top of page

LBF2020 Sector Leads

The Leicester Business Festival covers 10 key sectors, each one carefully selected to showcase the region's broad but strong economy. Leading each sector is an industry-specific professional who is well-known within their sectorial field.

A Sector Lead is responsible for ensuring LBF is as successful as possible. Using their extensive networks and industry links, sector leads encourage participants, businesses and investors to discover what Leicester and Leicestershire has to offer. It is due their involvement that we are able to proudly host the region's largest business event for another year running. 

LBF2020 Sector Strip Horizontal.png
Business Support.png
Business Support | Scott Knowles
Chief Executive, East Midlands Chamber (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire)

Scott began his career at North Derbyshire Chamber in 1999, providing advice and support to businesses in regards to preparing for the impending ‘millennium bug’ and supporting businesses embrace at the time, emerging internet technologies.


Scott’s earlier career was in the information and communications technology sector.


As well as heading up the Chamber's leadership team and representing the Chamber and its Members at senior level with stakeholders and partner organisations, Scott manages various capital and revenue projects for the Chamber.


Scott represents the Chamber, its members and the wider business community on a number of key stakeholder groups including:


  • D2N2 LEP Board

  • LLEP Board / Executive and Business Boards

  • Derbyshire Economic Partnership

  • Destination Chesterfield

  • Marketing Peak District & Derbyshire

  • Opportunity Area Review Board in Derby

  • Derby Renaissance Board

  • Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy amongst others


Scott is married to Jo and they live in Matlock, Derbyshire.

jon egley.png
Business Support.png
Business Support | Jon Egley
Growth Hub Manager, Business Gateway

An engineer by profession, Jon Egley has amassed over 20 years’ experience of working in business support and development. Jon has developed expertise in a range of sectors including manufacturing, engineering and digital technologies, and with 18 years’ experience in the private sector, understands the challenges business owners face, particularly when it comes to the navigating the business support landscape.

LCF and BDC Landscape logo.jpg
Communications, Marketing & Creative Industries | Geoff Rowe
Director, Leicester comedy Festival

Geoff Rowe (@geoff_rowe) has led the development of the annual Leicester Comedy Festival since 1994 when he helped set the event up whilst studying at De Montfort University.  Since then the festival has attracted over 4,300 comedians to Leicester and highlights have included working with Graham Norton, Sarah Millican, Barry Cryer, Norman Wisdom, Jo Brand, Romesh Ranganathan and Ken Dodd.


Geoff was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by De Montfort University (2012) and was awarded the British Empire Medal (2013).  He was also the winner of Leicestershire Business Executive of the Year (2015). 


Geoff is passionate about arts and culture, especially the contribution it can play in improving health & wellbeing and contributing to the recovery of places following Covid-19.  If you follow Geoff on twitter you will know he also loves baking and Coronation Street.

“It’s great to be supporting Leicester Business Festival again this year.  The event is a great way for the business community to join together and celebrate what continues to be achieved across the city & county.  The opportunity to come together, albeit following social distancing regulations, is probably more important now than at any other time.”

Education & Skills | Helen Donnellan
Director of Business Engagement, DMU

Helen is Director of Enterprise and Business Services at De Montfort University.  Helen has an extensive track record in developing successful partnerships to support innovation and engage Higher Education as a catalyst for change and growth. Helen was previously Inward Investment Director at Leicester City Council during which time her team brought IBM, Hastings Direct, PPL PRS and Octopus Energy to the City.  Before working in the public sector Helen was a senior leader at Dow Jones responsible for Marketing and Communications across Europe, Middle East and Africa. 

Professional Services | Scott Charlish
Divisional Director Financial Planning , Brewin Dolphin

“The Business Festival offers a great opportunity for the Leicester and Leicestershire professional services sector to shine a light on its wide expertise. It has the ability to assist both local and national  firms in their development. Many of the UK's largest professional service firm names have retained a Leicestershire presence, which is indicative of the strength of the sector in our region. In addition we have a number of more locally based firms who also offer first class services to the people of Leicestershire.  


