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Our annual Digital Future-Pro Networking Event takes place on Tuesday 19 October between 5.30 and 6.30.

FuturePro will be hosted on Zoom bringing together our students and local professionals to talk about work experience and life after university.  Book your place via MyCareer to attend this event. 

This year's professionals

Heather Broadhurst

MD at Now u Know Training Ltd and Director at Bureau Ltd

Passionate about good, old fashioned customer service and providing quality services to all of her clients, Heather takes a genuine pleasure from the feedback from delegates and customers to say what a good experience they have had in both of her businesses from first contact.

Heather has worked in a diverse range of industries over her working life including hospitality, recruitment and manufacturing mostly in account and project management but always as a prominent leader and people manager. Her career has taken her to many countries throughout the world before taking on her own training company in 2016 and then launching her payroll services company in early 2021 with her business partner. Outside of work Heather loves to spend time with her family including the two Labradors, Lilah and Mabel and she has recently taken up running and is currently training for her first Marathon.

So, now u know, Heather

Mike Grocott

Interactivity and Communication Specialist Intercog Ltd

Trainer. Coach. Facilitator. Author. That's how different people might describe Mike Grocott from Intercog.

That’s because Mike uses a combination of all of those roles to help people to develop the skills that they need to interact more effectively with other people.

So, one day Mike might be running a training course for a team to help them to work together better, on another he might be coaching someone on how to deliver a presentation with greater confidence and on another, he might be facilitating a networking event, helping people to develop those all-important business and personal relationships.

Mike has also published a trilogy of books on how to help people to be better at presenting, networking and communicating.

In essence, Mike’s simple goal is to help people to interact better with other people so that they can achieve more.

Mike’s current role as a trainer, coach and facilitator is based on the experience he has gained over the last 30 years, many of those spent working away at a number of large, blue-chip organisations. He returned to his native Staffordshire in 2008 and founded Intercog a year later. He is proud to have grown up in this area and is happy to be able to give something back to help with the development of the potential talent that undoubtedly exists locally.

Outside of work, Mike’s main hobby is playing boardgames (no not Monopoly or Chess!), playing badminton and walking in the Lake District. Mike is also a Stoke City supporter and so is not as happy as he used to be.

Caroline Hulse

Tax Associate Director, RSM

I qualified as a Chartered Accountant in September 2011 and as a Chartered Tax Adviser in January 2013 having previously graduated with a 2.1 degree in Mathematics from the University of Manchester.

I am currently working as a Tax Associate Director at RSM where I provide tax planning advice to individuals, owner managed businesses and large corporates. This role involves using and interpreting tax legislation to ensure a clients’ business or affairs are structured in the most tax efficient manner and ensuring they benefit from any tax exemptions and advantages.

The types of work that I am involved in can be hugely varied, ranging from company reorganisations and setting up a new business, to exit planning for shareholders of owner-managed businesses and passing wealth down the generations of a family.

Personally I find that tax is a particularly interesting area to work in as it is constantly changing and one day is never the same as the next.

My previous experience working in the Audit department at RSM and advising high net worth individuals on their investments and pensions during my time at Deloitte gave me an excellent grounding for the work that I now undertake in my role in Tax.

I have found that Future Finest is a great way to meet young professionals in Staffordshire and I was a member of the Steering Committee from September 2015 to April 2019. It has given me an excellent opportunity to practice networking, develop my business skills and make some great new contacts.

Outside of work, I am a campanologist (the ringer of church bells), regularly ringing for practices, services and weddings and I am also a keen pub quizzer, even appearing on the BBC2 quiz show, Eggheads earlier this year as team captain with my work colleagues.

Alex Ward-Brassington

Intermediary Marketing Specialist Hanley Economic Building Society

A Staffordshire University graduate, Alex has carved her Marketing career in the local area, focusing on Business to Business Communications.

