Our 100 Club Supporters: Arena Group

Gary Putson is Sales Director at the Arena Group and a member of the Leeds Community Foundation’s 100 Club, a patronage scheme for individuals who are motivated to make a difference in Leeds. Here, he discusses what he loves about the city, the best lessons he has learned in business and what inspired him to join the 100 Club.

What is your favourite thing about Leeds?

Its size, geographical location, diversity, and aspirations – it is big enough to offer the options, benefits, and experience of a major city, small enough to navigate without spending half your day commuting. It offers excellent opportunities for business and leisure, the Yorkshire Dales is on the doorstep, and it is progressive and aspirational in its growth plans – it’s exciting!

What’s your ideal day out in Leeds?

After a busy week at work, I love to unwind by eating, drinking, socialising and walking the dog, and Leeds caters for this in abundance. From the little independent cafes and bars in the suburbs, to the hustle and bustle of the city centre, there are loads of varying places to eat and drink, plus there are various park, and the countryside is on the doorstep.

Breakfast in Oakwood, walking the dog around Roundhay Park, and having a pint in my local pub Prestons takes some beating.

What is the best lesson you have learnt in business?

I have a few:

  • Working collaboratively – generates new ideas, different perspectives, and engages and unites people.
  • Listening – listening to understand. It surprises me how many people listen to respond and miss opportunities.
  • Team alignment / vision – working as a team towards an agreed common goal can be very powerful.
  • Marginal gains – Sir David John Brailsford CBE the British cycling coach talks about marginal gains, which I entirely buy into – it is very often the difference between winning and losing.
  • Remember to remain good humoured and approachable when things get tough – most of us are not trying to solve world poverty.
  • Failing is fine, but try to understand why, and learn from the experience.
  • Tenacity and attitude can bridge a multitude of ability gaps – we all have different strengths and weaknesses, but being positive and committed is non-negotiable.

What single thing do you think could help the city?

Transport links is an obvious answer but a very valid one in my opinion. As the city expands, we need a tram / dedicated bus lanes in and out of the city to accommodate easier movement.

Also, better and faster connections with other northern cities is a must – sitting stationary in the ‘fast lane’ of the M62 at 6.30am with thousands of other people suggests we need better train links, or hover cars!

What inspired you to join the 100 Club?  

Arena was founded in Leeds as a business with a strong commitment to doing things the right way. As well buying into the philosophy of Leeds Community Foundation, we’re a long standing supporter of Child Friendly Leeds and One in a Million.

Arena also sponsors the Run for All mini and junior run here and in other cities held alongside the Jane Tomlinson 10k events to ensure young people can take part regardless of background or ability. We also love to meet and work with liked minded people around the city, so appreciate the many networking opportunities.

What community issues are important to you?

Homelessness – it really is shocking, it appears to be on the rise and people appear to be desensitised to it, or perhaps just feel helpless?

Seeing dozens of homeless people around the city day and night is heart-breaking. I don’t understand the root cause of the problem, but I would love to see homelessness entirely eradicated. Homelessness feels entirely conflicting with such a thriving city, and in the modern world.