I am delighted, once again, to be associated with the Festival and am sure that we will see it go from strength to strength, as we build upon the experience of the last three years. In particular, I believe that we will highlight the benefits of working within the sector in the City and County, thus helping to improve graduate retention and to emphasise the high quality employment opportunities available in our area."


Scott Charlish is a Chartered Financial Planner who works primarily with local firms and families in the East Midlands, to assist in building and implementing their financial plans. He is a Divisional Director of national wealth management company, Brewin Dolphin, who have an office in Colton Square.

Jo Tallack_edited.jpg
Retail, Tourism & Hospitality.png
Retail, Tourism & Hospitality | Jo Tallack
General Manager, Highcross Leicester

“Leicester Business Festival is all about bringing the region’s finest businesses together to share best practice and ideas, and showcase everything that the region has to offer. While there are undoubtedly challenges out there, particularly in retail, what we’re seeing at Highcross is that if you focus on delivering unique experiences and the very best customer service, you can still attract customers and drive footfall. Leicester is a fantastic city which has so much to offer, to consumers and businesses alike.”


Jo started her retail career over 30 years ago and has previously worked for Debenhams, House of Fraser and Woolworths before joining Hammerson in 2000 in readiness for the launch of WestQuay, Southampton. Having held a number of varied roles within shopping centre operations, Jo relocated to Leicester as Deputy General Manager initially working with the development team in readiness for the launch of Highcross and became General Manager in July 2011.


Highcross Leicester opened in September 2008 as Leicester’s biggest ever redevelopment project. The 1.2 million sq. ft. development is now one of the most exciting retail dining and entertainment destinations in the East Midlands with over 120 shops, 40 restaurants and Cafes and a thriving night time economy anchored by a Showcase cinema. As General Manager Jo has overall responsibility for the financial and operational performance of Highcross leading a large specialist team to achieve performance targets, continuously enhancing the brand and creating and nurturing relationships both within Highcross, and with external partners and stakeholders.

Since becoming General Manager of Highcross, Jo has become an all too familiar face within the community in Leicester. Jo is very passionate about Leicester and delivers a positive impact on the local economy and environment through an extensive engagement framework. This strategy enables Jo to identify & support issues locally, which is achieved by sitting on many business steering groups and influencing decision making within the City


Jo is a Board Director of BID Leicester and Chair of the City Centre Management Partnership and has also previously been a speaker at the TEDx Leicester, her drive and ambition for the success of the city and its future is hard to ignore.

Everards Wordmark Pale Background.jpg
Retail, Tourism & Hospitality.png
Retail, Tourism & Hospitality | Emma Roderick
Operations Director - Pubs, Everards of Leicestershire

Em joined Everards in 2019 following a 20-year career as a key member of the Molson Coors leadership team.  When Molson Coors acquired Sharp’s Brewery in Cornwall, she took on total responsibility for the business including overall direction and development of their flagship ale, Doom Bar.  Em made the move to Everards as its independent family business culture is something that resonated with her own values and way of working.  She was also excited by the innovation and investment being made into their next chapter and her background is very relevant to play a key role driving this forward. Em has a broad remit at Everards, both overseeing partnerships with independent business owners to run their own pub businesses to serve their local communities and she is also instrumental in the development of the businesses’ new home and consumer offer at Everards Meadows which opens in Spring 2021.  

"We are proud to be involved with the Leicester Business Festival for the fourth year.  Everards started their story in the city in 1849 and now, six generations later, our independent family business is proud to be investing in our home county with the development of Everard Meadows.  Not only is this development the new home for our brewery and offices but it’s a place where local people can come and enjoy great food, drink and brewing experiences and it will attract people from outside of the county so has a great synergy with Leicester Business Festival as putting our city and county firmly on the map. 

Leicester Business Festival champions local business and collaboration – two themes we are passionate about as a local business that partners with over 170 independent business owners."

