Our associates are part of our team.

To enable us to be flexible and responsive to member and client needs, we are lucky to have a network of independent Associates to help deliver an excellent service to all. We value the expertise of our Associates and we see them as an integral part of us.

Claire Harris

Claire Harris

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Claire gained her initial experience in academia, working on executive education programmes, she left academia to run her own consultancy and specialises in leadership development, individual and team coaching, health and wellbeing.

Claire’s favourite pastime out of work: Cycling, running and snowboarding.

Claire’s favourite life quote: ‘‘I wouldn’t even call snowboarding a sport. For me it’s just a way of life. It’s a chance to finally shut your brain off, and live within the moment’’

An interesting fact about Claire: Claire has an identical twin sister. She is ten minutes older than her twin.

Colin Ashcroft

Colin Ashcroft

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Colin has been a qualified and registered Social Worker for over 30 years and is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). He is now self employed and working primarily in the field of health and social care supporting the sector to develop best practice through effective workforce and organisational development. Colin is also a visiting academic at the University of Chester.

Colin’s favourite pastime out of work: Loves spending time with his family visiting new places at home and abroad. He is also very involved in the Scout Association as a leader and inclusion lead. He is active in his community as a volunteer.

Colin’s favourite life quote: “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”

An interesting fact about Colin: Colin used to be a football referee but won’t dish the dirt on any Premier League players or get free tickets!

Kim Gowland

Kim Gowland

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Kim is a qualified and experienced Executive Coach, who supports leaders and their organisations to flourish.

Before becoming a coach, Kim had a successful 25 year career in the cultural sector, with many years’ senior leadership experience.

Kim’s reflective, empowering coaching helps leaders at all levels to make positive changes in their careers and wider lives, and to overcome challenges and self-limiting beliefs to achieve success.

Kim’s favourite pastime out of work: Drinks, dinner or a cinema outing with good friends, or playing with Miss Kitty the cat.

Kim’s favourite life quote: ‘‘No man is a failure who has friends’’

An interesting fact about Kim: Despite having limited DIY skills, Kim once helped build two new houses for landmine survivors in Cambodia.

Matt Smeed

Matt Smeed

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Matt is an expert in the areas of wellbeing, engagement and resilience in the workplace. He believes that developing the wellbeing of employees is the best way to create healthy high performance, which brings with it a plethora of benefits for both individuals and businesses.

For the last ten years Matt has worked with hundreds of organisations and people across the globe. This includes companies in practically every sector, from public sector organisations to businesses in the financial, pharmaceutical and engineering industries, to name but a few.

With a Master’s degree in Occupational Psychology and a wealth of experience, Matt’s engaging speaking style and passion for training and development inspires people to make a change and form healthy habits for the future

Matt’s favourite pastime out of work: It was playing football… now it’s chasing a 4- and a 2-year old round the house!

Matt’s favourite life quote: “First rule of leadership: everything is your fault’’

An interesting fact about Matt: Matt lived in mainland China for 3 years when he was a child… however managed to learn no Chinese while there.

Russell Harvey

Russell Harvey

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Russell’s career has spanned the public, private and mutual sectors where he has supported Leaders and teams to develop themselves and others to positively affect their organisational culture. More recently, Russel has specialised in how resilience can enable Leaders to find new ways to play to their Strengths and feel energised to meet the challenges they face in the workplace.

Russel’s favourite pastime out of work: He loves to travel, cook, socialise and has recently taken up cycling to get more fresh air!

An interesting fact about Russel: He was once paid to play Rugby on stage.

Tracy Murphy

Tracy Murphy

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Tracy has many years of experience at a senior level in HR and OD, her most recent role being as director. She now offers leadership and individual coaching and mentoring services as well as leadership and team development, personal development and HR/OD consultancy. Tracy is a chartered fellow of the CIPD and holds an MA in Human Resource Management. She is qualified to carry out psychometric testing and is a Myers Briggs Type Indicator Practitioner.

Tracy has a wealth of experience within the public sector, mostly in local government but also within the NHS and schools.

Tracy’s favourite pastime out of work: Travelling with family and friends

Tracy’s favourite life quote: ‘‘The time for happiness is now’’

An interesting fact about Tracy: She once appeared in the TV show Cracker with Robbie Coltrane.

Chris Malings

Chris Malings

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Chris believes we all deserve to live and work in environments where we can thrive and be the best we can be.  

Chris is an OD Practitioner, with over 20 years’ experience of internal and external consulting, facilitation and coaching within public service and private sector organisations.  

Chris’ career has also included: HR business partnership; learning and development; employee relations; business change programme leadership; and front line operational leadership.  

As an Associate with North West Employers Chris really values the opportunity to work with people, teams and organisations to enable sustainable improvement in their performance, health and wellbeing. 

Chris’ favourite pastime out of work: Playing guitar and playing golf, although not at the same time…. 

Chris’ favourite life quote: ‘‘One makes time for what is important”  

An Interesting Fact About Chris: Chris qualified for his Private Pilot’s License when he was 19 and used to fly from Blackpool Airport. 

