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Meet the team

Here at the Business Gateway, we’re committed to making it as simple as possible for you to grow your business. More importantly, helping you make that growth an enduring success. We’re here to provide guidance and insight no matter what stage your business is at. That’s why we’ve brought together the best of the local, regional and national business support offering in one convenient place.

Our Team

Draw on a wealth of knowledge and expertise from our Business Gateway advisers. They have years of experience working with SMEs, supporting growth plans and tackling business challenges. You can find out how they have helped other businesses by clicking the Success Stories button below.

a blonde woman in a dark blue dress stands in front of a brown stone wall

Rachel York

Business Gateway Manager

Rachel joined the Business Gateway in early October 2021 from De Montfort University where she worked as an Executive Officer with responsibility for the strategic oversight of both the Research and Enterprise directorates. Whilst working at De Montfort she studied for an MBA. Rachel manages the Business Gateway team which includes Events, Data and Statistics, New Programmes, Marketing and Communications. She attends several regional committees representing the Business Gateway and is responsible for its strategic direction.

Russel Pacey

Russell Pacey

Senior Business Advice Manager

Russ has been running businesses since 1975 - from sole trader to CEO of a multi-million, multi-site pub/restaurant chain.

He is a qualified high-growth and executive business coach and an NLP practitioner with over 15 years’ experience supporting business owners. His passion (apart from fly fishing) is helping local businesses grow and prosper.

Altaf Ahmed

Altaf Ahmed

Business Support Manager

Altaf has worked for Leicester City Council since August 2014 and has extensive knowledge and expertise in business support. Although he has strong experience of working across sectors, his specialisms are Fashion and Textile Manufacturing, Advanced Manufacturing and General Manufacturing.

He has proactively supported businesses in different ways including exploring new ideas for growth, diversification, improving productivity and profitability as well as how to secure funding and supporting on job creation.

Altaf has helped deliver various programmes successfully including Enterprising Leicestershire, Collaborate for Growth, and Discretionary Business Rates Relief. He is a sector lead for Fashion and Textiles in Leicester and Leicestershire.

Aruna-Bhagwan

Aruna Bhagwan

Business Adviser

Aruna has worked in the business sector for the last 10 years, specialising in coaching, mentoring, business consultancy, business advice and project management.

She has considerable experience in managing people in terms of strategic partnerships, business growth, and working in the areas of business support and innovation.

She is client-focused in delivering advice and guidance to SMEs with a strong understanding of business growth strategies.

Aruna has a good understanding of running a business and the challenges it can bring having run her own small business.

In addition, she has worked as a creative and enterprise manager with 27 years’ experience in the private, public and voluntary sectors and developed excellent networks.  She is a member of the Institute of Consulting and a Certified Management Consultant.

Ann Cook v3

Ann Cook

Business Adviser

Ann has been supporting businesses with all aspects of doing business overseas as International Trade Adviser with the Department for International Trade (DIT). For two years prior to that Ann was with Coventry University Enterprises on an EU-funded programme, giving funding to support international activity.

She has worked with a wide range of companies covering all sizes and business sectors and was DIT's Technology Sector Lead for the West Midlands.

Prior to this Ann has a wealth of experience within both the private and public sector as well as running her own successful design business.

Andrea Collins

Andrea Collins

International Trade Specialist

Andrea is an international trade specialist with more than 24 years in the industry. Andrea specialises in Importing, Exporting, Brexit-related issues, Business Resilience and Business Growth. She delivers 1 to 1 and 1 to many support sessions for the Growth Hub.

She is a business development specialist having worked in the Chemicals, IT, and Professional Services sectors, holding senior roles within FTSE, NASDAQ and Euronext companies including ICI and RightNow. A passionate ambassador of UK micro businesses and SMEs, she launched The Export Department to assist these companies in expanding their horizons internationally and raise the profile of UK goods and services abroad.

Image of women in front of stand

Joanna Moore

Business Adviser

Joanna, motivated by her passion to improve people’s lives and their communities for the better, has held a wide range of leadership and management posts in the public, voluntary and private sectors. 

