On our mission to celebrate the county's thriving business sector, of all the tasks we set ourselves, this was a real tester... the harder we looked across Gloucestershire, the greater the number of individuals we found whose actions have made a positive impact.
The aim was also to demonstrate the spread of talent of all ages, the diversity of sectors and types of influence, and while we're celebrating individuals (in no particular order), acknowledge what they would all no doubt say — that they are are all part of a team working hard; all helping make Gloucestershire a great place to live, work and play.
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Alongside his colleague, Professor Andy Collop, Hartpury's director of business development Stuart Emmerson is now one of the most outward-facing senior staff members at Hartpury University and College.
During his time in the role, Emmerson has led Hartpury's successful bid as part of a £20 million Levelling Up Fund investment in the Forest of Dean, as well as raised its profile as a business and an educational establishment through forming partnerships and sponsorships with local authorities and other businesses throughout Gloucestershire — all while becoming one of the most connected individuals in the county.
Sir David McMurtry
A globally recognised innovator in aerospace and the wider engineering field, Sir David McMurtry has a number of patents for inventions in his name — running to at least 200.
One need only look at the county-based global engineering giant that is Renishaw to see his biggest legacy (he co-invented more than 150 of the firm's products alone). McMurtry is executive chairman of the Wotton-under-Edge engineering business he co-founded with Renishaw deputy chairman, John Deer.
In 2022, his McMurtry Spéirling electric supercar — developed by side business McMurtry Automotive — broke the hill climb record at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, set 23 years ago by an F1 car. In November, The Royal Automobile Club awarded it the Simms Medal for its conception, design and manufacture.
AccXel Construction Skills Accelerator Centre founder and managing director Nicola Bird is an incredibly notable figure in Gloucestershire's construction industry — no mean feat for a woman in a male-dominated sector.
Winning the Gloucestershire Business Award at a glittering ceremony in Gloucester for New Business of the Year 2023, AccXel only officially opened in Cinderford in the Forest of Dean in 2022, but has gone from strength to strength, with its priority being the training of the county's next generation of construction talent.
Bird is part of a multi-generational construction company worth £80 million, she's also heavily involved in the Gloucestershire business community as a board member for GFirst LEP, and a committee member for the Forest Economic Partnership.
When Daniel O'Neill founded kitchenware retailer ProCook as a mail order business in 1996, little did he know he would create the UK's leading direct-to-consumer specialist kitchenware brand, but he clearly saw potential and continues to realise it.
At the tail end of 2021, the business floated onto the London Stock Market and it opened its 60th UK store in November 2023.
With a turnover of £62.3 million in 2023, O’Neill’s firm also announced a new Gloucester headquarters in 2022 and earned the right to call itself a B Corp business — as well as saw him on stage twice at the 2022 Gloucestershire Business Awards, winning Business Leader of the Year and Large Business of the Year.
Ruth Dooley, a partner at leading accountants and business advisors Hazlewoods, also chaired GFirst LEP — a business-led venture that was created to transform Gloucestershire's local enterprise through partnerships and investment, attracting more than £113 million in funding for the county.
It was confirmed that the 'majority' of GFirst's current staff and its 'important initiatives and activities' would transfer to Gloucestershire County Council in April 2024, after it was announced that government core funding for LEPs will come to an end in March 2024.
Already a member of the GFirst LEP team, Dooley became chairwoman in 2021 and the organisation assisted in making schemes such as the Golden Valley Development; the creation of the super-cycleway from Cheltenham to Staverton; the opening of the brand-new Minster Exchange centre in Cheltenham and a new business park at Staverton Airport; and a new digital skills centre at Cirencester College, possible.
As the long-standing chief executive officer of GFirst LEP, alongside its chairwoman Ruth Dooley, David Owen has helped galvanise both business acumen and support from some of the county’s most dynamic individuals, its local authorities and colleges.
He continues to front a team made up of mostly volunteer individuals that are members of the business community committed to and invested in helping their county thrive.
