The primary role of the board for Improve to oversee the strategic developments of the company and ensure that it is meeting its strategic objectives.
Paul Wilkinson – Chairman
Paul Wilkinson's career in food and drink has included spells at Unilever, Grand Metropolitan and Rank Hovis McDougall, where he was Executive Chairman until 2003. He played a pivotal role in the formation of Improve and the National Skills Academy and has been Chairman since they were established. Until July 2009, he was a Director of Zurich-based international food group Aryzta AG. He is currently Chairman of Thorntons plc and Fengrain Limited and a Non Executive Director of Fuerst Day Lawson. He also advises RPC, the City based law firm on food related matters.
Professor Colin Dennis CBE
An internationally renowned expert in food research, Colin Dennis was Director-General of Campden BRI Group for 21 years until he retired in 2009. He is a Fellow and Vice-President of the UK Institute of Food Science and Technology and current Chairman of the English Food and Drink Alliance and the Industrial Advisory Group of The International Agri-Technology Centre. He was awarded the CBE for services to the agri-food industry in 2009.
John Whitehead OBE
John Whitehead has spent all his working life in the food industry, latterly as the Managing Director of Dundee-based Top Hat Holdings Limited. He is Chairman of the Seafish Industry Authority and of the Certification Council of Scottish Food Quality Certification Ltd. He has served as a commissioner of the Meat and Livestock Commission and as a member of the council of Food from Britain, and was awarded an OBE for services to the agri-food industry in 2004.
A qualified HR professional with a background in food manufacturing, retail and the service sector, Angela Coleshill is currently Director of Human Resources at the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), where she has worked since 2002. Angela’s duties include leading the FDF’s Competitiveness Steering Group, working with members to push for full recognition of the sector’s economic contribution to the UK economy and to promote the sector as a career destination of choice.
Tim Smith has been Chief Executive of the Food Standards Agency since April 2008, having previously worked as a Divisional Director of Northern Food, President of UK Operations at Sara Lee Corporation, Executive Director of Express Dairies plc and, latterly, Chief Executive of Arla Foods UK plc. Tim also sits on the UK Government’s Council of Food Policy Advisors and the London Food Board.
During a 17 year career at Britvic Soft Drinks Ltd, Dave Eslick has performed a number of senior roles across the commercial and supply chain divisions, including leading the Logistics and Production teams and a Commercial Business Unit that included Tesco and several other grocery retailers. He is currently Director of Group Operations Strategy and is also a Trustee Director of Britvic Pensions Ltd.
Bob Spooner joined Premier Foods in April 2007 as Group Operations Director with responsibility for all manufacturing and logistics activities for the group. He is also a member of the group's Operations Board. He was previously Managing Director of Northern Foods’ Pastry Products business and prior to that held senior operational and supply chain roles at ICI Paints and Sara Lee.
Mike Mullan is HR and Business Improvement Director at Moy Park. He is Chair of Food and Drink Sector Skills Northern Ireland and the NI CBI Employment Affairs Committee, and a board member of Sentinus, a leading provider of STEM education in schools. Mike is also heavily involved in cross-community work as Chairperson of Tides, a leading diversity training organization, and as a Director of Corrymeela, the world-renowned Centre of Reconciliation.
Stefan Barden brings widespread food industry experience to Improve and the NSA. He has been the former CEO of three of the industry’s largest companies; Heinz, Northern Foods and Brakes. He has worked in retail at Iceland Frozen Foods and in his youth at McKinsey & Co, the management consultancy. Whilst working mainly in the UK, he has also worked across Europe and the USA.
He has sat on the governing boards of the Chilled food Association (CFA), the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) and the Institute of Grocery Distributors (IGD). He has been HRH Prince Charles’ ambassador to Yorkshire and Humberside and chaired the Prince’s Business In the Community (BITC) Yorkshire and Humberside branch for 3 years. Stefan is passionate about building skills in the next generation and training in general.
Managing Director, Poultec Training Limited
Managing Director, Butt Foods
Before joining Improve Ltd as Finance Director and Company Secretary, Stephen Chambers was Head of Financial Consultancy at the Sector Skills Development Agency. His previous experience includes working at Grant Thornton and a secondment at the Department of Trade and Industry. Stephen is also a Fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants.
Justine Fosh was appointed executive director of the National Skills Academy for Food and Drink in 2007, and is now executive director for Improve. Her background includes 15 years working in commercial roles for food and drink manufacturers including Allied Breweries, Sara Lee and Uniq, and three years as head of customer development at on-line training resource learndirectbusiness.