A WOMAN who left a global financial organisation and generous salary to set up a business in her garage is celebrating its best ever year.

Michelle Mook launched Pro-Development after undertaking a coaching qualification and finding the experience ‘life changing’.

Now marking its tenth anniversary, Michelle said her team had cause to celebrate, having made a strong comeback from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Pro-Development works with businesses, delivering tailored support, to help retain talent, engage and develop people, leaders and teams, and create a great working environment where individuals and the business can thrive.

“Covid-19 hit our business hard,” said Michelle.

Much of their work was face to face which disappeared almost instantly.

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The team was furloughed, while Michelle offered free online support and training on how to lead staff remotely and through change.

“Our primary hope was to help people we knew so that we could all get through this together,” she said. “It worked and by July 2020 we were back on track and the team were all back in the business - and not too soon either, as the long days on my own had taken their toll.

“We started to recover and towards the end of 2020, our business took off. By March 2021, we’d had our best ever year and by August 2021 we went from a team of five to a team of nine and had doubled our turnover.

“It all felt timely as we launched into our 10th birthday celebrations.”

Reflecting on the early days, Michelle said her experience of coaching uncovered her passion for developing people and culture, and working with small businesses.

“As a farmer’s daughter from the East Riding, I love Yorkshire and the Humber and made the decision that this is where I wanted to work and use my talents to support local businesses.

“It was a tough call to make, leaving an organisation with security, a big salary and bonuses but in the end, I knew it was something I had to do.”

Through networking and building strong relationships, Michelle grew Pro-Development, recruiting more people in 2016 and relocating from her garage to Forest Farm Business Park, Fulford, York.

Michelle went on to become chair of York Professionals and won The Press Business Personality of the Year in 2018, returning as guest speaker the following year.

She said one of the lessons she’d learnt was ‘to enjoy the journey, live in faith not fear, take people with you and be open to wherever it takes you’.

“Leaving school, I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do. I didn’t do A levels or go to university like many of my friends. But I was always open to new ideas and always challenging myself. And the journey led me to where I am now and the opportunity to get to do what I love every day.”

So, what next? Pro-Development has launched a new website and is moving to a bigger office at Forest Farm Business Park.

“We continue to grow and hope to help even more businesses in Yorkshire and the Humber. We’ve got funding for businesses in York, North Yorkshire and the East Riding and look forward to supporting clients access this to ensure they can continue to engage and develop their people in the coming year."