People: Basecamp Skills; GC Insight; Together; Bruton Knowles; Harrison Drury; MHA Moore and Smalley

Lisa Claydon

A free digital skills training academy, founded by three of the UK’s top innovators, has hired its first operations director this week. Basecamp Skills says Lisa Claydon, the ex-managing director of the Northcoders TechEd business, will bring her experience in bridging the digital skills gap for businesses while creating life-changing opportunities for individuals.

With apprenticeships and alternative education booming, Claydon’s expertise in leading operations, managing staff and overseeing quality and compliance will report to CEO, Amy Wild, and help accelerate her new employer’s growth.

Based in Manchester, Basecamp Skills, is a fully-funded training academy founded by the former COO of Social Chain, Dominic McGregor, along with fellow entrepreneurs David Newns and Charlie Yates. Launched in 2022, Basecamp Skills has since won more than £2m in funding from the Department for Education, as well as a string of impressive business awards.

Lisa Claydon said: “I am thrilled to be joining Basecamp Skills and leading operations for such an impactful training provider. Now more than ever, we need innovative approaches to empower learners and equip them with skills to succeed. Basecamp’s experiential learning model represents exactly the type of outside-the-box thinking required to engage learners meaningfully.”

Amy Wild, recently appointed CEO at Basecamp Skills, said “With a proven track record in leading successful government-funded training programmes, Lisa will play a crucial role in scaling our offerings during this period of rapid growth. Her extensive experience will be invaluable as we expand into new markets, enhance our offerings, and structure teams for greater impact.”


Sheona Southern

Sheona Southern, formerly managing director of Marketing Manchester, has joined consultancy GC Insight to lead a new service called Destination Insight.

The service offers research and advice that delivers informed strategies, economic analysis and advisory support with the aim to create and enable thriving destinations. Sheona and her team help towns, cities and tourist attractions create and implement investible propositions and attraction programmes, backed by strategic and operational delivery plans that help local economies grow in an inclusive and sustainable way.

Managing director, Simon Hooton, said: “We are thrilled that Sheona has decided to invest her extensive experience in destination development and promotion with GC Insight. After leaving an indelible imprint on the Greater Manchester economy, she can now turn her talents to help promote and position tourism attractions and places across the UK.”

Sheona said: “With this move I return to my consultancy roots. When I saw the talented consultancy and research teams assembled by GC Insight over the last year, I felt there was a gap in the market for a destination consultancy service that we could successfully fill.”

GC Insight is a profit-for-purpose national provider of economic consultancy, business support and research and evaluation. Formed earlier this year by The Growth Company (GC), it combines expertise from economic development consultancy ekosgen, research, evaluation and business support consultancy Winning Moves, and the business and green economy units of GC.

Growth Company CEO, Mark Hughes, said: “In launching this service we have broadened our consultancy offer, which is a vital part of our growth plan for the next five years.”


Duncan Abraham

Specialist lender Together has promoted company stalwart Duncan Abraham to oversee its regulated and unregulated underwriting operations.

Duncan, who joined the Cheadle-based finance group 25 years ago, was previously head of residential underwriting and will take up his new role as underwriting operations director next week.

The highly experienced financial services professional will take responsibility for 64 colleagues underwriting Together’s personal and commercial finance funding applications. The move is designed to further streamline processes, making it easier for brokers submitting cases to Together.

Duncan said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for us to be able to combine our underwriting operations under one leadership structure, so that both our personal and commercial finance teams can share best practice, to make sure we get the best outcomes for our broker partners and customers.”

Duncan will report to Darren Clarke, group operations director at Together, who said: “Bringing all our underwriting under one roof is key to simplifying how our partners do business with us as we continue towards our vision of becoming the most valued lending company in the UK.”


Lynn Alderson

Bruton Knowles said two key members of the National Utilities and Infrastructure team have risen to new roles within the business.

Land Rights Officer, Lynn Alderson, has been promoted to a senior position within her department. With previous experience as a Land Consultant, in which she specialised in land referencing and access, Lynn joined Bruton Knowles in August 2021 and has been involved in many infrastructure projects across the UK. These include a CPO (Compulsory Purchase Order) of the A511, alongside extensive work with National Grid and Network Rail clients.

Sale-based Lynn said: “The vast range of clients I am involved with has really helped develop my skills and it is great to see Bruton Knowles managing so many big projects across the UK. This development has led to me striving in my role and securing a promotion. I am already working towards my future progression within the firm, which is to become an associate. It is a testament to the type of forward thinking company Bruton Knowles is, that we have these opportunities to excel.”

Alex Barnau has also been promoted to Lead GIS Analyst, having joined the firm in 2017. He said: “Changes in the team structure led to Bruton Knowles requiring a Lead GIS Analyst and after being the longest standing GIS at the firm, I felt confident in tackling the challenge. We have many more new starters that are due to join the team and I look forward to guiding them through our systems, to provide support to the rest of the business.”

Neil Young, HR director at Bruton Knowles, said: “Our National Utilities and Infrastructure Team has had changes within its structure, and Lynn’s and Alex’s promotions exemplify this. I would like to congratulate Lynn and Alex on their transition into their new roles and I look forward to watching them develop further.”


From left: Alex Walmsley, Katherine Sibley, Qusay Rabah

North West law firm Harrison Drury has further expanded its specialist construction law team with the appointment of solicitor Qusay Rabah.

Qusay will advise Harrison Drury’s clients in relation to a wide range of construction disputes.

Qusay has experience of all areas of commercial litigation but has a passion for construction law. He has particular expertise in breach of contract claims involving construction issues.

Katherine Sibley, partner and head of the construction law team at Harrison Drury, said: “We’ve grown our expertise and capabilities significantly over the last few years and Qusay adds further strength to the team. He has wide range of experience advising clients on a wide range of commercial litigation matters and will be a valuable asset to our clients and a valuable resource to the team.”

Qusay, who is Canadian and lived in Toronto before moving to the UK, said: “The construction sector presents us with high quality, challenging work and I’m looking forward to supporting our clients to overcome what are often complex disputes to ensure their interests are protected.”

Outside of work Qusay is a director of the Canadian Human Rights International Organisation.


From left: Andy Webster, Tony Reddin, Michael Spencer, Andrew Matthews

Accountancy and advisory firm MHA Moore and Smalley has appointed experienced tax advisor Michael Spencer as a tax partner within its Liverpool office.

Michael joins the firm from Grant Thornton where he spent more than nine years, most recently as tax director. Before this he worked in the tax team at EY’s Liverpool office.

He will support MHA Moore and Smalley’s clients with broad range of tax advice with a particular emphasis on business restructuring, exit readiness, succession planning and wealth protection. Michael also has expertise in international business structures.

He will work alongside tax partner Tony Reddin and senior tax manager Michael Court in the firm’s Liverpool-based team, as well as supporting the firm’s wider tax team in the North West region.

Andrew Matthews, partner in MHA Moore and Smalley’s Liverpool office, said: “Michael is a hugely experienced tax advisor and will provide invaluable support to the entrepreneurial leaders and businesses that we advise right across Liverpool, the North West and North Wales.”

Michael added: “I was excited by the opportunity to be part of dynamic firm with clear growth ambitions and a client-centred way of doing things that aligns with my own approach to supporting clients.”

His appointment takes MHA Moore and Smalley’s tax team in the North West region to 55 members, which includes eight partners and seven directors. Michael now brings the total number of partners at the firm to 30.