People: LCR Race Equality Hub; BDO; FourNet; St John’s Buildings; Aibytech; Excello Law

Alison Navarro

An experienced community activist and passionate campaigner for racial justice has been appointed as programme director for the new Liverpool City Region Race Equality Hub.

Born in Liverpool, Alison Navarro is an expert in leading and facilitating change in partnership with local people, the community and voluntary sector and public agencies.

Her experience includes working in regeneration in Liverpool 8 in the 1990s, as partnership manager for a North West-based local authority and operating as a freelancer for many years, working with and supporting community development, equalities practice and partnership working.

The £2.3m Race Equality Hub is a new venture, established by Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, that will support career opportunities for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities and the development of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic businesses across the Liverpool City Region (LCR). It is the largest investment in race equality in the history of the city region and builds on the region’s values as a place of innovation and support for social justice.

Steve Rotheram said: “As a lifelong campaigner for racial justice, Alison’s appointment is a really exciting milestone on our journey – and I cannot wait to see how she helps to shape the future direction of the Race Equality Hub.”

Alison Navarro said: “I look forward to working with the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities across the city region, hearing their experiences and codesigning with them and partners from across the city region to drive real change. The level of investment in the Hub is a real statement of intent.”


Angela Cross

Accountancy and business advisory firm, BDO is welcoming more than 40 trainees across its North West hubs in Manchester and Liverpool this week in roles across audit, tax and advisory.

The trainees will be a combination of school leaver apprentices and university graduates, with 37 based from BDO’s central Manchester office and seven in Liverpool. As part of their training programme, the majority of the new joiners will also have opportunity to undertake a level-7 apprenticeship programme, resulting in a qualification equivalent to a master’s degree.

Applications for the firm’s 2024 graduate and school leaver apprentice programmes will open later this month, with more than 700 positions available. More than 500 of this group will join the firm’s audit practice.

Angela Cross, regional managing partner at BDO, said: “The North West is home to some of the country’s brightest talent and we’re investing significantly as a firm to provide the career opportunities and pathways that enable young people from all walks of life to access a vibrant and exciting profession, such as accountancy.”


Iain Johnson

Digital transformation and customer experience specialists, FourNet, has appointed Sabio’s former principal solutions lead as head of solution design.

Iain Johnson joins Manchester-based FourNet as the company’s new vendor agnostic customer experience (CX) function forges a sector-leading reputation for achieving rapid data-led, outcome focused results.

As principal solutions manager at CX technology firm Sabio’s Solutions Group, Johnson was responsible for managing a large solutions design team focused on their contact centre as a service (CCaaS) offering for customers.

Stuart Williams, chief technology officer at FourNet, said: “Iain Johnson is one of the most experienced solution design leaders around, and brings a wealth of skills and a fresh perspective to FourNet which will benefit our customers.”

Johnson spent eight years at Sabio and prior to that was principal solution consultant, EMEA, for US CX software firm, Genesys.

He said: “I’ve been in the industry for a long time, and I’m incredibly excited at this opportunity to join FourNet as it grows and innovates at an incredible pace.”

Johnson’s appointment is the latest in a string of senior hires. Former strategy consulting director at Capita, Oliver Bareham, joined as customer experience director last year, and ex innovations director at Capita, Alan Linter was recently hired as group consulting director.

Based in Manchester, with offices in London and Derby, FourNet employs around 150 staff and achieved revenues in 2022 of £37m.


James Roberts KC

James Roberts KC, who practices from 1KBW in London, has joined St John’s Buildings Chambers as a door tenant.

St John’s Buildings is a tier-1 ranked, multi-disciplinary set of barristers, providing national coverage from Chambers in Manchester, Chester, Liverpool and Sheffield.

James is vice chair of the Family Law Bar Association and a founding board member of the Institute of Family Law Arbitrators. He has been at the forefront of developing ADR (alternative dispute resolution) approaches in financial remedy cases. He sits as a part-time Judge authorised to hear complex cases in the Financial Remedy Court.

As a Door Tenant James will act as an arbitrator as well as offering private FDRs/early neutral evaluations. He joins Sally Harrison KC and Samantha Hillas KC, both nationally renowned and respected matrimonial finance experts, to enhance the team of nationally-recognised Silks offering Financial Remedy ADR services from St John’s Buildings.

Sally Harrison said: “We have already seen significant growth in the use of Private FDRs, and this is certain to continue with Arbitration cases in future. James’s first class experience ensures he will be an outstanding and invaluable addition to our existing team.”


Luke Pilford-Thomas

Tech entrepreneur and investor, Luke Pilfold-Thomas has joined the board of directors at Manchester baby-tech firm, Aibytech. The announcement follows Aibytech’s recent investment round completion, which saw £1m secured.

Experienced in technology delivery, commercial strategy, and investor relations, Luke has already played a critical role in Aibytech’s recent funding journey and will bring a wealth of knowledge to the board across web/mobile applications, information security and digital strategy.

He said: “In a market that is stagnating from a lack of innovation, Aibytech is setting the standard when it comes to digitisation in the infant and baby sector. As a tech entrepreneur, and new dad, I saw huge potential in Aibytech’s product roadmap and vision.”

In preparation for a major launch in 2024, Luke will help drive the governance and commercialisation of Aibytech’s product portfolio, as well as providing counsel across the technical and digital aspects of the business, including mobile app, user journey, analytics, data and security.

Stephen Senior, Aibytech founder, said: “As well as sharing my entrepreneurial spirit, Luke’s unique commercial and digital background made him the perfect person to help us create and deliver the strategic vision and plan for Aibytech, especially the innovation we’re trying to bring to the baby and infant market.”


Robin Gill

Excello Law has appointed Robin Gill as a partner.

He is a highly regarded corporate lawyer and trusted advisor to businesses of all sizes, from start-ups to enterprises involved in significant transactions. With more than two decades of experience in corporate law and a specialisation in advising owner-managed and family-owned businesses, Robin brings a wealth of expertise to the firm.

Regional director, Julie Morgan, said: “Robin’s calibre as a corporate lawyer is truly exceptional and will expand the expertise of our team in the North West. His track record of providing invaluable support to businesses aligns perfectly with our commitment to delivering a top-tier legal service for clients.”

Robin Gill said: “Joining a stable of over 200 experienced partners with a broad range of specialisms is a huge win-win for my clients and for me.”