Bristol regional event

Help to Grow: Management regional event Bristol

9am 3pm GMT, Wednesday 22 February, 2023 | Paintworks, Bristol, BS4 3EH

As the economic headwinds get stronger, the need for SMEs to remain agile and resilient is now more important than ever. This free-to-attend, regional conference in Bristol for the South West and Wales Help to Grow: Management alumni will provide you with the opportunity to build on the leadership skills gained from the Help to Grow: Management Course.

During the sessions, our expert speakers will explore how small business leaders can avoid burnout and build a healthy, high-performance team; the benefits of building a culture; and how to access local support.

Specifically designed for alumni and course participants in the South West and Wales, this conference features:

  • A masterclass from international speaker and resilience expert, Ronan Harrington, on effective leadership while preventing burnout.
  • Practical information on mobilising workplace culture as a competitive advantage.
  • Guidance on accessing regional government support for SMEs.
  • Networking opportunities with Help to Grow: Management alumni and business experts from across your region.


Cardiff Business School - Sarah Lethbridge, Pro Dean of External Engagement, Cardiff Business School

In our opening session, attendees will be encouraged to skip the small talk and get to know fellow SME leaders on a deeper level in our Conversation Café. In pairs, you will be encouraged to share business experiences and lessons you've learned in life with fellow alumni. The Help to Grow team will provide an insightful and entertaining question guide that will shed light on your leadership journeys to date.

Delivered by Ronan Harrington, resilience and leadership expert.

Founder burnout can easily lead to SME failure, and also places a huge strain on colleagues, families, and friends. Ronan Harrington will show you how small business leaders unwittingly place themselves on a burnout trajectory. He will also share how you can create healthy, high performing, cultures. Learn the art of scaling your business, whilst minimising your stress.

Key takeaways will include:

  • Preventing burnout.
  • Developing healthy work cultures.
  • Developing resilience under adversity.

Time to grab a refreshment and have a chat with your fellow business leaders.

The acquisition and retention of high-quality talent is important for the growth potential of any business, even more so for SMEs. Increasingly, organisations that can differentiate themselves from their competitors through a clearly articulated vision and purpose, are more productive and have higher staff retention rates. In this session, our expert panel will provide their business case for investing in company culture and purpose.

Key takeaways include:

  • How SMEs can use their size and agility to adapt quickly to new ways of working.
  • How leaders can appeal to workers who value well-being and job satisfaction over material incentives.
  • How organisations can live their values and embed the characteristics of high-performing teams.
  • How to motivate staff effectively to boost productivity.

Chaired by Russell Thomas, Director of People, Culture and Strategy at the Diversity Trust

Delivered by:

Dr. Steffanie Gustafsson, Associate Professor in Organisation Studies and Co-Director Future of Work Research Centre, School of Management University of Bath.

Peter Milligan, Inspirational speaker, business psychologist, specialist in leadership, employee engagement, and embracing change.

Andrew Knight, Founder/Director of The Spark Company, specialist HR and change consultant, board chair and leadership coach.

For SMEs, a certain amount of trial and error is inevitable when trying new things, but too much can waste time and resources. Getting the right information and advice early on, is vital in order to grow your business in the right way. In this session, our panel will outline the expert (and often free) support available to SME leaders in the South West and Wales. The speakers will discuss national and regional initiatives that SME leaders can take advantage of and provide a clear picture of what guidance is available and how to access it.

The panel will include speakers from:

Department of International Trade (DIT) - Dr Richard Hall , Clean Energy Sector Specialist, DIT

West England Combined Authority - Sam Bell, Senior Partnership Lead for Enterprise

British Business Bank - Jessica PhillipsSenior Network Manager

The Growth Hub - Alex Cottrell, Gloucester Growth Hub Manager

Details coming soon.

Cardiff Business School - Sarah Lethbridge, Pro Dean of External Engagement, Cardiff Business School

Your chance to network with fellow business leaders to share experiences and strengthen your long-term connections.

By now we hope you have had a productive and insightful day.

Keep an eye on your emails as we hope to see you again soon.

