Judges Profiles

Helen Woolley

Director General, CLA.

Area of Expertise

Helen Woolley is the Director General of the Country Land and Business Association (CLA). Helen joined the CLA as Director East Midlands in 2004 and was promoted to her current role of Director General in 2012.

She has a degree in Agricultural Science from Nottingham University, completed a Nuffield Scholarship in 1998 travelling in Eastern Europe studying the impact of EU enlargement on the UK Dairy Industry and attended the Worshipful Company of Farmers Rural Leadership Course 2003.

Helen has varied Board, commercial and operational management experience together with an in depth knowledge and understanding of agriculture and wider rural sector gained from 30+ years working in the industry as both as an ADAS Consultant working directly with farmers and Policy development and industry representation gained from both roles she has held in CLA

She is a CLA Board member and a Trustee and Board member of the Nuffield Farming Scholarship Trust.


Mark Hemming

Regional Director, Amazon

Area of Expertise

Mark is Regional Director for Amazon responsible for five of their UK Fulfillment Centres having joined the business in 2014. Mark is an experienced senior leader having held his first General Manager role in 1999 at 25 years old, making interior trim components for the European car makers.

Mark started his career in the automotive industry after attaining his Masters Degree in Manufacturing Engineering. Mark has held a number of senior roles in the industry, not just in operations but periods as the UK lead for various functions including Environmental, Health and Safety, Engineering, Project Management and Quality Systems. Mark has also operated as a Board Member of the Confederation of British Metalformers, supporting SME’s across the UK.

Following 18 years making cars or components for cars, he made the move to join Amazon and is hugely passionate about working for such an innovative organisation. Mark lives in Shropshire and outside of work enjoys spending time with his wife and two daughters (age 1 and 14) sharing a passion for cooking, movies, travel and music with his family.

Janine Edwards

Janine Edwards Wealth Management Ltd

Area of Expertise
Finance, Investment Planning, Business

With more than 25 years of experience in the wealth management industry, Janine Edwards Wealth Management is a Principal Partner Practice of St. James’s Place Wealth Management, one of the UKs leading wealth management organisations.

With an ever-changing environment and client circumstances, Janine believes it is more important than ever to write bespoke financial plans for her clients so that they can achieve their goals, and, more importantly, to review these plans regularly to ensure they remain current and accurate.

Janine’s client focus is central to the business and she takes the time to understand your personal or business objectives and deliver solutions that are tailored specifically to you. Not only does she meet her clients regularly, they are also invited to her client days where they find out more about what is happening

in the world of wealth management. Janine says: “I am committed to building long-term, high trust relationships and my clients feel that he advice I give is of the highest standard. I believe that financial services is very much a ‘people business’ and am dedicated to providing high levels of client service at all times.” In addition to providing high quality personal advice on wealth management, Janine assists businesses in the increasingly complex area of corporate financial planning, providing guidance on pensions, protection for directors, key employees or shareholders, tax reliefs and aspects of exit strategy planning.

The Partner Practice represents only St. James’s Place Wealth Management plc (which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority) for the purpose of advising solely on the Group’s wealth management products and services, more details of which are set out on the Group’s website at www.sjp.co.uk/products. The title ‘Partner’ and ‘Practice’ are marketing term used to describe St. James’s Place representatives.

Josef de Pfeiffer

Marketing Manager, Zettlex

Area of Expertise
RBA 2015 Winner & RBA Runner Up 2016 – Manufacturing / Innovation

Josef de Pfeiffer is Marketing Manager at Cambridge sensors company, Zettlex, which designs and manufactures position and speed sensors for harsh environments.

More than 85% of Zettlex sales is from exports to 44 countries including USA, Germany, China and Japan. Zettlex is delighted to be involved as a partner for the 2017 RBA’s – having previously won Best Rural Manufacturer.

Josef grew up in the East Cambridgeshire Fens and has close ties to the Rural Sector having launched a national crop seeds business. He is a keen sportsman but these days spends more time watching (from the subs bench) than playing.

Mark Howard

Managing Director, Zettlex

Area of Expertise
RBA 2015 Winner & RBA Runner Up 2016 – Manufacturing / Innovation

Mark Howard is Managing Director and co-founder of Zettlex – the sensors company, based in the tiny village of Newton, Cambridgeshire.

The sensors form critical components in amazing machines such as space rockets, submarines, satellites and surgical robots. Zettlex started life in Mark’s garden shed when he and Dr. Darran Kreit re-discovered a technique first secretly developed by the US air-force during the second World-War.

