LBF2018 Sector Leads

The Leicester Business Festival covers 11 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. 

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Business Support, Communications & Marketing | Jenny Cross
Managing Director, Cross Productions

“"Marketing and communication strategies are designed to position a company as being superior to its competitors. To define an organisation's relationship with its customers the marketing message must show specific reasons why a customer should purchase its products or services. Marketing and communications have become increasingly acknowledged as a vital component of business growth. With streamlined communications a business can be unstoppable. LBF provides a fantastic platform for companies looking to educate business leaders on the huge impact of communications, marketing strategies and business growth. It presents an opportunity not to be missed for visitors looking to take their business to the next level."

"Managing director and founder of Cross Productions, a strategic marketing consultancy working with ambitious, driven businesses who are looking to build a brand in their marketplace. Connecting the right businesses and implementing tailored campaigns to suit clients wants, needs and budgets. With 20 years’ experience in marketing, the company brings together design and development, events, consultancy, digital and social as well as publishing Niche Magazine, Leicestershire’s leading business publication. Niche showcases entrepreneurship, innovation and business success across the county."  

Creative Industries | Geoff Rowe
CEO of Big Difference Company, Director of Leicester Comedy Festival

“Leicester Business Festival is a great opportunity to showcase the strong association between business and culture.  Research shows that cities and regions really prosper when there is acknowledgement of the contribution culture can make to a thriving and growing economy and LBF demonstrates that the Leicester & Leicestershire business community understand this.”


Geoff Rowe is the founding Director of the annual Leicester Comedy Festival and he has led the development of the festival since it began in 1994.  The festival now makes a significant contribution to the local economy as well as attracting national media attention for the city & event which takes place in over 70 venues across Leicester & Leicestershire.  Leicester Comedy Festival is the longest running comedy festival in Europe and is supported by a growing number of local businesses who benefit from engaging with the event and associated projects.

Geoff has been named as one of Midlands Business Insider magazine’s 42 under 42, a programme where entrepreneurs in the Midlands, aged 42 or under, are recognised for achieving great things.  Geoff is included in the “Entrepreneur 50” listing of the “most exciting entrepreneurs and company creators” in the Midlands and his professional experience has been included in a book titled “Find Your Dream Job”. 


He is an Ambassador for the Centre for Comedy Studies Research (Brunel University), was awarded an Honorary Doctorate (De Montfort University), and a British Empire Medal in 2013.  In 2015 Geoff won the Leicestershire Business Executive of the Year.


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Distribution and Logistics | Chris Hayton
Head of External Affairs, East Midlands Airport

“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. 

Education & Skills | Prof. Dana Brown
Principal of Leicester Castle Business School

"Whether it is providing employers with high-calibre graduates and apprentices, retaining graduate talent or training existing managers and leaders, education lays the foundation for economic success. Leicester Business Festival celebrates the strong partnerships forged between businesses and our schools, colleges and universities. Now more than ever, we need to work together to ensure that Leicestershire businesses can respond positively to the challenges of a post-Brexit world. I’m looking forward to the opportunity for us all to share ideas, learn from each other and ensure Leicestershire remains an innovative, exciting place to do business. "

Professor Dana Brown joined De Montfort University (DMU) in March 2016 as the founding Principal of Leicester Castle Business School (LCBS).


She completed her BA in Political Science and Slavic Languages at Rutgers University in New Jersey and then went on to study for a MPhil in Russian and East European Studies at St. Antony’s College, Oxford University. She later earned her PhD in Political Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology after which she was appointed as University Lecturer in International Business at Said Business School.


Dana moved to France in 2010 to take up a Professorship of Strategy at EM-LYON Business School. In 2013, she returned to Oxford as the Director of the MBA at Said Business School.


Dana has worked in and closely with business, starting in high school when she had the opportunity work alongside a former chief executive of F.W. Woolworth during the launch a new start-up retail venture. She was also amongst the first employees of, where she worked as Senior Manager of Operations in the period leading up to the company’s IPO.