Jacqui Pownall

Jacqui Pownall

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Jacqui has over 20 years of professional experience in Leadership, Recruitment, Assessments, Psychometric Testing, Coaching and Training and Development. 

As an Associate with North West Employers, Jacqui supports people to develop professionally and showcase their skills to achieve success in their careers. She offers Career coaching, as well as workshops to help them to present confidently when applying for promotions and new roles. 

Favourite pastime out of work: Jacqui enjoys travel, comedy and anything fashion related. 

Favourite life quote: “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”  

An Interesting fact about Jacqui: She’s a professionally trained as an image consultant and loves to empower others to create change through updating their look to increase their confidence to achieve their goals. 

Kenny Brown

Kenny Brown

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Kenny has held a wide range of public sector HR positions up to Director level. 

His role as an Associate is to assist North West Employers’ clients to maximise the contribution of their people, through effective HR practices and related advice.  He specialises in organisational restructures, investigations and related projects.  

Kenny’s favourite pastime out of work:  Fishing (preferably in Florida!) 

Kenny’s favourite life quote:  ‘‘Simple is efficient’’. 

An interesting Fact about Kenny:  He thoroughly enjoyed a bottle of wine that he had bought at a charity action for £120.  He later discovered it was very rare and actually worth around £1,200! 

Malcolm Evans

Malcolm Evans

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Malcolm has a career long experience of working in – and developing complex and often high-risk organisations He had 6 years as Head of Learning & Development for British Aerospace, Commercial Aircraft – Manchester Factories.  

He has over 20 years’ experience developing Leaders in Change Leadership & Project Management with the NHS and other complex organisations. He is passionate about Team working and Psychological Safety as the best route to sustainable performance in organisations. 

Malcolm’s favourite pastimes include work, sailing, narrow boating and keeping up with the family 

Malcolm’s favourite quote“Work where the energy is”  

An interesting fact about Malcolm: 25 years ago he started running  Training Workshops as a temporary fill-in between Corporate Roles – and is still loving it. 

Sonia Cubrilo

Sonia Cubrilo

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Sonia applies 30 years of public sector working experience at a senior level. She is skilled in training and supporting people in stakeholder and community engagement, place-based working, managing change, partnership and leadership development, asset/strength- based working, and particularly town centre regeneration. 

As an Associate for North West Employers she has worked on numerous Place-based Leadership programmes and asset/strength-based working. 

Sonia’s favourite pastime out of work: Having fun with family and friends. 

Sonia’s favourite life quote: ’’Change your thoughts and you change your world’’ 

 An Interesting Fact About Sonia: She Chairs the Trafford Young Enterprise Board (which is a charity that has been going for over 50 years) and she is passionate about supporting young people to raise aspirations, develop the life skills, knowledge and confidence they need to successfully earn and manage money through enterprise, using a “learning by doing” approach. 

Su Fowler-Johnson

Su Fowler-Johnson

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Su began her career as a nursing in the NHS in 1983. Over the course of the last 35 years she has worked in a number of clinical, managerial and board roles in the NHS and private sector.  Back in the 1990’s she found herself working in general practice and developed a passion for working in the field of health promotion and reducing health inequality.  She left the NHS over 10 years ago and now runs her own consultancy specialising in leadership development, individual and team coaching, health and wellbeing. 

Su’s favourite pastime out of work: Running, dancing (ballroom) and has recently found that she enjoys cross country skiing, when able to stay upright. 

Su’s favourite life quote: “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much” 

An Interesting Fact About Su: Su was married to her partner by Jonathan Peel, who was a page boy to Queen Elizabeth.  She also started running in her early 50’s using Couch to 5K App.  This confirmed to her that almost ‘anything’ is possible. 

Taravandana Lupson

Taravandana Lupson

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Taravandana spent 34 years working in the NHS as a Clinician (Dietitian), Manager and OD Lead both in hospitals, community and public health across the North West. Since 2008 she has been further developed her skills in enabling individuals and teams to reach their potential for the benefit of those we serve. She runs her own business working with managers and leaders across public private and voluntary sector organisations. With NW Employers Taravandana co designs and facilitates leadership programmes that enable local authorities to deliver their vision through their people. 

Taravandana’s favourite pastime: Walking in nature with friends especially in ancient woodland and the Lake District 

Taravandana’s favourite life quote: “What we pay attention to is what comes into being  

An Interesting Fact About Taravandana:  Taravandana has practised Mindfulness meditation for 32 years mainly in the Buddhist Tradition before it became as popular as it is today 

Sian Taylor

Sian Taylor

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Siân works with individuals and organisation to develop empowering, inspiring, collaborative leaders. She is a qualified Executive Coach with experience across a range of sectors and professions including public sector organisations such as Higher Education Academic Institutions, NHS and Local Government.

Within her role at North West Employers, Siân works with individuals and teams to enhance leadership capabilities and capacities meeting the complex and demanding challenges they face.

