Meet The VIP Team

We know that your time is incredibly precious so this programme has been designed to provide an alternative way to learn from other successful entrepreneurs as well as providing you with additional support to implement and follow through on business ideas and concepts learnt on the day. Each VIP guest will share their secrets for success, as well as bringing their own unique contribution to the session.

We only choose speakers that provide new ways of thinking and cultivate new insights, all in the company of the best industry and business thinkers. Here is a sneak preview of some of our VIP guests who have presented at the EVOLVE Business Growth Programme.

carolineCaroline Marsh

Caroline Marsh is one of Britain’s leading female property investors and an inspiration to thousands. In Autumn 2008 Caroline was catapulted into the media limelight, when she was featured on prime-time Channel 4 television as a philanthropic ‘Secret Millionaire’.

Her own journey towards financial freedom was kick-started by Steve Bolton, a multi-millionaire property investor and serial entrepreneur. Within six months, Caroline was given a privileged invitation to join Platinum Property Partners, an exclusive Franchise community of successful property investors, entrepreneurs and some of the best professional advisors in the UK.

From a rollercoaster childhood in her native Zambia to local celebrity in her present hometown of Swindon, Caroline has consistently demonstrated determination, resilience, generosity, capability and integrity, and it is these skills and values she is now sharing with others. She is currently making a name for herself in the media as an inspirational speaker and philanthropic entrepreneur, combining family life with a rapidly expanding business.

Caroline has also established a new business “Concept to Cash in 90 Days” to equip aspiring entrepreneurs with necessary skills to take their business idea from Concept to Cash

kathyKathy Ennis

Kathy Ennis is an expert in personal branding, visual communication and personal impact. She has designed and delivered mentoring, training and learning programmes to a wide variety of organisations in the UK and Europe including Specsavers, McDonalds, McDermott, Will and Emery, the Museums Development Association, Breast Cancer Care, the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP), The British Council, The International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA), Purina, The Housing Corporation, Enterprise Enfield, the City Information Group, Sue Hill Recruitment, John Laing Integrated Services, EKZ Bibliotheks Service and many others.

As a mentor Kathy uses the concept of personal branding as a method of business and career development; she firmly believes that it is individual effectiveness that contributes most to the overall success of any organisation. She helps people grow their business; develop better business networking, public speaking and presentation skills; improve their communication and business relationship-building skills; build their confidence and self esteem; provide them with career enhancing interview preparation; and develops their personal brand, the process of communicating through appearance and behaviour.

With a wealth of experience to call upon Kathy ensures that her sessions are informative, participative and fun. Kathy works with groups of all sizes, as a one-to-one personal development mentor and as a conference speaker.

EricEric Leenders

Eric Leenders is Executive Director of Retail Banking at the British Bankers Association.  His brief as the head of the Retail team at the British Bankers’ Association, covers a broad portfolio of current issues, including the forthcoming review of the Consumer Credit Act, Payment Protection Insurance, proposed changes to insolvency and debt management legislation, pensions and savings, as well as the planned changes to retail banking regulation with the introduction of the Consumer Protection and Markets Authority.

In a wider context, Eric’s team also hold responsibility for proposed European interventions, including the retail banking review, further development of the Single European Payments Area – and the introduction of collective redress, which has been the subject of much attention and debate in Brussels recently as well as emerging EU thinking around a single home loans market. Eric chairs the European Banking Federation’s Consumer Affairs Committee and is a director of the Lending Code Standards Board.

Eric has over twenty years experience as a career banker in retail banking with NatWest and latterly the Royal Bank of Scotland Group. During this time, the roles he has undertaken have been both operational and strategic, including successful spells as a branch and business manager. Before joining the BBA, he was responsible for a portfolio of policy-driven projects in PR and communications, new and emergent markets, legal and regulatory issues and crisis management.

bertBert Verdonck

Bert Verdonck is a global LinkedIn expert, a creative lifehacker and an international speaker.

He teamed up with Jan Vermeiren to co-author How to REALLY Use LinkedIn. This book is so comprehensive that LinkedIn now gives a copy to every single employee throughout Europe and the UK.   Not only that, his LinkedIn techniques are so advanced and effective that his organisation was appointed by LinkedIn as the World’s 1st Certified LinkedIn Training Company.

