It’s round four of A Schooner with… and the great and the good that make this place are practically queueing out the door for an interview – but that’s mostly for the free pint. This month we spoke to business bod Ian Gardner.

Q: Thanks for dropping in Ian. We’re duty-bound to buy you a drink, anything on the taps tickle your fancy?

A: It’s got to be an OTT from Rock & Roll Brewhouse – It’s brewed right round the corner in Regent Place 200 metres away.

Q: Are you charging them commission?! You should. Anyway, something tells us you’re a JQ native…

A: Yes, absolutely. I love this city. My parents lived just across the road in Albion Street opposite the old fire station, so you could call me a lifer.

Q: Wow. You’ve been here so long, we’re surprised you haven’t been bought out by Seven Capital. Talk to us a little about your background in business and what you’re up to now.

A: I spent forty years in corporate and business banking before heading up a successful Government-funded business support programme. That sadly ended in 2017 but I was fortunate enough to quickly secure a role working for SOShr, a division of Schofield & Associates Employment Lawyers providing online HR services.

I also work as a consultant for Breslins Accountants in the Jewellery Quarter, supporting clients across a wide range of issues, and I provide loans to help new SMEs grow through Outset Finance, a delivery partner for the Government’s Start-up Loan scheme.

Q: And what is it about helping business owners that gets the juices flowing?

A: I love helping individuals as they follow their dreams and develop their business ideas. It’s a real privilege to make the most of my experience and my connections to provide practical support. The services provided by SOShr and Breslins are essential requirements for successful businesses.

Q: That brings us nicely on to the Networking Club. In a nutshell, what is it and when is it?

A: The 1000 Trades Business Networking Club is an informal gathering of all sorts of people working in business: large and small, established businesses, as well as those just started or individuals looking to start up a new business. It offers support and practical advice from peers and professionals in a relaxed environment. It happens on the first Thursday of each month from 4:30pm. Just turn up at 1000 Trades, find me and I’ll make sure your first drink is free!

Q: Well, we’re certainly sold. Who can come along?

A: Anyone owning, managing, working or looking to work in business, the creative industry or charities is very welcome.

Q: Now our return to regular programming. Birmingham is a city of a thousand trades. If you could pick one, besides what you do now, what would it be and why?

A: Going way back my descendants were brewers, so it would have to be a beer taster particularly as I do enjoy the odd pint. My only reservation is that there are some very good local breweries already.

Looking for a beer-taster? Ian’s your man. But in the meantime, catch him at the 1000 Trades Business Networking Club on the first Thursday of every month from 4.30pm.