Claire Walker and Hannah Essex are Co-Executive Directors at the British Chambers of Commerce and together lead the BCC’s campaigns, communications, public affairs, policy, marketing and senior representative work on behalf of the Chamber Network.
Claire and Hannah joined the British Chambers of Commerce as a partnership in September 2018 from social enterprise Teach First, where they co-led the Communications Department. Claire covered Hannah’s maternity leave and they formed their partnership when Hannah returned in 2015. As one of very few Executive level job-share partnerships in the country, they are considered trail-blazers in the concept of co-leadership.
Together, they have a combined 40 years’ experience leading in a range of organisations, driving transformation and impact. Claire has held a number of trustee positions and led a range of community projects. Hannah is Vice-Chair and Founding Trustee of The Girls’ Network.
Jenny Hemsley joined British Chambers of Commerce as Finance Director in January 2020. Jenny leads on BCC’s finance and operations activities, and also holds the office of Company Secretary.
Prior to joining the BCC, Jenny worked for 15 years at Thomson Reuters as finance director in the European Tax & Accounting division, and as an audit director in the global Corporate Internal Audit function. She is an ACA, having qualified in 1999 with PricewaterhouseCoopers. She also holds long-standing voluntary roles with the NCT charity.
Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith CBE , President
Senior business leader and member of the House of Lords
Ruby is currently a Non-Executive Director at the Department for Education and Tideway; senior independent advisor at Mace Group; and chair of the Airport Operators Association. She is a member of the House of Lords Committee on Democracy and Digital Technologies, and patron of the Employers Forum for Equality and Inclusion.
Previously, Ruby spent fourteen years at Mitie Group PLC – including a decade as CEO, as one of a small number of female CEOs in the FTSE 250. She also served as Chair of the Women’s Business Council, and has held a range of NED and public appointments and won a number of national awards during her business career.
Ruby was appointed CBE in 2011 for services to business and to diversity in business, and became a life peer in 2015.
Sarah Howard MBE, Chair
Director, Sarand Business Software; Member of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce
Sarah is immediate past president of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce. She joined the BCC board in 2016 and chaired the accreditation board for three years.
Sarah started her career as a management consultant at KPMG, moving to JP Morgan before setting up her own company, Sarand Business Software with her partner in 1994. The company supplies bespoke software to a wide range of clients.
Sarah chairs Abbeycroft Leisure, a not for profit organisation running leisure services across Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. She is also a Governor at West Suffolk College and the Suffolk Academy Trust.
Christopher Dottie MBE, Non-executive Director
Managing Director, Hays Spain; President, British Chamber of Commerce in Spain
Chris has worked for the British multinational recruiter Hays since 1996, beginning in Birmingham and opening the Lisbon office before assuming his current role as Managing Director Spain in 2008.
A passionate advocate for reform in the world of work, Chris is a frequent contributor on the issue in Spanish media and institutional relations, as well as defending the interests of Chamber members on relevant matters.
Chris was elected President of the British Chamber of Commerce in Spain in 2016, having previously served on the organisation’s Governing Council for several years.
Keith Johnston LLB
Past President of Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce
Keith was for 10 years a member of the Board and is a past-president of Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce. For over 35 years, he was a Partner of international law firm, Addleshaw Goddard until his retirement in 2017. He was a member of their Governance Board for many years and, latterly, Chairman of the firm’s Middle East practice. Keith's professional work as a Corporate and Corporate Finance specialist has involved him in a broad range of transactional, advisory and project work for quoted and international companies and also for owner-managed businesses. For eight years to 2004, Keith was (on a part-time basis) the Group Company Secretary of API Group plc – a UK-listed international packaging manufacturing group. He has also served on the Board of a number of UK private companies in a non-executive capacity. He was a founder Member of the Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership and served on that LEP for 6 years. He has also been serving on the BCC’s Audit and Risk Committee for several years.
Scott Knowles, Non-executive Director
Chief Executive, East Midlands Chamber (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire)
Scott is Chief Executive at East Midlands Chamber (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire) and lives near Matlock, Derbyshire.
Scott began his career at North Derbyshire Chamber in 1999, providing advice and support to businesses in regard to preparing for the impending 'millennium bug' and supporting businesses embrace at the time, emerging internet technologies.
Scott's earlier career was in the information and communications technology sector.
As well as heading up the Chamber's leadership team and representing the Chamber and its members at senior level with stakeholders and partner organisations, Scott manages various capital and revenue projects for the Chamber.
Scott represents the Chamber, its members and the wider business community on a number of stakeholder groups including:
D2N2 LEP Board
LLEP Board / Executive and Business Boards
Derbyshire Economic Partnership
Marketing Peak District and Derbyshire
Metro Strategy Board
Opportunity Area Review Board in Derby
Derby Renaissance Board
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy amongst others
Sandy Needham, Non-executive Director
Chief Executive, West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce
Sandy Needham is the Chief Executive of the West and North Yorkshire Chamber, the leading business organisation for the Bradford, Leeds, York and North Yorkshire, offering lobbying and a large range of business services.
Earlier roles include working as a Company Secretary in a small company, Regional Managers with TV-am and Yorkshire Television, Regional Manager with NCH/Action for Children, Regional Director of Common Purpose and Chief Executive of Chamber Management Services Ltd and the Bradford Chamber.
