Our VIP guest at the next Level Up live event in September says there is ‘amazing work’ happening in our region, with world class products and services being created which could open up global business growth.

Darlington based Keirra Smith is a Deputy Director in the Department for Business and Trade, the government department focused on helping businesses to invest, grow and export, creating jobs and opportunities across the country.

Her role involves the delivery and development of vital projects like the Export Champions, a cohort of experienced exporters who have volunteered their time to encourage and inspire other businesses to explore overseas growth.

Keirra will be joining the discussion on how the North East is building a Gateway to International Markets at AV Dawson's headquarters in Middlesbrough on September 28.

  • To reserve a seat and join Keirra at our next Level Up live event, CLICK HERE

She told BUSINESSiQ: “There are some truly innovative companies doing wonderful things, but they have yet to tap into all the tools and support available to them which can help them realise their potential.

“I’m Australian originally but moved to Darlington for this role and I absolutely love it. There is a great work culture here and I think the more direct way of communicating is definitely more impactful.

“But there are fewer businesses in the North East exporting than most of the country. I don’t’ think the confidence is quite there, and people don’t realise the demand for UK products and services across the world, but more should be said about it.

Keirra said her work blended national resources with regional needs to make sure North East businesses have the best possible support.

“DBT runs most programmes nationally, but we've run large parts from Darlington, because we recognise this is a growth area.”

  • All of our Level Up stories about amazing successes in our region are HERE

As a member of the English Regions leadership team, Keirra is constantly reviewing the impact DBT has in supporting business and how the products and tools available can be better communicated to business leaders.

“There are some key services that we offer businesses. The first is the International Trade Advisory Service. Our regionally located teams who support businesses through their exporting journey, so they can seize every opportunity to grow and diversify.

“We provide bespoke advice, information about overseas markets through DBTs global network in 108 countries, and guidance on how to utilise free trade agreements, as well as providing connections to the full regional business support ecosystem.

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“Business owners can also access free workshops that will give them the foundations to begin exporting, regardless of their experience levels, through our Export Academy. Each module has been chosen to build knowledge, skills and confidence on subjects that are fundamental for selling overseas. We want businesses to be export ready.

“In some cases, a business may have sent something because a customer asked for a product to be sent overseas or maybe they've only ever exported to easy markets and they want to understand what it means to look at the wider market and have exports as a significant part of their ideology.

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“But it is also vital that we raise the knowledge and skills of people so that they can export confidently, knowing that British products and services are highly revered all over the world.

“British companies need to be able to sell themselves. They're doing world class things that are in demand, and we need to remind people that selling overseas could be a really large part of your business.

“So in my role I help bring confidence, training and education and then provide the right kind of direct information.

Keirra says the Prime Minister’s recent merger of departments that created DBT sent out an important message for businesses wanting to grow.

She told us: “We want companies to be successful and strong and I think there's a lot of synergies with the new department and a strategy that is solely focused on growth, whether it be domestic or international.”