Merseyside Independent Business Women: An interview with Sue Grindrod


Sue Grindrod

CEO, Albert Dock Liverpool

Where is your business and what does it do?

Albert Dock is the largest group of grade 1 listed building in the UK in the setting of a world heritage site. The dock welcomes 6 million visitors each year. Our role is to add to the fantastic cultural and leisure offer in Liverpool and the City Region to attract inward investment and promote the quality of place. We are tasked with continually reinventing the dock offer and ensuring the Dock is future focused.

What does it mean to you to be a female leader?

I am responsible for the development and management of the freehold interest of Gower Street Estates in the Albert Dock Liverpool. There are many stakeholders with varying interests in the Dock and it has been an important aspect of my role to develop a clear vision for the future that stakeholders can buy into. The Dock celebrates its 175th anniversary in 2021 and this has provided the basis of a five-year plan to work up to the celebration in 2021. In setting the direction and an inspiring vision early on, my focus is to motivate and inspire others to come on this journey with us.
As a female leader, it is important I am confident and have the belief in what I do daily. I am passionate about the Albert Dock and marvel at the tenacity and resilience the Dock has shown since it officially opened in 1846. It is this passion and commitment that makes the job meaningful.

The barriers and hurdles I face are worth challenging and overcoming if this means I can position the Albert Dock as an exemplar in waterfront regeneration, recognised internationally. The dock has reinvented itself many times and I am privileged and proud to be part of its history. I believe celebrating the Dock’s 175th anniversary will highlight a new era for the dock and its continued importance as a significant contributor to the fortunes of the City and City Region.
My journey to this point provided me with the skills and experience I now need to lead Albert Dock to perform at its very best and gain recognition for its contribution to Liverpool’s economy. I have worked on the dock since 1998 when Gower Street Estates Ltd was first formed following the redevelopment in the 1980’s led by Sir Michael Hesletine. GSE’s role is to manage the estate for the wider benefit of the stakeholders who live, work and visit Albert Dock. Albert Dock is in private ownership and it is a credit to the board of Directors at Gower Street Estates, we can work strategically and hold funds to invest in the estate to maintain its position as important heritage and leisure asset.
My career has been in both the private and public sector and this has meant I have the skills and knowledge to work with stakeholders from both sectors. The public side of me consults and respects other viewpoints whilst the private sector side pushes through bureaucracy and makes things happen!

What’s your favourite thing about going to work each day?

My office is in the beautiful and awe-inspiring setting of Albert Dock. Each day I am face to face with the docks history and even now can live and breathe the grand beginnings that started in 1846 when it was the first structure in Britain to be built from cast iron, brick and stone, with no structural wood. As a result, it was the first non-combustible warehouse system in the world. Today the structures externally are pretty much as they were in 1846 whilst internally varying occupiers over the years have changed the use of the warehouses to suit their purpose. Many of the original internal beams and vaulted ceilings protected by the listing remain intact and can be seen to this day. I am incredibly honoured to have the opportunity to contribute to the future history of the Dock and to make sure the Dock remains successful and relevant today and for its future audiences.

Your best piece of advice for women in independent business?

If you have the passion and self-belief in what you are doing, you will be successful. Be determined and confident. Inspire others to buy into your vision and mobilise their support. Don’t underestimate the power of networking and meeting like minded people. We can all learn from each other and provide the strength through shared knowledge to meet the inevitable hurdles along the way. Be kind to yourself. Make time for yourself. Then go out and make your dreams a reality!