In addition, she recently set up and ran her own business which has given her invaluable insights into the challenges small business owners face and ways they can be overcome.

Her skillset is wide-ranging and includes project, business and operational management, business planning, business development and creating and implementing effective marketing strategy.

So, whether you’re starting out or already running an SME, Joanna can assist you to apply the most appropriate business tools, advice and support to improve your business, overcome challenges and achieve your goals.

Matthew Bateman

Matthew Bateman

Business Support Officer

Matt has worked in business support for 18 years, helping businesses of all sizes and ages to grow and become sustainable.

He has worked with companies across the city and county from all sectors, helping many companies apply for grants, tenders and loans. Matt understands how businesses work and how to secure funding that is right for them.

This knowledge, combined with an understanding of business support provision across the city, means Matt can offer high-quality support to every business he works with.

Outside of work, Matt is a Leicester City Season ticket holder.

Paul-Bennett-with-banner

Paul Bennett

Business Adviser

Paul comes with 8 years’ experience having worked as a business relationship manager for Barclays Bank. His role involved managing a number of existing growth businesses, from different sectors, with specialist focus on lending significant funds, from funding working capital needs, to buying new business premises.

This experience has given him a sound understanding of financial accounts and writing effective funding applications (useful if you are interested in the Business Growth Grant!)

Paul has also worked on a European-funded start-up project at Coventry University giving him an appreciation of how businesses develop ideas and commercialise them.

In addition Paul has delivered workshops on cashflow, finance and building a successful business plan using lean model canvas methodology.

Paul’s key passions outside work include Leicester Tigers, F1 and mountain walking.

Rana-sultan-at-friars-mill

Rana Sultan

Business Adviser

Rana has worked on both sides of the fence as a business owner and as a business adviser for small to medium-sized businesses. This has been on an in-house basis and advisory capacity with leading consultancies across a range of disciplines, including operations, business growth and development, marketing, branding and public relations.

Rana takes a holistic approach to building businesses based on the needs of the customer and clients. He has delivered engagements for clients in the technology, telecoms, insurance and banking sectors, and also spent several years developing the product, brand and customer base of institutions in the emerging Islamic finance sectors. He is a BA Honours graduate in Public Relations and brings expertise in developing full communications plans, crisis management, and offline brand, product, and event management.

Nade Townsend

Nade Townsend

Frontline Growth Hub Adviser

Nade spent many years working in the business support sector on ERDF contracts and in the social enterprise sector before joining the Growth Hub team.

As part of the Frontline Adviser team, Nade is one of the first ports of call for businesses interested in securing support for their growth and development and can help businesses to understand what is out there to assist with their plans.

Rupa Johnson

Rupa Johnson

Frontline Growth Hub Adviser

Rupa has a background in customer service and communications.

Her past roles include administration and business support as well as counselling. Her motto is ‘don’t stop until you’ve exceeded your expectations, then do it all over again with new goals!”

Rupa is one of the first ports of call for businesses helping them to understand what help is available to assist their growth ambitions.

Tom Conway

Tom Conway

Digital Business Adviser

Tom can provide business support, advice and guidance to SMEs on enhancing and growing their business with the use of digital technology and IT. 

He also provides support and guidance in the application process for the technology grant scheme as part of the Digital Growth Programme.

Tom is passionate about supporting businesses, and having been a business owner for many years, understands the challenges faced by SMEs today. He is an advocate of exploiting digital technology to help your business grow and thrive.

With extensive experience in business coaching, mentoring, business planning and growth strategies as well as a technical background in software development and networks - Tom is able to provide extensive support and digital advice to SMEs.

Prashant Gandabhai

Prashant Gandabhai

Digital Business Adviser

Prashant provides business support, advice and guidance to SMEs on how they can enhance and grow their business with the use of digital technology and IT.  He also supports SMEs in the application process for the technology grant scheme offered as part of the Digital Growth Programme.

With over 20 years of IT experience, working in both private and public sectors, Prashant brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the team. He can extensively support and advise in a number of digital services including eCommerce, software development, IT Infrastructure, connectivity, mobility and digital strategic planning.

Prashant is passionate about supporting businesses - helping them thrive and grow.

