Our first Business Brew podcast was with Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen, recorded before the Teesworks report came out. Here is the full video from our BUSINESSiQ YouTube site, with a few extracts from our conversation:

The job

“Things are going well. People ask me that question a lot. There is lots of stuff in the background that's kind of waiting to waiting to pop. So I’m always frustrated that we're not six months down the line, it's a job, I've discovered, where you always wishing your life away. You always wish it was six months time because you can see what's coming.

“The types of projects and investors that we're working with, the stuff that we're doing within the region, a lot of it has quite a long lead time because it's of a scale in nature that unfortunately can't just all be delivered in a few days or a week. So yeah, other than the frustration of, like I say, wishing my life away, things are pretty good.”

Back story

I think it was a fairly typical background. Grew up in Ingleby Barwick, where my parents had one of the first 150 houses that were built there back in the late 70s, very early 80s. Then went to Whinstone Primary - the only school, never mind primary school, at the time. Then to Conyers, when my older sister was already there, went to university because when I was growing up in family life it was just kind of expected that you do A-Levels and you go to university.

“So they kind of set an expectation that that was just the natural thing that was done despite my sister who's a few years older than me being the first person in our whole family to ever have gone to university.

"I studied law at Northumbria University in Newcastle…. then came home, came back to Stockton, got a training contract with Archers and got qualified.


“If I'm frank, I'd never go back to being a lawyer. I mean, good luck to anybody that is, it just doesn't fit me. But it stood me in good stead in that the skills you get from a law degree and working in the law are pretty important when it comes to being a politician.

“At some point when I grew up, I was going to dip my toe into politics. But coming from a pretty normal family, as most households do nobody likes politicians, nobody trusts a politician and no politicians ever had a real job.

“That was something that was always in my mind that I needed to go and get some worldly experience and then get a real job for a period of time.”


"I've known Rachel since we were kids and went to school together and we’ve been together for 16 years now - so she's been on the journey with me. She's actually grown into it as much as I have, really, and she's coped with it incredibly well. I would not do this job if it wasn't for the support that Rachel gives me.”