Meet the Team

Please note that business advisers and account managers are assigned by geographical location

Abigail Phillips

Adviser Manager

Abi leads a team of business advisers across the East Midlands. With a strong financial background and over a decade of entrepreneurial experience, Abigail's journey from running her own business to business assistance reflects her adaptability and practical skills.

In addition, having worked as a high-growth business coach in ERDF projects and holding an ILM Level 7 in leadership and management, Abigail specialises in supporting business growth and innovation within the retail and e-commerce sectors under the UKSPF programme. Her expertise is valuable in facilitating the development of businesses in the East Midlands.

Andrew Bunn

Business Adviser

With a background in local authority business support and Chambers of Commerce, Andy has over 15 years’ experience working with and advising businesses.

Initially specialising in supporting start up and early stage businesses, Andy has helped hundreds of individuals to follow their dream and successfully start and grow their own business. Now working with all sizes of business and across all sectors, Andy is on hand acting as a critical friend and sounding board, providing advice, guidance and a long list of useful contacts.

With an impartial view, Andy will examine your business to more.

Cat Walls

Business Adviser

Cat joined East Midlands Chamber in 2024 following a role at University of Derby, where she spent 4 years in the Business Services team, advising local businesses on European and Government funded support. With further experience working with SME businesses in the Nottinghamshire and Staffordshire Visitor Economy, and as an Account Manager with an independent retail and exhibition design firm, she is now able to advise on key marketing tools, the benefits of working in partnership and signpost to a wide range of support available.

Qualified with an ILM Level 5 in organisational coaching and mentoring she combines more.

David Smith​​​​

Business Adviser

David has worked in the business support arena for over 20 years, spanning roles as Business Adviser, coach and mentor. During this time David has also managed multiple publicly funded grant programmes, helping 300+ businesses access over £10m in grant funding. David has also run his own consultancy business, delivering Access to Finance seminars and providing specialist innovation support on a one-to-one basis.

A Level 5 qualified coach and mentor, David combines his role as a Business Adviser within the Chamber’s Enterprise team with external business coaching roles.

Emily Gascoyne

Events and Engagement Officer

Emily started at the East Midlands Chamber of Commerce as a Business Administration Apprentice, completing her Business Administration Level 2 and 3 and after 7 years with the Chamber she have been in varied ERDF funded roles and supported different projects, including the D2N2 Growth Hub.

Emma Straw

Digital Marketing Specialist

With over 9 years experience in copywriting, proofreading, digital marketing and SEO, Emma is able to understand and implement successful campaigns and marketing for events both online and in person.

Supporting and creating marketing campaigns for the Growth Hub, this enables businesses, local authorities and partnerships to get involved with local events, as well as publicising local partner events within the D2N2 network.

In Emma's spare time, she regularly volunteers with Re-engage a charity which aims to bring together more.

Hannah Kerridge

Events and Engagement Officer

Hannah has been involved with events across various sectors over the last 7 years.

She has been working as the Event and Engagement Officer for the D2N2 Growth Hub since 2019 and oversees the projects online events and the face to face sessions across Derby, Derbyshire. She works closely with local authorities in the area, arranging business surgeries, events and their other involvements with the Growth Hub.

Helen Carter

Frontline Growth Hub Adviser Manager

Helen has worked within organisations providing information to businesses for over 30 years.

During this time, Helen has built up a working knowledge of business development support services and funding schemes locally and nationally. She has used this knowledge to help all types and sizes of business, from pre-starts to multinational companies, to access the support they need quickly and effectively.

Insan Farooqi

Business Adviser

Insan has worked in business support and consultancy for 15 years. In that time, he's worked with start-ups and large companies, across many industry sectors. His business support career started with Business Link and continued with other support organisations.

After University, Insan’s IT career began when he started as a Programmer, progressing to Director of Technical Services. He worked with several businesses in the UK, Europe and had a 3-year stint in the USA.

With his experience of setting up two businesses and managing a family business, Insan’s well more.

Kalpna Mistry​​​​

Marketing Manager

Kalpna brings over 25 years of marketing and communications experience from her career in business support organisations. Since 2017, she's contributed to publicly funded projects at East Midlands Chamber, including a marketing strategy for the Collaborate project, boosting economic growth in Leicestershire.

As Marketing Executive for the Leicestershire Business Gateway Growth Hub since 2019, she was part of a partnership project which supported 4,000 businesses, distributed £2.06m in grant funding and delivered over 500 workshops/ webinars.

Kalpna is currently responsible for the marketing to promote the Chamber’s funded business support more.

