• A photo of Nigel Mills

    Nigel Mills

    Chairman of the Entrepreneurs' Forum

    There is only one constant in business and that is change. We cannot be expected to know all the answers all of the time, however within our own businesses our teams often believe and expect us to do just that.

    The Entrepreneurs' Forum exists to help fellow entrepreneurs grow their businesses by learning from each other. The Forum has proved invaluable to me over the years to help me successfully build and grow my various business interests.

    Managing Director of Mills Group
  • A photo of Paul Walker

    Paul Walker

    Forum Board Member

    The Entrepreneurs' Forum is an integral part of the North-East business community but is in no way typical of a business support organisation. It's so important for the future of our region that we continue to foster entrepreneurship, encourage people to start and develop businesses and to retain our best talent - that is what the Forum aims to achieve.
    Former Chief Executive of The Sage Group plc
  • A photo of Lorna Moran OBE

    Lorna Moran OBE

    Forum Board Member

    I am delighted with the impact the Forum is having within the region. It gives established entrepreneurs a chance to exchange views and newer members real access to the "been there done that" brigade. The tangible benefit of an organisation like this is to celebrate, encourage and develop the entrepreneurial culture of the North East
    Chair of Northern Recruitment Group Logo
    Chair of Northern Recruitment Group
  • A photo of Rob Mathieson

    Rob Mathieson

    Forum Board Member

    Rob Mathieson leads one of the region's fastest growing digital agencies, Gateshead-based AYO Digital, and is the Entrepreneurs' Forum's Emerging Talent of the Year 2013. Established just five years ago, investment worth £400,000 from FW Capital will see the business develop two new innovative business software products this year with plans to double the workforce to at least 60 by 2016. Rob, who worked for Fusebox Design and TH_NK before joining with two partners to establish AYO, is aiming for it to be the biggest manufacture of digital systems in the UK.

    Rob said: "The digital, software and technology sector is seeing an influx of new businesses and there are a lot of programmes out there to support them, but the sector needs leadership. I want to be involved in driving digital in the North East and, as a Forum board member, can do a lot to advise and share my experience with new businesses entering the sector.

    "Even though we are in the exciting, early stages of our business, we have learned a lot in five years about building a business which we can use to help others and hopefully inspire them that it can be done successfully."

    Managing Director of AYO Digital
  • A photo of Lisa Hart Shepherd

    Lisa Hart Shepherd

    Forum Board Member

    Lisa Hart Shepherd is the CEO of Newcastle-based Acritas, a leading provider of specialist research programmes to the legal industry across the world.

    Among the services it provides is Sharplegal, the world's most comprehensive study of the global legal market, as well as custom research programmes.

    Prior to launching Acritas in 2002, Lisa completed a mathematics and management degree. She learned the science of research at market research agency Buckingham Research Associates before joining the law firm Denton Wilde Sapte where she set up a business analysis team. In 2000, she joined FTSE 100 Sage Group plc as a business analyst.

    CEO of Acritas
  • A photo of Brian Jobling

    Brian Jobling

    Forum Board Member

    Brian Jobling is the Executive Chairman of Eutechnyx, one of the world's leading independent video game developers.  A hobbyist programmer in his teens, Brian founded the company as Zeppelin Games Limited in Gateshead in 1987.

    Brian has built Eutechnyx into a highly respected and successful international business, operating in a competitive global market.  As well as its headquarters in Gateshead, the company has studios in mainland China, Hong Kong and in Charlotte, USA, employing more than 180 people worldwide.

    Executive Chairman of Eutechynx
  • A photo of Alastair Waite

    Alastair Waite

    Forum Board Member

    Alastair Waite is a serial entrepreneur and business angel investor. He is a qualified accountant with Board level experience across diverse sectors such as; Retail, Engineering, R&D, Semiconductors, Biofuels and IT. He has raised almost every type of finance, opened overseas offices, bought and sold businesses, completed a number of MBO's and much more.

    His investment portfolio of around 24 businesses are in even more diverse sectors with the common denominator that he likes the people in the businesses he invests in and believes in adding value. He is currently Founder Director of Altrelli Limited, a consultancy business focussed on helping businesses achieve their potential through development of strategy, business plans, fundraising, merger and acquisitions and mentoring. 