The team also helped inform the business plans written by GFirst LEP that represented a united voice, won investment cash and the ear of central government for projects transformational to Gloucestershire.
Laura Steward is the executive director and part of the husband and wife team behind the fast-growing global success story that is county-based engineering firm ALS Mechatronic.
A key architect at the firm, which specialises in creating bespoke factory automation and control systems, from design to installation, she has helped oversee a business that has its sights set on reaching a £25 million turnover in the next five years.
In October 2022, Laura and her husband Andrew took to the stage to collect the Gloucestershire Business Award for International Business of the Year 2022.
Clare Marchant was appointed vice chancellor at the University of Gloucestershire in September 2023, with the goal to strengthen every aspect of the institution, place it not just on a firm footing but on the front foot, and give it direction and purpose that made it stand out to students and businesses in Gloucestershire and beyond.
Succeeding Stephen Marston and taking charge of the projects he brought forward, such as recent steps to transform the old Debenhams in Gloucester into a brand-new campus, Marchant hopes to work to further build the university's reputation in educating students and enabling them to pursue excellent careers and demonstrating how emphasising this can drive skills development in the county, while attracting talent as well.
As proof, 96 per cent of graduates are in employment or further study after leaving the university and the numbers staying here in the county are also increasing annually.
It’s hard to ignore the name when it comes to influential businesspeople from Gloucestershire, on the contrary, Julian Dunkerton does not feature here because of past triumphs — which include starting umpteen businesses, not least co-founding a major fashion brand, Superdry, an internationally renowned business headquartered in Cheltenham.
Rather, he features due to his re-joining of the brand's board of executives in 2019, to lead in turning the company around. It was a brave move from a man with nothing to prove, but the SuperGroup PLC’s figures for 2023 show he is winning — with the Guardian reporting sales of £620 million per year.
Then there is the sale of much of the Lucky Onion portfolio to pub chain Young’s, the success of No.131, Japanese-style restaurant YOKU, and the incredible Dunkertons Organic Cider Shop site, just to name a few.
If we listed every Gloucestershire business that influenced its community through charitable deeds and governance, you could be reading for some time — there are so many generous firms of all sizes out there giving back.
Mark Hews is group CEO of Ecclesiastical Insurance, a Brockworth-headquartered business that does all of the above, but on a quite incredible scale.
Ecclesiastical is an insurance firm aiming to not just deliver for customers, but as a charitable trust ploughing any profit it makes into good causes in the UK and beyond. Each year, it aims to give £1 million away to a number of charities as part of its Movement for Good Awards — with the Hollie Gazzard Trust, The Orchard Trust and The Friends of Gloucestershire Cathedral all past recipients.
Dr Polly Pick
The success of the University of Gloucestershire is down to leadership — case in point, the ongoing rise of its business school, home not just of a flourishing university programme of courses, but to The Growth Hub, GFirst LEP and the incredible Start and Grow Enterprise.
Dr Polly Pick has been a key figure in establishing one of the prides of the county, a business school seated within an academic institution that is effecting positive change in county firms and achieving that Holy Grail of developing talent that remains in Gloucestershire and makes the county better and stronger economically.
This is being achieved through Dr Pick's work in driving business engagement between the university and local businesses as well as building relationships with public sector organisations.
Managing partner at Cheltenham law firm Willans, Bridget Redmond joined the team 15 years ago, now leading it in its 76th year.
From its headquarters in Imperial Square, the firm sets the bar high, but otherwise modestly and quietly goes about its business working with clients from across the globe (including international household names and Fortune 500 businesses), as well as supporting causes across Gloucestershire.
Redmond became a partner at the firm in 2004 and climbed the ladder to appointed as a managing partner in 2016, taking over from Margaret Austen at the Legal 500 and Chambers-rated firm. Last year, it partnered with Hazlewoods to make the Gloucestershire Business Awards 2022 possible.
It’s hard to ignore Dale Vince; the high-profile founder of Stroud electricity company Ecotricity has made an asset of his ability to garner publicity to spread a message in favour of green power, grown a significant business, and grown from New Age traveller to high-profile business leader.
