Product and Investment Director
Simon has vast experience in business support for many sectors and industries. At UMi, he leads on business investment and growth programmes, including grants, loans, consultancy and specialist business advice. For Simon, the programmes he creates and delivers play a part in helping businesses go further and bring about real positive change.
He manages to offset a nerdy interest in public funding and State Aid rules with a love of fast cars – he’s a real petrol head. But that’s not all. Simon also has a degree in archaeology and has worked on excavations in Poland and Orkney. Indiana Jones, eat your heart out.
Growth Service Manager
Shak is a highly networked individual, with a contact book as big as his wardrobe. His unique flair shines through in the relationships he has with the many business leaders he works with. He’s great at being highly visible in the marketplace, and his phone rings hot with business leaders wanting specialist support for their growth ambitions.
Many businesses know what they want to achieve but don’t know how to get there, so Shak and his team provide targeted advice and diagnostics, as well as brokering relevant support across the UMi business community.
Shak calls on his experience in his many family business interests, across property, catering and consultancy, but still finds the time to continue an involvement in his hip hop music business.
Senior Business and Investment Adviser
As part of the UMi Investment team, Mike oversees key regional business grant programmes across Yorkshire and the North East. In true UMi style, he helps businesses go further by guiding them through the various stages of the funding cycle, calling on his many years of banking experience to get the best result. Mike applies rigorous diligence to the investment decisions, but his excellent communication skills with his business customers ensure mutual respect and understanding, whether it’s good news or not for that business.
As well as being fluent in the language of finance, Mike’s also hoping to become fluent in Spanish, with the aim of travelling there regularly and blending in with the locals, relaxing and drinking Rioja.
Technology and Data Manager
For Anna, logic and data are the keys to her role. The maths whizz pours over our data, constantly making sure that we have the right technology in place to help us do our jobs better and provide the highest quality guidance to our business community. Anna loves numbers, and loves looking at data – but she also comes up with future proofed technological solutions that keep us at the forefront of digital transformation.
This high level mental agility is matched by Anna’s experience competing at a national level in gymnastics. More recently, though, tumbling and double somersaults have been replaced with more sedate activities such as cycling, scuba diving and enjoying the great outdoors with her family.
Leading the fund management team, Tom is all about helping businesses of all shapes and sizes get to where they want to be. He wants to make a tangible difference and is amazed at the energy, talent and experience that exists within the UMi community.
He’s constantly looking for innovative ways of doing things from all sectors that we can adopt within UMi Finance Scotland to make the process less daunting and more user friendly.
Tom’s a keen rock climber, hillwalker and skier, and (proving he could give Eddie the Eagle a run for his money) he once skied off the summit of Ben Cruachan in Argyll, destroying a set of skis in the process.
Nicki’s experience comes from working across numerous sectors – she’s been involved with many different cultures and ways of doing business, which makes her perfect as our Chief Exec. Her career’s felt more like an adventure, with some help from great people and a little bit of luck thrown in.
In her time, she started out in banking, travelled the world selling posh soft drinks, and has set up a number of businesses and social enterprises. So you could say she knows a thing or two about helping businesses go further, as well as our own.
Mum to two amazing boys, Nicki is an outdoorsy type and at her happiest up a hill or on the sea. She equally loves what she does at UMi and working with entrepreneurial people, for her it’s all about the difference UMi makes every day.
Senior Project Manager
Paul leads our team which is in charge of developing and delivering world class events and workshops for UMi partners. His experience in leading trade delegates all over the globe and running large festivals means he is perfectly placed to turn a simple concept into a dynamic and crowd-drawing live experience. He is passionate about devising quality networking and learning events where businesses leave with pioneering ideas, sales leads, inspiration and advice.
Another passion is Paul’s renewed interest in getting fit and healthy, so it’s less of the couch potato and more 11 mile assault courses in the mud. Lots and lots of mud – but true grit.
Commercial Director (South)
Well respected and recognised for her drive and ambition to make a difference, Roya has spent the last seven years working as a coach and consultant with businesses across a range of sectors - tech, digital, space and professional services. Before this, she was an advertising director in some of the top FTSE 100 media houses in the UK, responsible for revenue for big brands in the women’s, men’s and B2B markets, both for magazines and digital platforms.
Roya leads UMi teams that deliver advice and help businesses in the south of England. She likes nothing more that getting stuck in to driving innovation, creativity and collaboration. She’s a market leader in networking and connecting the right people, and plays a key role in developing an exciting entrepreneurial ecosystem in the region, something she’s immensely passionate about.
Chief Technology & Investment Officer
Thanks to degrees in chemistry, a decade in the chemical industry, setting up his own business to help others secure investment, and travelling the world creating supply chains for UK based businesses, Simon has so much experience to share. It won’t surprise you to hear he’s the driving force behind our innovation, technology and investment services.
Simon believes responsible business can be a power for good and is on a mission to improve lives for the better. For him, there’s nothing more heartwarming than helping people improve themselves and make a positive contribution to society. Away from the office, Simon happens to be a school governor and loves spending time with his wife and two great kids. He’s a sci-fi fan. It’s a whole other world.
Julia (aka The Oracle) is the queen of multi tasking and keeping us all in check. She also plays a significant part in UMi’s business development activities.
