York Professionals Board Members
Our board comprises volunteers from businesses and organisations across York's professional services sector, bringing together a wealth of knowledge and experience.
You can find out more about each of our board members below and if you're interested in future board vacancies, please get in touch with York Professionals administrator, Jo Pickering by email.
Michelle joined the board in 2017 and is the founder and Managing Director of Pro-Development (UK) Limited based in York providing support in all aspects of employee engagement and people development.
With over 25 years of experience of improving performance through people consultancy, training, coaching and team/leadership development, she founded Pro-Development to help the growth of small to medium sized businesses in and around Yorkshire and the Humber.
Michelle is also a member of Engage for Success, a UK-wide movement committed to the idea that there is a better way to work, a better way to enable personal growth, organisational growth and ultimately growth for Britain by releasing more of the capability and potential of people at work.
Working with a wide range of clients, Michelle and her team help to identify ways in which they can improve employee engagement and develop staff in line with the needs of the business, ultimately increasing overall profits and productivity.
Karen joined the board in 2017, and is one of the two owners of York PR, communications and digital agency, The Partners Group. She joined Partners in 1999 and was part of the MBO team that acquired the business in 2006.
Karen has worked in PR and communications for 20+ years, and her experience ranges from floor coverings to food ingredients, Vikings and entrepreneurs to membership organisations and professional services firms. She loves learning what makes organisations tick and helping them use effective PR and communications to reach and influence the right people.
Karen supports social entrepreneurs in the region as a volunteer business mentor through UnLtd, and currently chairs the global International Public Relations Team PR network, which helps SMEs tap into PR and marketing expertise in global markets.
Based in York since 1988, the Partners team works mainly with business-to-business clients across the country overseas in professional services; building, property and construction; tourism and leisure industries, helping them use great communication to succeed and grow.
Jonathan is a senior manager at Clive Owen LLP, an independent regional accountancy firm with offices in York, Darlington and Durham.
York born and bred, Jonathan joined the firm in 2007 having graduated from Newcastle University, and qualified as a chartered accountant in 2011. He was appointed as a manager in April 2013 before being appointed as a senior manager in October 2016.
Jonathan heads the audit and accountancy department in the York office, and his experience of working with clients across many differing industry sectors ensures that he has a wide understanding of the challenges businesses face. Jonathan’s approach is a personal service, aiming to build long-term relationships which ensures that he is able to offer the best solutions to clients.
Outside of work, Jonathan is a keen sports fan, as well as an active member of City of York Hockey Club, for whom he has played in goal for the 1st and 2nd XI's over the past 11 years, as well as holding a role on the committee.
Tracey Smith runs her own business consultancy Evolve720 and is a leadership, coaching and organisational development consultant.
Evolve720 nurtures businesses and individuals, developing, sustaining and challenging evolution by improving performance and growth through new and better ways of doing things.
Tracey is an enthusiastic strategic business leader with a passion for nurturing, finding solutions and developing people and teams. She thrives in dynamic and challenging situations, works at Board and Director level and is commercially astute and driven to succeed.
Having experience in Customer First, ISO Quality Management, Investors in People and 14 years incubating science, technology, creative, media and IT businesses, Tracey decided to share her expertise and founded her consultancy business - Evolve720.
Simon is the managing director of The Soapy Group, a full-service marketing agency and events production company near York.
Born in Leeds, he’s moved about a bit during the early part of his career. Choosing to settle back in the York area 20 years ago.
Simon’s mission is to help local businesses thrive by supporting and advising on their promotion and marketing strategies. Throughout his career he has helped promote radio stations, worked on marketing furniture, cars, cranes, and the list continues to grow. Simon has also produced and planned events over the past 20 years including for Cancer Research UK, UKRD Radio Group, Bauer Media, Vangarde Shopping Park and many more.
A seasoned snowboarder and salsa dancer, he’s yet to find a winning formula to combine the both.
