BusinessWorks Top 20 Most Inspirational Business Leaders

10th Sep

Peter Aarosin
Peter, a director of Danbrit Holdings. came to Goole from his native Denmark to work as a shipping trainee for six months and ended up staying. In that time he has been a passionate advocate for developing business on the Humber and promoting the region’s excellent location and its logistical strength. He is involved in various companies with in the logistics sector compromising ships, ports and lorries.
Phil Ascough
A richly varied journalistic career dating back more than 40 years provides the foundation for Phil’s work as an author and PR consultant. Phil brings innovation, creativity an a business development focus for clients from local start-ups and sole traders to major global brands. He is a former president of the Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce, and cofounder of the Monday Night Supper Club.
Christina Colmer McHugh
As a journalist over the past 20 years in regional and national newspapers, and in magazines and radio, Christina has built up an enviable network of contacts. She includes in that time 15 years’ experience specialising in public relations in B2B and B2C sectors as well as working in local and national government and on many charity events. Based in Hull, Christina co-founded Moodbeam – a wearable device and app that logs and tracks moods and emotions – with seasoned entrepreneur Jonathan Elvidge.
Jonathan Elvidge
Jonathan was the founder of the Gadget Shop and RED5 high street chains, as well as co-founder of The Source gift distribution business, and others. Jonathan has a wide range of experience and proven success in developing and growing brands, and a keen understanding of emerging trends and consumer demands, along with Far East sourcing and product development expertise. Jonathan has an honorary doctorate in business administration and serves on the board of For Entrepreneurs Only.
Jo Fleming
Jo was named Businesswoman of the Year in 2018 and finalist in the Great British Entrepreneur Awards and the Hull Daily Mail Business Awards. She and her business partner are the brains behind the hugely successful Hull & East Yorkshire People in Business Awards and are the driving force behind Tech Expo Humber, GB IT Recruitment and the recently launched Jobs4Humber app. For almost a decade previously, Jo managed a firm that was named one of Hull’s top three recruitment agencies in 2019. She says: “It’s a privilege to be named as one of Hull’s top 20 inspiring business leaders and share the title with some incredible people. It’s been a challenging time for everyone, but I’m incredibly proud to see that we’re all continuing to support each other as we learn how to adapt to this new way of working.”
Dominic Gibbons
After joining property development and investment firm Wykeland Group in the late 1990s, Dominic became managing director in 2009. As well as having a property portfolio that stretches from Grimsby to Glasgow, Wykeland has a commercial property development programme of nearly £500 million within the Yorkshire and Humber region that includes the Fruit Market in Hull, Europarc in Grimsby, Melton West and Bridgehead in the East Riding and Treadmills in Northallerton, among others. Being based in Hull, Wykeland has been at the forefront of the physical and cultural regeneration of the city over the past decade.
Neil Hudgell
Neil is best known as owner and chairman of Hull KR. He has led the club since 2004, re-establishing the Robins among the Super League elite after a number of years in the lower leagues. His legal firm, Hudgell Solicitors, was established in 1997 and has grown into one of the country’s leading personal injury and clinical negligence specialists. In recent years it has expanded to become a national firm, entering new areas of work such as civil liberties and human rights, representing in many cases of national significance. Through the Neil Hudgell Trust, Neil has supported hundreds of good causes across Hull and the East Riding over the past decade.
Victoria Jackson
Founder and chairman of Kingston Recruitment, Victoria says her best move was appointing colleague Alison Brennan as MD in 1995. Commanding immense respect and with the business in the safest hands, Victoria is much sought after to inspire others. Her many roles include board member at HOTA, board member and former chairman at HullBID and twice chairman of the Hull Businesswomen’s Breakfast Club.
Mark Jones
Mark is privileged to have worked within and with the ports sector in Hull and the Humber for a number of years and has led Hull City Council’s partnership approach to Green Port alongside ABP, the University of Hull and East Riding Council since 2009. He has worked on the Siemens investment since 2010, leading the council’s project team. Mark was made an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2016 for services to regeneration and investment. He is also lead officer for flood mitigation in Hull, as well as being the senior officer lead for care leavers. Mark appreciates the full support of Hull City Council and its partners, and stresses that this is an “all-Hull effort” that is lifting the city to achieve even greater things. “Hull’s time has come!” he says.
David Keel
Having started work as a graphic designer at Harlands of Hull in 1966, he eventually found himself on the firm’s board of directors. Having spotted the commoditisation of print he founded Trident, which grew into a global company employing 750 staff working for the world’s best-known brands. But the excitement of working with start-ups never really left him, so he was delighted to jump ship and join C4DI as board member and chairman when it was first proposed in 2013. His proudest achievement has been to be part of theinspirational C4DI/Wykeland/KCOM team whohave transformed a derelict part of the city by creating a place to work, play and live.
Martin Lauer