Sandy is a Trustee of the John Speak Foreign Languages Foundation and a non-executive director of Business Enterprise Finance Ltd, a community development finance institution lending to businesses. Other roles include being a member of the Bradford Economic Partnership Board and a Director of the Leeds Business Improvement District Board. Sandy also holds non-executive directorships with Yorkshire and Humber Chambers of Commerce and is a Director and joint Vice-Chair of the Bradford Business Improvement District. She was given an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Bradford in 2018 for services to business and education.
Stuart Patrick is Chief Executive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, committed to increasing trading opportunities for Chamber members and delivering a strong business influence on the growth of the Glasgow city region.
Stuart joined the Chamber in 2009 and has worked with the Chamber’s team, Board and Governing Council to build the Chamber’s policy voice, evolve member services and support Glasgow in the delivery of an ambitious economic strategy. International trade, transport investment, city centre growth, key industry strategies and youth employment are all important issues for the Chamber. In June 2019 Stuart was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for this contribution to Glasgow business.
Stuart has spent over 25 years in urban economic development including 17 years at Scottish Enterprise where he focused on the economic transformation of Glasgow ultimately leading Scottish Enterprise Glasgow and becoming Senior Commercial Director for Scottish Enterprise itself. At the beginning of his career Stuart trained with Ernst & Young where he qualified as a Chartered Accountant and he has an MBA from Strathclyde University. He took his first degree at Glasgow University.
Stuart takes an active interest in Glasgow’s economy and is a member of the Glasgow Economic Leadership Board, the Sustainable Glasgow Board and the Glasgow City Centre Strategy Board. He co-chairs the Glasgow Employer Board. He is also chair of Glasgow City of Science.
Stuart has a number of personal interests around Glasgow including the chairmanship of the Wise Group and directorships of Glasgow Science Centre, Scottish Opera, Clyde Gateway URC and the Cottier Project. He is a board member of City of Glasgow College.
Sean Ramsden MBE, Non-executive Director
Founder and Chief Executive of Ramsden International; Member of Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce
Sean is the founder and CEO of Ramsden International, the UK’s leading export wholesaler of grocery brands, supplying retailers and wholesalers in more than 130 countries worldwide. Ramsden International are twice winners of the Outstanding Business of the Year at the Chamber Awards; three times winners of the Queen’s Award for Enterprise, and recipients of more than 80 other business awards.
A graduate of Cambridge University, Sean is also an alumni of Harvard Business School, and has personally visited more than 90 countries to conduct business in his 25 years with Ramsden International.
In addition to his roles at Ramsden International and BCC, Sean is also a Trustee-Director of the Institute of Export and International Trade, a Council-member of the Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce, and has sat on a number of boards of commercial businesses, charities, trade bodies and advisory groups, including the Government’s Strategic Trade Advisory Group (STAG). He is a regular commentator in national media on matters of export, entrepreneurship and trade policy, and is known for his passion for advancing the cause of exporting within the SME community.
Sean is three times Finalist in the EY Entrepreneur of the Year awards; IOD International Director of the Year 2015, and the recipient of numerous personal awards for entrepreneurship and exporting. In 2019 he was honoured with an MBE for services to international trade.
Liz Willingham, Non-executive Director
President of Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Having graduated from the UK’s first PR degree and subsequently working in the Harrods and Poole Pottery press offices as well as a regional agency, I started Liz Lean PR from the back of a Sandbanks apartment twenty years ago.
The business is now home to an expanding team of PR, marketing and digital talent and we continue to go from strength to strength.
I am 2019 President, Board and Council member of the Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry. I also recently became Chair of the British Chamber of Commerce driven South West Regional Assembly of county chambers with CEOs and Presidents from Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Wiltshire, Somerset, Gloucestershire, and South Wales.
Personality traits which have enabled my business to be successful - alongside having an incredible team - include relationship building skills, high levels of emotional intelligence, interpersonal relationship and people engagement, and strong intuition.
I have proven board level understanding of governance, using objective diplomacy and persuasiveness for the best interests of the organisation in question.
Dr Anna Jerzewska is a Geneva and London-based independent customs and trade consultant with a combination of private sector, policy and academic experience.
Anna is an independent advisor with the UN International Trade Centre where she covers customs, market access and trade policy. She is also a trade policy and customs consultant for the British Chambers of Commerce in London focusing on Brexit.
Previously, Anna worked as a customs consultant for big 4 advisory firms in London where she advised clients on a wide range of global trade and customs issues. She holds a PhD in free trade agreements.
Brian Staples is President of Trade Facilitation Services (TFS), an Ottawa-based consulting group, and has been providing a wide range of multinational clients with effective market access strategies and solutions for over 30 years.
TFS services include technical trade fundamentals with a particular focus on all aspects of rules of origin and related fields such as customs procedures, customs verification audits and pre-audits, valuation, duty and tax deferral programs and the Harmonized System of Classification combined with significant activity in trade policy matters including trade facilitation.
Brian is also the Founding Director of the Origin Institute, and in addition to resolving trade problems for private sector clients, he has also worked on a wide range of trade, customs and origin related technical assistance and capacity building development projects around the world for various international and regional institutions including the Inter-American Development Bank, GIZ, and the Canadian International Development Agency.
Mr. Staples is a longstanding member of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and provides origin input to the International Chamber of Commerce - Commission on Customs and Trade Facilitation (Paris – France).