Our Team

Michelle Leeson Photo

Michelle Leeson is the Managing Director for Employment within the Growth Company.

Previously Operations Director, Michelle has been part of the Growth Company management team for 15 years, with responsibility for leading the large-scale implementation and operational management of employment-related programmes.

Michelle has over 20 years’ experience of working within welfare to work, recruitment, skills and careers guidance. A graduate of Liverpool John Moore’s University, she is passionate about leading and developing teams that change peoples’ lives by enabling them to move into employment.

Alex Howley

Alex Howley is Operations Director within the Growth Company.

A graduate of Newcastle University, Alex has 23 years’ experience in the careers and skills sector.  Starting as a Recruitment Consultant in 1999, Alex’s other roles have included Senior Project Manager in the Further Education sector, Economic Affairs Manager in local government and Head of Youth Initiatives within Greater Manchester Combined Authority.

Dave Mcdonald Photo 2

Dave McDonald is Director for Justice Services within the Growth Company.

A Psychology graduate, after university Dave began his career by working with customers who were socially excluded and/or long-term unemployed, and has worked for The Growth Company since it’s early inceptions in 1991.

Dave is an experienced senior manager with a wide range of expertise in managing large-scale contracts, and has delivered services in the justice space for 25 years.

Naomi Ilagoswa

Naomi Ilagoswa is Head of Strategic Partnerships & External Projects for The Growth Company.

Naomi has worked in the sector for over 14 years, and is now responsible for the integration and stakeholder engagement for a large range of key employment, health and justice programmes across the North of England, as well as managing bespoke projects and pilot schemes such as the Employment Legal Advice Service, United for Ukraine and EmployGM.

Michelle Pearce

Michelle Pearce is Director for Employment (Sheffield City Region)

Michelle has over 30 years’ experience in the Welfare to Work sector, with a strong track record of delivering performance improvement across a wide range of DWP, ESF, ESFA and Local Authority contracts.  Michelle currently has responsibility for all of The Growth Company’s employment contracts in South Yorkshire.

Ian Kerr

Ian Kerr is Employer Engagement Director for the Employment business unit within the Growth Company. 

Ian has over 25 years’ experience in both the Employment and Skills sectors, delivering large-scale Apprenticeship programmes and recruitment solutions for employers of all kinds.  Ian developed and established GC’s in-house recruitment agency – Aspire – a social and ethical agency, which has won several awards.  Current focus is around the business benefits of inclusive employment practices.

Cheryl Collins

Cheryl Collins is Director for Employment Central Support Functions within the Growth Company.

A graduate of Sociology from the University of Birmingham, Cheryl has over 17 years’ experience in the Employability & Skills sectors and over 10 years’ experience as a Certified Internal Auditor (IA Cert).  Cheryl has developed professional skills and expertise in supporting our colleagues and participants, undertaking Mental Health First Aid Training and ASIST Suicide Intervention in recent years.

Cheryl has worked on many types of commissioned programmes since 2006, seeing programmes through from bid, mobilisation and implementation through to exit and post-closure audit. As well as having a hands on approach, Cheryl has experience of managing large multi-disciplinary teams under the ‘support functions’ umbrella.

Chelsea Powell

Chelsea Powell is the Implementation Programme Manager for the Employment business unit within the Growth Company.

Chelsea worked in the Education sector prior to joining the Growth Company in 2016 and is responsible for the mobilisation of all new contracts and opportunities within Employment.

Chelsea has extensive experience of mobilising large-scale contracts and completed a Project Management Apprenticeship and Association for Project Management qualification in her previous role as EA to the CFO of the Growth Company.

Andy Roberts

Andy Roberts is Director for Employment (Greater Manchester)

After leaving the Armed Forces to work in custody, Andy began working in the Welfare to Work sector, where he has over 20 years’ experience.

Andy has a strong track record of delivering performance improvement across a wide range of contracts, with multiple funding streams.  Experienced in and responsible for large scale implementation in multiple geographical areas, Andy currently leads on all of The Growth Company’s employment contracts in Greater Manchester.

Lynne Maguire

Lynne Maguire is Director for Employment and Health across the North-West for the Growth Company.

Lynne has managed publicly-funded education, employment and skills provision in leadership roles across the North of England and nationally for over 20 years. A graduate of the University of Liverpool, having studied to gain two Masters Degrees during her working life, she is an associate member of the CIPD.  Lynne is committed to promoting a climate of support and development for her teams, and this is underpinned by her passion for positive change to ensure individuals and communities have access to tailored support services to enable them to reach their full potential.