After training more than 400 of organisations in mainland Europe, he recently expanded his business in to the UK. Customers include Deloitte, IBM, Adecco, Rabobank, Cam Gemini, BDO and Swarovski, next to SMEs and freelancers.  Also non-profit organisations, like TEDxGhent, JCI worldcongress and AmCham Hong Kong hired Bert as a speaker.

For the SME market Bert provides a bespoke LinkedIn Mentoring Programme, where entrepreneurs are taught how to leverage LinkedIn as a sales tool to find new customers and generate new business without cold calling or other dated techniques.

Bert is also the founder of Genius Shortcuts, his personal flavour of lifehacking. Ever imagined what you could do with 2 hours extra per day? Bert already helped thousands of people to boost their productivity and saved them hours per day.  He co-authored Your Book in 100 Days, 175 Lifehacking Tips and The Wealth Garden. He created the Genius Shortcuts CD How to Shorten Your Workday by 2 Hours?

mattMatt Perkins

Matt Perkins is Head of SME Engagement at Freeagent. He has a sound background in sales and marketing developed over 18 years in both retail and manufacturing sectors and has a wealth of practical experience through running his own distribution business.

During four years as an advisor at Business Link in London, he worked directly with businesses on all aspects of management and development and was also a member of the Business Link National PR panel, regularly involved in commenting on business related news stories and attending TV and radio interviews.

Following the closure if the Business Link Service, Matthew spent time at PayPal UK – where he was employed to plan and oversee the implementation their UK SME engagement strategy. It was here that he first encountered FreeAgent and had an epiphany!

At FreeAgent Matthew is again heavily involved in assisting sole traders, freelancers and small businesses to realise their potential: ‘Like it or not, good accounting processes and practices form the very heart of a business and a positive attitude to financial management is key to success. FreeAgent goes a long way to clearing both practical and perceived hurdles many business owners have with their business finances and I’m proud to be involved in this accounting revolution!’

evadneyEvadney Campbell MBE BA (Hons), PG Dip

Evadney was a former BBC Journalist and Presenter for over 25 years before setting up Shiloh PR with her daughter; which is rapidly becoming one of the most sought after urban music specialists companies in the UK

They have managed the PR for some of the biggest urban music events in the country including Oraclez Gospel Festival and One Love Peace Festival both of which took place at Wembley Arena. Shiloh PR was also chosen as the European PR company to relaunch one of the world’s largest Reggae Festival – Reggae Sunsplash in Jamaica.

She began her career by presenting and producing ‘Black Echo’ a radio magazine programme for the BBC South West Region before moving to London to work as a Broadcast Journalist for BBC London Radio.

valleyValley Fontaine BA (Hons), MA

Valley has been a Broadcast Journalist, News Reader, Producer and Reporter for the BBC for over a decade.   She is no stranger to hosting host live industry events and regularly gives presentations to MA students at Goldsmiths College and University of London on journalism.

Prior to working for the BBC, Valley was the Drive time Presenter at Radio Viva and Presenter and News Reader at Choice FM.


img-vanessaVanessa Vallely, Author, Motivational Speaker, Business Woman

Vanessa Vallely is a recognized expert in person-to-person business networking, online branding and a sought after motivational speaker. She is regarded as one of the most well networked women in and out of the City and is passionate about sharing her know-how and experiences with others.

In 2008, Vanessa started the networking site: www.wearethecity.com (WATC) as a vehicle to help other Women connect and grow both personally and professionally and recently created www.careerscity.co.uk, a niche female job board aimed at raising visibility of career opportunities open to Women.

Vanessa works tirelessly to furthering the Diversity Agenda and co-founded the citywide diversity forum, The Networks of Networks (TNON) which includes the Diversity heads and heads of women’s networks from 48 firms.

Vanessa is on every watch list following top women in the City, such as: Financial News Top 100 Rising Star across Europe, Africa and EMEA, Financial News Top 100 Women in Finance as well as The International Alliance for Women’s Top 100 Global Women. She was awarded ‘2011 Women’s Champion’ by Women in Banking & Finance (WiBF) and in 2013, the Global Leadership Award at Columbia University from US network Womensphere. Vanessa’s latest achievement is being cited as 1 of 50 Women of Influence by UK’s leading magazine, Good Housekeeping (Nov 2013).

Vanessa is the author of “Heels of Steel” which tracks her amazing career climb to the C-suite.

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