Martin is the founder/managing director of The One Point. He has been instrumental indeveloping The One Point into the respected company it is today and over the years has also received many awards for his business efforts. Customers of The One Point have the advantage of a single point of contact for all their IT and telecoms needs, supported 24/7/365, and the company now looks after many NHS organisations, large corporate and SME accounts throughout the UK and is known for its focus on customer services and innovation. Martin also loves supporting local businesses through his work as a director of both For Entrepreneurs Only and the Sirius enterprise agency. Outside business, Martin founded RED Contemporary Arts in 1997 and recently led the rescue of his local football club, North Ferriby FC.
Jonathan Leafe
After three years in the music business and four working Spain, Jonathan started his first creative design agency in 1989 exclusively using Apple Macs. He founded Strawberry in Hull in 1993 and sold it in 2017 to an MBO. At the time it was an agency of 40 staff with a turnover of £2 million. Since then he has become a business performance coach. Over the past three years, he has helped numerous digital, marketing and creative agencies fulfil their potential. He loves travelling, cooking, playing golf, studying history and collecting guitars, and he is also very proud to be a governor of Hymers College and currently the president of the Old Hymerians Association.
Paul Matson
Paul is the founder of Hull 4 Heroes, a charity that renovates homes for veterans, and he is an ex-veteran himself. He says: “I can’t say that I find myself very ‘inspirational’ – I’m just an ordinary bloke trying to make life better for people like me. I think the turning point was when I worked on DIY SOS – The Veterans Street and realized that I wasn’t the only one who had struggled the way I had on leaving the forces. That sense of not wanting anyone to have to get to the very low depths to which I had fallen spurred me on to do something about it. My family and the team I have around me are fantastic and I couldn’t do any of this without them. We pride ourselves on working with partnership organisations and our motto is #StrongerTogether.”
Anita Pace
With more than 25 years’ experience in communications, marketing and business management, Anita spent the majority of her career working for KCOM before starting her own communications agency, Pace, in 2015. She says: “I’m not sure why, but I’ve always been very driven and self-motivated. From a very young age, I wanted to be the best at whatever it was I was doing. I think my dad had a big influence on me and instilled in me a strong work ethic. This drive and determination have shaped who I am and what I’ve done. My strong desire to succeed comes from within, so I’m not sure I can say anyone specifically has inspired me as such, but there are definitely people who have had a positive influence on me throughout my life. My biggest hope is that I’m a positive role model for my two young daughters – I just want them to believe in themselves and know that by working hard and having a positive can-do attitude, there are limitless possibilities.”
Andy Parkinson
Andy is chairman of Marketing Humber, a longterm director of C4DI, and has recently been appointed as CEO of Lampada, a rapidly growing technology business owned by the University of Hull. Andy has a varied background as a senior executive, spanning many different sectors, including engineering firm Spencer Group and telecoms giant KCOM PLC. He has also worked in the fast-moving consumable goods industry with some of the biggest brands in Europe. In the public sector, Andy was the lead for Hull’s City Plan, a £1 billion economic infrastructure plan to help the city recover from the 2008 recession. Andy has worked closely with the University of Hull developing the Energy Estuary 2.0 programme and he has also led The Waterline campaign on climate change, whose launch event in 2019 attracted 1,400 delegates.
Sean Royce
Sean, managing director of KCOM Retail, has been at the centre of many of the company’s milestones including the launch of the world’s first commercial deployment of interactive TV and Video On Demand over broadband and more recently was responsible for the company starting and completing its full fibre network. Sean helped to create and is a director of the Centre for Digital Innovation (C4DI) and is the chairman of the charity Tigers Trust, which aims to raise educational standards, aspirations and life chances for youngsters through sport.
Paul Sewell
Paul lives inspiration. As a young man he gathered it and as he built his business he cherished it, en route to becoming a highly successful and respected entrepreneur. Now he shares it willingly as chairman of Sewell Group and of the Humber LEP business development board, a founder of For Entrepreneurs Only and author of the educational and inspirational book Half a Lettuce.
Michael Smith
Starting as a YTS in 1991, Michael has been a driving force in the success of Hull’s Cobus Communicatios for almost 30 years. A director and shareholder since 2007, and sole shareholder and managing director since 2013, he has built up a strong team who together have created a positive work culture and help grown Cobus to what it is today. Michael’s positive work ethic and ethos cascades throughout the whole team and he encourages learning and development in all areas, leading by example both in a working environment and in the many charitable events he takes part in. Always striving for 100% in anything he undertakes and never one to let an opportunity pass him by, he inspires those around him to embrace change, and to assess, plan, do and review in order to achieve their very best.
Antonio Tombanane
Antonio is the founder of one of the biggest tech events in the region – Tech Expo Humber – as well as the managing director of Hull’s GB Recruitment. Last year, Tech Nation named him among the 50 “most inspiring, prominent, and influential black voices in UK tech”. He said: “I am delighted to be voted as BusinessWorks’ Top 20 Most inspirational Business Leaders. I am passionate about promoting our region and what we have to offer. It’s an honour for me to be part of this prestigious group of successful entrepreneurs.”

BusinessWorks Hull & East Yorkshire summer 2022

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