Creating stronger business-led partnerships and driving economic growth across Tees Valley.
Tees Valley Business Board – chaired by Siobhan McArdle with Matthew Ord as Deputy Chair – is playing a defining role in representing the voice of local business. It will feed into the work of the Tees Valley Mayor, Combined Authority and Local Authorities, to advise on, establish and help lead projects, schemes and programmes that deliver real change to our local economy.
Chair of the Business Board
Founder The Strategy House, Chief Executive L3COS
Siobhan is the Founder of The Strategy House, a strategic planning and turnaround consultancy established in 2020. The Strategy House works in partnership with Corporates, SMEs and Investor backed businesses, both nationally and internationally, developing and delivering high growth, transformation and turnaround recovery plans, and the enabling organisation development and people management programmes.
Siobhan is also Group CEO of L3COS, a global, technology group, seeking to disrupt global supply chains, through the roll out of its proprietary blockchain based operating system, SMART contracting infrastructure, Global Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) payments system and client designed B2B Digital Applications.
Passionate about the Tees Valley, Siobhan grew up in Saltburn, before leaving to go to university, and has returned on more than one occasion to work in Teesside. First as a graduate trainee for Tees and Hartlepool Port Authority, now PD Ports, and more latterly as CEO of South Tees NHS Foundation Trust, delivering a £140 million Financial Recovery Programme over 4 years.
Having previously been a member of the TVCA Local Economic Partnership (LEP) Siobhan has spent the last 12 months working with the Tees Valley Mayor, Local Authority Leaders, and Central Government to reconfigure and replace the LEP, with the newly created Tees Valley Business Board.
Deputy Chair of the Business Board
Matthew is the Company Ambassador of LV Logistics globally. He has over 20 years’ experience in international trade and is a proud Teessider, having worked and lived here all his life.
Having previously worked for the North East of England chamber of commerce for 6 years as their International Trade lead, he developed relationships with all of the exporters in the region and became a credible source of support and guidance for those businesses.
When moving to LV Logistics, 7 years ago Matthew helped guide their business through some of the most challenging global impacts and process changes for many decades, this required dedication and a sound understanding of the global markets and the implications on trade from and with the UK.
Matthew’s understanding of the local business community is highly regarded, and he is often the barometer for Tees Valley in terms of measuring the current business climate. He is a highly credible business leader and is often to go to person for soft landings with new businesses and inward investment in Tees Valley.
Matthew is also Trustee for Vision Academy (8 schools in Teesside); Vice-Chair of Tees and Hartlepool Port Users Association – (Chair as of December l) and Member of The Etc’s LAB (Logistics advisory board)
Imran is the CEO and Founder of Alt Labs, a national award-winning innovation company.
Starting as a solo venture, it has landed substantial contracts with renowned entities such as the London North Eastern Railway, Transport for Wales, Go-Ahead Group and UCL, resulting in year-on-year growth. Imran's strategic leadership has transformed Alt Labs into the go-to provider for startups to FTSE 100 companies. His extensive expertise encompasses Growth Hacking, Digital Transformation, Mobile Apps, SaaS, Big Data, and Web Development, demonstrating his ability to fuse pioneering strategies with practical solutions, which Microsoft and the BBC have featured.
As part of Imran's accomplishments at Alt Labs, he has become an integral pillar of the global tech startup community. His mentorship has nurtured the growth of over 180 startups, guiding them in refining their technologies and securing over £23 million in contracts and VC funding.
In 2023, Imran launched Flok Co-Working Space in Teesside, a pioneering community of tech startups and established businesses looking at the future of office space.
With more than a decade of in-depth experience in Transport, Banking, Fintech, Retail, E-commerce and FMCG, Imran's leadership has also been recognised nationally. Under his guidance, Alt Labs was honoured as the FSB's 'Largest Small Business of the Year 2023'. Adding to its growing list of accolades, Alt Labs clinched the Tees Tech for Good award and Imran himself was celebrated as the Tees Valley BME Leader of the Year 2021.
Through Imran’s membership of the Tees Valley Business Board he is playing a defining role in representing the voice of local business, feeding into the work of the Tees Valley Mayor, Combined Authority and Local Authorities, to advise on, establish and help lead projects, schemes and programmes that deliver real change to the local business community and economy.
Gary is Quality Manager at bp. Having completed a craft apprenticeship at Smith’s Dock, Southbank, Middlesbrough, he went on to obtain both BSc Hons and masters degrees. He has 40 years of practical experience within the Energy and Construction industries and is presently working as part of a project management team on several large-scale low carbon energy projects based on Teesside.