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Environment, Food & Rural Affairs | John Everitt
CEO from the National Forest Company


Leicester and Leicestershire has a strong tradition of food and rural businesses, and hosts some of the most exciting environmental projects in the country such as the National Forest.  I am delighted to be associated with the Business Festival and the opportunity to shine a spotlight on the potential of the sector for business growth that also delivers an enhanced environment and thriving rural communities.  


John Everitt is a British environmentalist who has worked in conservation for more than 25 years.  He is Chief Executive of the National Forest Company responsible for coordinating one of the boldest environmental projects in the country - the creation and management of the 200 square mile National Forest, spanning parts of Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Staffordshire. 


He was previously Chief Executive of Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust, and a former Director of Conservation for The Wildlife Trusts, working nationally on environmental policy and advocacy for more than a decade. He plays a key role on Boards and networks across the region including the East Midlands Committee for the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Lowland Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Local Nature Partnership, Charnwood Forest Regional Park, and a range of partnerships and forums.  


He has held senior positions in the sector including a Director of Wildlife & Countryside Link, member of the UK Biodiversity Group and Chair of the Sherwood Forest Regional Park. With experience of conservation work in the UK and overseas, and as a regular contributor in the press and media, John has a particular interest in the interplay between people and the environment.

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Hi-Tec 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.  There are so many awe-inspiring advanced technology, scientific and life sciences enterprises in Leicestershire that very few people know about. The region boasts world leaders in automotive research, space technology, aerospace and healthcare. 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. "

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. 


Amongst other projects, including running her own consultancy, Gillian is working in partnership with Charnwood Borough Council organising this year’s Innovation inCharnwood Showcase, which was awarded the best Leicester Business Festival event of 2017.


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. 

Professional Services | Scott Charlish
Head of Financial Planning at 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.

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Property & Construction | Alastair Hamilton
Partner, Pick Everard

"The property and construction industry is at the heart of Leicester’s success –millions of pounds are being invested in regenerating key sites across the city and Pick Everard is delighted to be involved in these, namely the Grand Central Square development. This site will see two new hotels completed alongside 35,000 sq ft of new office space, creating 60 new jobs and providing some much-needed visitor accommodation and high-quality workspace. Pick Everard is also involved in the National Space Centre’s renovation as well as working at the Leicester Tigers’ exciting new hotel site.

Leicester has strong supply chains, comprising of firms varying in size and experience, all of whom play their part in supporting Leicester’s economy and improving the public realm. Leicester Business Festival provides these businesses with the tools to work better together – effectively encouraging collaboration for the good of the city - through its networking opportunities and free, informative events.

Leicester’s property and construction sector is booming – the city has some of the country’s brightest and most innovative firms who are creating new opportunities and truly transformative schemes. Leicester is on the cusp of greatness and Pick Everard is incredibly proud to be a part of it."


Alastair Hamilton is a partner at the firm and has more than 30 years’ experience in the construction industry as a chartered quantity surveyor. At Pick Everard, he is focused on client management, building bespoke management plans and developing long-term relationships which benefit Pick Everard, its clients and SMEs within the supply chain. He is also keen to develop and nurture talent and build a workplace which is centered around equality, diversity and fair pay across all levels.

Pick Everard – the property, construction and infrastructure consultancy based at Charles Street - has had a presence in Leicester for more than 150 years. It now has 11 UK offices and more than 450 staff – operating within the city as well as nationally and globally across both private and public sectors. Duncan Green is the firm’s managing partner and has more than 30 years’ experience in the industry. As a chartered civil engineer, he is now responsible for strategy and performance, as well as supporting major strategic clients across a wide range of sectors and has held the position of managing partner for four years.

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Retail, Tourism and Hospitality | Jo Tallack
General Manager at 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


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.

