People on the Move: Intelligent Conversation; Ardmac; Springhill Care Home; Catalyst Finance; Amadeus Capital

Rhiannon McDowall

Intelligent Conversation has appointed former MEN Media news editor, Rhiannon McDowall, as its latest senior hire.

Having worked in senior roles at MEN Media and as news editor for the Macclesfield Express for the past 10 years Rhiannon joins the multi award-winning PR and communications agency as senior consultant.

This is the first of a series of strategic appointments and follows a number of client wins for the £1.3m-turnover agency, which is now in its 10th year.

Recent wins include significant contracts in the international oil and gas sector, along with new clients in higher education and healthcare technology.

Kate Jones, Intelligent Conversation’s managing director, said: “We are investing in our team to support the growth of the business and this is the first in a series of strategic new hires.

“Rhiannon’s senior journalism background is a natural fit for the agency and we are delighted to welcome her to our experienced team.”

Rhiannon McDowall said: “I am really excited to get stuck into my new role and work alongside such a talented team.

“I remain passionate about the news industry and look forward to working with Intelligent Conversation to deliver an interesting range of communications campaigns.”

Rhiannon joins the 14-strong team based at the agency’s Manchester office. Its clients include Synectics, EMIS Group, Brother International Europe and Eddie Stobart Logistics.


Ardmac, the Manchester-based international construction specialist, has announced the appointments of Phil Chadwick as operations manager and Jim Storey as pre-contract manager.

Phil Chadwick

With a background in project delivery Phil has significant leadership experience in the construction industry, while Jim’s background is in quantity surveying and commercial management.

Phil has held previous roles as project manager, key account director and operations director and will be responsible for the delivery of Ardmac’s major projects in the North West.

Jim has worked in pre-construction roles for the past 15 years in commercial management and will be responsible for overseeing the compilation of targeted tender submissions for Ardmac’s key clients.

Andrew Winstanley, Ardmac managing director, said: “We are delighted to have Phil and Jim joining the Ardmac team. They both bring significant experience to our business as we continue to grow across the North West.”

Jim Storey

Phil Chadwick said: “I am looking forward to working with the Ardmac team. They have been very welcoming and there are some great projects on the horizon in the near future.”

Jim Storey added: “Joining Ardmac has been a great next step for my career. I am eager to get settled in with the team and look forward to an exciting future with the company.”

Ardmac specialises in interior fit-out construction and recently completed the Barbirolli House project in Manchester.

The business is currently working on the development of the Edward Pavilion at Royal Albert Dock in Liverpool.


A new member of the senior team has been appointed at Accrington-based Springhill Care Home and is driving the future of care forward by encouraging people to take up nursing.

Bernadette Bennett is now the deputy manager of Springhill after 38 years of working in the care sector for the NHS and private sector.

Bernadette, who has been promoted after being at Springhill as service manager for three years, said: “Springhill is a great place to work, even though it is quite large. It actually feels like a family here and that is something that I value. This enables us to make it a home from home for our residents as well.”

Springhill is currently rated as ‘good’ by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and Bernadette said that, along with the team, she aims to have an ‘outstanding’ home recognised by the governing body.

She said she wants people to take up nursing through the award-winning Springhill Care Group, which also operates homes in Skelmersdale and Bristol.

She added: “We offer careers at Springhill. Not everybody wants to go to college or university, but if they come to work at Springhill we can give them underpinning knowledge and confidence to get the qualifications to go into nursing and hopefully in the years to come those nurses may come back to Springhill to work.”

Springhill encourages all staff to develop skills and qualifications and currently 90% of its staff hold, or are working towards, a minimum of Qualification Level 2 Diploma in Health and Social Care (QCF).

Catalyst Finance has appointed Laura Rees as a client account director to join its sales team.

Laura has 20 years’ experience supporting SMEs in the finance market.

Laura Rees

She started her career as a small business manager for Barclays and has also worked for HBOS, RBS Invoice Finance, and most recently, NatWest Bank as a relationship director in their corporate and commercial team.

Her role will be to develop new relationships with the intermediary community and expand Catalyst’s exposure across the North West.

Laura said: “I’m delighted to be joining Catalyst. They are short term lenders who genuinely take the time to understand the wants and needs of the client.

“They are one of the most approachable and innovative short term funding providers in the market and have a reputation for delivering finance solutions that fit their clients’ needs perfectly.”

Martine Catton, chief operating officer at Catalyst, said: “Laura is a fantastic asset to the business and I’m delighted that she has decided to join the Catalyst family.

“Hitting the £500m funding milestone, expanding our product range and now Laura joining the team has seen 2018 be one of our best trading years we’ve experienced and I’m excited for our plans in 2019.”


Global technology investor Amadeus Capital Partners has announced the addition of partner Volker Hirsch to its team of early stage venture capital investors.

Volker’s expertise is in artificial intelligence and machine learning, human-machine interfaces, enterprise SaaS, autonomous systems, digital health and medical technologies.

He is an entrepreneur who has founded and co-founded seven companies to date.

Volker Hirsch

Volker lives in Macclesfield and works from Manchester.

Starting out as a corporate lawyer with Luther in Hamburg, he left to join one of the world’s first mobile technology incubators in 2000 and, over the next 10 years, helped launch some of the earliest services and applications in the mobile space.

As chief strategy officer at Scoreloop, a mobile social gaming platform, he helped it grow to 450m users at its peak.

After its acquisition by BlackBerry in 2011, he served as BlackBerry’s global head of business development-games.

He is currently co-founder of Blue Beck, a mobile development house.

He is also venture partner at Emerge Education, the EdTech accelerator programme, and co-founder of Tech North Advocates, championing the case for technology and innovation in the North of England.

Anne Glover, Amadeus Capital Partners chief executive, said: “Volker’s extensive networks will give Amadeus a great competitive edge.

“Volker’s work as a tech advocate in the North of England also brings us closer to the compelling innovations occurring in that region.”