The company now has sales of £8M/year, exports to 44 countries and is growing at 30+% per year. He describes himself as an ‘engineer by education and a marketeer by necessity’. A former rugby league player, he now spends his spare time flower arranging, taking part in modern dance – especially mime – and lying about his hobbies.

Jim Dixon

Jim Dixon Associates

Area of Expertise

Jim has spent over 35 years working in rural areas.  After a decade reforming and greening the Common Agricultural Policy he joined Defra at the time when the new department was being created in 2001.  He was then CEO of the Peak District National Park Authority for 12 years until 2014.  In the Peak District, as well as leading a planning authority and working with rural communities at the sharp end of rural development, he championed rural business and tourism.   

Today, Jim is a Trustee of the Heritage Lottery Fund, Vice Chairman of a NHS Foundation Trust and Director of two rurally-located businesses.  Jim works with rural tourism businesses, both advising strategically on development of the overseas market and also running tours directly, specialising in the premium end of the market.  

Jim also writes for The Times and has an obsession for fishing, books and books on fishing.

Simon Dover

Managing Director, Ideology LTD

Area of Expertise
Creative Media

It’s been almost 3 decades since I started my Brand development and Creative content business in Southampton. I’ve always believed in better communication through closer relationships; that you are at your most creative, and do your best work for the businesses and people you know the best, and whose ambitions you fully understand. So that’s where I focus! And even at my age (sorry!) I still have complete faith in the power of the network – and that’s why I’m here.

Idealogy’s focus has, mostly, been overseas. Working alongside Blue-chip businesses across Europe, the US and Far East and, in truth, that’s where we continue to cast our net. So imagine my delight when Anna (a long-standing friend and work colleague) and her business partner Jemma asked me to be on the RBA judging panel in 2016. And if that wasn’t fun enough, I’ve been re-invited this year.

It is such a joy to witness the energy and creativity that all rural businesses pour into their offer, and the pure emotion that results from either winning a category or the overall title. It’s at the very core of all successful branding – people with strong personalities and powerful visions delivering hugely compelling propositions to often untried and challenging markets. And it’s also what attracts cornerstone sponsors like Amazon and CLA. They know a great story when they see one. Thank you once again, and good luck to all of the RBA 2017 entrants.

Carl Benfield

Managing Director, Prescient Power

Area of Expertise
Renewables, Diversification, Entrepreneur

Carl Benfield served for 16 years as a professionally qualified officer in the Royal Engineers before entering the world of renewable energy.  Having worked for two years on a scientific solar project for Ikea, he  set-up his own company, Prescient Power Ltd to combined his love of teams and leadership, with his engineering knowledge. As most in the sector will recognise, the journey has been simultaneously exciting and difficult, but the challenges it has created have caused Carl to examine what makes businesses successful, inspiring him to launch “British Bulldogs” a podcast to interview business leaders across the UK.

Carl is married to Rebecca and has four boys from ages 6 to 19. When not working or trying to understand what to do as a husband and father, he escapes to the fantasy world of amateur theatre, and has played main characters in Fiddler on the Roof, Me and My Girl, and Anything Goes.  He also tries to keep fit, but like the theatre this is also, often, just make-believe.

Jane Headley

Senior Tutor, Harper Adams University

Area of Expertise
Manufacturing & Innovation

Jane Headley is the Senior Tutor for Business courses at Harper Adams University. A management accountant by training, she teaches finance to a wide range of undergraduate students. At postgraduate level she focuses on management accounting and financial aspects of business start-up. Enjoying working with industry professionals, she also teaches managers on short courses. With a degree in Accounting and Finance from Nottingham Trent, Jane more recently gained an MA in Learning and Teaching from Keele University and is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Prior to life in an ivory tower Jane worked in a range of sectors. Her experience is primarily in manufacturing spanning pharmaceuticals, office products, electrical and electronic components, timber for house builders and pneumatics. Passionate about finance Jane believes managers need to embrace the numbers to understand what drives their business.

Outside of work, she is vice-chair of the North West Midlands Chartered Institute of Management Accountants.  At weekends Jane dons hiking boots and heads into the fields and hills to enjoy life at a slower pace.

Richard Elsden

Managing Director, Twenty Fifteen

Area of Expertise

Richard Elsden is the Lead Partner of the TWENTYFIFTEEN ADVISORY GROUP LLP and he advises organisations on how, when and why to work with Government for long term competitive advantage. Prior to this, he was the Board Director for Commercial Services for Perkins Engines and then had 15 years with Caterpillar UK as their Director of Government Affairs.

