Greater Manchester Leaders Plus Candidates

GM Leaders Plus Round 3

Greater Manchester Leaders Plus Round 3 runs from February 2022 to December 2022. Profiles of the candidates are below.

Karl Astbury
Head of Strategy, Rochdale Boroughwide Housing

Karl has 14 years of experience working in local government, recently moving to join Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH) as Head of Strategy. Karl is responsible for ensuring its strategic approach is genuinely driven by members reflecting the input of both tenants and employees. He is currently leading the development of RBH’s strategy for 2022-25. Karl previously led the development of Greater Manchester's first urban resilience strategy on behalf of the GMCA and has been a subject matter expert on resilience and emergency management to the United Nations, helping to coordinate Greater Manchester’s successful bid to be one of the first worldwide ‘Resilience Hubs’.

Heather Coombs
Strategic Manager - Buildings and Facilities, Wigan Council

Heather has 25 years’ experience of leading teams in fast paced environments and thrives on the challenges this brings. She held a senior position in the retail sector before moving into local government where her career has continued to grow and develop. Heather has expertise in managing transformational projects - whether this is through contract management and deliverance or building projects. She is passionate about supporting residents in the Wigan borough and adding value through the work her team delivers.

Susie Cuthill
Deputy CEO, The Proud Trust

After nine years with The Prince’s Trust, Susie recently took up the post of Deputy CEO with The Proud Trust in January 2022. Bringing over 16 years’ experience in the charity sector, particularly in the areas of fundraising and business development. Susie’s work is rooted in building excellent relationships and partnerships, underpinned by a passion to support young people. Susie aims to inspire others to make our communities safe and nurturing places for young people to live, learn, work and play and evidences this through her delivery of strategic campaigns such as International Women’s Day, Kickstart and capital building projects.

Steph Everett
Senior Partnership and Business Development Manager, Homes England

Steph is a Chartered Planner and Design Council Expert with over twenty years’ experience in shaping places through strategic planning, design and delivery advice to both public and private sectors. She specialises in driving forward growth and regeneration in neighbourhoods and town centres, particularly in complex urban and brownfield contexts.
Steph’s experience has seen her increasingly focus on housing delivery - leading neighbourhood masterplans as a consultant, driving housing growth for Trafford Council, accelerating new market and affordable homes with L&Q/THT and now leading strategic partnerships for Homes England in Greater Manchester, including with GMCA and Manchester City Council.

Sherelle Fairweather
Digital Social Inclusion Lead, Manchester City Council

Sherelle has worked within the inequalities and social change space across the public and third sector for 10 years. As Digital Social Inclusion Lead, she is responsible for designing and implementing the Digital Inclusion Action Plan which drives the delivery of Manchester City Council’s strategy and focus on eradicating digital poverty. As a bold, empathetic, progressive leader, Sherelle mobilises action and long-lasting change through cross-organisational collaboration. She is enthused by projects that enable people to live their lives independently and fully. Sherelle also serves as a proud board member of the Manchester Animation Festival, Proper Job Theatre and Community Arts Northwest.

Ian Gilbert
Planning Director, Barton Willmore

Ian has been a Planning Director at Barton Willmore since April 2021 after joining as a Senior Planner in 2014. Ian is one of four members of the leadership team in Manchester’s office, leading a team of eight staff. Prior to this he was a Planner for Hunter Page Planning in Cheltenham for seven years. Ian’s experience is in advising private and public sector clients on a wide range of schemes including residential, commercial, retail, leisure and conservation-based projects, seeing them through the development management and plan-making process and project managing multi-disciplinary teams. Ian was the 2021 Chair of the NW RTPI which strives to drive forward the quality and value that planning delivers.

Laura Green
Development Manager, Stockport Mayoral Development Corporation

Laura is a Chartered Surveyor with over 15 years’ experience working in the north west property market across public and private sector roles. She currently oversees various projects and initiatives being delivered by Stockport Mayoral Development Corporation which is a dedicated regeneration vehicle created by the GM Mayor in 2019. Stockport is the first Mayoral Development Corporation in Greater Manchester – and the first in the country to focus on a town centre location - and is addressing some of the biggest challenges facing town centres in the UK today. In her previous role with Manchester City Council, Laura worked on a number of notable city centre regeneration and development schemes alongside private sector delivery partners.