He has worked on major Exploration and Production (EP) projects within the UK, Europe, Russia, Far East, Middle East and Americas.
Gary has previously contributed to developing and implementing several overseas In-country growth and value chain development programs and is presently on the board of trustees for a local school trust. A natural leader, communicator, adept problem solver and decision maker with good people management and communication skills (Craft, Engineer, PEER, Shareholder, Stakeholder and Government Bodies), he brings knowledge and experience in developing and implementing Business Management Systems, Corporate Frameworks and Assurance processes.
Steel Benders UK
Tania is the Managing Director of Steel Benders UK Ltd, a family-owned business she co-founded with her husband Malcolm in 2002. The company specialises in providing steel forming and profiling services and serves offshore, architectural design, renewable energy, and manufacturing industries from their base in Teesside.
Her career started in 1990 when she joined Alexander Technologies Europe LTD as Finance Manager and later rose to become the CEO. Alexander is involved in designing and manufacturing batteries and chargers for portable power applications, operating across multiple countries, including Mexico, USA, Malaysia, and the UK, supplying OEM customers worldwide.
Tania's expertise encompasses global logistics, manufacturing operations, finance, procurement, CEM management, regulatory design management, and ISO.
Her outstanding contributions to international trade and business in the North East earned her the North East Exporter of the Year Award and the prestigious MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire).
Tania's dedication to the business community is evident through her past roles as Chair of the NE Regional International Trade Office for UK Trade and Investment and Chair of East Durham Business Services. Tania remains actively involved in the business world as a member of the Business Durham Advisory Board, where she supports business development and job creation in County Durham. Moreover, she holds the position of Chair for the County Durham Regional Growth Fund and serves as a Chair of the North East STEM Foundation, a charity that focuses on promoting education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) for children in the North East.
Paul is Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Teesside University. He has worked in four universities and held a succession of leadership roles over a thirty-year career in higher education, including the Director of Sheffield Business School, the Dean of Newcastle Business School, and the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Learning and Teaching) and Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Northumbria University.
An academic scholar in the field of management and business education, Paul has embedded an entrepreneurial outlook at Teesside University, leading with authenticity and ambition. His dedication to transforming lives and economies through education was recognised with an OBE for services to higher education and economic regeneration in 2021.
Paul’s deep understanding of the education ecosystem and skills economy, his international networks and global outlook and commitment to working in partnership will ensure a collaborative and ambitious approach is adopted by the Business Board.
Paul is also a board member of Universities UK and the University Alliance and Director of several Teesside University group ventures.
K2 Construction Management
David is Head of Project Management and Consultancy at K2, currently tasked with managing the delivery of SeAH Wind’s mammoth monopile manufacturing facility on Teesworks and helping to establish K2’s new headquarters in Middlesbrough.
He has worked across the Tees Valley for more than 20 years and is a highly experienced commercial, programme and project professional with a track record in building teams, operations, project delivery, business development, company governance and risk management across large, complex projects.
David is a respected figurehead, who fully understands the diversity of sectors and markets across the region as well the complexity of delivery.
An active member of Constructing Excellence North East, David champions a One Voice agenda across the construction industry as well as developing a sustainable and thriving network for future generations and leaders.
North East Screen
Alison leads North East Screen, North East England’s Screen Agency whose work is focused on economic recovery and growth to deliver the sustainable development of the screen industries in the region.
Alison has over 25 years’ experience in culture and creative industry from providing marketing leadership at the Centre for Life to being instrumental in the planning and development of Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children’s Books. Her passion is to support the commercial business development of creative industry in North East England to be sustainable and thrive.
Recent achievements include securing investment of £37 million in the region from both a Partnership with the BBC and the formation of a landmark pan region partnership – North East Screen Industry Partnership (NESIP). NESIP was formed by the 3 Combined and 12 Local Authorities from across the region to level up the regional film and TV industries by more than doubling its 2019 share of the UK production market and delivering an annual economic impact to the regional economy of £88m. Alison received a Royal Television Society award for Outstanding Contribution to the Screen industry in 2022.
North East Screen’s head office is in Hartlepool and the organisation has been working across the wider Tees Valley for over 6 years. Alison Chairs the Tees Valley Creative Place Advisory group and is committed to supporting Tees Valley talent, creatives, freelancers, and businesses to be match fit and reach their potential.
