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Skills Advisory Panel

The new LEP Skills Advisory Panel (SAP) is an employer-led local partnership, established in October 2019 to strengthen the link between public and private sector employers, local authorities, colleges and universities and to pool knowledge on skills and labour market needs.

SELEP’s SAP is reflective of growth sectors and will be informed by the SELEP Skills Strategy and Evidence Base already in place. Click here to view the Skills Strategy and Evidence Base. This will be added to through the production of an analytical toolkit produced with the Department for Education which is supporting the establishment of SAPs nationally. The toolkit and all related information will be available on this website.

SELEP and partners are already tackling the skills challenge in a variety of ways, most notably through a new Digital Skills Partnership, FE Bursary pilot, ESF and skills capital programmes. Click here to find out more about the Digital Skills Partnership, and click here to find out more about European Social Fund (ESF) opportunities. Click here to head to becomealecturer.org to find out more about the tutor bursary programme.

The SAP represents a major opportunity to drive forward further change and deliver results with employers at the forefront.

SAP Members

(Scroll down for full biographies)

Louise Aitken
South East LEP

Holly Aquilina
East Sussex County Council
Local Authorities

Liz Austin
Stansted Airport
Airports and Tourism

Colette Bailey
Chair/LEP Board member

Ana Christie
Sussex Chamber of Commerce

Helen Clements
Morgan Sindall

Samantha Desforges
Berry Gardens
Food Production

Leonardo Gagliano
Hilton Group

Diana Garnham
Chair of Skills East Sussex

Kirsty Hawkins
Social Enterprise Kent
Voluntary and Community

Iain Hawthorn

Lindsey Hayward
Konica Minolta

Guy Hazlehurst
EDF/Bradwell B
Nuclear Energy

Trevor Hutchinson
DP World London Gateway

Jeremy Kerswell
Plumpton College
Vice-Chair of SAG and FE/Vice-Chair of SAP

Jo Nolan
Screen South
Digital and Creative/Digital Skills Partnership

Angela O’Donoghue
South Essex College
Chair of SAG and FE/Vice-Chair of SAP

Pauline Smith
Kent Association of Training Organisations
Provider Network

Kate Stinton
CGN/Bradwell B
Nuclear Energy

Ajay Sharman
STEM Learning
STEM/Digital Skills Partnership

Paul Winter
Wire Belt Company 
Chair of Kent & Medway Skills Commission/Engineering

Colette Bailey

Artistic Director and Chief Executive, Metal | LEP Board Member


Colette has worked to develop Metal since the company’s inception in 2002. She works across all three Metal sites in Southend, Liverpool and Peterborough and brings extensive experience of working with artists working in a wide range of artistic disciplines. This includes commissioning new work for large scale public arenas, festivals, exhibitions, participatory design and education projects. In 2016 she created Estuary – a major new arts festival along the banks of the Thames in South Essex and North Kent presenting contemporary visual art, literature, film and music. The first edition, Estuary 2016 was co-curated with Gareth Evans, Sue Jones and Rachel Lichtenstein. She sits on a number of Boards including The WOW Foundation; Opportunity South Essex and the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP). She was managing director of the Royal Society of British Sculptors (RBS) from 1998 – 2002 and is a freelance writer and commentator on the arts and has published articles in a number of journals and publications.

Jeremy Kerswell

Principal, Plumpton College | Vice Chair of SAG and FE

Vice Chair

Jeremy has worked across the country in the Further Education and Higher Education sectors over the last 20 years, and in that time has either been involved in or witnessed world-class practice in ensuring skills development is fully aligned to local, regional and national business and economic development. He is Principal of one of only 13 specialist land-based colleges nationally, as well as sitting on the Board of Landex and the National Land-based College. Jeremy is also Chair of the Training and Education group for WineGB, the national representative body for the wine industry.

