lacked."

A picture from Charlie's first year as an apprentice at GKN Defence in Wolverhampton. 1986

That support is something Charlie experienced himself as he rose from apprentice at Hadley Castle, Telford to a leading player at BAE Systems, where he spent more than 30 years.

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