Greater Manchester Leaders Plus Mentors

Each Leaders Plus candidate is paired with a senior mentor from our cross-sector network. These mentors provide a ‘safe space’ sounding board for candidates, as well as invaluable experience and insights from their own careers. See here for more about mentoring.

GM Leaders Plus Round 2 – Mentors

Paul Barton
Director of Environment, Wigan Council

Paul is a member of the Chartered Management Institute with over 35 years’ local government experience in senior management roles. As the Director for Environment at Wigan Council and a member of the council’s Senior Management Team Paul’s key responsibilities include the strategic development and operational delivery of a wide range of frontline services, including the borough’s highways infrastructure, parks and greenspaces, waste and recycling, environmental health, trading standards, housing repairs, environmental education and enforcement and the eco-schools programme. Paul has developed and delivered a number of high profile and award-winning environmental projects, including remodelling Wigan Council’s approach to recycling and developing the borough’s ambitious Climate Change Strategy, which will see the council achieve carbon neutrality by 2038. Paul is also a Director of Wigan and Leigh Homes, Chair of the Wigan and Leigh Housing Board and member of the local governing body at Byrchall High School Academy Trust.

Suzanne Benson
Partner, Trowers & Hamlins

Suzanne specialises in major projects, residential scheme delivery, market stimulation and home ownership initiatives, and advises Homes England in relation to their grant-funded home ownership products, including shared ownership and Help to Buy. She also specialises in Financial Conduct Authority and Consumer Credit work and co-wrote the National Housing Federation Guide to Consumer Credit Authorisation for Registered Providers. Since 2017, Suzanne has been part of MHCLG’s Build to Rent joint committee, promoting the development of the emerging Build to Rent sector. She is also co-chair of the Pro-Manchester Property and Regeneration Committee, is a Business Representative on the board of the Our Manchester Forum and on the editorial panel of ThinkHouse – an initiative to raise awareness on new research on housing issues. Suzanne is recognised as a leader in her field in both Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners.

Eamonn Boylan
Chief Executive, Greater Manchester Combined Authority

Eamonn was appointed Chief Executive in January 2017. Prior to that he was Chief Executive of Stockport MBC from 2011. While at Stockport, Eamonn led the Council’s £1bn programme of investment in infrastructure and town centre regeneration. Previous roles include Deputy Chief Executive of both the Homes & Communities Agency and Manchester City Council, where he led the Regeneration Division and helped shape Strategic Regeneration programmes across the City. As Chief Executive of GMCA, Eamonn chairs the Greater Manchester Wider Leadership Team and has responsibility for Policy & Strategy and a wide range of Greater Manchester services including Fire & Rescue, Waste, Transport, Economic Development and Planning. He also is jointly accountable for the Greater Manchester Strategic Plan for the transformation of Health and Social Care.

Cym D’Souza
Chief Executive, Arawak Walton

Cym became Chief Executive of Arawak Walton housing association in 1998. Cym is a qualified Chartered Accountant and sits on the Strategic Housing Partnerships in Manchester, Trafford and Stockport. Cym is Chair of BME National; an umbrella group for over 35 BME housing associations who work with the National Housing Federation to promote equality and diversity in the provision of housing and support services alongside the National Housing Federation. Cym sits on the advisory group for the North West Housing Forum and the Greater Manchester Housing Providers’ Partnership and she has also been a member of the GM Police Ethics Committee since 2014.

Stephen Gleave
Cities Director – North, AECOM

Stephen joined AECOM in December 2019. He is responsible for planning and managing a variety of initiatives across the city region, working with AECOM design and consulting teams. Previously, Stephen worked as a consultant with Turley and has worked with Deloitte, playing a key role in advising on the Stockport Mayoral Development Corporation, which will provide an additional 3,500 homes in the town centre. Having led multidisciplinary practice Taylor Young for 15 years, Stephen is an urban designer and town planner by training, with a deep understanding of Manchester, the north west and the national agenda. He brings a comprehensive understanding of how places are shaped through infrastructure, built form, economics, politics and the communities they serve.

Ricardo Gomez
Director, Hatch

Ricardo is one of the firm’s lead directors in planning and housing. He has managed many projects for public- and private-sector clients and specialises in housing need assessment and the economic impact of housing, commercial development and employment land needs assessment. Ricardo has a strong track record in local and regional economic strategy development and investment planning, and worked extensively on European Regional Development Funding programme evaluation. He has led more than 50 economic impact assessments of proposed housing developments for planning applications and case-making, working with housebuilders and strategic land clients. As an expert in housing need assessment, Ricardo has led numerous studies, represented clients at examinations and been an expert witness. In his spare time, Ricardo is part of the coaching team for a youth football team in Chester and is working on his Football Association coaching badges.

Jane Healey Brown
Director of Town Planning, Arup

Jane leads Planning in Arup’s North West and Yorkshire offices and oversees town planning, environment and transport planning in Manchester. She is a GM Commissioner for Planning & Housing and lectures at the Universities of Liverpool and Manchester. She also helps the North West Business Leadership Team respond to the UK2070 Commission. Jane has worked on a range of projects, including the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework, major regeneration-led masterplans, new nuclear power stations and rail-related projects. Jane has considerable experience helping local authorities prepare Local Plans. She is passionate about city governance, devolution, inclusive growth and social value. Jane is a Fellow of the Royal Town Planning Institute and was one of the 2018 Northern Power Women.