Susie Mortonson is Head of the Company Commercial department at Harrowells Solicitors, and specialises in corporate and commercial law. Susie advises a wide range of businesses on mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures and investments, shareholder issues, corporate governance and all forms of commercial contracts. She previously worked as a senior in-house lawyer with a national property services business and, prior to that, with two major commercial law firms in Yorkshire.
Susie aims to take a pragmatic but commercial approach to all transactions, and clients and fellow professionals appreciate her ability to combine commercial and technical insight with the calm, personable approach she also brings to her work. She is passionate about championing local businesses and encouraging them to succeed in the Yorkshire market and beyond.
The Legal 500 (2018 edition), the independent study of leading law firms, notes that Susie provides 'concise and prompt advice'.
Richard is Managing Director and joint majority shareholder in Helmsley Group. As well as having an overview of the business as a whole he is the Director with day to day responsibility for Helmsley Group’s Syndicated Lending activities. He is involved with all aspects of the loan process from the initial assessment, coordination of the Due Diligence with Helmsley's advisors, ongoing monitoring of the loans and ensuring eventual repayment of the loans. Richard is also the main point of contact for client investors involved with Helmsley's Lending activities.
Elliot is the Managing Director of The Alternative Board (TAB), covering York and the North Yorkshire region where he operates as a coach and advisor to private business owners and leaders.
A graduate from UMIST in Management Science, Elliot began his career in Human Resource Management with Unilever in 1995 and then onto United Biscuits (McVities) in London before becoming Sales & Marketing Director in his family engineering business in Halifax where for 17 years he guided the team to international success. In 2012 Elliot went to Buckingham Palace to meet the Queen where he was awarded the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade on behalf of the business. Having held Board level positions within various engineering and manufacturing companies, Elliot has spent many an hour discussing and implementing strategies with business owners and their management teams. It is this insight and knowledge gained over 20 years that he wishes to share amongst fellow business owners to help them strive towards their personal and business goals.
Jackie joined the Board in 2018 and is a Director of Garbutt + Elliott LLP, one of Yorkshire's largest independent firms of chartered accountants. Jackie joined Garrett + Elliott in 1996 and looks after a portfolio of small and medium sized limited companies covering a broad range of sectors helping them to achieve their short and long term goals. By building long term relationships, Jackie can understand the wider business needs and challenges faced. These strong relationships coupled with working closely with other specialist enables her to be best placed to provide support and advice.
Jackie heads the cloud accounting support function, guiding clients through the transition from traditional desktop software to Making Tax Digital (MTD) compliant cloud software to revolutionise the way they process accounting information. She gets great satisfaction from really getting to know her clients, supporting them to produce meaningful management information and helping translate what their numbers mean for them.
Emma graduated from York St John University in 2012 with a BSc (Honours) Psychology degree. With over 6 years of experience in investment management and both the level 4 Investment Advice Diploma & the level 7 Diploma in Wealth Management qualifications, Emma is an Associate Director for Cardale Asset Management, a privately owned asset management business based in Harrogate.
Emma has also been on the Board of Make-York young professional networking since 2013, and has been the Chair since 2017. The aims of Make-York are to host regular informal meetings where ideas, contacts and experiences can be shared for those working in and around York, as well as supporting local businesses and promoting the city of York.
Outside of work, Emma enjoys road cycling, having previously completed the 181 mile Coast to Coast and 310 miles London to Paris rides raising over £3,000 for charity.
Alongside Paul’s role as an IT & Change Delivery Manager at Hiscox, he is the Vice Chair for York Mind and a Mental Health Act Manager for the NHS. Prior to joining Hiscox in late 2019 Paul ran his own Management Consultancy (Manifestly Important) providing Project Management services. Paul is extremely passionate about the work of the charity sector within York and also a strong advocate of reducing the stigma associated with mental illness in the workplace.
As Administrator for York Professionals Jo supports the Board of Directors. She organises, manages and delivers an annual events plan, arranges meetings, delivers marketing, social media and PR, acts as Treasurer and plays an active role in membership recruitment.