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 3 – Mentors

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.

Jessica Bowles
Director – Strategic Partnerships & Impact, Bruntwood

Jessica joined Bruntwood in 2016 helping to support the company’s ambitions for long term growth. As a member of the Group Board her focus is particularly on the businesses external relationships with city partners and Bruntwood’s ESG and social value agenda. Previously Jessica spent 15 years in Whitehall before moving to Manchester City Council as head of City Policy supporting work on devolution, the Northern Powerhouse and the ‘Our Manchester partnership Strategy. Amongst other external roles Jessica is a member of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership ExCo, NWBLT, GM’s Cycling and Walking Board and is a Trustee for a start-up orchestra Manchester Baroque.

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.

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.

Angela Harrington
Director – Inclusive Growth, Manchester City Council

Angela is Director of Inclusive Economy for Manchester City Council and her responsibilities include Manchester Adult Education Service, the Work & Skills Team and the development and delivery of the council’s Digital Strategy. Angela chairs Manchester’s Family Poverty group and is working with other anchor institutions in the city to promote Manchester as a Living Wage place and use their positions as civic institutions to provide employment opportunities for more disadvantaged Mancunians.

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.

Jenny Kay
Development Director & Head of Housing, GL Hearn

Jenny leads GL Hearn’s multi-disciplinary housing team. She has worked in the housing sector for 25+ years, first for housing associations managing and developing affordable homes, and has a track record of leading teams to ensure the delivery of projects and programmes. Moving from the HA world to the private sector, she qualified as a registered valuer and now, along with her team, advises housing associations, councils and developers on acquisitions & disposals; development consultancy for new homes; asset management & option appraisals for existing stock and the sale of S106 opportunities to HA partners. She also runs the company’s graduate programme and graduate recruitment effort after “offering to help” and has championed diversity efforts at GL Hearn and at previous employer Montagu Evans.

Andrew Lightfoot
Deputy Chief Executive, GMCA

Andrew joined the Greater Manchester Combined Authority in 2014 as a Strategic Director and was appointed Deputy Chief Executive in September 2016. Andrew has been at the heart of Greater Manchester’s ‘devolution’ journey and works closely with the Mayor and local authority Leaders and Chief Executives in the city-region on a range of policy priorities and programmes. Andrew was previously Deputy Chief Executive at Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council responsible for regeneration; environment, housing and neighbourhoods; and, Culture, Leisure, Sport & Young People. Prior to this he was Executive Director for Resources. Prior to joining Blackburn with Darwen Andrew worked for KPMG in public sector consultancy.

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.

Paul Richards
Chief Executive – Stockport Mayoral Development Corp., Stockport Council

Paul has been the CEO of Stockport MDC since its creation in 2019, leading on its strategic vision and delivery of high profile regeneration schemes, creating a new neighbourhood for the town. Since 2017, he has also been the Director of Development and Regeneration for Stockport Council responsible for its £1 billion transformation programme across retail, leisure, office, residential and light industrial reflecting the council’s direct interventionist approach to changing Stockport. Before that, he was the Property Director for Findel PLC, Homeform Group and Wine Cellar, roles which involves managing large occupational/investment portfolios and capital works programmes.

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.

Claire Tostevin
Director of Growth, Rochdale Borough Housing

Clare is an experienced leader in the housing sector, drawing on a career which has helped deliver across the spectrum of housing services. Clare has worked in housing association, council, private sector and government agency roles. Clare chairs community-based Southway Housing Trust in Manchester. As Director of Growth for tenant and employee owned housing provider Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH) in Rochdale, Clare is leading an approaches to people and place based regeneration with a focus on connecting people to opportunity, delivering quality new homes and investing in RBH’s 12,000 existing homes to ensure they meet the needs of current and future generations.

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 9, running in parallel in London.