Mark Hughes, Chief Executive, The Growth Company

Mark was appointed the Group Chief Executive of The Growth Company in 2013. The Growth Company is a group of businesses (including the Business Growth Hub, Marketing Manchester, MIDAS, among others) whose purpose is to collectively drive forward GM’s economic development and deliver the Greater Manchester Strategy (GMS) priorities in relation to employment, skills, business support, inward investment, international marketing, the visitor economy, policy development and research. Their motto is “enabling growth, creating jobs, improving lives”.

During his time at Ernst & Young, he was responsible for the creation of the European Investment Monitor, which established EY as a leading commentator on European mobile inward investment projects. Within 12 short months the service grew by 30%, and client satisfaction ratings increased by 10%. He also introduced the EY Global Financial Incentive programme, which generated 2m of new revenue in only 4 months.

In his role at the NWDA, performance targets with sponsoring departments were consistently met or exceeded, and as NWDA CEO, Mark established the North West as the best performing (in value and volume) FDI region outside London. Mark was awarded an MBE for services to business in the North West in the 2013 New Years Honours.



Vicky Barton - Director of Human Resources & Organisational Development

Vicky Barton is the Director of HR & Organisational Development (OD) which forms part of Corporate Services in the Growth Company. Previously Head of HR & OD for 3 years at a social housing provider.

Vicky has 20 years’ experience of working in HR both strategically and operationally across a number of different sectors including Local Government, Policing and Higher Education.



Steve Burrows - Managing Director for Organisational Development Services

Steve Burrows is MD for Organisational Development Services, the GC portfolio of B2B Commercial activities that include Training, Advisory, Recruitment and Certification services to employers in GM, across the UK.

An experienced Director and Non Exec, Steve has worked in the Organisational Improvement environment for over 25 years, helping organisations towards success.



Donna Edwards, Managing Director for Business Support & Business Finance

Donna Edwards is MD for Business Support & Business Finance in The Growth Company.  Previously Head of Charity Operations/Company Secretary at the Manufacturing Institute for four Years.

Donna has over 22 years’ experience of working in the areas of business support, workforce development, international trade, access to finance and innovation services across the NW Region, delivering services to meet the strategic priorities of the area.



Colin Geering - Group Business Development Director, Chief Execs Office

Colin Geering joined the Growth Company in October 2017 to head up a newly established Group Business Development Team. He is responsible for our business growth strategy and the development of innovative new approaches to supporting people, businesses and places.

Colin has over 17 years’ experience as a senior leader delivering growth and innovation across the public, private and third sector organisations. Colin has worked to successfully shape and deliver policy within local and national Government and was a leading early proponent of devolution within employment and skills policy. Colin joined the group following four successful years leading business development and bidding activity for a global public service provider.



Michelle Leeson - Managing Director for The Growth Company: Employment

Michelle Leeson is the Managing Director for Employment within the Growth Company. Previously Operations Director, Michelle has been part of the Growth Company management team for 11 years and has been responsible for leading large-scale implementation and operational management of employment related programmes.

Michelle has over 16 years’ experience of working within Welfare to Work, Recruitment, Skills and Careers Guidance, and is extremely passionate about leading and developing teams to change thousands of people’s lives by enabling them to break down barriers and move into employment.



Paul Simpson – Chief Financial Officer

Paul has been Chief Financial Officer for the Growth Company since March 2018, having been Chief Operating Officer for the previous four years. He has responsibility for the Group finance function, internal audit, legal, procurement and company secretary.

Previously, Paul was Managing Director of Visit Manchester, the destination management organisation (DMO) for Greater Manchester and the tourism division of Marketing Manchester. He joined Marketing Manchester in 1998 as Director of Finance and Operations and in 2002 became Deputy Chief Executive. In 2011, Paul also took on the role of Chief Operating Officer of the ‘Manchester family’ of organisations – Marketing Manchester, MIDAS, New Economy and Manchester Solutions.

A qualified accountant (CIMA) since 1989, Paul worked in a number of sectors before joining Marketing Manchester. These include training, newsprint manufacturing and financial services.



Sheona Southern - Managing Director of Marketing Manchester

Sheona leads Marketing Manchester, the agency charged with promoting Greater Manchester on a national and international stage to visitors, investors and businesses. The agency works with key partners including VB, UKTI, Manchester Airport, TfGM, Manchester Central, airlines, businesses and destinations; as well as GM’s key education, cultural and sporting brands; to raise the profile of Greater Manchester as a global city region and its position at the heart of the Northern Powerhouse and as an alternative gateway to the UK .

With a wealth of experience across several sectors including media, retail and tourism, Sheona is a well-respected figure in the North West. Before joining Marketing Manchester Sheona ran her own destination consultancy working with clients across the UK and also held a number of high profile marketing roles including the BBC, Cumbria Tourism, Teamtalk Media Group and M&S. Earlier in her career she served in the RAF as an Education & Training Officer. Out of hours she enjoys the outdoors with family including her teenage daughter and Dipper, her very springy spaniel.


Jon-Paul Rimington - Managing Director of GC Education & Skills

Jon-Paul Rimington is the Managing Director for GC Education & Skills within the Growth Company, specifically focused on supporting new entrants into employment and the provision of ongoing individualised support to enhance continued progression. An experienced Director at operational and board level, Jon-Paul has over 20 years’ experience within the work based learning and Apprenticeships sector.