Whilst her specialism is B2B communications, Alex career has taken her from hosting dinners for 400 people to learning how to use a drill to assemble mannequin stands to donning a high-vis jacket and setting up events at Grand Designs Live show!

Now, Alex is part of a small team at local building society, Hanley Economic. Whilst her core role is communications to the business partners of the Society, she develops the marketing of new and emerging mortgage products such as specialist mortgages for people wanting to build their own homes. Having only applied for a mortgage at the time of interviewing for the role, it was a steep learning curve!

When not working, Alex can be found renovating the very farmhouse she grew up in, which has been in the family for three generations. This involves a lot of restoring staircases, flooring and plastering which was done by her granddad back in the 1960’s! Her hobbies now mostly include finding the perfect shade of paint.

Simon Pooler

Director Interlockdigital Ltd

With a BSc (HONS) in Computer Science and a career in software development spanning over 30 years, Simon has a proven track record in delivering robust IT solutions which deliver significant return on investment.

Since 2001, Simon has specialised in creating innovative web-based solutions and content-managed web presences, working with clients such as Yamaha Motor Europe, NEC, British Sugar, Pepsico, Hope Technology and Pentair as well as public sector organisations including the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, NHS and UKTI.

More recently, Simon has been instrumental in the design, development, delivery, and support of a number of mobile app solutions using cutting edge technologies to deliver unique user experiences on Apple and Android devices, for clients such as Michelin, Brush Generators, On-Here, and FamilyFitt.

Graham Doyle

Founder, D2NA

IT transforms a business from the inside out, so it can grow and adapt. But that can only happen if technology is embedded in the business strategy.”

This is the reason Graham launched D2NA in 2006 and found a niche helping IT departments achieve their organisation’s goals.

A deep understanding of the future of IT has sparked Graham’s involvement in high-profile research like: law enforcement projects with Digital Forensics Gateway and new ways of testing software in the Cloud. For the latter, he presented D2NA’s ideas to Enterprise Nation’s 300-strong audience, after being selected from 400 businesses for a £500,000 research project.

D2NA have never lost a client through bad service and Graham ensures our direction looks after the clients we’ve got.

Special interests

  • · Supporting clients at all levels, from front-line employees to IT Strategy
  • · Using the Cloud to streamline operations and enable business continuity
  • · Augmenting existing IT teams by providing specialist skills in Professional Services
  • · Helping clients pay only for what they need in bespoke Support Packages

D2NA is an award-winning IT services provider in: Technology | Service| Innovation

t: 03301 59 59 69 | e: | w:

Martin Williamson

Business Doctors
The Growth Practice
Certified Business Advisor
Accredited Value Guide

I like poking my nose into other peoples’ business to help them with their strategy planning and implementation! Seriously, that’s any business owner who wants to nail their numbers, make better decisions, make some profit, take a holiday, have cash in the bank, grow their customer base.

From handling the smallest of sole traders to dealing with large corporate groups, I work with clients of all sizes and sectors with a range of different issues. This includes running and selling businesses, constructing and negotiating deals, investigating and advising on the viability of a business and its restructuring and creating and implementing strategy planning for improvement and growth. Whilst I can quite happily handle larger clients, my specialty is assisting SME’s as they often can’t afford the costs of the bigger firms when advice and help is needed!

I have been working in the insolvency and business recovery sphere since 1986. In 2002 I became an independent Licensed Insolvency Practitioner and started my own practice, “ipd” to advise SME’s on insolvency and business recovery. It was a natural progression to then also become a Business Doctor in 2019 and use the skills and experience I have gained in identifying and dealing with the “pain” points experienced by SME’s to advise business owners on their strategy planning for development and growth.

I am also a co-Founder-Consultant of The Growth Practice and a Certified Business Advisor. It gives me the opportunity to apply my passion for business and help business owners to discover their full potential, and then go on to achieve it. Working with business owners at opposite ends of the business financial spectrum and having run my own business since 2002, I completely understand all the potential loneliness, frustration, and (on the flipside!) rewards felt by a business owner when they are trying to “make it happen!”