Retail, Tourism and Hospitality | Sally Coleman

Strategic Tourism Manager, Leicester City Council & Leicestershire County Council

 "The international recognition gained through the King Richard III story and Leicester City Football Club’s Premier League success has helped grow the visitor economy in Leicester & Leicestershire to over £1.7bn, creating 22,000 jobs and bringing 33m visitors into the area. Our offer is much stronger if we speak with one voice and the Business Festival will help to bring those individual businesses responsible for delivering our visitor experience together; providing a forum to work in partnership, gain sector intelligence and future-proof this important industry."

Sally is the Strategic Tourism Manager with Marketing Leicester & Leicestershire, an organisation developed jointly by the City and Council County Councils to promote tourism, place marketing and inward investment. Sally’s role is to co-ordinate a strategic approach to maximising the economic potential of the tourism sector across the sub region, working in partnership with tourism businesses and organisations locally and nationally. Sally has a background in visitor attraction management, tourism marketing and heritage, museums and arts management. 

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Space & Aerospace | Dr. Grant Bourhill
CEO Science Parks, University of Leicester
 "The Leicester Business Festival provides an excellent platform for both existing and new space institutions to network, share information and identify new business opportunities and partnerships.  A focus of the LBF in 2018 on the space sector is very timely.  In addition to the UK Space Bill and recently announced UK Space Port, the sector is a core foundation of the industrial strategy, the LLEP local industrial strategy prospectus, the Midlands Engine Vision for Growth and a Space Sector deal is imminent."

Grant has been involved in innovation all of his career, with experience across multiple sectors including energy, automotive, consumer electronics and defence.  He spent 8 years at Sharp Corporation where he was responsible for new technology introduction and business development, helping to bring a number of new-to-the-world products to the global marketplace including no-glasses 3D mobile phones and automotive dual-view displays.  

After Sharp, he spent ten years working on energy innovation, predominantly with the Energy Technologies Institute, a private-public partnership investing in, and developing, new clean energy technologies.  Grant joined the partnership from start-up, managing a £60m p/a portfolio that resulted in over 10 commercial products being released.  He also led the flagship £100m Smart Heat Programme to develop new products and services to decarbonise domestic homes.  Grant grew the stand-alone capability and ultimately transferred the Programme and capability into the Energy Systems Catapult. He spent two years at the Catapult as Chief Operating Officer and Head of International Energy Innovation, where a number of new global partnerships were created.  

Grant joined the University of Leicester in April 2018 to help the University and partners achieve an exciting vision for the future by developing vibrant sector-specific science parks, building on the University’s strengths in Space and Life Science. Grant holds a PhD in Chemistry from Strathclyde and an MBA from Oxford.  

He holds over 30 patents.  

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Sport, Health and Life Sciences | Kevin Routledge
Chairman of 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.

Sport, Health and Life Sciences | Dr. Riddhi Shukla

Business Development Manager, College of Life Sciences, University of Leicester

"I believe that the Leicester Business Festival is an incredible demonstration showcasing regional strength for all of the UK and our international visitors to see and experience! The Festival brings together businesses to learn from each other, to develop collaborations and to promote their services and expertise and it is one such event that will help facilitate networking within the life sciences community in Leicester and Leicestershire to develop growth of this very important sector by cohesively harnessing industry, academic and NHS clinical expertise."

Riddhi Y Shukla works as a Business Development Manager in the College of Medicine, Biological Sciences and Psychology. With her background in Pharmacy with a PhD in Neuropharmacology she is responsible for creating partnerships with a range of stakeholders to generate commercial income for the University with a particular focus on the Leicester Precision Medicine Institute.


Riddhi has over 15 years’ experience of working in academia in business development, commercial analysis, technology commercialisation and developing spin outs. Riddhi has also engaged in private consultancy work in delivering; opportunity assessment work for other universities, European Regional Development Fund outputs and leading Higher Education STEM projects. In addition Riddhi is a practising Pharmacist for the last 19 years and Member of General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC).