“Never forget where you have come from,
but know where you are going!”
After leaving school, I started working in a recycling factory at the age of 16, peeling stickers of hangers.
Often, I found myself mentoring co-workers on the conveyor belt line, helping them to identify their own value and purpose.
At age 18, I walked into a recruitment agency with a dog-eared CV and pitched myself to the consultant. I walked out with a short-term month role, as a Marketing Assistant for a FTSE 500 company with no prior experience!
But at 21, I felt a calling back into social impact, and applied for a role as an Employment Mentor for disaffected youth people and adults from disadvantaged communities. Within 4 years, I became the leading CSR Mentor Trainer for the Midlands region – I personally delivered mentoring and personal development training, to over 300 professional service staff and community-based mentors every year.
At 25, I founded one of the UK’s first diverse recruitment companies. Leveraging positive action legislation, I focused on sourcing ethnic minority talent for the professional services sector, and built an international client base from a rented one-room space.
Unfortunately, under increasingly heavy competition from larger firms and limited resources to grow, this business went under. Not to be dismayed, in 2007, I learned from the experience to create Cultiv8 Solutions.
In 2013, I diversified into the world of Finance, co-founding a financial services company that helped to launch over 650 new UK businesses through £2 million in funding.
Today, I am still the Founder & MD of Cultiv8 Solutions. I also raised angel investment to create Feelyx, an early stage FinTech company, that provides artificial intelligent competitor analysis software, for small businesses looking to grow.
Separately, I have created and lead on the Regional Scale Up Business strategy for the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP (GBSLEP) where I’m innovating the model for developing high growth businesses, improving access to finance and increasing inclusion across the region.
Call me the ‘Rebel in a suit!’…
I was awarded an OBE for Services to Business Support and Enterprise in the Queens 90th Birthday Honours List 2016.
I also enjoy reading, photography and listening to an eclectic range of music from Peter Tosh and Burning Spear, to Rachmanioff and The Roots!
- Board Director (Digital Board), West Midlands Combined Authority
- Board Director, Performances Birmingham (Birmingham Symphony Hall & Town Hall)
- Board Director / Governor, Birmingham Metropolitan College
- Chair, Diversity in Tech Group, Silicon Canal
Awards and Achievements
- Ambassador for Achievement (Institute for Leadership & Management) 2018
- E2E Entrepreneur Ecosystem Supporter 2018
- Fellow of the Centre For Entrepreneurs
- Judge – National Great British Entrepreneur Awards 2017 & 2018
- Entrepreneur of the Year 2017 (Phoenix Awards)
- Expert of the Year 2017 (School for Social Entrepreneurs)
- Member of National Professional Speakers Association
- OBE for Services to Business Support & Enterprise (2016)
- Leadership Award (Future Leaders Club) 2016
- Maserati Top 100 UK Entrepreneurs 2015
- Ambassador Start Up Britain (2011-2015)
- Unsung Community Hero Award 2014
- Qualified Corporate Governance Practitioner (2012)
- Shared speaker stage with ex-USA President Bill Clinton (2012)
- Birmingham Young Professional Year 2010 (Recruitment and Training)
- O2 X Male Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist 2009
- ‘Man on a Mission’ Business Award 2009
- Young Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist (B.E.T. Award) 2007
- CETA Entrepreneur Award 2005