Board of Members

Scott Knowles

Scott began his career at North Derbyshire Chamber in 1999, providing advice and support to businesses in regards to preparing for the impending ‘millennium bug’ and supporting businesses embrace at the time, emerging internet technologies. Scott’s earlier career was in the information and communications technology sector.

As well as heading up the Chamber’s leadership team and representing the Chamber and its Members at senior level with stakeholders and partner organisations, Scott manages various capital and revenue projects for the Chamber. Scott represents the Chamber, its members and the wider business community on a number of key stakeholder groups including: The British Chambers of Commerce Board of Directors, East Midlands Business (EMB Group), Derbyshire Economic Partnership, Destination Chesterfield, Marketing Peak District & Derbyshire and Nottingham Growth Board

Gillian Haslam

Gill is currently retired but prior to that ran her own translation agency and taught for 38 years in local secondary schools, originally as a teacher of Modern Foreign Languages and for 22 years as the sole Deputy Head Teacher at Selston. She has experience as leader of both academic and pastoral systems and during her career has been Course Director of European Studies, Child Protection Coordinator, Senco and Advocate for Looked After Children. She has organised and delivered whole school in-service training to Selston and other schools. Gill has also worked as an associate member of the local authority evaluating the provision of summer schools for Gifted and Talented, with local universities to coordinate the provision for trainee teachers and has been responsible for school finance.

She has experience in working with employers as part of careers provision in school and compiled portfolios resulting in the award of Investor in People and Career Mark. She has represented the school on local community groups (Safer Neighbourhood and Selston Forum). Additionally, as part of senior leadership, she has a vast experience of use of data, strategic planning, quality assurance, and performance management. She has held responsibility for premises and facilities management as well as Health and Safety and organised extensive refurbishment of parts of the school. Gill moved from leadership to governance on retirement, and was a Trustee for 4 Year, prior to being a Member.

Richard Crisp

Richard’s background in financial services stretches back over 30 years during which time he has held senior leadership roles in blue chip PLCs as well as mutual sector organisations. As part of the senior leadership team, Richard is currently Commercial Development Executive at Mansfield Building Society where he is responsible for delivering the sales and marketing strategy, and driving growth.

As Deputy Chair of the Mansfield Place Board Richard has also played his part in helping shape the district’s bid to secure £25m of Government funding to rejuvenate the town centre. Richard is a Parent Governor at St Johns C of E in Stapleford and currently resides in Sandiacre, Derbyshire, with his wife and family.

Richard Stones OBE

Richard retired from Policing in 2015 after 30+ years, during which time he represented UK policing with bodies as diverse as the UN and NATO. He was the first serving Police Officer worldwide to be awarded Chartered Security Professional status, holds an MSc in Security and Risk Management, is a Fellow of the Security Institute, Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute, a Freeman of the City Of London and was awarded and OBE for services to Policing and business Security.

On retirement he was appointed the Head of Loss Prevention for the global fashion retailer Next PLC. During his careers Richard has also been a technical adviser on international security related projects for the EU, UN and NATO, was a contributing author to the UN Criminal Research Institute Handbook for the Protection of Crowded Places and recently wrote the UK Chapter of the McGraw Hill American Homeland Security handbook. He has been a school governor at both primary and secondary schools for over 20 years and has held numerous portfolios and chairs.

As a firm advocate for passing on knowledge and developing the next generation Richard recently joined Derby University as a Lecturer in Criminal and Corporate Investigations.

Board of Trustees

Karen Potts, Chair of Trustees

Karen is a Member of the Chartered Institute for Procurement and Supply (MCIPS) and a Director of a small business providing procurement and project management services. Karen has 25 years of procurement experience in the public and private sectors and an excellent understanding of EU Procurement Law. She worked for Royal Mail as Head of IT Procurement, Computer Sciences Corporation as Senior EMEA Supplier Manager and for six years as Senior Commercial Manager for the National College for Teaching and Leadership (previously NCSL), an Executive Agency of the DfE.


Karen has managed all elements of procurement including strategy formation, OJEU tender management, negotiation, development and management of contracts and supplier management. Category expertise include professional services, commissioned training services, IT products and services and outsourcing. Karen has expertise and experience of licensing products and commercialisation of intellectual property, due diligence to facilitate transition and transformation projects, development and audit of procurement policies and procedures and is a non-executive director for Gedling Homes. A committed school governor and chair of the business committee at Pilsley Primary School in Derbyshire for two years.

Alison Chmiel

Alison is an experienced business leader and non-executive director in both commercial and charity organisations. In her most recent full time role she was the Deputy Managing Director (incorporating the role of Finance Director) of Ikano Bank with responsibilities including finance, IT, change management, governance, compliance and HR. Her current roles include Non-Executive Director of the Mansfield Building Society where she chairs the risk committee. Alison has previously been a Chair of Governors and is currently Vice Chair at an alternative provision school in Nottingham City. She has a long association with The Woodland Trust where she was a Trustee for many years. She is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants.