Helen is a Partner at Knights specialising in commercial disputes and business protection. In addition to litigious matters, she advises businesses in respect of preventative measures and offers ongoing support to businesses in their growth strategies, the protection of assets and mitigation of risks to support longevity and success.
Helen has spent the entirety of her career practising law in Teesside. With that comes a wealth of experience in advising businesses in the region, navigating them through some of the most challenging times.
Helen is also responsible for training, development and learning for Knights’ future generation of lawyers in Teesside. She also takes the lead in developing and promoting Knights’ green energy offering.
Tees Valley Education
Katrina is the CEO of Tees Valley Education, a Multi-Academy Trust serving children and young people in mainstream, additional resource provisions, and specialist educational settings.
Originally a chemical engineer in blue chip companies and now with over two decades of expertise in education, she has spent 15 years in leadership roles across diverse establishments and Local Authorities, primarily in areas marked by significant disadvantage. She possesses a fervent commitment to addressing societal inequalities through education. With a strong sense of social purpose underlying her personal and professional goals she is equally dedicated to a more inclusive world; serving children and young people with a range of specialist educational needs and opening a new, £10million free school in Middlesbrough, which is now being expanded to secondary.
Fostering the arts and cultural development for both children and the community, Katrina has actively collaborated with a range of businesses and industries. Through interaction, lived experiences, connection, and visibility she aims to enhance the life prospects for those she serves, as well as contributing to stronger regional outputs.
She also serves as Vice-Chair of the Power of Women, a local campaign to lift and shift the opportunities for young women in the area, collaborates with Teesside University and is a long-standing member of SSAT’s primary national advisory board. She holds various key roles in a range of national and regional educational organisations.
Willis Aviation Services Limited
Kevin is an experienced business owner and aviation professional. Kevin has a varied background in small business which was predominantly property and construction based until finding his passion for aviation. Now with 25 years’ experience in aviation, Kevin started his aviation career as a pilot for Newcastle-based Gill Airways. Kevin then went on to fly for a selection of airlines at Teesside and Newcastle including Thomas Cook, Flyglobespan and Jet2.
Since leaving the cockpit behind Kevin has continued in aviation, setting up an aircraft disassembly company at Teesside and in Arizona, USA. Kevin now heads up the Teesside operation for Willis Aviation Services Limited which has incorporated four businesses at Teesside, including commercial aircraft maintenance for major European airlines, aircraft disassembly and recycling services, airport ground handling operations and a full service FBO (Jet Centre by Willis) which handles corporate jet movements at Teesside Airport. Willis Aviation Services Limited is a subsidiary of Willis Lease Finance Corporation (WLFC), a USA-based NASDAQ-listed company.
Mike is the CEO of Racz Group, a franchise and non-franchise business across multiple sectors. Mike began as a Domino’s delivery driver and making pizzas soon developed into a deeper passion for the business. When a franchise opportunity became available, Mike decided to enhance his career in 2006 and his franchise journey began.
His appetite for the franchise business quickly developed further and Racz Group is now thriving. The company head office sits at the heart of Wynyard Business Park, whilst the businesses continue to expand rapidly throughout Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Racz Group has firmly established itself, running across ten sectors in over 100 sites, including property, barber shops, hospitality, digital marketing, fitness and ecommerce. The diverse mix works well for the group, turning over nearly £100m per year.
The staff family ethos is apparent, and this provides the group with the team to build the business further. Building businesses and aspiring future developments are a key part of what Mike and his team do.
Sophie currently works as the Strategic Partnerships Director at CPI (part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult). Within this role she leads a team which seeks to create regional benefits from cutting edge research and innovation.
Sophie is a biotechnologist by background with more than 20 years’ experience of commercial and operational leadership roles, interfacing with both private and public sectors. She has a keen interest in the role of technology and innovation in economic growth and around support for technology startups and spin outs - and one of her previous roles included working as a CEO of a biotechnology start up.
In other roles she has supported the public sector in policy development thinking with BEIS, Government Office for Science, and UK Research and Innovation.
She also participates in a number of external Advisory Teams and boards and is an active Non Executive Director. She also Chairs the High Value Manufacturing Catapults Special Purpose Grouping on Place and Regionalisation. Despite being a “soft southerner” by birth she has lived and worked in Tees Valley for over 15 years and is hugely passionate about helping to make it the best that it can be – leveraging the regions unique history, and the passion and talents of its people.
Sign up below to enter our mailing list for the Tees Valley NewsletterSubscribe →
Join us on social media for the latest news