Vince's green plans are reaching new heights, with the launch of Ecojet in July 2023 — a world-leading brand-new venture working towards zero emission flying. Hopes soared for this eco-friendly project, as Vince signed a deal for 70 hydrogen-electric aircraft engines in November 2023.
There was talk of Vince exploring the idea of selling Ecotricity, but it's since been put to rest as he remains wedded to the county, not least through his ownership of Forest Green Rovers Football Club. A club he's helped raise both the league position and profile of, with grand plans for a new all-wooden stadium at Ebley, near the M5.
Jade Holland Cooper
The chic mind behind the eponymous Holland Cooper fashion brand, her confidence in her own ability, vision and ideas saw her leave the Royal Agricultural University to pursue her dreams of owning her own label. It has proved to be the right choice again and again, and Jade Holland Cooper remains inspirational to other aspiring entrepreneurs.
Although Jade filed a cessation as a person with significant control of the business in March 2023, her influence has continued to grow. With a loyal following garnered through mastering online sales via social media — and a highlight of securing a deal as the official fashion partner of the esteemed Cheltenham Racecourse for its 2023/24 season.
After investing in a new flagship store in her hometown of Cheltenham in 2021, turnover continues to grow as it reached a milestone of £22 million in 2022.
Those who are familiar only with the modern Gloucestershire College are familiar with the work of principal and chief executive Matthew Burgess and his team, who picked up the baton from Greg Smith in 2013 on a mission to transform an institution crying out for investment and inspiration.
Burgess now steers a business spread over three enviable campuses, which remains ahead of the curve, not just in the county but beyond.
It was Gloucestershire College that was the first to commit attention to Gloucester Docks (then, near derelict), invest heavily in a stunning campus in Cinderford, and facilities including a cyber suite and degree-level courses in the cybersecurity field, cultivating strong links to the powerful threads that lead out of GCHQ into the cyber sector. Most recently, it has unveiled the contractor for its new multi-million-pound construction centre.
Steve Gardner-Collins's extensive CV is as long as it is varied, having held positions as chairman of MeetGloucester, president of Gloucester Chamber of Commerce and chairman of GFirst LEP, as well as group sales director at The Hatton Collection — he's now expanded to becoming a yoga teacher and an indoor cycling instructor.
Gardner-Collins’ legacy and influence stretches further and wider than even the stunning view from the gardens of Hatton Court hotel, found on the Cotswold escarpment.
Hand-picked to achieve what some thought impossible — a united body to represent the county’s mighty tourism and hospitality sector — he managed to achieve that for GFirst LEP, while also toiling through the worst of the pandemic. The birth of Visit Gloucestershire, directed and chaired by Gardner-Collins, ensured that when Covid-19 receded, there was a powerful voice ensuring that sector (worth £1 billion pre-pandemic) was heard loud and clear.
Anyone who follows the story of the cyber sector in Gloucestershire will have come across the Cheltenham cyber networking group, CyNam.
It is not just a club, but an extraordinary meeting space for firms from all over the world — more than you might initially think — and a catalyst for growth, as well as a meeting of brilliant minds.
Richard Yorke is the managing director of Cyber Cheltenham (CyNam), a network intrinsically linked to the cyber-focused workspace that is Hub8. Its regular events are informative, ingenious, educational, inspirational in terms of bringing people together, and are putting Gloucestershire well and truly on the cyber map.
Professor Andy Collop
Following in the footsteps of Russell Marchant, who retired as vice chancellor and principal of Hartpury University and Hartpury College in September 2022, was no mean feat.
Marchant’s legacy is not just a new university, founded in 2018, but the long-standing college on the same site, which works in partnership to create a state-of-the-art facility that has to be seen to be believed.