He understands business, business issues and how to build and then use relationships and partnership working to facilitate solutions.

Emma Jones

Founder, Enterprise Nation

Area of Expertise

Following a degree in Law and Japanese, Emma joined international accounting firm Arthur Andersen, where she worked in London, Leeds and Manchester offices and set up the firm’s Inward Investment practice that attracted overseas companies to locate in the UK. In 2000, bitten by the dot.com bug, Emma left the firm to start her first business, Techlocate – after 15 months, the company was successfully sold to Tenon plc.

The experience of starting, growing and selling a business from a home base gave Emma the idea for Enterprise Nation which was launched in 2006 as the home business website. The company has since expanded to become a small business community of over 75,000 people who benefit from business books, events and funding: online, in print and in person. Enterprise Nation also presents a campaigning voice to government and the media on behalf of its members.

Emma regularly appears in the media commenting on small business issues.

Backing Britain

In March 2011 Emma was one of 8 co-founders to launch StartUp Britain, the national campaign to encourage more people to start a business and support existing businesses to grow. Over a period of 3 years (March 2011 to 2014), Emma led and managed the private sector campaign that facilitated mentoring, hosted Industry Weeks, toured the UK with entrepreneurs and experts, launched special projects such as PopUp Britain and had a critical role to play in record results of people becoming their own boss.

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In June 2012 Emma was awarded an MBE for Services to Enterprise.

In August 2014 Emma was appointed Chair of Plotr.co.uk a digital careers platform to help young people discover their future, with self-employment increasingly being chosen as an ideal career option.

In November 2015 Emma was appointed by the UK Prime Minister as a Business Ambassador with a focus on increasing international trade.

In July 2016, Emma was appointed SME Representative for Crown Commercial Service.

Books and events

Emma is the best-selling author of the business books Spare Room StartUp , Working 5 to 9 , Go Global , The StartUp Kit and Turn Your Talent Into a Business . She hosts the popular one-day business class StartUp Saturday in London, and speaks at several other business events.

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Emily Scaife

Editor – Diversify Now

Area of Expertise

Emily Scaife is editor of Diversify Now, a publication about the different diversification options available to farmers and landowners. Launched in 2016 by DJ Media, the quarterly publication covers a broad range of subjects from glamping and farm shops to festivals and wine production. Emily also edits another DJ Media publication, Energy Now, which is celebrating 10 years of providing advice and industry-leading analysis for farmers and landowners investing in renewable energy.

Prior to joining DJ Media, Emily edited the NFU’s flagship publication British Farmer and Grower and launched #studentfarmer magazine. Both were recognised for their excellence during her period as editor and won numerous awards for their design, content and innovation. Emily herself was named runner-up in the PPA’s New Editor of the Year category in 2015.

When she’s not editing Diversify Now and Energy Now, Emily is a freelance writer, producing articles for a range of publications including Farmers Guardian, Farmers Weekly  and NFU Countryside.

Steve Edwards

Director at BT, NGA Clients

Area of Expertise
Broadband Connectivity

Steve Edwards is an exceptional senior executive with eight years’ experience operating at board level in a variety of challenging roles within a number of complex organisations. A seasoned executive with significant P&L and funding responsibility delivering outstanding business results along with a proven track record in leading transformational change. Steve is passionate and committed to his work, and has shown a high degree of adaptability and resilience as both a leader and board member in challenging situations. His leadership style is to deliver results through his team, focusing on developing and coaching each of his people to achieve their own success in an open and trusting environment.

Steve has over 30 years’ experience in the telecommunications industry and is considered an inspirational leader with utmost customer focus. He’s led BT’s partnerships with UK and Local Government to bring fibre broadband to rural communities and was instrumental in the creation of BT’s Community Fibre Partnership programme which is enabling hundreds of communities to help fund and deliver fibre broadband and mobile coverage to areas not covered by the national rollout.

Steve lives in Lancashire with his wife and four children and enjoys walking, reading and travelling.

Kate Middleton

Prysm Media Group (Farm Business Innovation Show)

Area of Expertise
Rural Diversification, Entrepreneurs & Farming

Kate is the Marketing Director at Prysm Media Group, the UK’s largest independent event and conference organiser. With a portfolio of 26 events including The Farm Business Innovation Show, (EN Awards “Trade Show of the Year” 2016), Rural Entrepreneur Live, Country House Innovation, European Neuro Convention, Naidex, The Business Show, Elite Sports, COPA and Legalex. Kate has extensive experience in the organisation and management of a diverse range of events in the UK and internationally, in addition to lecturing, practical training and team development.

