People: Embryo; DWF; Livv Housing Group; Mazars; WHN Solicitors; Astra Group

New hires, from left: Olivia, Chloe, Alice

Manchester-based digital agency, Embryo, has welcomed eight new starters to the company across several of its services.

Hires include Chloe Maxwell from connective3 and Alice Walker-Gibbons from Journey Further, who have joined the Digital PR team as Digital PR Account Managers. Claire Wilder, previously at idhl Group has joined the SEO team as an Account Manager.

The company has also welcomed new starters across its Sales, Affiliates and content services taking total headcount to 67.

Embryo also revealed it aims to expand with plans to open a London office by the end of the year.

Operations Director, Sam Middleton, said: “We’re excited to have Chloe, Alice, Louise, Olivia, Claire, Annie and both Amelias join the team. Their experience will bring a lot to the business and will play a vital role in our 2024 growth plans. All are very experienced and have a lot to bring to the business, I have no doubt they’ll be a pivotal part of our 2024 growth plans.”


Chris Gee

DWF, the Manchester-based global provider of integrated legal and business services, has welcomed back former colleague Chris Gee as a dispute resolution partner in its Manchester office.

Chris rejoins DWF after six years, during which he worked at Fieldfisher and Knights, making him the latest addition to the dispute resolution team in Manchester.

With almost 20 years of expertise in general commercial dispute work, Chris brings a wealth of experience to his new role as partner. Most recently, Chris’s work has focused on professional negligence and business protection claims, together with contentious probate and trust matters and has involved onshore, offshore and cross-border work.

He said: “After six years away, I’m really happy to be back at DWF and reconnecting with many of my former colleagues who have since advanced to senior roles, including some who are now partners. Watching the business’s positive progress in recent years and learning about the growth plans for the team and wider business, I’m excited and confident that I can play my part in our continued success.”

Global head of dispute resolution, Stefan Paciorek, said: “With nearly two decades of expertise in commercial dispute resolution, Chris’s invaluable experience and enthusiasm will undoubtedly enhance our capabilities in providing a high standard of service to our clients. His hire symbolises our commitment to growth and talent development and adds depth to our already strong team. We are thrilled to welcome Chris back.”


Jude Wilkinson

Knowsley-based housing association, Livv Housing Group, has named Jude Wilkinson as its new Executive Director of Resources.

Having served as Livv’s Director of People for the past five years, and with 14 years of experience in the housing sector, Jude brings significant knowledge and expertise to her new role.

She has been the driving force behind the organisation’s new employer brand, and led its Human Resources, Learning & Development and Equality, Diversity & Inclusion functions.

In her new capacity, Jude will oversee a comprehensive portfolio encompassing People, Business Improvement, IT, Marketing & Communications and Governance. Alongside her Executive Director colleagues, she will play a key role in driving Livv’s commitment to creating more opportunity, building more homes and making an impact in the communities it serves.

Léann Hearne, Chief Executive of Livv Housing Group, said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to welcome Jude to our Executive Directors team. With her people-centred approach, strategic outlook and focus on driving positive change, Jude has been an important part of our journey over the years and is perfectly placed to lead our Resources directorate.”

Jude has more than 25 years’ experience in HR, joining Livv in 2010 as a HR Business Partner and working her way up through the business. She said: “I’m honoured and excited to have been appointed Executive Director of Resources.

“I’m eager to get stuck into this new role and all the opportunity that comes with it, working with my new teams to develop and maximise the functions across the directorate.”


Helen Knowles

Mazars, the international audit, tax, and advisory firm, has appointed Helen Knowles as a Public Sector Audit Partner in the firm’s Manchester office.

In her new role, Helen will be responsible for growing the audit team in the North West, which will entail building Mazars’ audit practices across the social sector.
Helen joins the firm from Beever & Struthers where she was an Audit Director. She is an experienced leader, providing both external and internal auditing expertise and assisting clients with specialist assurance assignments, to not for profit sector organisations including social housing, education, and charities.

Karen Murray, Head of Public Sector Audit at Mazars, said: “Helen brings a wide breadth of knowledge and expertise of audit processes in the public sector to Mazars. Helen is a trusted advisor, whose personal style is people-focused, values-based, and operates with integrity. We are excited to have Helen on our team and expanding our services into the social sector whilst maintaining our high standards and exceeding our client’s expectations to deliver excellence.”

