LBF2019 Sector Leads

The Leicester Business Festival covers 9 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. 

LBF2019 Sector Strip Horizontal.png
Gillian Hunter LBF Sector Lead Adv Manuf
Lati Sam Stephens.jpg
Advanced Manufacturing | Gillian Hunter
Manager, LATi

"The Leicester Business Festival is all about making valuable connections. It is the major opportunity in the year for enterprise to meet and establish synergies. Events such as Leicester Business Festival provide an opportunity to meet and establish connections with a diversity of enterprises that you’d not ordinarily get to meet.


Leicestershire, situated in the heart of UK, is home to a wealth of advanced manufacturing, high-tech, and engineering enterprises. The region boasts world leaders in automotive research, space technology, aerospace and healthcare. 


LBF is about inspiring others and being inspired by the innovation taking place in our midst. It is about creating a sense of community: making new business connections, sharing best practice, and building relationships that will pave the way for future collaboration.


It is about building business connections and relationships that contribute to building a strong local economy and attracting other enterprises to the region – providing exciting careers for the exceptional talent graduating from our universities."

Gillian Hunter is the executive officer of LATi, a networking group for people who work in high-tech, science and engineering. She has spent her career in the high-tech industry, launching new products and services for numerous blue-chip tech companies and providing strategic support at corporate and board room level. Her big picture view of society, technology, applications and infrastructure, led to her working on a number of high-profile intelligent city projects.

A connector, Gillian works closely with enterprise, the public sector and academia to support the business needs of the advanced manufacturing, innovative technologies and science community.

Scott Knowles M ITEC 2015.jpg
Business Support.png
Business Support | Scott Knowles
Chief Executive, East Midlands Chamber

‘Its long been recognised that those businesses that take up business support services prosper and grow more quickly than those businesses that don’t utilise support that’s available. Business support is therefore a critical component of any business toolkit and Leicester Business Festival is an essential platform to showcase the services and products that can aid business development to the world class innovative and creative businesses in Leicester and Leicestershire’.


Scott began his career at North Derbyshire Chamber in 1999, providing advice and support to businesses in regard 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 stakeholder groups including:

  • D2N2 LEP Board

  • LLEP Board / Executive and Business Boards

  • Derbyshire Economic Partnership

  • Marketing Peak District and Derbyshire & other DMOs

  • East Midlands Development Corporation

  • Opportunity Area Review Board

  • Derby Renaissance Board

Business Support.png
Business Support | Jennifer Thomas
Development Manager, Federation of Small Businesses

“I am delighted to support the Leicester Business Festival to provide value and opportunities to our local members, and to the 99.9% of businesses in our region who are SMEs. There is something for everyone during LBF; whether you attend in person or follow via social media or webinars, businesses of all sizes can take part.


For small businesses to compete, grow and stay current they need support. But the business support landscape across the UK can be complex and difficult for SMEs to understand and access, which is why FSB is so supportive of the Leicester Business Festival. We believe a co-ordinated, targeted approach to business support will result in better services and consequently more energised and high-performing small businesses, and LBF is a perfect example of this being done well!”

Jennifer started her career in retail management and fashion retail buying and merchandising, however switched her attention to the not for profit sector and spent ten years working on fundraising and awareness campaigns for the NSPCC and ChildLine.

In early 2016, Jennifer joined the FSB to combine her business and campaigning experience and has worked on campaigning on businesses issues on a local and national level, as well as marketing and events for SMEs across the region of Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Rutland.

helen miller.jpg
Business Support.png
Business Support | Helen Miller
Growth Hub Manager, LLEP Business Gateway Growth Hub

This is a really exciting time for the Business Gateway Growth Hub as we begin to deliver an enhanced business support offer across Leicester andLeicestershire. Leicester Business Festival is a great platform to find out about all the different forms of business supportavailable, to help businesses reachtheir full potential.”

Ian Guyler Image.jpg
Education & Skills | Ian Guyler
Owner, Ian Guyler Business Consulting

“Organisations succeed due to a number of key factors ….strategic thinking, the business plan to implement the strategy and a positive company culture around its people. 


Schools, Colleges and Universities are a key source of fresh talent into organisations, however the worlds of business and education do not always understand each other and this often leads to wasted ,or at least delayed opportunities, for organisations and students. 


I am passionate about bringing the worlds of business and education together.  In particular I have been involved in recent years in working with schools and my clients / contacts to benefit each other (probably needs re-wording) across a spectrum of areas. I also work in tandem with the LLEP who have a very successful programme of schools and business liasion and also the East Midlands Chamber who have developed "bringing schools and business together programmes”. 


