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Meet our experts

Meet the top business leaders who deliver business-changing advice and determine the final Pioneer 10.

Clive Smith

Chairman of Hothorpe Hall Ltd; PrimarySite Ltd; Leicester Charity Link; The Bower House and school governor of Nether Hall

Having worked for the past 15 years as a multiple NXD/NXC specialising in the SME sector. Clive offers business mentoring for CEO/MDs at these companies.

As well as this he has been involved in various one-off consultancy roles where company strategy has been redefined and new objectives agreed and set.



Nicola Denny

Managing Director of MAY Marketing

Nicola thinks big picture. With over 15 years of experience with multinationals, big brands in the beauty world and small to medium-sized companies in the food and drink arena, Nicola is commercial, insightful and passionate.

She has experience across a number of channels including retail, B2B and B2C as well as in-depth knowledge of direct selling.

Find out more about MAY Marketing at www.wearemay.com


Geoff Freestone

Business Coach, Oxford Innovation / Harborough Innovation Centre

Geoff is a Business Growth Specialist with expertise in improving the operational activity in SMEs. He has experience in advanced manufacturing supply chains and has specific experience of helping SMEs to become Tier 1 OEM suppliers.

He specialises in helping to develop and implement business structures and processes that are both scalable and keep pace with profitable top line growth. He will also ensure the business has a defined financial model that can be properly supported by a well thought out strategy that will benefit all business stakeholders.

Geoff has hands on experience in starting up businesses as well as operational experience of international businesses up to $500m.

Stuart Hartley

Innovation Director at Oxford Innovation

Stuart is an innovation growth expert with expertise in business development activity within SMEs. His experience stems from supporting over 1500 businesses whilst at De Montfort University and a further 5 years of running his own businesses. He specialises in helping to develop and implement innovation practices within businesses through strategy, marketing and business model innovation. Stuart has hands-on experience in running a business, he is a SFEDI qualified business advisor and was previously nominated for an enterprise educator award.

Web: www.oxin-centres.co.uk

Eloise Shelton

Director at Vanilla Recruitment

Recruiter, business owner and believer in people. Owner of Vanilla Recruitment Limited; recruiting people not numbers.

In 2005, Eloise had been working in the recruitment industry for many years. But she had begun to realise that it was more about numbers than people.

This is when she started Vanilla Recruitment from scratch. A recruitment agency working with people and putting them above the numbers – recruitment the way it should be.

She is passionate about this way of working and using this business principle has achieved 40% year on year growth for Vanilla.

Chris D Gorrod

Managing Director at Brevitt Rieker Ltd

Chris is a qualified Management Accountant who has developed his financial skills into driving commercial and strategic ventures. Gaining experiences in both small and medium sized organisations from start-ups to multi international.

After starting his career within the Accountancy profession, Chris then moved into the Commercial sector, initially within the Warehouse and Importing sector and then onto a new start up in the UK with the Australian brand, Kookaburra. A huge amount of experience being gained here as the business grew in the UK and Europe. After this Chris ultimately joined the Rieker organisation. A Swiss owned Multi- National organisation. Initially based in the UK, Chris then went on to spend 8 years as the Chief Financial Accountant for the USA and Canadian operations, which included managing the Property portfolio as well as the core Footwear business. Ultimately returning to the UK as Managing Director of Brevitt Rieker Ltd, where he is responsible for the UK and Ireland. With sustained growth over the past 10 years, Rieker in the UK, has an ever growing retail arm as well as its very successful wholesale division.

Tim Sparrow

Managing Director at BBB Investments Ltd

Tim left school at 16 and rose through the ranks to become Managing Director at BBB Investments Ltd. Having been involved in four business start-ups (three in the UK and one in Canada), his skills and experience have allowed him to understand what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur.

Having worked in a variety of coaching and mentor roles for several businesses, on a voluntary basis, he helped them become a success and pushed them to exceed their initial hopes & expectations. One of the businesses even grew to be a UK market & brand leader in its field.

As someone who has been trained by some excellent mentors who assisted him to gain invaluable ‘all-round’ experience of sales, marketing and business management, he is more than happy to pass on his own experience and support to others.

Find out more about BBB Investments at www.bbb.gb.com

Rona Purdham

Director of Rona Purdham Financial Management Limited

Rona is a highly experienced Chartered Management Accountant, providing financial expertise, tools and support to the businesses in which she has operated. With a talent for understanding commercial business, and what is needed to achieve strategic goals, she facilitates financial decision-making to optimise business results.

Following an initial time working in audit, which gave her a great understanding of financial governance, Rona spent 17 years with the Kellogg Company where she ultimately held a range of senior positions within commercial Finance, leaving in 2005. In the following 10 years, Rona has held interim senior finance roles in a range of industry sectors including retail and information services.

In 2015 Rona set up a business consultancy, transferring the focus of the first class financial support that she has provided to larger organisations to small and medium sized organisations, enabling them to improve the profitability of their businesses.

Web: www.ronapurdham.co.uk

Steve Chapman

Marketing Strategist & Senior Copywriter

Steve is a marketing strategy specialist and an accomplished copywriter. That lets him provide insightful strategic marketing advice on how to position businesses, products and services, and the skills to make that happen.

Originally an electronics engineer, he has amassed over 30 years of experience marketing within technology sectors. It takes special expertise to comprehend sophisticated products and develop engaging marketing initiatives. Today, that’s the core of business at Swordfish Marketing, an agency based in the Harborough Innovation Centre that Steve runs. He likes to keep a balance by supporting local companies in other sectors alongside Swordfish’s portfolio of corporate technology clients.

In recent years, Steve coached teams of final-year Business Studies students in a series of annual business competitions for young people in Dorset, winning awards for his mentoring. He is also a badminton coach with the local Harborough LC juniors team.

Caroline Kemsley-Pein

Founder of Kemsley & Company - Solicitors

Background Information

  • Modern languages degree from Bristol University
  • Qualified in 1988
  • Trained & worked in the city
  • Wide experience of corporate transaction and commercial work

Specialising in;

  • Mergers & Acquisitions
  • Deal structure
  • Target investigations/due diligence
  • Confidentiality/non-disclosure agreements
  • Joint venture/investment arrangements
  • Shareholder agreements
  • Management buy-outs
  • Intra-group/corporate restructuring
  • Company share purchase/reductions of capital
  • Compliance/secretarial work
  • Bank security documentation
  • Terms and Conditions of Business