More than a year on, Professor Andy Collop is continuing to making his mark. In charge of projects that continue to upgrade and update already enviable facilities, delivering courses as wide ranging as postgraduate degrees to A-Levels and BTECs, in animal, agriculture, sports, business, equine, biological science and veterinary nursing. It is also home to the Gloucester-Hartpury RFC — a collaborative venture with Gloucester Rugby, which won its first Allianz Premiere 15s tournament in 2023.
It was 2017 when producer Mark Goucher was appointed chief executive of Cheltenham's beloved Everyman Theatre, in a move we were told would lead to more productions opening there ahead of the West End — and it has proved the case.
Goucher’s challenge was to keep The Everyman in its position at the heart of Cheltenham and to continue delivering shows that its eclectic and loyal audience, of all ages, can enjoy. An able board of directors helps, as does running his own London-based company.
The latter has helped give him the connections and confidence to bring the likes of SIX the Musical, Leslie Joseph in Sister Act the Musical and The Great British Bake-off Musical's world premiere, to the county — ensuring the very best shows for Gloucestershire theatregoers.
Anyone who has followed the on-going story of the cyber sector in Gloucestershire will know the name Bruce Gregory. He is not just the boss, but the architect of the Hub8 network of cyber business workplaces, which started in the Brewery Quarter and now includes the Cheltenham campus of Gloucestershire College and soon to be MX centre.
Speaking of the MX (Minister Exchange), the new home for Cheltenham Festivals and the town’s Growth Hub, his name is all over that project too. The spaces he has a hand in helping to create are helping give a platform and space to a cyber sector emerging as a major economic driver for the county.
Miles Dunkley’s Cheltenham design-led international beauty firm SLG Brands seems perpetually ahead of the curve. It was placing products it helped customers develop on social media via influencers and big names before it was commonplace and has just clocked one million followers on its social media platforms.
Lucy Beresford has been crucial in shaping the modern SLG. The University of Gloucestershire business and marketing graduate started work with the firm in 2005, becoming joint managing director in 2019. In October 2022, she was on stage at the SoGlos Gloucestershire Business Awards with marketing manager Jon Dee collecting the Team of the Year award.
Sarah Travell’s story is still being told, but is already inspirational and her impact increasingly influential. Homeless at 16, she continued to pursue her studies while working numerous jobs.
Today, she is a fully qualified chartered management accountant and founder and chief executive officer of Gloucestershire-based Virgate, described as an innovative ‘plug and play’ digital finance solution for multi-site SMEs in the hospitality, leisure and retail sectors. This year, the staff number has swelled by 14 to 35 and turnover risen above £1.3 million, more than double what it was just two years ago.
As boss of Tidal Training Direct, her enthusiasm for her own business – teaching individuals, organisations and businesses about health, safety and first aid – has never been in doubt, but it is when she turned that same drive to a special project to help place defibrillators for public use across Cheltenham that her star rose even higher.
Public Hearts Cheltenham Defibrillator Campaign was born to raise awareness of the lack of such life-saving equipment in the town. Meaningful relationships were quickly forged with members of the business community, which resulted in defibrillators being placed in 34 spots in the town to date – and one at Gloucester City Mission.
Neill Ricketts may have stepped down from the influential GFirst LEP this year, after serving the maximum nine years on the powerful business-led group that has been a catalyst for so much change in Gloucestershire, but he is not going away.
Ricketts continues to champion the county, in particular the Forest of Dean, and steer Versarien, the Longhope-headquartered graphene business he co-founded, towards even more success as a listed company. His firm works closely with the Manchester-based National Graphene Institute to explore the material’s potential. Ricketts is also chairman of Forest of Dean Economic Partnership business group.
Architects Roberts Limbrick continues to change our built environment for the better, both in the county and beyond. Anyone who saw the Commonwealth Games swimming, for example, in the summer of 2022 will have witnessed a building designed by the Gloucester firm, but its impact in Gloucestershire is also striking.
Wayne Organ is the director of its commercial sector operations, mostly working on industrial projects, and has long-running relationships with people across industry, especially in Gloucestershire. Organ has led the firm’s input into projects including St. Modwen Business Park (home to ProCook, Gardiner Bros, Downton) and Renishaw's headquarters at Wotton-under-Edge.