When not working, and now that the kids are all grown up I can be found out and about with my beloved Bedlington Terriers, or on an occasional city break or Cruise with my wife Sue.

I can be contacted on:
Mobile: 07976 260065

Sonya Farrall

PR & Media Baba Baboon Ltd

PR & Communications expert. Editor. Radio Presenter. Former News Reporter, Sports Editor.

Sonya Farrall has a proven and varied background in the media - working locally at The Sentinel & at The Post & Times Series. Sonya also freelanced for National Specialist Newspaper The Racing Post before working in a high profile role in Horse Racing which involved the media & the betting industry.

After working in Horse Racing for just short of 10 years a new challenge beckoned and Sonya set off on her own adventure - and Baba Baboon was born.

With a passion for promoting others & sharing inspirational and positive News - whether from Charities, Businesses or the general public - Baba Baboon provides PR support, advice & promotional content. As well as liaising with the mainstream traditional press, Baba Baboon also has its own online media platform which is dedicated to positive news & what’s on - currently in North Staffordshire.

Baba's (for short) social media channels & Newsletter are also other avenues in which News is shared. Baba Baboon not only helps organisations to gain publicity for the right reasons but works to increase the brand awareness for a business or charity, and protect brand reputation.

In her spare time, Sonya also works as a Radio Presenter for the Hitmix 107.5 - presenting “Local & Live” each Sunday morning from 10am-12.

Socialising, theatre, keeping fit, watching boxing, reading & writing are all things Sonya likes to do in her spare time and she has written a draft novel which she is hoping to publish.

Rissat Hasan

Legal Assistant at Freeths solicitors

Currently working in the Employment department at the Manchester office and assisting on a range of contentious and non-contentious matters.

Work experience
  • Employment Law Telephone Advice Line (ELTAL)
  • Summarising cases for the Leasehold Advisory Service
  • Student Intern at Stafford Magistrates’ Court – an admin-based role where I had the opportunity to train as a family law court clerk.
  • Manchester History Workshop – student led research project that aimed to recover the lives experiences of Manchester’s African diaspora community.
  • Participant in the Debating Matters competition (2016-2017) and the Commercial Awareness competition (2020).
  • Member of the Our Shared Cultural Heritage (OSCH) Collective – a group of young people committed to redefining/disrupting traditional museum spaces and sharing cultural heritage by exploring identity.
  • AS Aspire Member – a mentee on a five-month mentorship programme (‘Aspiring Solicitors’) where I attended (virtual) bespoke firm events and career coaching from expert legal employability team.
  • Co-founder of the ‘Rice Bowl Collective’ (@ricebowlcollective on ig) – an online platform for young people to discuss identity and education through creative mediums such as art, poetry, memes etc.

Olivia Podmore

Membership Account Manager Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce

“A jack of all trades is a master of none”, is usually a self-deprecating comment. What many don’t know is the whole quotation is “a jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one!”, and Olivia proudly specialises in generalist, wholistic business support and advice with a consultative approach.

With a strong recruitment background (often for very senior and very niche roles), Olivia now supports Staffordshire-based businesses in whichever way she can, by connecting people. Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce champions these connections, whilst offering local businesses endless advice and support. The Chambers really is the backbone of bringing Staffordshire businesses together.

Olivia believes in really getting to know your business. Asking in depth questions about your product, service and market, teamed with seeing who you would like to be introduced to, who would you like to learn from, and what your business development and professional development strategies are, allows for quality, sought-after referrals, interactions and introductions to be made.

The Chambers’ Finest and FutureFinest networks are a fantastic catalyst for growth, a great way to engineer long-term relationships and referral partners whilst tailoring each membership to suit your individual strategic needs. Whatever your business goals, Olivia can equip you with the information to make the best decision for you and to help you futureproof your business.