Angela O'Donoghue

Principal and Chief Executive, South Essex College | Chair of SAG and FE

Vice Chair

Angela has worked in further education for 37 years, having previously held lecturer, assistant principal, vice principal and acting principal roles at Liverpool Community College and Wigan and Leigh College. After setting up a new college in Hackney and spending five successful years there, Angela became principal at Sunderland College before taking up her current role at South Essex College in 2012. In 2013, Angela was awarded a CBE for services to education.

Holly Aquilina

Employability and Skills Strategy Manager, East Sussex County Council | Local Authorities

Holly has worked in the skills and employability sector for over 20 years with leadership roles in the public sector (Local Authorities, the European Commission and the Learning and Skills Council), community sector and private sector. Holly has managed skills funding programmes (overseeing European Social Funding for the Learning and Skills Council), led training organisations and provided consultancy support to universities, colleges and community organisations around their training development and delivery. In her current role, she established and now facilitates the highly effective ‘Skills East Sussex’ employment and skills board, and its six sector-focused business-led task groups.

Liz Austin

HR Director, Stansted Airport | Airports and Tourism

Liz has worked at London Stansted Airport for over 10 years and in that time helped manage the transfer from BAA to Manchester Airport Group at a time of exceptional and sustained period of growth. Having originally started as an HR Business Partner, Liz was appointed HR Director in early 2016. Before joining MAG, Liz started her career in the health industry, specifically criminal psychology, before changing direction to work in HR roles. Liz held a number of senior people roles at Asda and, prior to that, HR roles in the rail and construction industry. Outside of work, Liz is a school governor and plays an active role in driving educational standards.

Helen Clements

Community Investment Advisor, Morgan Sindall | Construction

Helen has worked in the construction industry for over 10 years. Helen’s role at Morgan Sindall Construction is about delivering social value for its public-sector clients. A large proportion of this is linked to skills. Helen is a Fairness, Inclusion and Respect (FIR) Ambassador and attends various skills meetings across East Anglia. Helen is also an Enterprise Advisor currently with two schools, as well as being a STEM Ambassador.

Samantha Desforges

Head of Human Resources, Berry Gardens | Food Production

Sam has worked at Berry Gardens Limited, the UK’s leading soft fruit provider, for over 12 years and in that time has seen the business grow significantly. Starting originally as a HR Manager, Sam was appointed Head of HR in early 2016. She was awarded the coveted award of Manager of the Year in 2019 by the Fresh Produce Consortium. Before joining Berry Gardens, Sam started her career within the accountancy and medical communications industries. During her spare time, Sam is an active Trustee for the Japanese Akita Welfare Trust.

Leonardo Gagliano

General Manager, Hilton Maidstone | Hospitality

Leonardo has been in hospitality for more than 30 years, leading operational excellence, continuous improvement, managing business planning and critical change. Leonardo started as events organiser back in Brazil, moved to the UK in 1998 to join Hilton as Conferences and Events Operations Manager and has been a General Manager since 2011. Leonardo is immensely proud about the role of hospitality in creating a wealth of opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds and its potential to promote understanding and respect across countries and cultures.

Diana Garnham

Consultant, RDBInsight | Chair of Skills East Sussex

Diana has been engaged in the skills agenda, and specifically STEM skills, for many years and has a good understanding of both national and local issues. As Chief Executive of the Science Council, Diana led work on innovative workforce skills analysis, careers awareness and information, developed professional qualifications in science including Chartered and Registered Scientist and Registered Science Technician and introduced a programme of work on diversity in science. She chaired the BIS Science for Careers Expert Group in 2010-12.

Diana is currently an independent member of the Construction Industry Training Board and also works with Kings College London and the University of Brighton in developing ways of improving undergraduate work readiness. She was on the board of Sussex Coast College and more recently East Sussex College Group.

