Three influential business leaders have joined the board at social enterprise The Growth Company.

Chris Gray, Mandy Parkinson and Elise Wilson join eight existing members of the board, chaired by Mike Blackburn, to help progress its mission to enable growth, create jobs and improve lives.  

Gray has spent more than 25 years helping clients to drive digitalisation, innovation and change in the UK and internationally. He is a member of Business in the Community’s North-West Regional Advisory Board which he chaired as HRH Prince of Wales’ Regional Ambassador for Responsible Business from 2019-2023. 

He is also chair of the Member’s Board at Prospere Learning Trust, sits on the University of Liverpool Management School’s Advisory Board and is engaged with a range of organisations across the North West to mentor and coach several LGBTQ+ and female leaders.

“The Growth Company is committed to building enterprise in the right way while also embracing innovation and empowering business leaders to make the most of the opportunities available to them,” said Gray. “For the last 30 years, it has been a boon to entrepreneurs of all kinds and I hope that I can make a meaningful contribution to the Board and its work in the coming years.”

A Professor of Business Innovation at Salford Business School, Parkinson’s work has been focused on the development of innovation clusters in digital and sustainable ecosystems. She is an experienced executive coach with a focus on small business owners, with a passion for building collaborations and digital skills initiatives to support the Greater Manchester region.

Parkinson has led a number of large-scale collaborations to support the region, including initiatives such as Eco-I NW, GM Cyber Foundry, GM AI Foundry and PrintCity Network. More recently she has worked closely with partner institutions to deliver the Centre for Digital Innovation, Innovation Accelerator in the region, while she was an expert at TechBlast’s FUEL Manchester growth event this year.

Behind the scenes of ‘event designed for entrepreneurs’

She was also previously the programme director of the national Help to Grow: Management Programme, Made Smarter Leadership Programme, and the OPEN SME Programme.

“The Growth Company values and motivations, particularly in relation to accelerating innovation and sustainability, align very much with my own,” said Parkinson. “I’m looking forward to bringing the experience and insights from my work with business leaders to support GC’s ambitions in these areas, both in Greater Manchester where we have a strong anchor and across the UK.”

Business Growth Hub has been a great journey – & there’s more to come

Wilson is former leader of Stockport Council where, for more than four years, she helped establish the long-term vision and priorities for Stockport, and its partners, until 2030. As the GMCA Economic Lead for Greater Manchester (GM) & Vice Chair of the GMLEP, Elise focused on GM’s economic growth, building upon Local Industrial Strategy, post-Brexit adjustments, and addressing climate change.

She continues to champion the importance of local economic growth, as a local business owner and as Chair of Electricity NW Ltd Economic Growth Panel and member of its Independent Oversight Group.

“The Growth Company represents a major asset for Greater Manchester and the wider UK. Joining the board will be an opportunity for me to lend my experience both as a business owner and someone invested in local government and economic growth,” she said. 

“I’ve known The Growth Company and its work for a number of years and it has a real legacy of effective change that I’m hoping to continue.” 

The Growth Company supports more than 50,000 people a year through its employment services across the North. It has won contracts worth more than £45m in the last 12 months including GC Business Finance winning a national contract under the Start Up Loans scheme.

How GC Business Growth Hub helped new businesses in Greater Manchester