Meet our new Devon & Plymouth Chamber board of directors


Devon & Plymouth Chamber of Commerce has today unveiled its newly-elected board of directors, with a more diverse team leading the region’s business community.

The annual Board Elections were held throughout June, with several new director seats available this year.

Members voted for their chosen candidates via an online ballot – and we are proud to welcome a number of newcomers for 2022 in Jabo Butera, Carola Becker, Emily Pearson, Steve Warren-Brown, Ollie Jackman and Tom Lavis.

Our Board members are experienced, knowledgeable and leaders in their fields, providing the Chamber and its members with strategic and practical direction and advice.

Together, they help make key decisions on Chamber strategy and each brings a certain specialism that provides expertise to the different functions of the Chamber.

Long-serving director Richard Stevens, has again been re-elected as Chair, bringing his wealth of experience, knowledge and contacts to one of the region’s most important business roles.

Richard, also Managing Director of Plymouth Citybus, said: “I’m delighted to have been re-elected and would like to say a big thank you to all the members who took part in the process.

“This is a unique job, with a unique responsibility that I don’t take lightly. I think the Chamber does incredibly important work connecting businesses and lobbying and working for the best possible conditions for them to thrive.

“I believe we have elected a Board capable of delivering this, from a more diverse range of organisations. I’m excited for what we can achieve together with the hundreds of members we serve.”

Our new directors were formally appointed at our AGM during July’s City Conversations event at Foot Anstey in Plymouth, the flagship strategic business event in the city.

The new Board of Devon & Plymouth Chamber of Commerce is made up of the following business leaders:

Carola Becker

Carola is a nutritionist, fitness instructor and international wellbeing speaker who, seven years ago, founded Life is Good Nutrition / The Nutrition Coach. Since then, she has worked with hundreds of businesses and individuals – including Devon & Plymouth Chamber members – helping them to increase their physical and mental wellbeing.

Ollie Jackman

Ollie has been involved in the local business community for over 10 years and has made a huge contribution to a number of Devon & Plymouth Chamber events in that time. He is a driven and passionate professional who, together with his business partner James, has recently started Agile Comms – a fresh, modern communications technology company.

Emily Pearson

Emily is the Head of Employer Engagement at South Devon College, leading on all aspects of employer engagement, supporting local, regional and national business communities to invest in skills and education while developing people and workforce.

Jabo Butera

Jabo is the co-founder and Managing Director of Diversity Business Incubator (DBI), a Plymouth-based hub which helps to elevate business success in the minority communities and reduce the economic disparities within. Jabo is an active member of the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnicities community (BAME) in the region and is passionate to see the members of these communities thriving economically.

Tom Lavis

Tom has worked in the charitable sector for over 25 years, most recently as the CEO of YMCA Plymouth and Discovery College. This has enabled him to establish great connections within the business community, serving as a member of the Plymouth Area Business Council and the Devon & Plymouth Chamber, of which he is a great supporter.

Steve Warren-Brown

Steve from YGS Landscapes Ltd has lived in Plymouth all his life and is passionate about our wonderful city. He’s been involved with the Devon & Plymouth Chamber for more than 20 years and is keen to continue to support our members as a director.

Richard Stevens

Richard joined our Board in 2014 and is the current Chair. As well as being Managing Director of Plymouth Citybus, he is also the chair of the Plymouth Area Business Council and the Plymouth Growth Board, and holds many other roles across the region. In his spare time – if he has any – Richard enjoys sailing!

Paul Philpott

One of our new Vice Chairs, Paul is Managing Director of Fresh Air Studios. A former presenter for Plymouth Sound Radio (many years ago), he turned his love of audio into creating one of the UK’s most respected independent production companies, Fresh Air Studios, which also produces the Chamber’s ‘In Conversation With…’ series of podcasts.

James Smith

Our new Vice Chair alongside Paul Philpott, James spent 22 years in the Royal Navy before launching Primal Europe Ltd in 2012. Two years ago James launched his own consultancy business, which has been integral in supporting entrepreneurs who want to import and introduce new brands into the UK market. This has included the new Perry eHopper eBike and the Perry P4 e-scooter.

Richard Adams

Rich is Business Engagement Manager at University of Plymouth after joining in 2011 following a career in both public and private sectors. With a background in innovation and business support Rich leads on business engagement activities across the whole university as well as project and partnership development with industry stakeholders.

Pauline Hands

Pauline is Executive of Commercial Operations at City College Plymouth. An advocate of skills to bring new talent into a company or the upskilling of existing staff, Pauline enjoys seeking opportunities that have impact, which was a contributory factor in becoming a Chamber Board Director, as well as joining the Plymouth Area Business Council board.

Paul James

Paul has significant board experience as a director, company secretary and trustee of various organisations. His initial experience was in the commercial sector and then shaped and developed through the charity and social enterprise sectors. He has a breadth of expertise in finance, HR, employee development, commercial and manufacturing operations.

Linda Middleton-Jones

Linda is the founder and Managing Director of International Trade Matters. She has worked with manufacturers and service providers throughout and beyond the South West for many years, encouraging them to recognise the opportunities in selling in, and/or buying from, overseas markets. Linda is known as a champion of international trade. 

Craig Moore

Craig is a solicitor with more than 20 years’ experience in commercial property and finance. He is the Plymouth office head for Womble Bond Dickinson and his experience includes acting for a wide variety of businesses, public bodies, charities and education institutions. He is also President of the Plymouth Law Society.

James Greenacre

As Head of Commercial Operations at Plymouth Argyle, James’s current role requires working with a broad, and ever-increasing, portfolio of both internal and external stakeholders across the region – primarily focusing on the commercial side of the business but also collaborating heavily with the Argyle Community Trust.

Tom Moore

Tom is the Business Development Director at Acronyms, an IT support company based at Plymouth Science Park. With Tom’s contribution and journey to becoming company director, Acronyms has grown year on year, and celebrated continued growth in 2020 by opening an office in Bristol and acquiring Cornish IT firm IT-OK.

Geoffrey Rogers

Geoffrey is a Bideford boy who was born, schooled and qualified as a Chartered Accountant in North Devon, before moving to Bristol to work all over the UK for KPMG on international audits. He then joined Allied Breweries as the group financial accountant before moving to Plymouth in the mid 1970s and becoming a partner in a local accountancy practice.

Main picture by Amy Stanford Photography

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