Gloucestershire business appointments round-up: January 2023

From new board members at GFirst LEP, to a high-profile member of the construction sector joining the Gloucester Culture Trust, SoGlos rounds up some of the most interesting appointments in the Gloucestershire business community in January 2023.

By Andrew Merrell  |  Published
SoGlos rounds up some of the most exciting appointments to have taken place in the Gloucestershire business community this January 2023.

There's been plenty of movement in the Gloucestershire business community in January 2023, with a new chief operating officer at one of the county's fast-growing cyber firms, a new senior figure at investment firm Blackfinch Group and many more exciting appointments announced this month.

SoGlos rounds up the latest Gloucestershire business appointments in the most recent instalment of our monthly round-up series.

Jackie Labbe, Lucy Ackland and Matt Lennard – GFirst LEP

Gloucestershire's local enterprise partnership, GFirst LEP, has announced three new board members – with University of Gloucestershire's deputy vice chancellor, Jackie Labbe; chief officer at Gloucestershire VCS Alliance, Matt Lennard; and Lucy Ackland, a senior engineer at Reinshaw, joining the powerful business group.

Commenting on the new appointments, GFirst LEP's chair, Ruth Dooley, said: ‘Their new roles have come at a pivotal time for GFirst LEP as we play our central part in the government’s levelling up and devolution agenda. The government recognises the vital role LEPs play as we navigate the upcoming challenges our economy faces on a national and local scale.'

Emma Foster – Kohler Mira

Cheltenham shower manufacturer, Kohler Mira, has announced the appointment of Emma Foster as its new UK managing director.

Mira describes itself as ‘the UK’s leading shower manufacturer’, employing an estimated 700 staff and turning over £130 million-plus annually, 

Foster has been with the business for 19 years, joining as a graduate in 2004, and serves on two of Kohler Mira’s executive steering groups – diversity, equity and inclusion and early careers. She takes over the role from Craig Baker, who has become the new vice president of global innovation.

Kevin Harris – OPS-BOX

After four years at Cheltenham-based Bamboo Technology – during which time the firm walked away a winner at the 2022 SoGlos Gloucestershire Business Awards – Kevin Harris has joined business support experts, OPS-BOX, as its chief commercial officer.

Harris brings more than 40 years' experience, spanning different sectors and business sizes, and will be working with OPS-BOX's clients and networks to identify and break down their operational barriers to growth.

Esther Croft – Gloucester Culture Trust

A key member of the team behind Gloucester’s £107 million The Forum project, Esther Croft, has been appointed as a trustee for the Gloucester Culture Trust.

Croft is a development director at Reef Group, which is working in partnership with Gloucester City Council to create The Forum and transform the former Kings Quarter area of the city into a mixed-use digital and technology quarter.

A core part of her role at the Gloucester Culture Trust, a charity which aims to bring about long-term change in Gloucester, will be to embed culture into the future strategic development of the city, including through The Forum.

Chris Elliott-Jones – Rendcomb College

Chris Elliott-Jones has taken over as head of admissions and marketing at Rendcomb College. Previously the head of marketing, he started at Rendcomb College in June 2020, right in the middle of the pandemic.

'The systems and processes that were put in place during that time have only helped build our reputation in the independent schools sector,' he said. 'We recently received double ‘excellent’ from the Independent Schools Inspectorate, as well as achieving our best ever GCSE results last summer and equally strong A-Level results, all under normally examined conditions.'

Ellen Smith – Squashed Robot

Cheltenham-headquartered video, animation and photography specialist Squashed Robot has announced the appointment of a new graphic designer, Ellen Smith.

She joins the creative content agency’s growing design department as a junior designer, bringing with her a background in technology marketing with skills at hosting and editing podcasts.

Geyer Jones – Cylera

Pioneering healthcare IoT and medical device cyber security specialist, Cylera, has appointed a new chief operating officer, Geyer Jones, as it looks to build on its success in the UK and US healthcare sectors.

The Cheltenham-based firm's patented technology protects entire connected healthcare IT environments and helps to solve the complex technological and operational cyber security challenges faced by modern hospitals.

Jones’ appointment will see him work closely with Cylera’s senior management team as well as oversee the strategic planning and operational direction of the firm as it looks to continue to grow.

Becky Hudson and Katherine Parkin – Azets

Becky Hudson, Claire Clift and Katherine Parkin

Accounting firm Azets has made two new senior promotions in Gloucestershire, appointing Becky Hudson to partner and Katherine Parkin to director in the audit team.

Hudson joined the firm in 2005, qualifying as an accountant in 2012. She is also a member of Azets audit technical board.

Parkin has been with Azets since 2014 and specialises in the not-for-profit sector, leading the firm’s charity and education teams in the region. 

Janet Dwyer – University of Gloucestershire

University of Gloucestershire’s Professor Janet Dwyer has been presented with her OBE medal by the Princess Royal at an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

Dwyer, who is a professor of rural policy and a former director of the Countryside and Community Research Institute (CCRI) based at the university, was awarded the honour in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2022 for her services to rural research over more than three decades.

In 2021, Professor Dwyer was also elected as president of the UK Agricultural Economics Society, one of the world's leading associations of professional and academic agricultural economists.

Nicholas French – Blackfinch Group

Award-winning investment manager and tax efficient solutions provider, Blackfinch Group, has announced the appointment of Nicholas French as its new chief distribution officer.

French brings more than 25 years’ experience to the Gloucester-headquartered firm, following a three-year tenure with Marlborough Group as head of adviser solutions and chief executive officer of the Select Platform. He previously spent over 12 years at Russell Investments where he was managing director and has been involved in consulting, mergers and acquisitions throughout his career.

Ann James – Gloucestershire County Council

Ann James has been appointed to the role of executive director of children’s services at Gloucestershire County Council, taking over from Chris Spencer from the start of April 2023.

James joined the council as director for safeguarding and care at the end of January 2022. Her new role will see her oversee all aspects of children’s services in the county, including education and safeguarding to ensure the delivery of consistently good services for all children and families, particularly the most vulnerable.

Nathaniel Hooton – Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service

Nathaniel Hooton has been announced as the new deputy chief fire officer (DCFO) for Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service (GFRS).

Hooton joined GFRS on Monday 2 January 2023 and has already had a 22-year career within the fire and rescue service, including senior roles in emergency response and planning, resilience, business continuity, corporate risk management and multi-agency led community safety.

Andrew Zihni – Gloucester Cathedral

The Reverend Canon Andrew Zihni, canon precentor at Southwark Cathedral, has been announced as next Dean of Gloucester, based at the city's cathedral.

Zihni was named the 39th Dean of Gloucester by His Majesty King Charles III, in succession to The Right Reverend Stephen Lake following his appointment as Bishop of Salisbury – with the appointment taking place at 10 Downing Street on Thursday 19 January 2023.

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