Warren Heppolette
Executive Lead for Strategy & System Development, Greater Manchester Health & Care Partnership

Warren has played a central role in bringing devolved powers and budgets to Greater Manchester. Prior to his current role, he was Director of the Association of Greater Manchester Primary Care Trusts and Director of Policy & External Relations for NHS Greater Manchester. Warren started his career as a neighbourhood housing officer and progressed to become Stockport Council’s policy manager for health & social care supporting public health partnership developments between the council and the local NHS. Warren says: “I want Greater Manchester to be a happy and successful place. If I had to pick one thing I’m most passionate about improving, then we need to focus on getting help and support to people early enough.”

Becca Heron
Director – Economy & Skills, Wigan Council

Becca is responsible for leading the development and implementation of an economic strategy for the borough that will deliver growth, jobs and new housing, supported by investment in infrastructure and the environment. She has a wealth of experience in collaborative working, particularly through her work for the Greater Manchester Combined Authority. Becca was responsible for producing the Greater Manchester Strategy, which covers a wide range of thematic policy areas, including sustainable development, transport, planning, housing, business support, skills provision and the reform of public services. She also led the team that negotiated Greater Manchester’s ground-breaking devolution agreement with Government, which transferred significant powers and resources from central Government to Greater Manchester.

Claire Lawless
Director, Forever Consulting / Forever Manchester

Claire is an Economist providing social and economic consultancy services across the UK for over 20 years. Claire’s weirdest project: an economic modelling exercise to determine the price point for human waste. Her favourite project: developing a concept and business case for an art gallery and pitching it to David Hockney. Her most challenging project: HS2 – say no more! Claire’s experience covers a broad spectrum of policy areas, including culture, environment, health, housing, transport, urban regeneration, employment, industrial strategy, and community. Three years ago, Claire set up a social enterprise in partnership with a local charity to pursue her dream of using her professional skills to achieve positive social change in Manchester.

Dan Mitchell
Partner, Barton Willmore

Dan has a wide range of experience and leads the Manchester office. His experience includes advising major housing, employment and retail developments on behalf of national house builders, property developers, public sector, government departments and landowners in all aspects of town planning consultancy. Dan’s experience includes acting as expert witness at Section 78 appeals, Examinations in Public and Local Plan Inquiries, as well as the negotiation of complex, major planning applications and Section 106 Agreements. Dan has been a Partner at Barton Willmore since 2008, having worked for the company since 2003. Prior to that he worked at a major PLC.

Simon Nokes
Executive Director – Policy & Strategy, Greater Manchester Combined Authority

Simon is an executive-level economic development professional with considerable experience in policy, strategy, business development, delivery and corporate governance/performance in the public, private and third sectors. Prior to joining GMCA, Simon was Managing Director of New Economy Manchester. This included work to implement the GM devolution deal in areas such as planning, housing, business support, European funding, work and skills; he started at New Economy as Director of Policy & European Strategy. Prior to that, Simon was Executive Director of the Northwest Regional Development Agency, and Chief Executive of Pentra Services, a successful social enterprise which supported 500 people back to work.

Nicola Rigby
Director – Planning, Development & Regeneration, Avison Young

Nicola’s reputation as a top-tier adviser on strategic regeneration, delivery, implementation and funding has continued to grow since joining the firm over fifteen years ago. As a director, she is also the company’s North-West Development and Regeneration lead, supporting the continuing economic revival of the region. Nicola’s dynamism, leadership and quality of advice have twice secured her place on the NW Insider’s Women of Influence list.

Caroline Simpson
Director of Place, Stockport Council

Caroline leads the growing Place function at Stockport Municipal Borough Council, having joined in 2016 and bringing experience in economic development, regeneration, social housing and partnerships. She spent eight years at Cheshire East Council as Director and then Executive Director for Economic Growth & Prosperity, delivering sustainable jobs and housing growth supported by investment in infrastructure and the environment. Prior to her council work, Caroline was Director of Business Development at Aspire Housing, was Head of Regeneration and Partnerships at the Northwest Regional Development Agency, and Head of Northern & Black Country Teams for Advantage West Midlands.

Kevin Williams
Executive Director for Commercial Services, The Guinness Partnership

Kevin is a well-rounded property professional with over 21 years’ experience in the affordable housing, charity and commercial sectors. Kevin has extensive experience in the development of new homes and the strategic asset management of significant property portfolios. He has over 15 years’ experience as a senior manager having held Chief Executive, Executive Director and Director positions. In Kevin’s current role he leads the management of the organisation’s near 11,000 homeowner properties, the Commercial Assets Team and Facilities Management of the group’s corporate real estate portfolio. Kevin is a board member at Halton Housing where he is also a member of the Audit and Risk Committee and is lead board member for Property Services.

Mike Wilton
Director & Leader of Manchester Office, Arup

Mike has more than 30 years’ experience in the development of infrastructure. He has particular expertise in the remediation of large contaminated sites, urban public realm, transforming utility networks, high speed rail, and drainage and flooding. He works with government, infrastructure owners, and developers on some of the UK’s largest projects, working closely with planners, urban designers and commercial specialists. He has a passion for sustainable design and has spoken at conferences on sustainability issues. He has worked throughout the UK, and in in Botswana, Europe, America, and the Middle and Far East.

Follow this link to see the mentors from Leaders Plus Round 8, running in parallel in London.