    Alastair is also a member of the NE Technology Fund Advisory Board, a Governor at Yarm School and University of Teesside and a member of the Let's Grow Investment Panel. He is an active fundraiser and trustee of several NE based charities and lives in North Yorkshire with his wife Tracey and two children.

    Alastair has been involved in the NE Entrepreneurs Forum since its inception. He values the opportunity to meet all members, help others grow their business, create connections and fly the flag for one of the North most active entrepreneurial organisations. He chairs the mentoring sub-committee where Forum members are invited to discuss, in confidence, a whole range of issues with fellow members who ‘have been there before; and who can offer advice. Running and growing a business can be incredibly lonely and ‘you don't know what you don't know' so having the Forum as a critical friend in a time of need is one of the best investments any business could make.

    Altrelli Ltd.
  • A photo of Pamela Petty

    Pamela Petty

    Forum Board Member

    Pamela Petty is the daughter of John Elliott MBE, the founder of Ebac, a market leader in European production of water coolers. Pamela has worked her way up at Ebac after joining in 1986. She went on to head the company's IT projects and was appointed manufacturing director in 1997. As group managing director of the £15m turnover business since 2003, Pamela is overseeing its expansion to a new £7m manufacturing facility at Newton Aycliffe and diversification into air source heat pumps, freezers and a revival for the UK of washing machine production, a move that is expected to see the workforce double to 400.
    Group Managing Director of Ebac
  • A photo of John Waterworth

    John Waterworth

    Forum Board Member

    John Waterworth is Chief Executive of Parkdean Holidays, one of the UK's biggest providers of holiday homes including caravans, lodges and apartments within 24 award-winning holiday parks across the country.

    The company was formed in November 1999 with the acquisition of Trecco Bay Holiday Park in South Wales, the UK's largest caravan park, and has grown significantly via acquisition to 24 parks, playing a key role in the consolidation of a highly fragmented sector.

    Chief Executive of Parkdean Holidays
  • A photo of Julie Drummond

    Julie Drummond

    Forum Board Member

    Deep down I had always felt that I could run my own business, but working in Edinburgh felt like an old boys network. If you weren't over 40 and had gone to Fettes (a private school for boys) then you didn't stand a chance. I am not 40 and certainly not posh! Luckily for me, being back in the North East there were no restrictions whatsoever. The world was truly my oyster. But when I first started out I remember feeling very isolated; stuck for someone to ask the most obvious of questions to. I didn't know whether the questions I had were the sort of issues others had. Now I know that a problem shared is always a problem halved! The Forum is an oasis for any entrepreneur to ask any question and find the answers from people who have been there and got the T-shirt. I find its members an inspiration and they really embody a sharing, can-do mentality.
    Managing Director of Drummond Central
  • A photo of Graham Robb

    Graham Robb

    Forum Board Member

    Graham is the Senior Partner at Recognition Marketing and Public Relations, the Darlington-based company he founded in 1990. Graham has worked in PR since 1988 and has been involved in more than 500 PR, media and marketing projects featuring leading national figures in the world of sport, entertainment and politics.
    Recognition PR & Marketing
  • A photo of Geoff Thompson

    Geoff Thompson

    Forum Board Member

    Geoff Thompson worked as a management consultant and held a number of management positions in industry before launching Utilitywise in 2006 with two colleagues and his eldest son. The business acted as intermediary between energy suppliers and their commercial customers, helping the latter to get more value from their energy contracts, and turned over £100,000 in the first year. Rapid growth led to a successful listing on AIM in the 2012 with the business valued at the time at £37m. It now services nearly 20,000 customers and employs over 700 people across the Group with turnover approaching £50m and a market cap approaching £200m.

    Geoff said: "Statistics show that the North East is some way behind the rest of the country for start ups per capita. Clearly whilst no single individual can change that, I think that those of us already in business, who have learned a lot and have experience to share, can support, help and mentor others to get started and build their organisation.

    "I'm not saying I've got all the answers. I'm a working class, North East lad whose had some luck and, together with a great team, worked extremely hard to build a business that's seeing some success, albeit the job has only just started.

    "Like many people in business I've faced difficulties and had setbacks but now I'd like to use that experience and give something back by putting in time and effort to help others. I believe this can be best achieved through my involvement with the Entrepreneurs' Forum.

    "When I think back to when I started in business, having someone who could have helped me, been a confidante or reference point would have been of huge benefit."