Business Growth Board


Mark Thompson – ChairBusiness Growth Board

    1. Mark Thompson is managing partner of Ryder Architecture, where he is responsible for the strategic development of the highly successful design company with offices across the UK and a growing international portfolio from its recently established Hong Kong office.


John BarnettJohn Barnett

Having started as an engineering apprentice, John has worked in manufacturing since leaving school. His career began at Thorn Lighting, moving into production engineering after his apprenticeship. He then moved to Komatsu UK before joining Calsonic Kansei 15 years ago, where he now holds the position of Operations Director for the entire North East operation of four sites, being Nissan Sunderland’s biggest supplier.


Business Growth Director, North East LEPColin Bell

Colin Bell is Business Growth Director at the North East LEP. Prior to this, Colin was owner of business growth and software business Winning Moves Ltd where he was instrumental in achieving high growth and the expansion of the business in the UK and Internationally. This included the development and delivery of programmes such as Growth Accelerator. In 2013 Winning Moves was sold to the West Midlands Manufacturing Consortium (WMMC) who deliver the Manufacturing Advisory Service in the North East, North West and West Midlands. Colin spent two years as part of the WMMC senior management team before moving to the North East LEP.

tom-fraterTom Frater

Tom is a Policy Team Leader in the Gateshead office of the Government’s Cities and Local Growth Unit. Tom works on Devolution, Local Growth and Northern Powerhouse matters. Tom completed the Civil Service Fast Stream in 2016, having worked with the Department for Transport, UK Visas and Immigration in the Home Office and the Regional Growth Fund, as well as a digital strategy secondment to the charity Leap: Confronting Conflict. Before joining the Civil Service, Tom qualified as a solicitor with Hogan Lovells International LLP, with experience of judicial review and commercial litigation. He also spent six months on secondment to the consumer credit legal team at Lloyds Banking Group.

Business Growth BoardCouncillor Iain Malcolm

Councillor Malcolm’s has been a member of South Tyneside Council since 1988 and Leader since 2008. He chairs the Board of Newcastle International Airport, is a Member of the South Tyneside Foundation Trust, Chair of the South Tyneside Health and Wellbeing Board and a Member of the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Professionally he is Deputy Chair of Sovereign Strategy.


Business Growth BoardGillian Marshall

Gillian Marshall – chief executive of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum which has an exceptional record of supporting the region’s growth agenda. It brings the North East’s entrepreneurs and business leaders together, providing the opportunity to learn, share and create opportunities to boost wealth and job creation. Gillian is a successful executive working within business support and finance across the UK. She has extensive knowledge of public and private sectors, including international trade and finance.

Business Growth BoardRyan Maughan

Managing director of Cramlington-based AVID Technology Group Limited. Ryan leads a talented team at AVID, developing technology solutions to improve the efficiency and emissions from vehicles and machinery through smart electrification. He has vast engineering experience in high performance motorsport and precision component manufacturing sectors. Ryan has led acquisitions and disposals of business units to major corporates and also successfully raised business funding across a range of industries including oil and gas, chemical process, defence and electronics manufacturing.

Paul McEldonPaul McEldon

In 2001 Paul was appointed as Chief Executive of the North East Business and Innovation Centre. Since his appointment Paul has injected fresh thinking into establishing the BIC as a primary regional player in the fields of incubation, innovation and business support. In addition to his work with the BIC, Paul leads the enterprise agencies in the North East and is chair of the National Enterprise Network (NEN). He is also the current EY Northern Social Entrepreneur of the year (2014).


Business Growth Board

Jacqui Miller-Charlton MBE

A business professional with over 33 years of operational experience. She is the main board director and shareholder of Miller International Limited, one of the leading privately owned global attachment manufacturers supplying the world’s largest construction machinery brands. Jacqui has an outstanding track record of leadership in sales, marketing, brand creation, commercial negotiation, business development and international growth strategy.


