In its recent review, Strengthened Local Enterprise Partnerships, the Government has said it will work with LEPs to improve gender representation, with women making up at least one third of Boards by 2020 and parity by 2023.

This week saw the first LEP Network Women Leaders’ Roundtable to see what further additional actions LEPs can take to achieve better gender balance. It is a move that has been warmly welcomed by Hertfordshire LEP where 50% of its council representatives are women and a third of its total Board is female.

Here we give you the opportunity to meet the women leaders who are at the heart of Hertfordshire LEP’s decision-making process and driving innovation within their own spheres of influence.

Clockwise from top left: Dr Sally Ann Forsyth, Zoe Hancock, Cllr Sharon Taylor OBE, Tina Barnard, Cllr Linda Haysey

Tina Barnard, CEO, Watford Community HOUSING Tina joined Hertfordshire LEP as its Not For Profit Representative in 2016 and chairs its Strategic Infrastructure Board, whose primary roles are to identify, co-ordinate and enable the provision of infrastructure, including key sites needed for smart economic growth. In addition, Tina sits on the LEP’s Chairs’ Panel which assesses and scrutinises funding applications and is also involved in appraising post-contract decisions where a project has requested a significant change to its outputs or financial profiles.

For the past 11 years, Tina has been Chief Executive of Watford Community Housing, a community-based housing organisation delivering homes and services to people in South West Hertfordshire.

Tina has played a leading role in seeking innovative offsite construction solutions to meet local housing need. Watford Community Housing is part of a new regional consortium of housing associations and local authorities that has been formed to seek greater certainty of housing supply by encouraging an offsite manufacturing facility to Hertfordshire’s Enterprise Zone. With the requirement to build 100,000 homes in Hertfordshire together with the Zone’s proximity to London and its attendant growth projections, there is a huge opportunity to partner with the offsite construction sector to speed up delivery while meeting industry standards in sustainable build and design.  

Councillor Sharon Taylor, OBE, Leader, Stevenage Borough CouncilCllr Sharon Taylor joined Hertfordshire LEP Board in 2016 as one of three Local Authority Reps appointed by Herts Leaders’ Group to represent the county’s 10 district councils. Cllr Taylor has been Leader of Stevenage Borough Council since 2006, overseeing, alongside a consortium of partners, the regeneration of Stevenage Town Centre.

Earlier this year Stevenage Borough Council appointed developer Mace to undertake the first phase of this ambitious programme of town centre regeneration, with construction expected to start next year. The scheme includes new shops, homes, a bespoke central venue for a library, exhibition space, health services and council offices as well as new food and drink space with bars and restaurants in the heart of the town for people to enjoy.

Commenting on the appointment, Cllr Taylor said: “This will boost our local economy… and demonstrates Stevenage’s significance as a local and regional centre.” 

Councillor Linda Haysey, Leader of East Herts CouncilCllr Linda Haysey was also appointed by Herts Leaders’ Group as Local Authority Rep in 2015 and sits on the Programme Management Committee which oversee the delivery of the LEP funding programmes. In addition to her role as council leader, a post she has held since 2015, Cllr Linda Haysey holds a number of appointments to other bodies including Transport East Forum, which reviews the region’s infrastructure requirements, and Harlow and Gilston Garden Board.

The Harlow and Gilston area was designated as a Garden Town by central Government in January 2017, with the aim of meeting housing and job provision in a planned for development based on Garden City principles.

Cllr Haysey, commenting on the proposed development, said: “Councils increasingly want to be engaged in the master-planning process to ensure quality for the future."

Zoe Hancock, Principal, Oaklands CollegeZoe was appointed FE rep in 2017, a post rotated between Hertfordshire’s four FE Colleges, and sits on the Skills and Employment Board whose main focus is to improve the skills and employment prospects of Hertfordshire’s current (and future) workforce and residents.

Zoe has been Principal since 2008 and Chairs Wenta, a social enterprise that provides a 'one-stop-shop' for business support. In her role as Skills and Employment Board member, Zoe has played a pivotal role in championing the local area review of FE colleges, fostering greater collaboration between the four further education colleges as well as the University of Hertfordshire.

Dr Sally Ann Forsyth, CEO Stevenage Business Catalyst Dr Forsyth joined Hertfordshire LEP Board as business representative in June 2018. Dr Forsyth became CEO of Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst (SBC) on 5 March 2018 with the aim of developing the site to its full potential as a world-class science, innovation and business cluster. Before coming to SBC, Sally Ann was CEO of Norwich Research Park, a life science cluster of world-leading academics, researchers and clinicians which is now home to 14,000 employees, 3,000 researchers and over 80 companies.

Commenting on her appointment, Mark Bretton, Chair, Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership said: “Sally Ann’s wealth of business acumen and depth of knowledge of the life sciences sector will bring valuable insight to the LEP Board as we continue to deliver our strategic economic priorities and work closely with our key sector businesses to develop a Local Industrial Strategy.”

Between them they bring a huge wealth of experience and expertise to shape and deliver the LEP’s key strategic priorities including regeneration of both our existing New Towns and planned Garden Town settlements; strategic infrastructure, skills and employment and the development of our key sector industries.

Female business leaders are also well represented across Hertfordshire LEP’s Envoy Programme. Sneha Khilay, Managing Director of Blue Tulip Training, Watford, brings with her 20 years of experience in diversity, inclusion and unconscious bias in the workplace. Sneha is joined on the programme by Sally Hopper, Assistant Director for HR at Hertfordshire County Council, Miranda Knaggs, Business Development Director at Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst and Claire Dicks, Chief of Staff to the Deputy MD UK and Portfolio Management Director for MBDA Missile Systems.

Together in their roles as critical friends and external ambassadors for the LEP, they can help review current practices, identifying, where possible, workable solutions.

But it is in its Enterprise Adviser Network and its interactions with schools where Hertfordshire LEP has the biggest opportunity to shape positively young people’s future careers and inspire the next generation of women business leaders.

Currently two thirds (66%) of its Enterprise Advisers are women, such as Lori West, founder and managing director of Brilliance Trailblazer: " I am passionate about young people and their future, and when the opportunity arose to support schools to create a foundation for greater business success with their students. I know through direct experience that with the right guidance, anyone can find success and fulfilment in their working life."