The spectrum of involvement covers employability readiness, utilising your contacts for financial benefit, bringing potential employers into the classroom to supplement the curriculum and building paths (where employers and students can meet and get to know each other before the more formal interview process) - in short bringing the people in the two worlds together!  


The gap between the business and schools world - albeit reducing - also means that both business and schools miss opportunities to learn from each other ….and benefit from the benefits of networking with each other at the highest management levels.


For this reason I have organised a flagship sector event called “Bringing the two worlds together" on October 30th. This is an invite only event for Headteachers / Principals / Academy CEOs and Business Leaders. There are limited places so if you would like to attend please contact me on "

Professional Services | Scott Charlish
Head of 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.

Kevin Routledge_Crop.jpg
Retail, Tourism & Hospitality.png
Retail, Tourism & Hospitality | Kevin Routeledge
Chairman, Leicester Riders

"Sport is part of Leicester’s culture and heritage and is an integral part of our economy despite not always necessarily being thought of as such. The large number of micro businesses that operate here through to the internationally renowned sports clubs and associations, along with the extensive supply chain, make up a thriving sector that is predicted to see rapid growth. The Business Festival is a chance to draw attention to, and demonstrate the wealth of opportunity presented by the Sport & Health sector."


Kevin had a 34 year career in engineering, mainly in the electricity industry, and was a lead Director in the management buyout of engineering firm NNC Limited from GEC, and the subsequent development and sale of the business to AMEC plc. He joined private equity firm Vision Capital in 2008, chairing 3 engineering companies in the UK, US and Canada. He is Chairman of Corby Electric CIC, Glendale Homes Ltd and Corby Community Energy Ltd, all involved in low energy living. 


He is also a member of the Leicester Environment Experts Group, the Leicester College Advisory Panel, and the City Mayor’s Sports Advisory Panel. He is Chairman of Leicester Riders, Director of Leicester Arena, Trustee of the Riders charity, the Leicester Riders Foundation, a Director of the British Basketball League, Vice Chair of the Basketball Foundation, and Secretary of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Basketball. He was responsible for all aspects of the £6m Leicester Arena build, which opened on budget and ahead of schedule on 27th January 2016.

Dr Sharon Redrobe OBE.png
Twycross Zoo Logo.png
Retail, Tourism & Hospitality.png
Retail, Tourism & Hospitality | Dr Sharon Redrobe OBE
CEO, Twycross Zoo - East Midland Zoological Society

“Tourism and hospitality is an important economic sector for Leicester & Leicestershire and is recognised as having the potential to become one of the key drivers of the local economy.  In 2018 the £1.88bn injected into the local economy by 34.93 million visitors supported 23,076 jobs. We will be using this year’s Leicester Business Festival to launch a new Tourism Growth Plan which will set down key priorities, activities and projects that we feel offer the best prospects to increase the competitiveness of the destination and maximise the wealth the sector can generate over the next 5 years. The recent announcement of a national Tourism Sector Deal has also increased opportunities for the sector locally and we are keen to explore how industry working in partnership with government can boost productivity through initiatives such as Tourism Zones.


Here at Twycross Zoo it has been a record breaking year for visitors, we are planning to build on this success by announcing further exciting developments  in the autumn. Many of our other local attractions have big growth ambitions too and these will also be shared at the business festival. “

Sharon has over 25 years’ experience working in academia, the charity sector and business.

Sharon has had a life‐long fascination with wildlife and a belief in the role modern zoos must play in conservation, whilst remaining relevant and supported by the public. In a rapidly changing world, Sharon believes science‐led solutions to saving wildlife whilst engaging the public are essential to the success of a ‘One World’ future.

Since appointment as CEO of Twycross Zoo in 2013, Sharon invigorated this traditional business by positioning as a conversation charity that runs a zoo and launching an ambitious 20-year £55M development plan. The first 5 years have seen visitor numbers up by 25% to over 600,000 a year and educating over 62,000 school children annually, transforming TZ from a loss‐making charity into one investing over £10M in 5 years in new science-based animal habitats. 

Twycross Zoo 20-year vision as an International Centre of Excellence for ape conservation and science with an ambition to attract over 1 million annual visitors is well on the way with a further investment programme for 2019-2030 underway. Sharon also serves as Chair of Ape Action Africa and Associate Professor at University of Nottingham.

Sharon’s efforts have been recognised through various awards including Business Woman of the Year 2015, Institute of Directors West Midlands Director of the Year 2016, East Midlands Chamber Team of the Year 2016, Inspirational Woman of the Year Enterprising Women Awards, East Midlands Chamber 2017. 

Sharon was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the Queen’s New Year Honours List 2017 for her services to Skills, Science and the Economy.

