The Board of Directors
CEO Director — Brian Chernett
Brian Chernett is founder and Executive Chairman of The Academy for Chief Executives. He has 42 years' experience as managing director of private and public companies, including subsidiaries of Booker Bros McConnell, the Landmark Group, and several other major companies.
"Today's business world is one of rapid change," he says. "There are so many challenges that leaders face: keeping up with market sector changes; impending legislative change; planning strategically whilst retaining flexibility. The Academy keeps leaders abreast of these changes and assists them on a journey to greater personal and business success. We’re proud that over the past 15 years, we’ve inspired hundreds of CEO to achieve their dreams".
Brian has two fundamental beliefs concerning effective leadership. “The leader has to be a good mentor & coach - unless you’re able to inspire your team, your vision and purpose will never be achieved.” he continues, “The most successful businesses are directed by leaders who acknowledge the key driver to people joining and staying in their business is not purely financial reward, but because they feel individually cared for and recognised. Throughout the coming decade, only organisations with a soul will survive.”
Brian is a Master Practitioner in NLP.
Finance Director — Colin Mills
Colin Mills is the Chief Executive Officer of The FD Centre Limited, and has over 20 years of financial director experience in UK, USA and European businesses with turnovers of £2 million to £500 million. A member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and Institute Prize Winner, Colin also has an MBA from Henley. His industry experience covers construction, FMCG, retail, food, IT, contracting services, building products, paper, printing and property development.
Before setting up the FD Centre in 2001, Colin worked for major organisations like the Mars Group (Global US owned), Benders (UK privately owned FMCG/ paper products group), The Scholes Group plc (now part of Hanson Industries), Clifford Foods plc (now part of Unigate), and The Bradley Group (now part of Aggregate Industries), in both FD and CEO roles. Colin has developed the following FD Centre programmes:
- Keeping Control in Fast Growth Companies
- Survival Solutions for Companies under Pressure
- Managing Business Change "Fast" - a specific FD Centre methodology developed originally
Technology Director — David Cruse
David Cruse founded Conjungo in April 2004 having spotted the absence of a vertical search engine for the technology market. Nearly four years later, a fully developed search engine with listings from many major technology vendors and their channel partners, was ready to launch.
Prior to Conjungo, Cruse was COO for Bloor Research, a globally respected IT analysis and research organization, where he was responsible for sales, operations and product development.
Cruse began his career in retail management with Safeway's where his belief and passion for customer service was cemented.
He was then to serve BOC Special Gases for fourteen years in an operational management role before embarking on a very successful sales career at Yell.com, the online directory from Yellow Pages. Numerous promotions saw him move into sales management. Within two years he became one of the highest performing managers in the company's history.
In 1994, Cruse developed a niche sales recruitment business operating in the technology markets, which ran successfully for almost a decade, before he decided to dedicate his energies to Conjungo.
Cruse is a ‘mad keen’ Chelsea fan with a great sense of humour. Some of his team argue that the two facts are connected.
Online PR Director - Adam Parker
Adam is responsible for the strategy and development of RealWire Ltd. RealWire distribution service is ideally tailored for SME’s and is a simple and effective way to distribute your press releases to the online media and then track where they are covered.
Adam took on his executive role in early 2006, having been a Non-Executive director since the company began. Adam is a Chartered Accountant and has previously spent over nine years with PricewaterhouseCoopers working in the Corporate Finance and Business Advisory service lines.
Legal Director - Nigel Miller
Nigel is one of the Fox Williams' founding partners and jointly leads the firm’s ebusiness group.
Nigel has extensive experience in a range of commercial matters specializing in commercial contracts and regulation, information technology, intellectual property, data protection and e-commerce. Working with clients to grow their businesses and manage their commercial relationships, Nigel deals with negotiation, drafting and advice on a variety of commercial contracts, both domestic and international, and on compliance with UK and EU business regulation.
Nigel is featured in "Legal Experts 2009" (an independent guide published by Legal Business magazine) in relation to e-commerce and Information Technology and in "Who’s Who Legal - Internet & Commerce 2009". The Legal 500 said that Nigel is "an expert on regulatory matters and his "no-nonsense" style is praised by clients".
He is a Fellow, and past Chairman, of the Society for Computers & Law (www.scl.org), the leading UK organisation for the encouragement and development of IT-related law. He is also a past President of the International Federation of Computer Law Associations. Nigel is a member of the Legal Advisory Group of the Federation against Software Theft (FAST) and is a regular writer and speaker on business law matters.