×
a blonde woman in a dark blue dress stands in front of a brown stone wall

Rachel York

Business Gateway Manager

Rachel joined the Business Gateway in early October 2021 from De Montfort University where she worked as an Executive Officer with responsibility for the strategic oversight of both the Research and Enterprise directorates. Whilst working at De Montfort she studied for an MBA. Rachel manages the Business Gateway team which includes Events, Data and Statistics, New Programmes, Marketing and Communications. She attends several regional committees representing the Business Gateway and is responsible for its strategic direction.
Russel Pacey

Russell Pacey

Senior Business Advice Manager

Russ has been running businesses since 1975 - from sole trader to CEO of a multi-million, multi-site pub/restaurant chain.

He is a qualified high-growth and executive business coach and an NLP practitioner with over 15 years’ experience supporting business owners. His passion (apart from fly fishing) is helping local businesses grow and prosper.
Altaf Ahmed

Altaf Ahmed

Business Support Manager

Altaf has worked for Leicester City Council since August 2014 and has extensive knowledge and expertise in business support. Although he has strong experience of working across sectors, his specialisms are Fashion and Textile Manufacturing, Advanced Manufacturing and General Manufacturing.

He has proactively supported businesses in different ways including exploring new ideas for growth, diversification, improving productivity and profitability as well as how to secure funding and supporting on job creation.

Altaf has helped deliver various programmes successfully including Enterprising Leicestershire, Collaborate for Growth, and Discretionary Business Rates Relief. He is a sector lead for Fashion and Textiles in Leicester and Leicestershire.
Aruna-Bhagwan

Aruna Bhagwan

Business Adviser

Aruna has worked in the business sector for the last 10 years, specialising in coaching, mentoring, business consultancy, business advice and project management.

She has considerable experience in managing people in terms of strategic partnerships, business growth, and working in the areas of business support and innovation.

She is client-focused in delivering advice and guidance to SMEs with a strong understanding of business growth strategies.

Aruna has a good understanding of running a business and the challenges it can bring having run her own small business.

In addition, she has worked as a creative and enterprise manager with 27 years’ experience in the private, public and voluntary sectors and developed excellent networks.  She is a member of the Institute of Consulting and a Certified Management Consultant.
Ann Cook v3

Ann Cook

Business Adviser

Ann has been supporting businesses with all aspects of doing business overseas as International Trade Adviser with the Department for International Trade (DIT). For two years prior to that Ann was with Coventry University Enterprises on an EU-funded programme, giving funding to support international activity.

She has worked with a wide range of companies covering all sizes and business sectors and was DIT's Technology Sector Lead for the West Midlands.

Prior to this Ann has a wealth of experience within both the private and public sector as well as running her own successful design business.
Andrea Collins

Andrea Collins

International Trade Specialist

Andrea is an international trade specialist with more than 24 years in the industry. Andrea specialises in Importing, Exporting, Brexit-related issues, Business Resilience and Business Growth. She delivers 1 to 1 and 1 to many support sessions for the Growth Hub.

She is a business development specialist having worked in the Chemicals, IT, and Professional Services sectors, holding senior roles within FTSE, NASDAQ and Euronext companies including ICI and RightNow. A passionate ambassador of UK micro businesses and SMEs, she launched The Export Department to assist these companies in expanding their horizons internationally and raise the profile of UK goods and services abroad.

Image of women in front of stand

Joanna Moore

Business Adviser

Joanna, motivated by her passion to improve people’s lives and their communities for the better, has held a wide range of leadership and management posts in the public, voluntary and private sectors. 

In addition, she recently set up and ran her own business which has given her invaluable insights into the challenges small business owners face and ways they can be overcome.

Her skillset is wide-ranging and includes project, business and operational management, business planning, business development and creating and implementing effective marketing strategy.

So, whether you’re starting out or already running an SME, Joanna can assist you to apply the most appropriate business tools, advice and support to improve your business, overcome challenges and achieve your goals.
Matthew Bateman

Matthew Bateman

Business Support Officer

Matt has worked in business support for 18 years, helping businesses of all sizes and ages to grow and become sustainable.

