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.
Mike oversees the North of Tyne Growth Fund and The Growth Fund. He manages the internal teams for both funds, to ensure crucial KPIs and milestones are met, while working closely with the programme funders to report figures and on progress.
In true UMi style, Mike helps businesses to do more and 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. He also makes sure that all ERDF and State aid regulations are observed at all times.
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.
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.
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.
As UMi’s Editor, Alison Cowie oversees UMi’s content across the business, ensuring everything that is published delivers on our promise to help businesses go further and do more.
Alison brings a wealth of expertise and experience to her role with a background in news, marketing, and content. Prior to joining UMi, Alison was the Editor of the North East Times, where she oversaw the relaunch of the historic business title in 2015. The aim of the relaunch was to bring an international feel magazine to the local audience, something that turned out to be a huge success, making North East Times a leading voice in the region’s business community.
Having spent her career working with pioneering entrepreneurs, fast-growing SMEs and diverse companies across the world, Alison brings so much to UMi’s growing network, to help take the hard work out of starting and running a business.
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.
Karen predominantly works with SMEs who have ambitions for growth. For her, these companies appreciate any support they can get – they really welcome an impartial eye to look over their business plans and check they haven’t missed anything. They get so much from being signposted to other organisations who may be able to help or work with them. Karen loves her job because of the results that are created from it and believes her team makes a real difference to all the companies they come into contact with. Always with a plan in mind, she thinks her working style allows her to get the best out of people and this often leads to going that extra mile.
Word of warning though – you might not recognise Karen as she changes her hair colour every other week!
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.
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.
Leanne Miller is a Senior Project Manager here at UMi. As part of her role, Leanne looks after UMi’s digital adoption projects, helping small businesses to do more with digital technology.
Leanne is also involved in a number of projects in which she delivers events, digital health checks, one-to-one support and grant funding to SMEs across County Durham and Yorkshire.
On top of all that, Leanne manages a team of expert digital advisers and supports colleagues across the business, contributing to business development, contract bidding and digital content.
To say Leanne wears a lot of hats is an understatement, but what can you expect - Leanne has been part of the UMi family for over 13 years. In that time, she has managed national events, developed media and brand strategies, and supported in the delivery of the Business Support Helpline.
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.
Cherrelle Ord is UMi’s Quality Assurance Manager, working within the compliance function of the business.
Cherrelle has been with UMi for over a decade, joining in 2009 as a Customer Service Representative before moving into UMi’s business improvement team, where she found her passion for project management.
In January 2021, Cherrelle moved from her tech-led role into compliance. As a member of UMi’s senior management team, Cherrelle works tirelessly to drive forward strategic objectives.
She leads on quality assurance across the business, making sure UMi continues to adhere to all external obligations, maintaining consistency and driving innovation throughout the company.
With a degree in Business, Chris is delighted he’s now in a role where he can use his academic training to positive effect. At UMi, he makes sure the provision of funding runs smoothly and our systems and processes are as efficient as possible, so we can deliver great customer service. For him, customer service is everything – he’s happiest knowing we’ve gone above and beyond what’s expected.
When he’s not going the extra mile at work, Chris is going the extra mile hiking in the Lake District with his family.
He also happens to be the proud owner of a Blue Peter badge! Along with two friends, they won the BBC’s ‘Young Parliamentarian of the Year’ competition at the age of 17 for writing a Bill proposing the reformation of the House of Lords.
As UMi’s Customer Experience Director, Jamie Scott is responsible for ensuring every customer gets what they need, when they need it - and delivering on our promise to help businesses do more and go further.
Prior to joining UMi, Jamie spent 15 years working with Barclays in leadership roles in services, sales and operations. During his time with Barclays, Jamie worked with talented individuals and diverse businesses across the UK and India, where he was based.
Looking for his next challenge, Jamie knew he was passionate about helping businesses go further, which is what drew him to UMi. Jamie brings an enormity of skills, values, and ambition to UMi’s growing network to help us achieve our vision.
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.
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