Helen has extensive knowledge of working in the professional services sector, previously being a part of B&S, BDO, and KPMG audit teams. In this role, Helen will be responsible for growing the audit team in the North West, which will entail building Mazars’ audit practices across the social sector.

Rob Hanley, Sector Lead for Housing at Mazars, said: “Helen’s appointment is great news and a strong affirmation of Mazars’ long term commitment to working with and supporting the social housing sector. I am looking forward to working with Helen as we continue to invest and grow in this important sector.”


From left: Stacey Power, Nick Bennetts, Yasar Kahan

North West law firm, Woodcocks Haworth and Nuttall Solicitors (WHN), has made three new appointments to strengthen the service provided to clients at its Blackburn office.

Nick Bennetts (residential property solicitor) and Stacey Power (conveyancer) have both joined the firm’s residential property team while Yasar Khan (solicitor) has joined the family law team.

Nick has gained experience at a range of North West law firms, including a four-year spell at Birchall Blackburn and most recently Blackburn-based AMT. He will support clients on a range of residential property matters including freehold and leasehold sales and purchases, remortgages, as well as transfers of equity from inception to completion.

Meanwhile, Stacey will support all aspects of the sale, purchase and transfer process for residential properties and is currently studying part time for the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) qualification. Her experience includes working as a conveyancing paralegal at Adlington Law as well as senior conveyancer with My Home Move.

Yasar has joined WHN from Bolton-based Russell & Russell. He specialises in divorce, cohabitation matters, Children Act proceedings and injunctions and will advise WHN’s clients across a range of matters including representation at court hearings.

CEO, Michael Shroot, said: “Our firm’s philosophy is to put the client experience at the heart of everything we do and this commitment to quality service was recognised by leading national legal guides Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners in their latest publications. The appointments of Nick, Stacey and Yasar will strengthen the advice and support we give to our clients as we continue to grow.”

WHN employs more than 110 staff from offices in Accrington, Bacup, Bury, Blackburn, Clitheroe, Haslingden, Great Harwood, Rawtenstall and Salford.


David Mulligan and Stephen Burns

Full service provider of traditional and digital signage solutions, Stretford-based Astra Group, has welcomed David Mulligan to the business, in the role of Managing Director of its Signage and Digital Division.

Mulligan brings more than 15 years’ signage and manufacturing expertise to the business.

In the newly created role, Mulligan will be responsible for driving Astra Group forward in its next phase of expansion, as the business increases its national and international footprint and further extends its suite of best-in-class digital and traditional signage services. He will be responsible for all design, fabrication, and installation services including the newly-created project delivery team led by Tony Bright, which allows the business to take further works on as principal contractor and continue with its expansion journey.

Mulligan said: “The business has enjoyed significant growth over the last three years, resulting from the business’s unique position to deliver a truly first-class end-to-end offer, combined with exceptional client service. It is an upward curve we are committed to sustaining as we look to continued expansion in the UK and overseas, working with clients in a broad range of sectors.”

Coinciding with the appointment of Mulligan is the promotion of Stephen Burns to Operations Director. It is a noteworthy achievement for the former Head of Production, with Burns having joined Astra Group little more than six months previous, in September 2023. Prior to joining Astra Group he was Operations Manager at isGroup, a position held for more than 14 years.

Astra Group CEO, Jim Kerr, said: “It is with great pleasure that I welcome Dave to the business as Managing Director of our expanding signage and digital division. A people-person through and through, he is a fantastic addition to the team bringing with him not only extensive industry expertise and a proven commitment to delivering excellence as standard, but a leadership style that is incredibly fitting with Astra Group. He has already made a fantastic impact, further positively shaping the business for future growth.”

On the Burns promotion, he added: “In a short space of time Stephen has made a valuable contribution to Astra Group, effectively developing the business’s operational strategies in line with our ambitious objectives. His promotion to the board in the position of Operations Director is thoroughly deserved.”

Stephen Burns said: “Astra Group is in an incredibly strong position thanks to the business’s commitment to delivering innovative and sustainable traditional and digital signage solutions and the robust infrastructure already in place. I am looking forward to building on this and contributing to the business’s continued success.”

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