Property and Construction.png
Property & Construction | Joe Levy
Managing Director, Bradgate Estates

Joe is Managing Director of Bradgate Estates -  a family-owned property development company based in the Midlands, that specialises in high end student and PRS blocks.


Joe is the third-generation MD of the company, having taken over the helm in 2016. He has formal qualifications and over 12 years’ experience in leading, sourcing, packaging and delivering large student and PRS developments. He also has built up a large private portfolio of residential and specialist care homes.



Bradgate Estates was founded and is based in Leicester and Joe is passionate about supporting the city where he was born, raised, lives and works. He is also keen to help Leicester to be the forefront of the property and development industry on a local, regional, national and international level. As well as supporting the LBF and being a sector lead for Property & Construction, Bradgate Estates is Headline Partner of Team Leicester - a public/private partnership that champions Leicester’s inward investment, property and construction messages.

LCC logo BLACK.jpg
Property & Construction | Mark Oakley
Director of Inward Investment and Place Marketing at Leicester City Council

Mark is a highly experienced senior manager who specialises in developing growth strategy and driving forward delivery, enabling and securing major infrastructure and business investment. He joined the Leicester City Council in 2018, responsible for promoting Leicester and Leicestershire to potential investors looking to relocate from outside Leicestershire, and for helping existing businesses who are looking to expand. With over 20 years’ experience, teamed with strong business and property acumen, he has successfully led inward investment projects securing over £85m of public sector investment in new innovation and enterprise centres, engineering focused incubators, broadband programmes, road networks and site infrastructure, waterways, utilities and drainage, resulting in over £400m private sector investment.

Property and Construction.png
Team Leicester_black.png
Property and Construction.png
Property & Construction | Rob McGuinn
MDA Consulting Director & Chair of Team Leicester

Rob joined MDA Consulting in 1993, has been a Director since 2006 and was promoted to the Board of the Parent Company, MDA Holdings Ltd in October 2013. Rob is based in Leicester with overall responsibility for the Leicester, Birmingham, Manchester and Newcastle offices. Project and sector experience includes primary and secondary education, university and further education, leisure, retail, offices, residential, hotels, student accommodation, industrial, pharmaceutical, public realm and infrastructure schemes.

He has experience of projects in the UK, Europe and the Middle East. His specialist knowledge includes acting as Quantity Surveyor, Project Manager and Employer’s Agent, cost planning, cost control and contract administration from inception to completion.

He is a member of a number of industry and professional bodies including Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and Association of Project Managers.

Sport & Health-01.png
Sport & Health | Andy Reed
Director at SajeImpact & The Sports Think Tank - Chair of Sport for Development Coalition

Andy Reed is currently the Director of SajeImpact the Sports Think Tank and Loughborough University Institute for Sport Business.

Formerly the MP for Loughborough between 1997-2010, Andy has a strong association with Sport Policy having served as the Parliamentary Private Secretary to Sports Ministers and an adviser to various Ministers and Sports bodies during his time in Westminster.

In 2020 he took over as Chair of the Sport for Development Coalition a growing ‘Movement’ of charities, governing bodies, funders and delivery organisations who all believe in the power of sport and physical activity to act as effective tools for intervention when generating positive social outcomes.

His company SajeImpact has helped a variety of sports bodies and brands to communicate their messages to policy makers, having worked with sports charities like Sports Leaders UK, the YST as well as with leading brands like Nike on their Designed to Move Campaign. Other clients have included the ASA, Sporting Equals, Sports Aid, Sports Coach UK, the LTA, the RFU and London Sport.

Andy believes sport can be used for social transformation and works with a wide range of sports foundations and charities – School of Hard Knocks, Leicester Tigers Foundation, British Asian Rugby Association, Asian Sports Foundation.

Andy supports a number of sport start-up sport and fitness Tech companies and works to encourage new social enterprises in sport. He works with Loughborough University Physical Activity & Public Health Research Group, based in the School of Sport, Exercise, and Health sciences.

bottom of page