Jennifer Kantor
Senior Associate, Trowers & Hamlins LLP

Jennifer's role sits within Trowers & Hamlins' Manchester Real Estate department and she has a wide range of experience in the real estate sector, acting for clients including local authorities, institutional investors, developers and third sector clients. Jennifer has particular expertise in advising on sales and acquisitions of investment properties and the ongoing asset management of large scale property portfolios with a varied mix of tenants. She is also a committee member of Women in Property in the North West and is involved in organising events with a view to sharing knowledge and promoting opportunities for women in the property industry.

Bethan McCaw
Delivery Manager, Greater Manchester Combined Authority

Over the past 12 years Bethan has worked in a range of housing and regeneration roles, including internationally at Vancouver City Council. She joined the GMCA in 2018, where she works in the Place Directorate supporting GM authorities to deliver their housing and growth ambitions. Her role includes managing investment through the Brownfield Housing Fund and Evergreen Surplus Fund and most recently, leading the coordination of the Growth Locations programme across GM. Prior to GMCA, Bethan worked for the Homes & Communities Agency as a Senior Manager. Bethan is also a member of the RTPI and a Prince2 Project Manager.

Beena Puri
Partnerships and Innovation Lead, Greater Manchester Combined Authority

Beena is responsible for delivering the Digital Blueprint for the region, powered by the biggest digital and creative cluster outside of the capital. She is the GMCA lead for the Greater Manchester Cyber Advisory Group with over 45 global, national and regional organisations from industry, local and national UK government, academia and community, convened with a vision to uplift and strengthen Greater Manchester’s world-class cyber cluster and the UK's digital security sector. Beena also leads the Greater Manchester Digital Inclusion Agenda for Change in partnership with the ten boroughs of Greater Manchester.

Helen Shearer
Head of Start Well - Strategic Lead for Early Years, Bolton Council

Helen has worked in senior leadership roles for the past 20 years, working in both private and public sectors across several roles within Early Years Education. In her current role Helen leads services to meet statutory duties across early years, with the ambition to improve outcomes for families and children at the earliest point for lasting change. Helen is a Local Government Association Peer and is effective at challenging teams and practice. Helen has led on complex service restructures and redesigns, for which she has won an outstanding performance award and she is passionate about integrated working to strengthen local accountability.

Sam Styles
Associate - Building Engineering, Arup

Sam is a chartered Structural Engineer with 14 years’ experience in building design. Sam often leads the input of Arup’s multi-disciplinary design teams and uses his cross-practice experience to deliver value to clients. His projects include town-centre redevelopments for Warrington Borough and Blackpool Councils, the Manchester School of Art and Arts and Humanities buildings for Manchester Metropolitan University, and Bruntwood’s Citylabs campus on Oxford Road. Sam has excellent digital skills and spends part of his time as a ‘Digital Integrator’ within Arup. This role involves identifying and developing suitable digital tools and helping to deploy them on projects.

Kelly Watson
Associate Director, Hatch Urban Solutions

Kelly has wide-ranging experience in sustainability, social value and wellbeing, with a particular specialism in social impact strategy and assessment. She has ten years of combined industry and academic experience in the development and application of social and environmental impact methodologies for cities, infrastructure, built environment and asset management clients. This includes in-depth stakeholder engagement and consultation experience with stakeholders, end users and local communities. Kelly is the author of a number of peer review publications in this field, was extensively involved in a working group for the RIBA Social Value Toolkit, and recently represented Hatch on the UKGBC’s Social Value Task Group.

Ashleigh Williams
Major Projects Manager, Bury Council

Ashleigh has worked in local government for 13 years. Her previous role was Head of Private Sector Housing which led her into Major Projects. Her current role is leading on delivering a mixed-use regeneration scheme for the redevelopment of Prestwich within the Borough of Bury. Working in partnership with a national developer and driving the planning and delivery of a portfolio of major capital projects including developments of public sector hub, residential, car park and commercial space. Ashleigh has responsibility for the co-ordination of all project and programme management activity across all RIBA stages and throughout project life cycles.

Follow this link to see the candidates for Leaders Plus Round 9, running in parallel in London.