Kam Atker

Events and Engagement Officer

Kam has been with the East Midlands Chamber since 1999, working on funded projects including the Digital Growth Programme and the Digital Upscaler Project.

She has over 25 years of experience in organising events, workshops and conferences and delivering a range of projects. Kam also networks at events with businesses from all sectors and sizes, providing them with the support and help they need to grow their business.

Kam has a wealth of experience and knowledge in supporting businesses and understands the importance of providing a good customer care service to everyone she engages more.

Lara Beardsmore

Start-Up Advisor and Business Coach

Lara's dedication to empowering individuals to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams has been evident throughout her tenure. Playing a pivotal role in the success of the Chamber's Back 2 Work project, where her guidance and expertise helped numerous individuals transition into successful business owners.

Lara is currently part of a wider team within the Accelerator Programme at East Midlands Chamber. She is enthusiastic about equipping new businesses with the necessary tools and knowledge to thrive in today's competitive landscape. Her background is rich in communication skills, empathy, passion, and relatability, all of which more.

Lisa Byers

Frontline Growth Hub Adviser

Lisa has experience of setting up a new business as well as being a sole trader for 10 years. She also has over 12 years experience in retail management.

Having ran her own business, Lisa can relate to the day-to-day running and real-life challenges that business owners face. Combined with her passion for supporting others, business acumen and knowledge of trading in the East Midlands area, Lisa can provide relevant information to support businesses, from pre-starts to large businesses in an effective and timely manner.

Paul Stuart

Head of Business Support Services

Paul is the East Midlands Chamber’s Head of Enterprise, responsible for the delivery of its enterprise and business support products and services across the East Midlands.

Paul has worked in business support for over 20 years and is experienced in delivering ERDF contracts. He is responsible for the Chamber's publicly funded enterprise contracts, including ERDF and other funded contracts. This includes managing the ERDF funded D2N2 Growth Hub project, the LLEP Business Gateway project, and the Chamber’s LLEP Collaborate Project.

Peter Lawrence​​​​

Business Adviser

Peter has worked in the public sector, corporate and SME arena with a strong focus on employer engagement and business support for over 30 years.

During this time he has also ran two businesses, B2B and B2C, gaining direct experience of what it takes to launch, develop and grow a viable business proposition.

With a strong business development, sales and marketing background Pete has provided consultancy, coaching and mentoring support to businesses across a range of sectors in the UK and overseas.

Fully committed to the interdependency of education, industry and more.

Richard Crowden

Business Adviser

Initially working in the Logistics sector as a consultant, Richard moved into Business support, working as a Business Adviser for Business Link Nottinghamshire, EMB Ltd, NBV Ltd and Pinnacle People. Delivering European and Council funded projects for over twenty years. Supporting both start-up and existing SMEs.

Richard is an experienced company Director and Business owner, with experience across various sectors including house building, food production and retail.

Serleeka Saini

Marketing and Communications Executive

Serleeka has been Marketing and Communications Executive at East Midlands Chamber since 2017 working on funded projects including the Digital Growth Programme and Digital Upscaler project.

Serleeka has over 18 years’ of marketing experience having worked in a number of marketing roles including the higher education sector. Prior to this, Serleeka also supported a research project; Supplier Diversity East Midlands funded by EMDA, which aimed to support EMBs.

Serleeka's current role is to raise awareness of the diverse range of business support available through the Chamber and D2N2 Growth Hub. This will more.

Sonny Lakhani

Business Adviser

Sonny started his career in the field of supporting and engaging businesses within the sector of learning and development consultancies, as a business development manager and coach. To enable SME’s and charities with their challenges. Bringing context and growth to businesses and enabling individuals, and assist in alleviating challenges.

Having worked in the corporate and private sectors for 20+ years, Sonny changed his focus to charities and social enterprises, however, presently he works with all sectors, industries and business sizes.

Sonny works with businesses towards evolving, more.

Steve Phillips

Business Adviser

Steve joined the East Midlands Chamber of Commerce in 2021, working as a Digital High Street Adviser for the Chesterfield Digital High Street program.

Steve helped both small and large businesses develop their online presence which was highlighted as an important area during and coming out of the the pandemic. Having successfully ran an online business for 10 years, Steve was able to transfer the skills that he acquired during that time to help businesses looking to engage with their clients and customers via online platforms and e-commerce websites.

Free Expert Business Advice and Support

Your business is unique but the challenges that you face aren’t, with our support, we can help get you through them.

Our impartial business support is delivered by experienced, expert business advisers, giving you the right advice at the right time for your business.

Contact us today to access a wealth of support, events, business growth programmes and expert advice.

Abigail Phillips
Adviser Manager
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