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Our Team

Jon Birkett - Growth Hub Manager

I am proud to have been recognised as one of the leading place management specialists in the UK, being awarded the ‘Association of Town and City Management (ATCM) Chairman’s Award for Outstanding Achievement’ for contribution to the industry.

Having worked as a Consultant, Chief Executive and Specialist Advisor for over a decade, I have used my experience and expertise to support central and local government, NGO’s and private sector businesses to identify and deliver effective, pragmatic and sustainable place management solutions.
Whilst working in the UK and abroad on behalf of the Home Office, the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and the Association of Town and City Management I have demonstrated passion for people and places, and always strive to exceed expectations.

Throughout my career I have nurtured excellent stakeholder and client management skills, supported by a strong set of personal values that prioritise a collaborative and creative approach to project management and problem solving. I pride myself on the delivery of cutting edge work, and decisive leadership, resulting in the sustainable growth of a number of nationally recognised commercial and not-for-profit organisations and the transformation of a variety of towns and cities.

I am a place management, economic development and night time economy specialist. I also have expertise as a change and turnaround manager, programme director and capacity builder.

I am a social and professional commentator on the areas of self regulation, nudge theory and diversification.

Theo Kaciubskyj - Scale Up Advisor

Over the past thirty plus years, Theo has successfully provided Business Development Coaching, Mentoring and Leadership & Management Training to hundreds of UK businesses under several government initiatives including the Growth Accelerator Programme, Business Growth Service, ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) and now BEST’s Scale Up Programme.  With a particular focus on helping companies with their strategic planning, Theo has guided many businesses towards capitalising on growth opportunities and helping them identify and address internal constraints.

As a Scale Up Advisor for the BEST Growth Hub, Theo helps ensure that companies across Essex, Southend and Thurrock, with the potential to grow, flourish by providing a hands-on approach to strategic planning and implementation.  He also helps businesses access grant support and advisory services via the experienced team at the BEST Growth Hub.

Karen Hodgkins - Business Navigator

After working as an Area Manager for a large retail print company, Karen went on to run her own business for many years.  Running her own business has helped her to understand the difficulty businesses face and where to look to for support.  In Karen’s role as Business Navigator, she uses her knowledge of grant funding and business support to guide Essex businesses to the appropriate support to help them develop and grow.

Jacqui Stimpson - Business Navigator

Jacqui has been with the BEST Growth Hub team for 3 years and she is renowned for her passion and enthusiasm for making a real difference to the businesses she works with.  She brings with her 26 years of Banking experience and  prides herself in providing excellent customer service and developing  long term relationships as she gets a real buzz from seeing the business she works with grow and help to improve their local economy.

As a Business Navigator she uses her experience and knowledge to learn as much as she can about the business in order to match them with the right resources,  support and funding available to help them fulfil their ambitions.

Darren Moss - Partnership Co-ordinator

Darren joined the BEST Growth Hub in October 2019 as Partnership Coordinator. In his past employment he was the Marketing and Relationship Manager in the legal profession for the Bar Council of England and Wales. His past experience with building and maintaining relationships has now helped him to be the first point of contact between the Growth Hub and its Support Providers. He is also responsible for organising the Best Growth Hub’s events and workshops.

Kate Thompson - Business Engagement Administrator

Kate joined the BEST Growth Hub in July 2019 as Business Engagement Administrator. Prior to joining the team Kate has spent the past 10 years working in the charity sector with small and large scale teams providing comprehensive administrative and business support.

As Business Engagement Administrator Kate supports the Business Engagement Team to successfully complete delivery of the BEST Growth Hub and is the first point of contact for all business enquiries.

Sheradon Sibley – South East Business Boost Programme (SEBB) Delivery Manager

Sheradon leads the Essex SEBB Delivery Team.  Her ability and enthusiasm to enable as many businesses as possible to benefit from the SEBB programme (via fully funded advice sessions, training/workshops or grants) shines through.

She brings extensive operational and strategic management experience to the team having held various roles in both the private and public sector over the past 20 years.

John Sargant – South East Business Boost Programme (SEBB) Grants Officer

John advises and supports applicants through the SEBB Grant Funding process whilst ensuring each stage of the application runs smoothly and efficiently for SMEs.  John prides himself on building excellent relationships with his clients and consistently receives excellent customer feedback in relation to his professionalism, efficiency and friendly, approachable manner.

He has owned businesses before and worked as a Business Adviser, therefore understands the challenges and opportunities that arise with business ownership.  John has a particular personal interest in helping prospective business owners with their ideas and planning and has guided many businesses from the pre-start/ideas stage to successful early business growth.

James Hepton – South East Business Boost Programme (SEBB) Administrator

James is the lynchpin of the SEBB delivery team and provides an excellent administration service, always willing to go above and beyond to support the team and assist clients in need.  He is highly organised and takes pride in his work.  James ensures your first call into the team leads to support from the SEBB programme if your business is eligible.

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