Kate has been involved in the farming and equestrian sectors for over 30 years both professionally and personally including horse-racing, veterinary, sheep, equestrian, stud work and competing (team chasing, eventing and side-saddle).

Harry Legge-Bourke

Glanusk Estate

Area of Expertise
Estate Owner, Diversification

Harry is the 6th generation from the ‘Founder’ to have become the next ‘Custodian’ of the Glanusk Estate, which is a mixed and diverse 16,000 acre Estate in the Black Mountains in South Wales. Before taking over the reins back in 2008, he had been an active participant in the management and direction of the estate before his father sadly died prematurely.

He had a 10 year career in the Welsh Guards in the 90’s, after which he worked in the ‘City’ for a short while before setting up and being involved in the private security and procurement industry. He also found time to set up a franchise of Box it, data storage with his father, which is now in the old sheep and sawmill barns on the estate. He was appointed to the Board of Natural Resources Wales (the merged organisation of the Environment Agency Wales, Forestry Commission Wales and Countryside Council for Wales) and chaired a number of key sub board groups for NRW including; Enterprise, Land Management and sat on the SSSI/SAC Committee.

He runs a number of Events at Glanusk sporting and cultural as well as oversees the day to day commercial, residential and farming elements on the Estate. Harry is also involved as Chairman/Patron of a number of charities. He has spoken at a number of events on diversification, enterprise and succession planning, and we are delighted to have him as a Judge in this years’ competition.


Polly Gibb OBE

Director, WiRE

Area of Expertise

Polly has led the small team at Women in Rural Enterprise for the last 10 years, spinning WiRE off from piece of academic research (into farm diversification), into a national membership organisation, widely recognised as a dynamic and positive force within the economy of rural areas

WiRE has worked with thousands of small rural businesses, helping them to start, improve and grow. WiRE pioneered the model of volunteer-led local business groups, as being particularly appropriate for rural female-led business in sustainably supporting rural business, sharing knowledge and catalysing innovation, collaborations, and growth. WiRE has some 70 local groups, whose members meet monthly to learn and share to develop their businesses and we run a programme of support and development for Network Leaders

Polly has a Biology degree from Oxford University and an MSc from Cranfield. After graduating, she spent several years in Less Develop Countries working in agricultural and rural development, latterly in enabling rural women to generate cash through entrepreneurial activity. Since returning to England Polly worked for environmental charities and ran her own rural consultancy, prior to the inception of WiRE.

Polly lives in Shropshire with four children and partner Paul. In 2013 Polly was awarded an OBE for services to rural enterprise and was named as one of 10 Heroes of the Countryside by HRH Prince Charles.

Joe Towers

General Manager, Lune Valley Dairy Farm

Area of Expertise
Farming, Innovation, Diversfication, Entrepreneur

Joe Towers is General Manager of Lune Valley Dairy Farm in Lancashire. The farm milks 450 cows; 340 Holstein-Fresians and 110 Jerseys and is best known for supplying a bespoke ‘Barista Milk’ to high end coffee shops in London ‘Brades Farm Barista milk’. Joe was educated at Harper Adams including a placement year working for a coffee exporter in East Africa.

Joe is driven to develop tools to help farmers mitigate volatility and took a temporary position working for Tesco working on various price risk management initiatives in their dairy supply chain to help develop ideas around this challenge. This followed being a ‘Tesco Future Farmer’ which led to a scholarship to visit a predictive analytics company in Florida who work with the dairy industry as well as a position on the Tesco Supplier Network Advisory Panel for Primary Agriculture and becoming a mentor to a current ‘Tesco Future Farmer’.

A highlight of his professional life is working closely with Lancaster University Management School in the capacity of Entrepreneur in Residence Honorary Teaching Fellow. He won a grant to engage in the Lancaster China Catalyst Programme and four masters students carried out research for Joe’s family business in Guangzhou; Joe has had three trips to China in the last 24 months to help advance his understanding of how geopolitics and macroeconomics influence the lives of British farmers.

Along with his brother Edward, Joe has very recently been named a ‘Farmers Weekly Rising Star,’ recognizing their contribution to the dairy industry having ‘innovated in response to adversity;’ creating a new dairy product in response to the 2015 dairy crisis. Joe sits on the BBC Rural Affairs Committee.

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