Nigel is known for providing practical, commercially driven advice and for drafting contracts in plain English. The clients for whom he acts range from multi-national corporations to SME's and individual entrepreneurs, both in the UK and abroad.
Enabling Entrepreneurs Director - Guy Rigby
Guy is an experienced chartered accountant who has spent his career working with and around entrepreneurs. After qualifying, he joined Chrysalis, a well known company in the music industry, prior to becoming finance director of British Fittings, a privately owned distribution group.
Following this time in industry, Guy rejoined the accounting profession and built a portfolio of entrepreneurial clients, where he provided commercial, strategic, accounting and taxation advice to owners, their families and their businesses.
In addition to his client focused activities, Guy has pursued his own entrepreneurial agenda. He was responsible (as managing director and then executive chairman) for the development of a large international professional services network, and has been senior partner of a top 50 accounting firm. More recently, he implemented the development strategy for a well known professional services group prior to its successful sale.
In 2007, Guy was joint founder of the Non-Executive Directors Association (NEDA), formed to promote the benefits that non-executive directors bring to businesses of all sizes, whilst ensuring that they are properly trained and developed.
Guy joined Smith & Williamson in 2008 and leads their entrepreneurial services group.
Making Better Decisions Director - Andrew Lester
Andrew is a founding partner of Carr-Michael. He has worked in a variety of sectors and has headed the UK operations of two car manufacturers. He was head of Jaguar Cars Ltd UK from 1996-2001, successfully leading the transition of the company. He has worked extensively in the UK, USA & Europe. He has been a director of private and public companies in the logistics, component supply and high street retail sectors. He is Chairman of Carr-Michael Consulting Ltd, and a director of ICONIC Reputation.
Andrew has over six years experience as a consultant specialising in delivering sustainable growth. His book "Growth Management: Two Hats are Better than One" has recently been published by Macmillan.
Andrew has a degree in Business Strategy and Marketing and has qualifications from INSEAD and Duke University USA.
Entrepreneur Country Director - Julie Meyer
Julie Meyer is one of the leading champions for entrepreneurship in Europe. With over 20 years investment and advisory experience helping start-up businesses, she is the well known founder and CEO of Ariadne Capital, founder of Entrepreneur Country, co-founder of First Tuesday, dragon on BBC's Online Dragons Den and weekly columnist in London's City A.M.
Through these intertwining roles of entrepreneur, advisor, investor and industry commentator, Julie has set her mission to build a growth story for the UK and Europe. This passion and entrepreneurial flair has earned her awards as Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year, World Economic Forum Global Leader of Tomorrow and a place in the Wall Street Journal's Top 30 Most Influential Women in Europe.
American by birth and European in spirit, Julie has added a flourishing media career to her business commitments, recently joining BBC's Online Dragon's Den. In addition to her weekly column for London's City A.M. and regular contributions to Business Week, Computing, FT Digital Business, Spectator Business, Julie is also a regular industry commentator on the BBC and CNBC.
Most recently Julie founded Entrepreneur Country. Managed by Ariadne Capital, Entrepreneur Country is a dedicated community for leading and emerging entrepreneurs, investors, the media and corporate partners who service the start-up industry across the UK and Europe.
From 1998 to 1999, Julie was part of the team at NewMedia Investors, which became early stage investment firm SPARK Ventures in October 1999. During this time she took her first steps in the entrepreneurial arena founding First Tuesday, the largest global network of entrepreneurs, which many credit for igniting the Internet generation in Europe. It was sold for $50million in cash and shares in July 2000.
As a personal project, Julie is also currently setting up an association for teenage girls to help them find their unique contribution to the world and create a virtuous circle of investment in women.
Networking Director - Andy Lopata
Labelled ‘Mr Network’ by The Sun, Andy Lopata was called ‘one of Europe’s leading business networking strategists’ by the Financial Times. The co-author of two books on networking, Andy is a featured columnist in the US magazine ‘The National Networker’, as well as being regularly quoted in the national press.
Previously, Andy was Managing Director of UK network Business Referral Exchange. Andy has since worked with companies from one-man bands to organisations such as NatWest Bank, Merrill Lynch and Mastercard to help them realise the full potential from their networking. He is a former vice-president of the Professional Speakers Association.
Marketing Director — Guest Director
Each month we invite a marketing specialist to investigate a different part of the marketing mix.