Ammar MirzaAmmar Mirza CBE

Ammar Mirza CBE is a leadership and management consultant and serial entrepreneur with experience across a wide range of sectors. He has helped to establish several hundred businesses in the North East and is the chairman and founder of the not-for-profit social enterprise Asian Business Connexions, connecting and promoting the Asian community. Ammar helped launch the Primary Inspiration through Enterprise (PIE) Project Charity and represents the private sector on various local strategic partnerships including the Learning Challenge and City Deal within Newcastle. He is a board member of Your Homes Newcastle, business support board member on the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, chair of Newcastle Progression Forum, chair of governors at Tyneview Primary School, and director of the Riverside Learning Trust. As well as being Trustee of Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, patron of Charlie Bear Charity at the Freeman Hospital and the private sector representative on the European Structural Investment Fund Sub Committee, Ammar has also recently been the 2015 David Goldman Visiting Professor for Innovation and Enterprise at Newcastle University and was selected as a Maserati 100 top 100 Entrepreneurs within the UK that are giving something back to encourage and support entrepreneurism.

Business Growth BoardSandra Thompson

Newcastle partner at accountancy group EY. Sandra is currently UK Audit leader for entrepreneurial and fast growth businesses at EY and will be taking on the role of Office Managing Partner for the Newcastle office in July 2017. Originally from Northumberland, Sandra brings with her over 25 years’ experience in audit and accounting. Working mostly with ‘Big Four’ firms Deloitte, PwC and EY across the UK, Sandra was also previously Group CFO of an AIM listed business, Digital Globe Services.


Neil WarwickNeil Warwick

Neil is part of the management team at Square One Law, an entrepreneurial law firm which aims to offer a more dynamic approach to client care.  Neil has represented the private sector for a number of years at both the Programme Executive Group and the Local Management Committee of the Department for Local Government and Communities, assisting in the oversight of the European Regional Development Funds for the North East and now represents North East LEP at the newly formed Programme Executive Group for ESIF.



marie wilsonDr Marie Wilson

Marie is a Newcastle University materials engineering graduate, of Finnish origin.  Her early career was in contract R&D followed by technical project management and consultancy in the materials engineering and oil and gas sectors. She has worked in Sweden, London and Glasgow (during which time she completed a PhD at Strathclyde University).  She returned to the North East to work in various Government economic development roles, initially for the Department for Trade and Industry (BIS). Posts have included leading/managing Innovation Policy and various business support funding (R&D/Universities and ERDF programmes). A secondment to Newcastle University, supporting the development of Newcastle Science City was followed by a short period as North East Policy lead for the Department of Culture Media and Sports (including roles in  Creative Industries, Visitor Economy and 2012 Olympics).  Marie is currently the Deputy Regional Director for Department for International Trade (initially UKTI) in the North East as part of the Department’s Northern Powerhouse team.


Judith Doyle

Judith became Principal/CEO of Gateshead College in 2013.  Since then she has led the college to  become Ofsted Outstanding and one of the best further education colleges in the sector achieving exceptional student success rates and progression to higher level training and employment. The college is a significant business in its own right with a £40m turnover and more than 600 staff. Under Judith’s leadership the college strives to ensure students develop the skills needed for work and that employers have access to the most highly prized employees in the jobs market; this means doing things differently and working proactively with industry to meet the skills needs of our region.  Judith is also a Board Member of Newcastle Gateshead Initiative, Queen Elizabeth NHS Trust and member of CBI’s regional council.

Jane Robinson

Jane Robinson is Chief Operating Officer for Durham University.  Prior to joining Durham University in September 2016, she was Chief Executive of Gateshead Council and played a key role in the establishment of the North East Combined Authority and the development of the Local Enterprise Partnership.  She began her career in the cultural sector and pioneered programmes to support the development of the Creative Industries.   Throughout her career she has been involved in a wide range of projects and partnerships to support economic and business growth in the North East of England