Help to Grow: Management regional event – Portsmouth

9am 3pm GMT, Thursday 23 March, 2023 | Guildhall Square, Portsmouth

One of the biggest threats to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) is burnout. The fledgling stages of any company can lead to significant mental strain for founders and employees alike.

A recent study conducted by Deloitte across four countries found that one in three employees or executives are consistently struggling with mental health and poor wellbeing. In addition to this, 57% of employees and 69% of executives are seriously considering quitting their job for one that better supports their wellbeing.

Delivering the keynote lecture in Portsmouth will be Ronan Harrington, a resilience and leadership expert whose storytelling through lived experience provides the tools, insights, and connections to help SMEs value the individual and thrive as a collective.

Designed specifically for alumni and course participants in the South of England, key takeaways from this conference will include:

  • Gaining a deeper understanding of how SMEs can boost productivity whilst motivating staff effectively.
  • A comprehensive understanding of how to foster a healthy work culture amongst employees.
  • Learning how to reduce employee turnover by retaining existing staff.
  • How to combine innovativeness, proactiveness and risk-taking in a turbulent market.
  • Practical examples of successful innovation from UK-based SMEs.

Showcase your business

If you would like your business to be considered for a marketplace stand at this event, free of charge, please email to find out more.


Peter Hooley - Director of Business Development, University of Portsmouth

The Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Councillor Canon Dr Hugh Mason

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 the lessons you've learned in life and business experiences with fellow alumni. The Help to Grow team will provide an insightful and entertaining question guide that will shed light on our leadership journeys to date.

Ronan Harrington, Resilience and Leadership Expert  

Founder burnout is one of the most common causes of SME failure and a huge strain on families, friends and communities. In this celebrated keynote, Ronan Harrington will show us how organisations unwittingly place themselves on a burnout trajectory, and how to create healthy high performance 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.

In this session we will explore the personal characteristics of entrepreneurs and the external factors that can enable or be a barrier to innovation and success.  Our speakers will provide practical insight into how SME leaders can leverage their skills in decision-making, leadership style and strategic creativity at the same time to ensure their organisations are able to explore new opportunities whilst exploiting existing ones. We will also look at how to transform economic, organisational, talent and technology barriers into enablers of innovation and growth.  

Chaired by Rocky Moore, Innovate UK 

Becky Lodge, Founder of Little Kanga Ltd 

Dr. Osikhuemhe Okwilagwe, Senior Lecturer and Programme Leader for Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship, Bournemouth University  

Jonathan Thornton, CEO of PC Consultants

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 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.  

Panel will include speakers from: 

  • Department of International Trade: David Ryan, International Trade Advisor 
  • British Business Bank: Susan Elliott, Senior Manager 
  • Local Enterprise Partnership: Malcolm Brabon, Enterprise M3 LEP 
  • Natwest: Elly Rowley, Regional Ecosystem Manager 

The Lady Mayoress of Portsmouth Miss Marie Costa

Peter Hooley - Director of Business Development, University of Portsmouth

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

Ronan Harrington

Ronan Harrington
Keynote Speaker and Consultant

Ronan is a leadership and resilience expert who helps leading companies create a healthy, 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.

David Ryan
International Trade Advisor, Department for International Trade (DIT)

As an International Trade Adviser, David advises and assists SMEs in the south of England across Marine, Aerospace and Automotive sectors. David has more than 30 years commercial and international experience in business development, sales and client management in publishing and trade exhibitions. Much of his career was at Haymarket Media Group, most recently at Haymarket Worldwide where he was responsible for generating and maintaining licensing agreements for brands.

Susan Elliott
Senior Manager, British Business Bank

Susan is an experienced commercial professional working with British Business Bank stakeholders to help smaller business access finance for growth. Her knowledge in the funding and business support community was gained from co-founding and running her own advisory and consulting business for ten years.

Dr Osikhuemhe Okwilagwe

Dr Osikhuemhe Okwilagwe
Senior Lecturer and Director, Stirling-Horden Publishers Ltd

Dr Osikhuemhe is a Senior Lecturer in Strategy and Programme Leader for the MSc Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship programme at Bournemouth University. Her teaching is interdisciplinary in nature focusing on business strategy; supply chains, networks and markets; global business environment and organisational leadership. She is also a Director at Stirling-Horden Publishers Ltd, Nigeria, a family run business.

Becky Lodge

Becky Lodge
Founding Director, Little Kanga Ltd

Becky is a degree and CIM qualified Founder and Director. In 2015 she founded Little Kanga Ltd, a management consulting practice specialising in digital innovation, start-up incubation and entrepreneurship for universities and governments worldwide. Becky then founded the digital business support brand ‘StartUp Disruptors’ a subscription community that helps early- stage start-ups and aspiring business owners to fund and scale-up their businesses.

Peter Hooley

Peter Hooley
Director of Business Development, University of Portsmouth

Peter is the Director of Business Development in the Faculty of Business and Law. Peter has worked in the Solent region since 1998, and for the university since 2009. He is responsible for managing and driving the faculty’s business relationships, and working across the business landscape from Entrepreneur to Corporation, helping organisations to collaborate with the faculty and derive mutual benefit from combining experience and expertise.

Jonathan Thornton
CEO, PC Consultants

Jonathan Thornton has been the CEO of PC Consultants for the past 30 years. Jonathan is also the President of the Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce, a sponsor and supporter of digital online business incubator, StartUp Disruptors and an advocate and supporter of start-ups and innovation across the Solent region. Since completing the Help to Grow: Management Course, Jonathon has practically implemented the Growth Action Plan leading to exponential growth in the IT sector, winning new contracts in central London and across the UK.

Elly Rowley
Regional Ecosystem Manager, NatWest

In her position as Regional Ecosystem Manager for NatWest, Elly Rowley leads enterprise and signposts support for entrepreneurs to increase connectivity and accessibility across communities. With over five years of experience in commercial and corporate finance, Elly has supported a breadth of business owners in achieving growth by supporting their investment in fixed assets, sustainability, AI and automation.

Rocky Moore
Innovation & Growth Specialist, Innovate UK EDGE  

Rocky has been supporting SME growth for many years. Before he joined Innovate UK EDGE, he was a successful entrepreneur, enabling him to understand what business owners go through to achieve business growth. One of his key attributes to supporting SMEs is Rocky’s ability to connect and develop reciprocal relationships, ensuring they link in with long term strategies. He is keen to help our UK SMEs develop their international markets through the Global Business Innovation Programmes. 

Malcolm Brabon
Founder, Venn Business Solutions

Malcolm has a background in senior management, programme management and business support which he has acquired through his consultancy business, Venn Business Solutions. He has been involved in business support for over 30 years, working at a senior level with companies of all sizes from start-up firms to multinational organisations. also Malcolm works for Enterprise M3 as a facilitator for the South Central Cluster of Growth Hubs, supporting collaboration and communication across the network. The cluster includes Solent, Berkshire, Coast to Capital and Enterprise M3 Growth Hubs and LEPs. 


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


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