Ronan Harrington

Ronan Harrington

Ronan is a leadership and resilience expert who helps leading companies create a healthy and high-performance culture. Having overcome incredible difficulty, Ronan now shares the hidden drivers of burnout and what neuroscience-based tools, and cutting-edge team practices are best suited to build resilience.

Stefanie Gustafsson

Dr Stefanie Gustafsson

Stefanie is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Management at the University of Bath, and Co-Director of the Future of Work Research Centre. She is also a Honorary Research Fellow at Bayes Business School. Her research is primarily concerned with people’s experiences of work and careers in contemporary workplaces, trust, and qualitative research methods. She has published in journals such as Organization Studies, Human Relations and the Journal of Vocational Behaviour. She has also translated her academic research for a practioner audience, including The Practice (Havard Law School) and BBC Worklife.

Peter Milligan

Peter Milligan

Peter is an inspirational speaker and business psychologist with three decades of experience. This includes developing business leaders and teams, helping them to have less stress, more joy, and greater productivity at work. After moving to the UK in 2000, he became a director of Europe's largest executive coaching firm before establishing his own business in 2005. Peter has worked with leaders at all levels across a wide range of industries and his clients have ranged from professional services firms, SMEs and family businesses, to multinational corporations.

Andrew Knight

Andrew Knight

Andrew is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development (FCIPD). He is an experienced senior HR practitioner, having made a career out of his love for variety. He has worked in organisations, large and small; in the private, public and not-for-profit sectors.

Andrew founded and leads The Spark Company, an independent HR consultancy firm based in Cardiff. He’s the Chair of the Board at Taff Housing in Cardiff and an Independent Member of the Remuneration and People Committee at Bristol Waste. Andrew’s personal mission is to “transform productivity and performance – by putting people first”.

Richard Hall

Dr Richard Hall


Richard is a Sector Specialist at the UK Government Department for International Trade (DIT). DIT secures prosperity by promoting and financing international trade and investment. Richard specialises in Energy Electronics (offshore wind, electric supercars, domestic fan heaters etc.) and Richard’s role is to support companies to navigate the complex and often conflict-ridden world of global energy governance (including energy products standards, market intelligence and international NGO collaboration).

Jessica Phillips

Jessica Phillips

As the Senior Network Manager for Wales for the British Business Bank Jess aims to improve access to finance for Welsh SMEs to support a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem. Jess is an advocate for small businesses in Wales, her previous roles in innovation, enterprise support and research having sparked her passion and drive to support.

Sarah Lethbridge

Sarah Lethbridge

Sarah is the Pro Dean for External Engagement at Cardiff Business School responsible for all of the outward facing activities such as strategic partnerships, conferences, events and executive education. The work of her team helps our research to have real world impact. She is also the Programme Director for the Executive MBA and a specialist in continuous improvement, helping organisations to become learning organisations.

Russel J. Thomas

A motivational and public speaker, policymaker and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion professional. Russell is the Director of People, Culture and Strategy and Executive Director for the Diversity Trust an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion consultancy CIC. Russell is an inclusivity, wellbeing and safeguarding expert, leading on equality, diversity and inclusion for 25 years. He is a sociologist and cultural linguist as well as receiving diplomas and awards relating to community engagement.

Alex Cottrell 

Alex Cottrell is the Growth Hub Manager at the University of Gloucestershire and has been working with growing Gloucestershire businesses since 2017. Leading a team of 13 to deliver a multi-million pound ESIF business support scheme, Alex draws on nearly 30 years’ experience operating within the B2B sector driving growth, strategy and leadership development. Having built her career working-agency side supporting global brands, she now focusses on supporting regional SMEs through her work for the Growth Hub and as part of the wider University.

Stuart Robinson

Stuart is an Associate Pro-Vice Chancellor for Business Engagement at the University of Exeter. His daily responsibility is for Executive and Professional Education programmes including Help to Grow. In the past he has run the University’s MBA programme which focusses on sustainable business and responsible leadership. He teaches Strategic Management to full-time and executive MBA students in the Business School. Before joining the University, Stuart had a management career in telecoms and finance.’

Capacity is limited so please register your place as soon as possible.


If you have any questions, please get in touch by email at or contact the Small Business Charter by phone on 020 7634 9584.