Kirsty Hawkins

Director of Learning and Skills, Social Enterprise Kent | Voluntary and Community

Kirsty’s career began in health and social care. Due to a passion for training and development of staff and service users, Kirsty eventually made the decision to embark on a new career in training and development. She is now Director of Learning and Skills at Social Enterprise Kent (SEK), using her knowledge of qualifications and funding to support and develop SEK’s training centre delivering commercial training, apprenticeships, employability qualifications and training. Kirsty is a committee member of Kent Association for Training Organisations (KATO).

Iain Hawthorn

Regional Food & Drink Director - South & East Region, HSBC | Finance

Iain has held a wide number of management and leadership roles over 35 years in retail & corporate banking. He hopes to guide more young people into his profession by helping them understand the pathways available to them, the skills required and the highly rewarding personal development they can achieve. Iain is a voluntary member of the Retail & Commercial Banking Graduate & Intern Assessment Panel and an Enterprise Adviser for the Careers & Enterprise Company, as well as being Chair of the Finance & Professional Services Guild for Kent, Chair of the Advisory Board to Canterbury Christ Church University Business School and Member of the Business Advisory Board to Kent County Council.

Guy Hazlehurst

Workforce Development Director, EDF Energy | Nuclear Energy

Guy has worked for EDF Energy since joining from London 2012 and the construction of the Olympic Park, where he was the programme lead for Employment, Skills and Legacy. Guy is an engineer and cconomist and has worked on other major projects, including the Manchester Commonwealth Games, Eden Project, Crossrail and the Shard and acted as construction advisor to the Welsh Assembly Government and the Scottish Assembly. He was also the Director of Strategy for Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) prior to working on London 2012.

Trevor Hutchinson

DP World London Gateway | Logistics

Trevor has 20 years of experience from both private and public sector perspectives in the Essex and wider South East area. As a planning and transport consultant for the past 12 years, Trevor has worked with a number of clients and has a broad experience of issues. He previously spent eight years as a strategic planning and transportation officer at Thurrock Council, and was formerly Vice Chair of the Essex Employment and Skills Board, as well as spending two years as Chairperson of the Essex Employment and Skills Board’s logistics sector action group.

Jo Nolan

Managing Director, Screen South | Digital and Creative

Jo Nolan has exec-produced over 250 digital projects across Film, Arts and Heritage including award-winning features, shorts, music promos, live shows and gallery-based work. She is the Lead Producer for New Creatives South East, the recently launched BBC Arts new talent scheme. She also leads the Create Converge Skills & Talent strand, a European cross sector Immersive and Interactive project. She has successfully produced 72 shorts for C4 Random Acts and supports Screen South’s Accentuate Programme across a range of projects. Jo is a voting member of BAFTA, a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and is Chair of the Kent and Medway Skills Guild for Creative, Media and Digital.

Dr Ajay Sharman

Regional Network Lead, STEM Learning Ltd - South East | STEM/Digital Skills Partnership

Dr Ajay Sharman is the Regional Network Lead for STEM Learning Ltd across the South East. Dr Sharman was previously Technical Director at University of Kent spin-out company Viridian, before joining Reckitt Benckiser as Global Technology Manager followed by a commercial role at the University of Oxford’s Begbroke Science Park. Dr Sharman has been a Chair of Governors at Parkside Community School in Canterbury for over eight years, as well as Chair and Vice Chair of Governors at The Whitstable School. He is currently a trustee at Dartford Science & Technology College and on the pool of Governors for Kent County Council.

Paul Winter

Non-Executive Chairman, Wire Belt Company Ltd | Chair, Kent & Medway Skills Commission

Paul completed a Higher Apprenticeship and then qualified as a Chartered Certified Accountant while working for the Lucas Group in the 1970s. He was CEO of the Wire Belt Company for almost 40 years, having established the strategy of recruiting from full time education, especially for apprenticeships. Now as Non- Executive Chairman, time has been released for other skills-related activities such as being an Apprentice Ambassador and chairing the Kent & Medway Skills Commission. Paul is also a member of the Kent & Medway Economic Partnership.