He has worked with companies across the city and county from all sectors, helping many companies apply for grants, tenders and loans. Matt understands how businesses work and how to secure funding that is right for them.

This knowledge, combined with an understanding of business support provision across the city, means Matt can offer high-quality support to every business he works with.

Outside of work, Matt is a Leicester City Season ticket holder.
Paul-Bennett-with-banner

Paul Bennett

Business Adviser

Paul comes with 8 years’ experience having worked as a business relationship manager for Barclays Bank. His role involved managing a number of existing growth businesses, from different sectors, with specialist focus on lending significant funds, from funding working capital needs, to buying new business premises.

This experience has given him a sound understanding of financial accounts and writing effective funding applications (useful if you are interested in the Business Growth Grant!)

Paul has also worked on a European-funded start-up project at Coventry University giving him an appreciation of how businesses develop ideas and commercialise them.

In addition Paul has delivered workshops on cashflow, finance and building a successful business plan using lean model canvas methodology.

Paul’s key passions outside work include Leicester Tigers, F1 and mountain walking.
Rana-sultan-at-friars-mill

Rana Sultan

Business Adviser

Rana has worked on both sides of the fence as a business owner and as a business adviser for small to medium-sized businesses. This has been on an in-house basis and advisory capacity with leading consultancies across a range of disciplines, including operations, business growth and development, marketing, branding and public relations.

Rana takes a holistic approach to building businesses based on the needs of the customer and clients. He has delivered engagements for clients in the technology, telecoms, insurance and banking sectors, and also spent several years developing the product, brand and customer base of institutions in the emerging Islamic finance sectors. He is a BA Honours graduate in Public Relations and brings expertise in developing full communications plans, crisis management, and offline brand, product, and event management.
Nade Townsend

Nade Townsend

Frontline Growth Hub Adviser

Nade spent many years working in the business support sector on ERDF contracts and in the social enterprise sector before joining the Growth Hub team.

As part of the Frontline Adviser team, Nade is one of the first ports of call for businesses interested in securing support for their growth and development and can help businesses to understand what is out there to assist with their plans.
Rupa Johnson

Rupa Johnson

Frontline Growth Hub Adviser

Rupa has a background in customer service and communications.

Her past roles include administration and business support as well as counselling. Her motto is ‘don’t stop until you’ve exceeded your expectations, then do it all over again with new goals!”

Rupa is one of the first ports of call for businesses helping them to understand what help is available to assist their growth ambitions.
Tom Conway

Tom Conway

Digital Business Adviser

Tom can provide business support, advice and guidance to SMEs on enhancing and growing their business with the use of digital technology and IT. 

He also provides support and guidance in the application process for the technology grant scheme as part of the Digital Growth Programme.

Tom is passionate about supporting businesses, and having been a business owner for many years, understands the challenges faced by SMEs today. He is an advocate of exploiting digital technology to help your business grow and thrive.

With extensive experience in business coaching, mentoring, business planning and growth strategies as well as a technical background in software development and networks - Tom is able to provide extensive support and digital advice to SMEs.
Prashant Gandabhai

Prashant Gandabhai

Digital Business Adviser

Prashant provides business support, advice and guidance to SMEs on how they can enhance and grow their business with the use of digital technology and IT.  He also supports SMEs in the application process for the technology grant scheme offered as part of the Digital Growth Programme.

With over 20 years of IT experience, working in both private and public sectors, Prashant brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the team. He can extensively support and advise in a number of digital services including eCommerce, software development, IT Infrastructure, connectivity, mobility and digital strategic planning.

Prashant is passionate about supporting businesses - helping them thrive and grow.

What Happens When You Make an Enquiry with Us?

1

Telephone call

One of our frontline business advisers will carry out a telephone diagnostic session with your business, asking a series of questions to ensure they understand the nature of your enquiry.

2

Advice offered

Once they understand your current situation and your plans, they will offer the most appropriate advice in relation to your enquiry.

3

Signposting and Adviser support

The advice can include signposting to funding or business support providers within Leicestershire or referring to our business adviser team for in-depth one-to-one support.