The Entrepreneurs’ Forum has revealed the latest cohort of its Scale-up Leaders’ Academy.

Laura Weaving and Sarah Callender of Duo Global Consulting, Nikki Renton of J Renton Groundworks, Daniel Wade of Wade Construction Management, Samantha Vassallo of Horizon Works, Steven Robinson of Blu Sky Tax, Ellen Hedley of Vida Creative, Graeme Cochrane of GLC Projects and Jessica Williams of Just Williams make up the seventh cohort of the programme.

Launched in 2017, the Academy has supported 60 North East entrepreneurs across the North East to focus on achieving sustainable high growth by creating a blueprint for future business success.

Last year’s cohort reported an improvement in their leadership skills as a result of the programme, leading to 25 new jobs being created by the time the cohort finished.

The Academy’s impact has been recognised on a national scale with the ScaleUp Institute naming it a ‘One to Watch’ programme.

Elaine Stroud, Chief Executive of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum, said: “We’re delighted to welcome nine entrepreneurs to this year’s Scale-up Leaders’ Academy.

“Working closely with our coach Ian Kinnery, as well as their peer group and members of their senior leadership team, this year’s cohort will gain the knowledge, resources and connections needed to drive their businesses to unprecedented levels.”

Delivered over six months, the Scale-up Leaders’ Academy helps participants to build a blueprint for growth and is divided into four sections: people, strategy, execution and cash.

Previous participants include Sam Spoors of Morpeth-based Talentheads, who joined last year’s cohort.

Since completing the Academy, Sam has celebrated new client wins, welcomed six new people to the team, relocated to larger offices in Northumberland and preparing to open a second office in Durham to accommodate Talenthead’s growing workforce.

This growth saw Sam being named Entrepreneur of the Year in 2023.

Commenting on the impact the programme had on her business, Sam said: “The Scale-up Leaders’ Academy gave me the opportunity to tap into how and what other businesses had done to grow. This gave me the breathing space to prioritise what was needed to get Talentheads to the next level.

“It started a learning culture in Talentheads – one which others have now continued so we can all develop and learn. The benefits that can bring to us, both individually and collectively, has been a game changer. Our business is so much further forward.”

Through coaching sessions, workshops and mentoring support, the Scale-up Leaders’ Academy provides an environment where North East entrepreneurs can collaborate to generate new ideas, resolve critical issues and share good practice.

Elaine continued: “The ScaleUp Insititute’s latest annual review revealed UK scale-ups remain hungry for peer engagement with five in 10 seeking this type of support.

“By providing peer-to-peer learning through the Scale-up Leaders’ Academy, we offer a confidential, supportive and collaborative environment where like-minded entrepreneurs can grow their businesses together.

“We’re looking forward to working closely with our seventh cohort and in helping them to achieve their growth ambitions.”

The Entrepreneurs’ Forum was founded in 2002 and represents over 340 North East entrepreneurs.

Its partners include Agilico, Guerilla, Hilton Newcastle Gateshead, LDC, Northumbria University, RBC Brewin Dolphin and Ward Hadaway.

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