Julia believes fate definitely plays its part in life and her work is an important part of who she is, so she needs to get personal satisfaction from a job well done. In a previous life, she could be found driving a wagon and setting up roadworks for her family’s traffic management business.
Her proudest moment was overcoming a fear of being underwater to scuba dive off the coast of New Zealand. Julia also volunteers with the National Trust; from office support to building mouse houses and messy mud painting, there’s always lots to do.
Bryan always goes out of his way to exceed expectations. He focuses on celebrating and inspiring entrepreneurship and using that passion to create and commercialise new projects.
He loves helping others achieve and celebrate success, and has worked with businesses of all sizes across the UK. Through new campaigns and concepts, Bryan loves to help businesses go further, and does everything he can to help entrepreneurs achieve the admiration and recognition they deserve, whilst also giving inspiration to others who may just be starting out on their entrepreneurial journey.
He’s also an avid music lover and musician. In his late teens, he was once offered an opportunity to tour Europe as a drummer. It’s safe to say that Bryan marches to the beat of a different drum.
Claud is a trailblazer, both across the UK and internationally. Not content with just developing and delivering marketing plans with national partners, he also leads on many of UMi’s trade missions to more exotic overseas markets.
He’s extremely enthusiastic about designing campaigns and delivering projects that really engage with the audience. Claud loves the changeable nature of the projects he works on – he constantly has to adapt to new products, locations and audiences, so you could say every day is different.
And this is the man who, whilst on top of a double-decker bus in Times Square, NYC, belting out "Living on a Prayer’" could have had a very different life if he had succeeded in impressing Jennifer Lopez who was passing by at the time.
Chief Commercial Officer
Suzanne oozes energy and ideas, and has over 15 years' experience in leading the UMi team. She started her career in the private sector managing leadership and management programmes for a range of businesses.
She has many stories to tell, as her role takes her the length and breadth of the country ensuring that our partnerships and services are just perfect and most importantly deliver tangible impact. Suzanne is also the chair of UMi’s employee ownership trust which drives long term benefit for every member of the UMi team.
Outside work, Suzanne is a keen hiker and can be found walking the dog at the coast with her hubby and three boys. Throw in some fish and chips and she’s happy. She’s also a lover of live music. Speaking of love, she’s got a crush on Robbie Williams. Mon cher.
Central Services Director
Proud mother of two, Kim leads our finance and risk teams. Her career started in practice, then moved to social housing, the fast paced and creative tech world, and then her own consultancy business. She holds numerous and impressive qualifications in audit and financial governance.
Always hungry to learn and a desire to build something for the long term that makes a difference, she found the perfect place here at UMi.
Only a few years ago, she was a fitness fanatic – now that's been overtaken by, in her words, "...keeping up with two busy children ". She’s also got the X Factor, as she got through to the fourth round of auditions of the popular talent show back in 2005.
Senior Project Manager
Karl looks after the national Business Support Helpline, run on behalf of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and has the crucial role of ensuring that it offers the best possible customer experience.
Karl’s work experience has been all encompassing but always with a strong element of customer service, which makes him the perfect person to manage our Virtual Services and make sure that all of our contract relationships are strong and meet Best Practice in every way.
His greatest achievement is his three boys, and he’s also a self-confessed gamer and uber geek, as well as singing in a ‘dad’ band - sometimes even in public.
Project and Events Manager
Stefania is a networking guru, with many years’ experience around the world in bringing businesses together to expand their interests and communities. Her role includes managing events to guide small businesses towards opportunities in large projects and helping them access useful networks. She delivers business improvement projects, trade missions and exhibitions, attracting customers across diverse sectors, including local authorities, airports and investors.
A hectic worklife, with lots of travel, means Stefania spends the rest of her time in the perfect balance of sporting activities and feeding the soul through travel, yoga and mindfulness.
Gemma is a real people person, who drives the development of UMi's online community – she takes care of the delivery of our customers' digital experiences, and plans and delivers campaigns. She loves all things digital media and marketing, and in her personal time reads and listens to podcasts to perfect her skills and keep on top of trends.
Gemma’s seen her fair share of the world, studying just outside St. Louis for a year, and living in Australia after she graduated. For three months of her time in Oz, she drove herself and six friends 16,500km around the country (crikey).
Gemma’s always up for a challenge and gaining new experiences in different industries. Her favourite footie team is Sunderland FC and she was once unintentionally a model for the Black Cats. She found out when she drove past a billboard of herself advertising their new women’s clothing range. #model
Bethan’s career has been a bit of a whirlwind. Working alongside her degree, she provided social media support to small, local businesses before heading to a marketing agency in Dubai. The bright lights of Cardiff soon lured her back though and as part of our team, she’s responsible for creating all sorts of creative content for the UMi community and interacting with everyone on a daily basis.
She cites getting her degree as her proudest moment – to have juggled her course and full time employment was no easy feat. For Bethan, her motivation comes from being able to help companies on an individual basis to reach their goals and give them the knowledge they need to make a difference.
A self-confessed movie fanatic and Netflix binger, she’s no stranger to the stage herself – as a drama school teen she’s had her 15 minutes of fame, and appeared in several movies and TV shows as an extra. Form an orderly queue for autographs, please.
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