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 1 – Mentors

Suzanne Benson
Partner, Trowers & Hamlins

Suzanne specialises in major projects (including strategic land, joint ventures and regeneration), 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 FCA and Consumer Credit work and co-wrote the NHF 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.

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 (responsible for all national regeneration programmes) 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 BMENational; 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. 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.

Marcus Fisher
Director, Civic Projects

Marcus is a project manager and consultant with wide experience of housing, regeneration and construction in both the public and private sectors. He has worked for and on behalf of Registered Providers, ALMOs, local authorities, homebuilders and consultancies.

Stephen Gleave
Regional Cities Director – North, AECOM

Stephen joined AECOM in December 2019. In a broad role aimed at developing and executing growth strategies, he will be 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, including on its ‘Shaping Better Places’ agenda on how planners engage with design, and was actively involved in delivering projects such as Wigan Council’s strategic regeneration framework. Working with Deloitte, he also played 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 Regeneris

Ricardo is one of Hatch’s lead directors in planning and housing, and his experience spans economic development, academia and local government. He has led 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. Ricardo has a track record in local and regional economic strategy development and investment planning, and has 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 homebuilders 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. He has also overseen several employment land needs assessments for local authority clients. 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
Associate Director – Planning, Arup

Jane leads the Planning business 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. She 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 acted as an expert witness at many planning inquiries and has considerable experience helping local authorities prepare Local Plans, including evidence documents. She has particular expertise in planning policy, housing, green belts and infrastructure planning, and 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, developing joint commissioning and leadership arrangements across the PCTs, and Director of Policy & External Relations for NHS Greater Manchester, supporting the transition to the new NHS arrangements. For NHS England, he served as the Greater Manchester Area Team’s Director of Operations & Delivery with responsibility for performance, CCG assurance and emergency preparedness. Warren started his career as a neighbourhood housing officer 20 years ago. He progressed to become Stockport Council’s policy manager for health & social care supporting public health partnership developments between the council and the local NHS. He joined the NHS in 2006.

Becca Heron
Director – Economy & Skills, Wigan Metropolitan Borough Council

Becca joined Wigan MBC in 2018 from Manchester City Council. She 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 – the first of its kind in the UK – which transferred significant powers and resources from central Government to Greater Manchester. Becca graduated from University of Manchester with a BA(Hons) in Politics & Modern History and is a purple belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu.

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, developing research, policy and strategy for the Greater Manchester economy working on behalf of the Combined Authority. 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.

Sara Saleh
Corporate Director of People, Trafford Council

Sara joined Trafford Council in May 2018 as Director of HR before taking on her current, broader role, with responsibility for HR/OD, Communications and Marketing, Strategy and Policy, Modernisation, Health and Safety and the Council’s Traded and Commercial Services. Since joining Trafford, she has been a driving force behind the delivery of the council’s Corporate Plan and People Strategy. With 15+ years of executive experience, Sara has successfully led a number of major change programmes in large and complex organisations and credits her success in this field to thoughtful, thorough and meaningful leadership, consultation and engagement. Starting her career as an apprentice and undertaking her professional qualifications as an adult learner, she is a strong advocate of apprenticeships, work experience, life-long learning and continuous professional development.

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.

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 7, running in parallel in London.