Andrew Durrant

Andrew Durrant has over 20 years of school governing experience, at primary and secondary schools, as well as 6th form colleges. Andrew has a degree in electronics engineering and a PhD in mechanical engineering, with a specialism in automotive engineering. After university he started a technology and manufacturing business, and after 20 successful years now employs staff in offices in the UK, Sri  Lanka and USA, with exports going all over the world. His particular skills include business and finance, as well as IT. Andrew also works on the Board of a Derbyshire charity, supporting and developing a public park and castle.

Andrew has 2 children in full-time education. His aims are to maintain high academic and behavioural standards whilst promoting learning in a way that is enjoyable, engaging and relevant, supporting all students irrespective of their ability.

Chris Hallam

Chris took voluntary early retirement from a 28-year career in Lloyds banking group in July 2016. He then pursued his long-held dream of setting up his own consultancy. After working with a number of blue chip clients for a year he was offered the chance to help to transform the newly formed Global Innovation team at Boots. The agreement allowed Chris to continue with his consultancy work and so began the latest chapter of his life.

Chris is highly motivated and experienced Change Professional with over 28 years proven track record in the design, development and delivery of a range of Programmes including Cultural Change, Strategic Transformation, IT, Digital and Regulatory Change, within Banking, Construction, Manufacturing Operations, Retail Networks, Financial Services, Insurance, Life, Pensions and Wealth management businesses.

He also has first class Business Analysis and problem-solving skills. Previously responsible for successfully leading and delivering IT / Automation programs with budgets of several million pounds. Chris has exceptional leadership skills, is a strong motivator and is passionate about staff development and innovation. Also, Chris is skilled at Root Cause Analysis and successfully identifying Quick Win solutions to sit along-side Strategic Change. Furthermore, he has experience with procuring and managing high value contracts and a range of contractors ensuring best value for money. Competent in the development and delivery of business plans, balancing score cards, KPIs and marketing, Chris is a valuable member of the board.

Lisa Harrison

Lisa has worked in the education sector for over 25 years, much of this in a leadership role. Lisa has led teaching and learning across a multi academy trust and her responsibilities have included quality assurance, appraisal and raising achievement across a wide range of subjects. Lisa has a particular passion for developing teachers at all levels and has been responsible for innovative approaches to professional development. Lisa has worked with new teachers who are starting out in their teaching career and been involved with trainees prior to them gaining qualified teacher status. She also has experience at educational bid writing. Lisa has gained NPQH and is an Evidence Leader in Education (ELE).

Simon Higginson

With over 40 years experience in the construction industry, Simon has held Board and senior level positions in some of the largest construction companies in the UK. After completing his Degree in Quantity Surveying while working full time, in 2008 he completed his Masters Degree in Business Administration at Loughborough University and after being a Member of the Royal Institution for Chartered Surveyors for many years in 2013 he was made a Fellow.

He has had particular responsibility for managing large scale construction projects up to £450m in value, identifying corporate issues, establishing solutions and implementing successful outcomes to turnaround underperforming businesses and also included dealing with “problem projects”.

Having undertaken a number of Interim appointments at both business and project level he has been responsible for the implementation and delivery of effective commercial teams of over 100 people; contract and commercial management procedures with associated staff recruitment, retention, development, training and mentoring.

Being born in Kirkby-in-Ashfield, Simon originally attended Ashfield School where he became Head Boy. He now lives in Loughborough with his wife and has two adult daughters but wants to give back to the community which gave him a good life opportunity many years ago. Simon is new to the role of Trustee but will be the Link Trustee to Wilsthorpe School

Ian Greenaway

Ian is a Chartered Engineer, a Chartered Manager and Managing Director of MTM Products (I.S.P.P.) Ltd who are a manufacturer and supplier of bespoke labels, nameplates, graphic overlays, vinyl cut decals and emergency lighting signage. Ian is also a past President of East Midlands Chamber of Commerce and a Business Advisor with Young Enterprise. Ian represents the British Chambers of Commerce on Promoting Core Maths Senior Advisory Board. The aim is to introduce Core Maths as a new post 16 qualification which is very practical and relates to maths skills required for work, life and study.

Ian is an Employability Champion for D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership and as such he is working to improve the employability skills of school students in Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire by encouraging greater partnership working between schools, employers, local authorities and other stakeholders.

Ruth Wheelhouse

Ruth has been a governor at Ashfield School since 2006. Ruth has taught in the Further Education sector, teaching the National Diploma in Business Studies, the National Certificate in Business Studies, GCSE English and RSA Communication at West Nottinghamshire College. In 2006 she began work at EMFEC, an organisation which has the colleges of the East Midlands as its members and houses the AoC East Midlands. The role included supporting the identification and development of new project opportunities, engaging with stakeholder groups and fostering partnership and collaborative working and delivering projects for a range of funding bodies and organisations, including regional activity projects and research projects.

Ruth planned and developed the Continuous Professional Development programme for the further education sector, including in-house training, networks and conferences and bespoke events. This included planning and developing international visits, such as Continuous Professional Development for the Transversal programme.

Ruth managed a number of regional projects, which involved reporting internally and to funding bodies, the control of budgets, marketing and communication and liaison with external stakeholders. For example, one of the projects was a regional OLASS project (Offender Learning and Skills Service) working with 12 regional colleges and a Chamber of Commerce and recruiting and managing a team of brokers. Ruth was also the Regional Manager for the national Functional Skills Support Programme.