Nicola Bird and sister Natalie King (nee Bell) saw their profile go stratospheric this year, thanks to their work establishing the Forest of Dean based construction skills centre AccXel. They have been able to bring on board some of the biggest names in the region in construction to commit to training their staff at the centre and helping guide it on its way.
Especially influential among those has been the two sister’s family
firm, Bell Construction, which put its hard cash into the project, along with
funds won by GFirst LEP to help make it all possible. AccXel is expected to
deliver 80 apprentices in 2022, rising to 150, plus 300 CITB and
industry-recognised qualifications. That latter figure is expected to grow to
500 per year.
When it comes to hands-on influence in the built environment in Gloucestershire, many firms that have done great work in Gloucestershire, but few have quite the profile of EG Carter. The Gloucester family business has been part of the transformational city centre The Forum Digital development, constructed schools and so much more.
Sam Carter and brother Joshua became joint managing directors of the business in January 2022, the fourth generation to lead the successful construction firm. In September, its published accounts showed an increase in turnover from £72.4 million in 2021 to £85 million for the year to the end of June 2022. Net profits more than doubled to £651,017.
While chairwoman Ruth Dooley, chief executive David Owen and deputy chief executive Dev Chakraborty are the faces of the powerful business-led organisation, which has been a catalyst for change in the county - with the help of the board members who pour their knowledge into every decision, someone has been taking responsibility for overseeing the strategy.
That someone has been Sarah Danson, a long-standing foot soldier of The Growth Hub business support network for the county. Umbilically linked to both the University of Gloucestershire and the LEP, Danson became director of strategic growth in March 2019, working to build the capacity and capability of Gloucestershire Growth Hubs and business support activity.
A native of Northern Ireland, Jonathan White came to Gloucestershire to forge a career as an architect, starting with Roberts Limbrick, before moving to Gloucester Quays headquartered Quattro Design Architects in 2019, where he is now a senior associate.
Projects at the firm range from education healthcare, housing and later living care, to defence, leisure and hospitality, commercial, mixed use and heritage. White is also the chairman of the Gloucestershire branch of Construction Excellence, the sector body that exists to champion all that is good about the industry in the county and encourage partnership and growth.
When you look at her CV, you would be forgiven for wondering why Wendy Edwards' profile is not right up there with someone like Julian Dunkerton. The executive director and company secretary specialises in corporate governance, listed company regulation and compliance, and has been on the board of more than a few companies familiar to Mr Dunkerton.
As well as La Boulangerie Artisan, The Lucky Onion, Gin & Juice, Superdry and Dowdeswell Conservation, which all fall into the Dunkerton camp, her CV also includes one of Gloucestershire’s biggest companies, Spirax Sarco; Cheltenham Ladies College, Rio Tinto Group, the Anglo-Australian multi-national company and world's second-largest metals and mining corporation; Dell, ASOS, Charles Russell Speechlys LLP, LRQA Ltd and Cheltenham Everyman.
Philip Martin worked for a number of national surveying practices in both Leeds and Birmingham and has sector-wide experience in commercial asset management, investment and development. In 2010, he jointly founded Martin Commercial Properties with his late father, Bob.
That business manages The Brewery Quarter in Cheltenham, which has transformed the town centre site into a hugely successful leisure, dining and business destination, home also to the likes of cyber-focussed workspace Hub8 and brand specialists SLG. Martin’s focus is assisting landlords, investors and developers in maximising potential from their real estate.
When she first came into the fold of Gloucester BID, the city centre business improvement district organisation, it was in rebuilding and re-shaping. Gibbon already knew the city well and had worked on a business improvement district, Exeter’s BID, before the Gloucestershire board voted to bring her back to the county full-time.
She has never looked back and blessed with a lack of ego, obvious passion and no little knowledge, she has brought an energy and freshness to the role and helped represent an organisation determined to unite businesses across its patch and do only good for the city.
