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Meet the top business leaders who deliver business-changing advice and determine the final Pioneer 10.

Liam Connors

Account Manager at GC Business Growth Hub

Liam is the Account Manager for Stockport at GC Business Growth Hub. Liam is here to ensure that the Stockport business community is receiving the specialist support available to allow local businesses achieve their growth ambitions. By understanding your business, your ambitions and you, Liam can advise on what support is best suited to further the growth of the business and ensure that you are accessing all the funded support to continue your growth journey.

Over the past 2 years Liam has focused on supporting Stockport SMEs navigate the Covid pandemic with a view of stabilising businesses during the uncertainty.

Stephen Dootson

Director at KAST Energy

Stephen has 35 years experience of senior board level appointments including Group Financial Director and Managing Director in property development, healthcare and manufacturing.

After training as a Chartered Accountant, Stephen joined the financial team leading on the takeover of the Manchester Ship Canal Company and the development of The Trafford Centre. Stephen subsequently joined the board of a PLC subsidiary with ambitions to grow its healthcare interests and grew the business four-fold. After this company was sold, Stephen elected to move to positions of Non-Executive Director with a number of SME’s in the North West, one of which was KAST Renewable Energies Ltd a renewable energy company specialising in PV Solar installations. In 2018, Stephen joined KAST full time as Commercial Director, to position the business as a market leader in all renewable energy technologies, offering design and build, feasibility, and delivery of off-grid, energy saving, low carbon projects.

Michael Smoult

Partner at Gorvins Solicitors

Mike Smoult is a Partner in the Wills, Trusts & Probate Team, he joined Gorvins in 2011 was promoted to Partner in 2018. Mike is a member of the Society of Trusts & Estate Practitioners (STEP). Mike is a member of the Family Business Team and helps family businesses plan for the future. Mike also acts in complex estate disputes on behalf of clients for claims under the Inheritance Act 1975 and mental incapacity. Mike is well-known for his work applying to the Court of Protection on behalf of Deputy’s to gain Court approval on proposals for completing statutory wills.

Claire Challinor

Manager at Clarke Nicklin

Claire is a manager at Clarke Nicklin Chartered Accountants, based at Cheadle Royal Business Park in Cheadle, specialising in owner managed businesses from start ups to family businesses. She ensures clients receive the best advice on business structure, tax savings, and evolving the business as it grows.

Sharon Mayo, Economic and Employment Development Manager at Stockport Council

Sharon Mayo

Economy, Work & Skills Manager at Stockport Council

Sharon is responsible for the developing & implementation of a wide-ranging business development & support programme throughout Stockport.

Such activity is designed to achieve growth in order to further develop the borough’s economic plans. The business support initiatives facilitate revenue growth, product innovations & jobs for local SME’s.

Image of James Myatt, Patent Attorney at Appleyard Lees

James Myatt

Patent Attorney, Appleyard Lees

James is a Patent Attorney working in our Chemistry & Pharmaceutical teams and is based in our Manchester and Halifax Offices. His particular areas of expertise are organic chemistry and pharmaceutical science having spent several years in academic and industrial research.

James also works with clients in the food science, specialist materials and fuel chemistry sectors. James also specialises in analysing the patentability prospects of new ideas and working with start-up companies and entrepreneurs to help get their new ideas off the ground.