It was music that first brought him to England.

And Brent Woods is now calling the tune at one of Huddersfield’s most creative success stories.

The 46-year-old is CEO at the Media Centre, a not-for-profit organisation committed to business growth, employment opportunities and talent development within Huddersfield’s creative and digital industries.

It is the perfect fit for a man who has built his career on diversity and imagination.

Brent was born in Winnipeg, where his dad, an executive with Kodak, had been transferred. But by the time he was one, the family was back home in Toronto, where he grew up with his brother and sister.

After leaving school he began a career in the music industry. From 1989 to 1995, Brent was music co-ordinator at Toronto’s acclaimed Harbourfront Centre, where he was responsible for programming 350 performances a year, including 10 consecutive summer weekend music festivals and the Toronto edition of the WOMAD Festival.

In the early 1990s, he established Wide Music, a booking agency which handpicked up-and-coming UK musicians to tour Canada’s festival network. This work brought him to England - which he loved.

“I spent 25 years of my life in Toronto, and towards the last six years in Canada I was working in music festivals and used to come over to the UK to look at bands and musicians and see who we could bring over to Canada.

“I travelled all over the UK in my early 20s, and this chimed with my love of English music in the 80s and 90s.

“Being over here was great and I made loads of friends. I thought I would last about a year but it’s been 21 years now.”

In that time he has had a varied worklife, but with a common theme of creativity.

He first lived in London. “I knew a lot of people in London and spent a lot of time there.”

But it wasn’t long before he was heading north, after landing a job on the edge of the Lake District, which enhanced his love of the UK’s landscape.

“My first job was at an arts centre in Kendal, which was wonderful. It was such a beautiful place to live.”

From 1994, he was an arts and media consultant for many projects and clients. And in 1996, came his big move.

He was given a four week contract to look at re-launching the Sheffield International Documentary Festival.

It proved so successful that six years later he became its director, and the Sheffield Doc/Fest has become an iconic annual event in the world of film.

“I got the offer to look into a documentary festival and we went to Sheffield to see if we could make a go of it.

“The festival is still going now which is good to see.”

Times, then, were different. Then, documentaries were not the popular medium they are today.

“In the mid-1990s documentaries as a genre were under threat. You couldn’t go to a cinema to see one. There was a fear young film makers wouldn’t see it as an art form.

“But now documentary and festival TV as a genre is absolutely massive. I’m very proud of what we helped to achieve.”

Other work included a spell as general manager of Litestructures Studios in South Kirkby, before he became head of the Media Centre in 2009.

The 21 year old not for profit institution now supports more than 200 businesses in the town.

It began trading as a workspace when it re-developed an old plumber’s merchants. Today, it is made up of four distinctive buildings, each with their own history, and identity, from a former mechanics institute which dates back to 1861, to the renowned glass Friendly Street building which was opened by the Queen in 2007. More than 500 people work within The Media Centre each day with many more using it for meetings and events.

Brent Woods

Office spaces range from casual co-working environments, through to small and large serviced offices and impressive live-work lofts.

Café Ollo is a vibrant hub at the heart of The Media Centre. A popular spot for business meetings, networking opportunities and events such as PechaKucha Night where young designers, professionals, students and experts meet to showcase their work, the café is also a great place for people in the wider Huddersfield community to catch up with friends over a coffee, or even see a gig.

It all fits perfectly with Brent’s outlook. And he believes that businesses co-located in one area help to develop skills and increase productivity through networking, collaboration and exposure to competition.

He sees the future of the creative and digital industries being accelerated by clusters connecting throughout the UK to support one another, and thinks this will encourage further investment into creative and digital businesses, skills, entrepreneurship and the wider economy.

A recent client survey revealed that 80% of the SMEs located in The Media Centre are predicting turnover growth in the next two years, and creative and digital is Kirklees’ fastest growing sector, employing more than 5,000 people and contributing £100m to the local economy. The Media Centre currently has its highest ever occupancy rate, which illustrates the level of confidence within the local business climate.

“There are nearly 200 businesses at the Media Centre now. And there is so much diversity.

“It fits my interest in all things creative whether it be digital, art or culture,” said Brent.

His main motivator is working in a career that helps creative people to achieve their potential, and is a big believer that networking helps to cultivate and grow talent.

He is also a West Yorkshire STEM Ambassador, one of the leading industry professionals who volunteer a few hours of their time each year helping encourage children in local schools to take up science, technology, engineering and maths subjects.

He keenly supports any STEM subject activities.

Role: CEO of The Media Centre

Age: 46.

Family: Married to Kaye with a grown up daughter, Megan.

Car: Never!

Holidays: Italy is a favourite.

First job: Hallmark’s Christmas Planning department in Toronto.

Best thing about the job? The diversity of talented people I meet at The Media Centre, daily.

Worst thing about the job? Having to allocate capital to things customers can’t see.

Business tip: Be open and network - don’t lock yourself away!

Work at: The Media Centre.

Site: Huddersfield.

Phone: 01484 483000.