It was September 2021 when the board of Cheltenham Business Improvement District (BID) appointed Heath Gunter as its new chief executive. It was a decision that followed the powerful business group’s successful renewal ballot earlier in July 2021, which saw town centre businesses vote for a second five-year term for the BID.
This made Gunter responsible for not just leading the work of the group championing the town centre and its businesses, but in charge of ensuring £2.8 million would be invested well in Cheltenham over the next five years. He is proving a good fit for the role.
As leader of the Forest of Dean District Council, Tim Gwilliam’s role since 2017 has involved overall responsibility for the vision and corporate objectives of the council, a term that runs until May 2023. He is not just its leader, but the principal spokesperson for the local authority.
Under his leadership, the Forest of Dean has raised its profile as a business-friendly district. Against sometimes difficult headwinds, Gwilliam has stood firm and his approach, together with his team, has helped put the Forest on the agenda where decisions affecting the county are concerned and pushed the message that ‘together is stronger’. He has sat on the Forest Economic Partnership and is a board member of the Dean Heritage Centre visitor attraction, too.
Those who follow the fortunes of Cheltenham Festivals closely will know just how important they are to Gloucestershire, for cultural nourishment, education and as a significant catalyst for the economy too, bringing thousands of visitors annually and inviting scores of headlines nationally and abroad. Not to mention the sheer joy they bring to thousands annually.
Mawle, now co-chief executive officer, has long been part of the management team at the business and registered charity and was part of the team that steered it clear of near financial ruin, courtesy of the Covid-19 pandemic, towards ongoing success. Together with Ian George (see below), the pair’s experience and continuity in their roles is a huge asset.
Ian George’s experience as part of the Cheltenham Festivals team goes back to 2005, when he joined as head of marketing, before becoming a director of its jazz festival in 2009. He was part of the team that saw the business through the challenges of the pandemic to come out the other side with plaudits and, importantly, the festivals remained intact.
Since December 2021, he has been co-chief executive officer alongside Ali Mawle (see above), also part of the leadership team that not only survived the pandemic, but managed to turn the flagship Literature Festival into an online success.
Days were when Moreton Cullimore was spoken of as the successor to his father, who was the successor to his father, at the well-known and proudly Gloucestershire-based haulage and gravel extraction business, the Cullimore Group.
These days, he has as much of his own history laid down for that to be a thing of the past – though he continues a proud family legacy. In 2021, he became the youngest chairman of the Road Haulage Association and continues to lead a business whose green trucks, each named after a Dickens character, are a regular site on the county’s roads.
What with it being jump season again, Ian Renton will be not just his usual busy self, but extra busy. For the last decade, he has been regional director for the south west region of The Jockey Club, which means he’s also the man in charge of Cheltenham Racecourse.
The famous Festival in March brings an estimated 250,000 to Cheltenham Racecourse, National Hunt racing of the very highest calibre and prize money second only to the Grand National. Its impact is felt further afield, of course, with an estimated £100 million boost to the county as a whole.
Whether Greg Pilley feels it or not - probably not, as like anyone running a small business, he no doubt has little time to ponder - he is an entrepreneur, pioneer and icon for those who have always believed businesses can actually be kinder to the planet, fun, imaginative, community-focused and successful to boot.
Pilley, who in now distant days worked for the Soil Association, started Stroud Brewery before micro-breweries were considered a sensible career move, stubbornly raising the flag from day one for what he believed was ethical and environmentally sound. Customer loyalty, community support through the pandemic and respect speak volumes for what his team is achieving.
If you have read the above insertion on Greg Pilley of Stroud Brewery, do not think for one moment that Jared Brown is here to balance the books with a mention of Gloucester. When no-one had the courage to set up shop at a still undeveloped Gloucester Docks and Quays, let alone brand their product proudly with the city’s name, Brown founded Gloucester Brewery.
It now runs the independent Tank bar at the Docks and the equally popular Warehouse 4 directly across the canal, with both stocking not just award-winning beers, but also gin. Shareholders include the owner of Gloucester Rugby, Martin St Quinton, and contracts have been signed with the club and Gloucester City FC, too.