Dr Nik Kotecha OBE.png
Science & Technology.png
Science & Technology | Dr Nik Kotecha OBE
Chief Executive Officer, Morningside Pharmaceuticals Ltd

“I believe we have a unique opportunity to build a world-leading Life Sciences cluster here, that will not only drive innovation, productivity and exports, but also support a healthier workforce and reduce pressures on our NHS.” 

Dr Nik Kotecha OBE is an award-winning entrepreneur, business leader, investor, philanthropist and Chief Executive of Morningside Pharmaceuticals Ltd.


Since inception as a garage start-up in 1991 his Loughborough based business has supplied quality medicines to more than 100 countries internationally, as well as become one of the leading manufacturers and suppliers of generic and branded medicines to UK pharmacies and hospitals.


With a passion for drug discovery and international trade, Dr Kotecha has grown Morningside into one of Leicestershire’s Top 100 companies.


He is also an active Midlands business leader, taking up Board and Advisory positions for the CBI, LLEP, Department for International Trade (DIT) and the East Midlands Chamber of Commerce. 


In 2018 Dr Kotecha received a Board of Trade Award from the then Secretary of State for International Trade, Dr Liam Fox, as well as accompanied former Prime Minister Theresa May on her first overseas trade mission to India, in 2016.

Science & Technology.png
Science & Technology | Prof. Mark Sims
Director of the Space Research Centre, University of Leicester & Co-director of the Diagnostics Development Unit, Leicester Royal Infirmary

“ I am a firm believer in industry and universities working together to achieve better productivity and growth of capability within and outside the UK. Space Park Leicester and other innovative initiatives within the University of Leicester for example the Leicester Innovation Hub are and will be transformative for the local and UK economy”

Mark is Director of the Space Research Centre at the University of Leicester and Co-director of the Diagnostics Development Unit located at the Leicester Royal Infirmary. The latter is a centre for testing of medical diagnostics devices both from a research and an industrial point of view.


Mark is heavily involved with Space Park Leicester and has extensive industrial connections at both SME and Prime contractor level throughout the UK, Europe and the world. In the 1980’s he worked for the European Space Agency and has worked on 10 space missions during his career with roles from data analysis through to launch and flight operations and project management.


Mark has a particular interest in applying state of the art technology to other applications, current work varies from medical devices through to forensics.

Byron Dixon_JohnLewis_3.jpg
Science & Technology.png
Science & Technology | Byron Dixon OBE
Founder and CEO, Micro-fresh® International

"Micro-Fresh® is delighted to be named as a sector lead for Science & Technology. We have a proud history of launching product innovations that benefit consumers without harming the environment, and we look forward to championing our values driven approach to Science & Technology at the Leicester Business Festival."

Byron Dixon is Founder and CEO at Micro-Fresh® International, the Leicester-based freshness brand that keeps products and surfaces fresher for longer, from footwear to bedding to mother and baby products stocked in leading retailers including John Lewis. 

Named as one of Britain's top ten 'Ones to Watch' in 2018 by the Sunday Times Virgin Atlantic Fast Track 100, the company generates 90% of its £10m sales overseas and has offices in Portugal, China, Vietnam, India and Pakistan - and recently launched in North America. 

Founder Byron Dixon was awarded an OBE for Services to Industry and Innovation last year.

Chris Hayton.jpg
EMA logo.png
Distribution & Logistics | Chris Hayton
Head of External Affairs, East Midlands Aiport

“When you click ‘place order’ on Amazon or ASOS, I bet you don’t think about the role this huge sector plays in making sure your products get to your door. Leicester & Leicestershire’s distribution and logistics sector employs a staggering 42,800 people - from drivers and logistics planners to pilots, cargo handlers and packers, working for companies like DHL, UPS, FedEx, East Midlands Airport, Scania, CEVA logistics and Royal Mail, handling thousands of tonnes of cargo every single day. 

The sector keep people, planes, trains, trucks and products moving around the city, county, nation and globe; supporting and enabling this region’s businesses to trade around the world. The Business Festival is a brilliant way to bring the importance of the distribution and logistics sector in commerce and everyday life into the spotlight.”

Chris joined East Midlands Airport this summer after eight years working in the water industry. Having worked on many major infrastructure projects and regional economic strategies, Chris is well aware of the importance of connectivity and collaboration and his ambition is to use the unique convening power of the airport to support partnership working across the East Midlands Region.  


A west Midlander by birth, Chris then moved east to study, graduating from Loughborough University after submitting his dissertation on sustainable airport development. He now sits on the airport leadership team and is responsible for political engagement, media and communications, CSR and surface access.