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The trainers

Alastair Brown 

Alastair Brown is a forward-thinking Artificial Intelligence specialist with experience in upskilling staff for artificial intelligence. He uses practical hands-on examples of AI so non-technical attendees can get excited about the potential of AI in their industry and personal lives.


Alistair is very proud to be the first in the UK to get a course on Responsible AI accredited by the CPD and always teaches how sustainable and safe AI should be adopted.


His technical speciality is in crafting semi-autonomous AI agents guided by responsible AI practices and he demonstrates this to technical and non-technical learners. Alastair prides himself on being a skilled communicator, presenting intricate AI and agent concepts to diverse audiences. He is committed to harnessing AI for innovation while advocating responsible AI use.


Bahar Afrahi

I'm facilitating the learning on innovation and design thinking at Kingston Business School University London.  These are subjects close to my heart as they help us being more empathetic towards people whom we design for, and being more understanding of their needs and what they are trying to achieve when using a product or service. I am also leading the national Help to Grow Management Programme, and the Selby Trust Project, Centre for Entrepreneurship Excellence, where we help cultivate SME leaders' thinking around business growth and what it takes: innovation, strategy, vision, winning new markets, employee engagement, finance, and operation. 


My innovation experience has been shaped through my various roles, working as an entrepreneur, co-founder, and employee in various industries and markets including retail, tech, publishing, education, and engineering in Scandinavia, Middle East, and the UK.  


What makes my work most exciting? Cultivating people's imagination and helping them innovate while enabling learners’ enthusiasm. I do believe everyone is carrying the true spirit of entrepreneurship; it just needs a bit of nudge to shine through... 


Fran Hyde

An experienced but always curious ‘social value’ focused marketing educator. Interested in marketing practice, and especially interested in marketing by not-for-profits.


Active in ensuring marketing makes a positive impact on society. Fran Has experience as a Hospice trustee - Deputy Chair and Chair of the Corporate Governance and Risk Committee.


Member of Worshipful Company of Marketors - Chair of the Marketors Education and Knowledge Development Committee.


Member of the Education Committee Academy of Marketing

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Julie Wong

Julie is a Finance and Business Growth Mentor supporting Founders in their business journey from start-up to growth and scale-up.

As a Business Mentor, she has helped a wide range of SMEs recognise the need for understanding and implementing robust financial management to enable the business to optimise itself operationally. The focus is to identify areas of growth through purposeful use of its information and to enable the business to reach its goals.  

Julie is qualified accountant, Finance Director and finance & business professional with 30 years’ experience working with diverse organisations ranging from FTSE listed blue-chip to SMEs and start-ups in multiple sectors including banking, property, education and fintech.  As well as her technical skills, she is adept at supporting organisations to grow through her friendly, problem-solving approach. She applies leading business thinking to come up with innovative ideas to help organisations unlock their growth.

Throughout her career, she focuses on connecting finance with operational parts of the organisation. She is an advocate that a strong finance function with a clear financial strategy is critical to the success of any company. Everything you do in business has a financial impact so finance is not just a back-office support function. All departments should work together and not in isolation, in order to achieve the organisation’s objectives.

As well as being a mentor, Julie is also a fractional Finance Director, providing commercial and strategic support to businesses that do not require a full-time FD.

Julie believes in taking the “fear out of finance” and that knowing your numbers is key to business growth and success. With a holistic approach to business she will help identify which area needs attention. Julie likes to be able to connect the activities of sales, marketing and operational strategies with financial and overall business strategy.

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Paul Shaw

Paul Shaw is a professional business coach and mentor, dedicated to helping small and medium sized businesses achieve their vision. He offers ‘hands on’ support to business owners, enabling them to overcome their business challenges and helping them to achieve their aspirations for growth. Paul is also co-founder and CEO of Restaurant Developments, a technology business that provides innovative web solutions to the hospitality industry.


Paul has 30 years’ experience in senior leadership roles in the hospitality, entertainment and leisure sectors, leading high-performance teams across multiple disciplines, including sales, marketing, product and development.  Paul’s experience spans start-ups, SMEs and publicly traded companies. Furthermore, he sees more similarities than differences between business of all sizes and sectors.


Paul really likes getting under the skin of businesses and helping owners to reach the next level. He is a skilled strategist, but also likes to ‘do’.

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Richard Keogh

Following a 35-year career in business rising to managing director of Kantar Media, I have been mentoring now for over three years specialising in working with small and medium-sized business owners and managers.


I started my mentoring with Kingston University on their Help to Grow programme and from this developed a range of private mentorships and I work now with Kingston MBA students regularly. 

I bring 30+ years of business experience in small, medium and PLC companies. This allows me to know what good looks like but more importantly what bad looks like. I approach this by always being on your side of the table acting as your critical best friend.

I specialise in business turnarounds, strategy development, product and value proposition development, sales and marketing, team building and revenue generation.

Roya Croudace

As a mentor, Roya's role is to work with you to provide that “helicopter view” of your business to help identify our focus for where you will gain the most value in the short and long term.  Having supported over 400 scale-up businesses in the last few years across most industries (Digital, Construction, Retail, and finance to name a few) I can also share experiences and best practices to accelerate your growth plans and profitability while utilising my extensive network to make relevant introductions. I have extensive strategic, funding/finance, sales and marketing, and people leadership experience and as a former coach providing tailored support, and developing strong sustainable foundations for growth. 


Roya is passionate about innovation and business adaptability and can absorb and assess situations quickly to deliver measurable impacts.  


Her career spans across the corporate and SME sectors as Commercial Director and MD. I have also run large government business support contracts and will be happy to make sure you are linked to relevant funding support available including grants. 


I am currently the Founder of Alloy Business, a business growth agency, a Digital Champion mentor for a digital adaption programme for SMEs in Sussex, and the founder of an EdTech start-up and a Non-Executive Director at KTN. 


I look forward to working with you to accelerate the growth of your business. 

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Sandra Murphy

Sandra Murphy is a Business Strategist and Coach. She’s spent most of her working life either helping other people run their businesses or running her own.  She’s learned, sometimes through bitter experience, what works and what doesn’t and she’s very happy for other people to share the benefit not only of her mistakes but also her successes.


Sandra strongly believes that there are four key elements to a successful business:


  • Strong financial planning

  • A great team of people to support you

  • Making sure people (your clients) know who you are and how you can help them

  • Making it as easy as possible for clients to buy from you!


She has experience of start-ups and established companies with a particular interest in micro and small businesses working across multiple sectors.

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