Martin St Quinton
In an era when the stability of the financial situation at rugby union clubs nationwide is suddenly under scrutiny, not least following the demise of Worcester Warriors, St Quinton’s commitment and steady hand suddenly feel wonderfully reassuring for all who hold the Gloucester club dear.
He is also chairman of the no-less loved Cheltenham Racecourse, which he has also helped to guide through the difficulties of the Covid-19 pandemic and which, like Gloucester Rugby, lifts the hearts of thousands. It would be remiss not to also mention Lance Bradley, the chief executive officer of Gloucester Rugby, who was at the wheel, accessible and resolute throughout that pandemic.
Adam Vines' day-job is running his business, Lounge Designs. A member of the town’s chamber of trade since 2013, he became its president in 2021 and has helped spearhead a move to celebrate and champion a town hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic.
This year, that culminated in the Cirencester Business and Community Awards 2022, plus Together Gloucestershire, which is working to establish a better awareness of how big companies can do business with the many small and medium-sized firms across Gloucestershire.
We’ve not just listed Cotteswold Dairy because it walked away with not one but two awards at this year’s SoGlos Gloucestershire Business Awards, including Business of the Year. Started in 1938 by Harry Workman with a single Morris 8 van, the business has been a constant in Tewkesbury ever since.
It employs 400-plus staff and is a bastion of a farming and agricultural sector it describes as a community, and one it defends through a passion for what it does. Joining the business in 1962, and at the helm of the firm started by his father since 1982, Roger Workman has been quietly making sure all of the above continues, driving success.
Any Gloucestershire head teacher, principal or vice chancellor probably more than qualifies as 'influential'. All have teams to manage, an incredible duty of care to execute, a budget of the challenging variety - and the future to prepare for.
But we have singled out chief executive officer and principal of Cirencester College, Jim Grant, because of the firm business connections his Cotswold institution has made, perhaps best described by the digital skills centre recently opened on its site. In a single move, Cirencester College, with the help of some GFirst LEP cash, widened the focus of the fast-growing and often Cheltenham-focused cyber sector.
Many business-related building projects have caught the eye this year, not least the considerable ongoing transformational investment at Hartpury College and Hartpury University, Gloucestershire Airport and Cotteswold Dairy.
Significant for all of them is the need for each to continue to operate in a ‘business as usual’ manner, while the perceived chaos of a major building project continues around them. Managing that complex game of chess for all of the above with a steady hand, is Mark Price and the team at Vitruvius Management Services.
Former Newent Community School pupil and a graduate of the University of Gloucestershire in countryside planning, Sara-Jane Watkins was appointed principal of the South Gloucestershire and Stroud College in September 2015.
In that time, the college has continued to go from strength the strength, opening its SGS Berkeley Green UTC in September 2017, part of SGS Academy Trust and specialising in engineering, cybersecurity and digital technologies. It also majors in apprenticeships, having trained more than 1,000 in 2022, and recently invested £500,000 in a new construction skills centre, too.
If influential came down to simply how many followers you have on social media and this list was in any kind of order, Adam Henson would be near the top, with 47,000 Instagram followers alone for his business, Cotswold Farm Park.
Henson has not sat back and basked in the profile he has developed as a presenter of television’s Countryfile, he has used it to help enhance and drive forward the work started by his father at the Guiting Power Farm, is a vocal champion of farming, the countryside and agriculture and its value to Britain, and together with his team has created a family attraction that sets standards, fascinates young and old alike and enhances life in Gloucestershire.
If you work in engineering, especially if you run a business committed to training (think giants like aerospace firm Safran and engineering giant Renishaw, to umpteen SMEs in the county), the name Gloucestershire Engineering Training (GET) will not just mean something, but be on speed dial.
Leading the Gloucester-based centre and its able team is Warren Thomas, operations director for GET from December 2017 to September 2021, when he became chief executive.