We’ve all heard of family-run firms.
But business partners Nadia Porter and Rachael Brownrigg are running their management consultancy Go Strategy against a backdrop of a very modern family.
After setting up the business management consultancy in February last year, Nadia was choosing her business partner, and picked … her husband Chris’s ex.
When I ask if this decision raised any eyebrows at the time both women laugh.
“My friends did find it really funny!” admits Nadia.
“People tend not to believe it,” adds Rachael. “One of our clients asked me at a sales event the other day how I met Nadia.
“I said: ‘She’s my son’s step mum!’”
Even how both women met their current partners is distinctly modern – facilitated by Facebook.
“Well, I grew up in Sheffield, went to Ecclesfield School where Andrew and I met when we were about six,” explains Rachael. “But then we didn’t see each other for years. Later we became friends on Facebook and arranged to meet up for a coffee.
“Three months later I was pregnant and eight weeks later we were getting married in Barbados!
“And I’ve had another child since then!”
“She’s like Superwoman!” says Nadia who met husband and Rachael’s ex Chris while he was on a visit to London watching rugby and the pair connected on Facebook.
Having grown up in Toronto, Nadia lived back and forth between the States and Canada before settling in Chicago. She started her career in hospitality in 2001 – progressing into manufacturing, professional services, engineering, construction, aerospace, consumer goods, and healthcare.
And it was Rachael’s experience in the latter in particular which got Nadia thinking when she was looking to develop Go Strategy’s portfolio – and on the hunt for a partner.
Starting her career as a nurse, Rachael has gone on to build multiple companies servicing the medical and care industry, including Medex Group which is based at the Botanical Gardens Business Centre along with Go Strategy.
“There have been a lot of developments in the healthcare sector in recent years, “says Rachael. “It’s a very niche but competitive industry.
“You go into smaller care homes, for example, and see how they are run by people who really care about their residents and their residents’ families. But equally they are very aware that they need to make changes to keep improving in order to keep up with developments in their industry.”
Which is where Rachael’s experience has helped Go Strategy assist healthcare firms locally and nationally in areas like transformation and change management, as well as funding and tenders.
“I have a lot of respect for Rachael,” said Nadia. “She is a fantastic entrepreneur and has done amazing things for the healthcare industry, not just here in Sheffield but for companies across the country.
“When I moved to Sheffield and met Rachael through Chris I realised we were both very similar – we’re both very business-minded women who share an understanding of how to get things done, and a ‘thinking outside the box’ approach to business.
“There’s not loads of over-lap but our skills are very complementary.
“I started doing some sales and marketing strategy for her and was impressed by the ideas we started throwing around when working together and it all kind of evolved from, there.
“You have to be able to trust your business partner and a friendship is a good foundation for that – there’s complete trust there.
“It could have been our shared interested in business that strengthened our friendship or the other way around. Or maybe they developed together.
“I just know that a year before we started working together I said to Chris that I thought I might end up doing something with Rachael.
“And later when I approached him to say I was thinking of us becoming business partners, I did think he might warn me and suggest it might be better not to mix friendship and business – but he was 100% supportive.
“At the end of the day, we’re all just people!” laughs Nadia. “We have found in our situation that other than business partners we’re friends, and we do all the family things together.
“Andrew is good friends with Chris and last year my mum came over and we all had a big family Christmas together.”
And Sheffield is very much home now for Nadia who moved here five years ago and completed her Master of Business Administration (MBA) at Bradford University while working in the consumer goods industry.
“Chris spoke so positively about Sheffield and he obviously knows a lot of people here and has a lot of contacts.
“It has a smaller city feel compared with places like Manchester but even in the time I have been here I have seen a massive difference and many changes take place across the city.
“It’s a great place to start a business as there’s a lot of support on offer from organisations like Sheffield City Region and the Growth Hub.
“The businesses we work with at Go Strategy are very ambitious and bring a lot to the city and their industries.
“We spotted a gap in the market – not everyone wants to go to a big London company for their management consultancy and there’s such a thing as being too corporate, you lose focus on what’s important.
“Our mission is to help every company, whatever their size, grow and get the most out of their business in terms of performance and investment.
“We focus only on industries where we have vast expertise so our clients receive a tailored service but we are expanding our portfolio.
“We recently added investment services and the plan for 2018 and beyond will be continuing to enhance our offering – going where the demand takes us.”