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.
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.
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, as a senior manager in October 2016 and as a director in April 2020.
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.
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.
Simon joined the York & North Yorkshire LEP in November 2020 where he supports businesses on the Yorkshire Coast, helping them with mentoring and accessing finance to enhance their businesses. Prior to that he spent 5 years at Make It York in a similar role following an 18 year career in the commercial banking sector. Outside of work he is a trustee for Accessible Arts & Media, a York based charity delivering services to adults and children with learning difficulties. Simon has lived in York since 2004 and is proud to call the city is adopted home.
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'.
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.
Emma Whiting is the co-founder of Torque Law, an award-winning employment law practice in York.
Emma has specialised in employment law for over 20 years. She has a wealth of knowledge across the full spectrum of employment law issues, with a particular emphasis on providing strategic employment advice to SMEs and OMBs on complex and reputationally significant matters. She is also recognised as an accomplished negotiator, securing favourable outcomes for some of the region’s most senior executives on their exit arrangements, as well as a first-class trainer, providing practical, tailored training programmes for HR teams and managers.
When she’s not chauffeuring her two children, Emma spends her free time on the tennis court, attempting to perfect her backhand.
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.
The Role of York Professionals Board Director
The role of Board Director is fast-moving, challenging and varied. Interested applicants need to have been employed in a senior position by a company which is an established member of York Professionals.
By becoming a Board Director you will:
- Join a great group of like-minded professionals and have the chance to support and shape the work and strategic direction of our not-for-profit organisation.
- Be recognised on Companies House as a Board Director and provide an opportunity for you to gain experience as a non-executive director, explore areas such as setting a strategic vision, influencing and negotiation, leadership and managing risk.
- Have the kudos of being a part of this successful 20-year old initiative and make a real difference to our business community.
- Being a board member provides an opportunity for professional development and can be one of the richest sources of learning in your professional life. You will get to apply your unique skills and experience whilst also learning from others.
- Feel good in the knowledge that you would be giving something back to the City of York.
- To contribute to the activities of York Professionals, providing expertise and insight as required and directed by the regular Board Meetings.
- To take part in working groups which meet outside of the regular Board Meetings. Working groups cover specific areas such as ‘Membership’, ‘Marketing Strategy’ or particular events that require additional input, planning and support such as the ‘York Professionals Annual Dinner’.
- To be an ambassador for York Professionals and promote the benefits of membership to the wider business community.
- Tenure will be for three years, upon which you may seek re-election.
The person will have:
- Availability to attend regular Board Meetings (held every six weeks).
- At least five years’ experience in their profession.
- Significant personal profile and contacts network within the City of York.
Here’s what some of our current Board Directors have to say:
“I joined York Professionals many years ago and had the opportunity to step up onto the Board of Directors a few years later. Having never done anything like this before it was an incredible opportunity to see what working with a Board of Directors looks like, feels like and the role I could play. Working with such an incredibly talented group of people at this level is hugely rewarding and I felt I was able to make a difference very quickly just by sharing my experience and knowledge. But I have also learnt so much too. I subsequently went on to become Chair in 2018 which was such a great opportunity for me to lead a team of volunteers but at a very different level to what I had experienced previously. I have learnt so much about myself, about leading others and leading through a pandemic! That wasn’t an expected outcome, but I am very proud of what we, as a Board of Directors, have achieved together to support our members and each other through such a challenging time. I would highly recommend considering joining the board if you are looking for a new opportunity to make a difference to your local business community”.
Michelle Mook, Managing Director, Pro-Development (UK) Ltd
“York is a unique City in so many ways and being part of the York business community means a lot to me personally. Therefore, being invited to join the Board of York Professionals was not only an honour but also an opportunity to directly contribute to bringing businesses closer together. The YP Board works as a close and effective team to attract new businesses to join and throughout the year organises networking and educational events to benefits its wider member audience. We all work together, bringing our own skills set, experiences and business contacts to ensure York remains a strong, vibrant business community and through our membership actively engage with them to make it flourish.”
Elliot Rich, Managing Director, The Alternative Board
“G+E have been a YP member since the start and on the Board for as long as I can remember too. When my predecessor stepped down due to relocation, I seized the opportunity to join and become Treasurer. Prior to joining I did chat to a couple of contacts who had been involved previously and everyone’s experience had been really positive. For me it was a great way to develop my network with like-minded business people and also my skill set, getting involved in things I would not ordinarily do in my role with G+E. I am enjoying the role and feel that I have grown in confidence and really got to know a great group of people with different specialisms.”
Jackie Senior, Director, Garbutt + Elliott