Sian’s favourite pastime out of work: Enjoying fresh air and freedom of the great outdoors, preferably with a camera and long lens in hand.

An Interesting Fact About Sian: Siân once met a wild bear (almost) alone in a wood. Luckily it was the bear that was more terrified!

Richard O'Neill

Richard O’Neill

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Richard is a multi-award winning, Storyteller, Author and workshop leader. He delivers sessions in a wide range of organisations throughout Europe, from national and local government departments, to businesses large and small, to national charities and universities, professional sports clubs, and some of the worlds leading museums and art galleries.

Richard’s favourite pastime: Hill walking/ rambling

Richard’s favourite life quote: “Believe you can and you’re half way there  

An Interesting Fact About Richard: He was born and brought up in a traditional nomadic family.

Mary Frances

Mary Frances

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Mary works across a wide range of groups and organisations, particularly in public services, education, and the arts. She has supported public service leaders through many cycles of organisational change and transition.

Her interests include leading and supporting change projects; developing creative partnerships; constructive dialogue and negotiation; collaborative working; narrative research; and the role of everyday conversations in developing organisational culture.

Mary’s approach is based in constructivist psychology which she teaches and writes about internationally.

Mary’s favourite pastime outside work: Theatre, film, and music

Mary’s favourite quote “The world is not abandoned monument – it is an event of tremendous proportions, the conclusion of which is not yet apparent”

An interesting fact about Mary: Mary is also an artist and a poet

Melvin Thomas

Melvin Thomas

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Mel formed Mel Thomas & Associates over 25 years ago after a distinguidhed career in senior management in Central, Local Government and the Private Sector. He is a consultant in the field of Organisational, Management and Employee Development.

He holds an MBA, a MA in Counselling psychology, is a qualified and practising Pyschotherapist and Coach and works as an Industrial Mediator in conflic situations in organisational and community settings.

Mel’s favourite pastime out of work: Running with his dog, long distance walking, reading and music

Mel’s favourite life quote: ”Listening is an art that requires, attention over talent, spirit over ego, others over self”

An Interesting Fact About Mel: He has walked 4 different Caminos to Santiago de Compostela

Vajramudita (Vee) Armstrong

Vajramudita (Vee) Armstrong

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Vee has an ILM level 7 Diploma in exec coaching and over 28 years experience as a director, manager and engineer in global manufacturing, and third sectors and in the NHS. She has experience of creating and leading teams of over 100 people, and also leading global and virtual teams.  In 2011 she set up her own company as a leadership coach and facilitator and has worked working with leaders from Europe, Asia, Africa North and South America.

Vee has a special interest in working with leaders facing transitions, complexity and particularly stressful challenges. She has delivered many mindfulness for stress, and thrive well-being programmes and supports her clients with tools and techniques to build resilience and manage stress and anxiety. She helps both leaders and their organisations to remember their purpose and humanity, and as a result clients leave more confident, resilient and impactful.

She also loves igniting change in and across organisations, by bringing diverse groups of people together and getting them talking about what they care about in collaborative events.

Vee’s favourite pastime: Being outdoors preferably in the wild and/or mountains – walking, running, camping with friends and family

Vee’s favourite life quote: “Be the change you want to see in the world  

An Interesting Fact About Vee: For almost 30 years Vee has had a meditation practice and spiritual practice as part of a Buddhist Movement to further develop herself as a human being and be of service to others.

Sue Williams

Sue Williams

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Sue has operated at director-level for many years with 20 years experience in Local Government, 10 years experience in Financial Services and significant exposure to the NHS.

She is a pragmatic senior manager with a proven track record of service improvement and culture change.

Sue is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and a qualified Coach and Mediator. Her background in HR and OD combined with first hand experience of leading front line services makes her well placed to support organisations through complex organisational change and redesign

Sue’s favourite pastime outside work: Someone once bought Sue a birthday card which said ‘I’m outdoorsy. I like to drink my wine in the garden’. Sue thinks this just about sums it up. Being with her friends and family is the absolute favourite way to pass time

Sue’s favourite quote: “When they go low we go high. It’s a favourite phrase of Michelle Obama. I think it’s really important that your response to any given situation becomes part of the solution not part of the problem.”

An interesting fact about Sue: Sue used to ride motorbikes in her youth and she holds a full bike licence.

Shakil Butt

Shakil Butt

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Shakil (FCIPD, FCCA) is a values driven, accomplished, multi award winning HR and OD professional, D&I specialist, trainer, author and lecturer with over 30 years of experience including working internationally delivering bespoke services in the public, private and third sector specialising in employee relations investigations, diversity and inclusion, leadership development and performance management.

Shakil’s favourite pastime out of work: Spending time with family, cardio exercises and all things connected to being a sci-fi geek

Shakil’s favourite life quote: ”Be yourself, everyone is already taken …unless you can be Spiderman, in which case be Spiderman”

An Interesting Fact About Shakil: Travelled to over 25 countries across Europe, Asia, Africa, Americas.