2016 speakers and participants

We’ll be adding biographies of the speakers and participants of OPEN FOR BUSINESS 2016 on this page.

Justin Tomlinson ~ Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Disabled People at the Department of Work and Pensions

Justin Tomlinson, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Disabled People at the Department of Work and PensionsJustin Tomlinson was appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Disabled People on 12 May 2015. He was first elected as Member of Parliament for Swindon North in May 2010.

Justin graduated with a business degree from Oxford Brookes University. He was previously the Parliamentary Private Secretary to Ed Vaizey MP.

Before being elected to Parliament, Justin served as a councillor in North Swindon for 10 years. He served 4 years in the council’s cabinet as the lead member for culture, leisure and recreation. Justin owned a local marketing business in Swindon for 10 years which he sold when he was elected an MP.

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Disabled People

The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Disabled People is responsible for:

  • cross-government disability issues and strategy
  • disability benefits (Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment and Attendance Allowance)
  • mental health matters
  • carers
  • appeals reform
  • Access to Work
  • Health and Safety Executive

Peter Heaton-Jones ~ MP for North Devon

Robert Zarywacz, chairman of COMBEbusiness, Peter Heaton-Jones MP and Clare Flint, director of COMBEbusiness

Peter Heaton-Jones was elected as the Member of Parliament for North Devon at the May 2015 General Election.

Peter is proud to say he is not a career politician. In a working life of three decades, he has not been involved in politics until the last few years.

After working as a turkey plucker to make ends meet during college and university in the 70s and 80s, Peter had a twenty year career as a broadcaster, journalist and marketing professional.

Peter is responsible for the Disability Confident initiative at OPEN FOR BUSINESS and organising the ministerial visit

Laurent Boon ~ BT Programme Director for Connecting Devon and Somerset

Connecting Devon and Somerset is the partnership between BT and the local authorities to deliver faster broadband to around 90% of premises in Devon and Somerset (building on the commercial programme of BT and other providers).

Stuart Brocklehurst ~ Chief Executive, Applegate

Stuart Brocklehurst, Chief Executive of Applegate at OPEN FOR BUSINESS, Ilfracombe, North Devon on Friday 4 March 2016Stuart was appointed Chief Executive of Applegate in August 2014. He started his career at Barclays, with roles in Corporate Banking, Systems Planning and Strategy. As Head of E-Commerce Strategy he set the course which led Barclays to become the most successful UK bank online. In 2001 he was recruited by Visa International CEMEA as Senior Vice President and Head of Digital Commerce, responsible for e-commerce, mobile commerce, smartcards and other emerging technologies. In this role he drove the rapid take up of digital technologies by Visa’s member banks and piloted mobile payment and contactless chip services which have since become widespread. He negotiated the acquisition of the major Nigerian payments company, enabling Visa’s entry into the largest market in Africa, and under contract from the US Treasury established the initial national payments infrastructure in Iraq following the 2003 war. On leaving Visa, he was retained in an advisory capacity to the President, whilst joining Carbon Leadership as a Partner, consulting to major City institutions and banks. He executed the conversion of Carbon from limited company to Limited Liability Partnership. In 2010, Stuart moved to Madrid to support the Initial Public Offering of Amadeus IT Group. Following the successful conclusion of the flotation, he was appointed Group Communications Director. In this role he delivered dramatic growth in coverage across traditional, online and social media and cut the Group’s agency costs by 20%. Stuart has served as a non-executive director on the boards of several companies, mainly in the technology sector, and was Chairman of Octopus Apollo VCT2 plc. He has provided pro bono support to several charities including the Charities Aid Foundation West Africa, the Diocese of Exeter and Pilton House Trust.

Martin Fletcher ~ Aspirations and Perspective

Martin Fletcher at OPEN FOR BUSINESS, Ilfracombe, North Devon on Friday 4 March 2016

Martin Fletcher is a North Devon based businessman, entrepreneur and a family man. He has had a variety of jobs starting as a young man working in a Building Society, some years in the motor industry as well as working self-employed within the building and landscaping sector.

In April 2000 Martin and his family chose to make a significant career move and relocate to Devon, when he and his wife purchased a touring caravan park. Considerable development was put into the park and business growth allowed the purchase of a second park in 2006.

In 2009 Martin and his wife won the National Caravan Park of the Year Award, demonstrating his ability to achieve the highest standards in business. His business further expanded in 2009 with the purchase of a third caravan park and the set-up of a new caravan sales business in Cornwall, which was run by a manager under Martin’s directorship.

Since 2010, Martin has devoted more of his time to mentoring and coaching other people usually on a one to one basis, both for business and personal development. With two of the parks and the franchised sales dealership now having been sold, there is more time for a new adventure with his new company aptly named ‘Aspirations and Perspective’.

Martin always delivers a personalised approach to every individual and business with whom he works, and gains tremendous reward from assisting others who share a similar enthusiasm with a desire to drive change and a passion to see progress.

Chris Garcia ~ Chief Executive of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership

Chris Garcia - Chief Executive of the Heart of of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership at OPEN FOR BUSINESS 2016Chris Garcia was appointed as the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership’s Chief Executive in June 2013. Somerset based Chris has a background in both public and private sector leadership roles and an in depth knowledge of building economic development partnerships working with the public, private, education and voluntary sectors.

One of Chris’s first early senior roles was as a partner at KPMG, focusing on the private sector in the South West. He later ran his own successful family business, providing new technology and knowledge sharing support to both government departments and major technology firms.

Previously Chris also worked as the Director of Enterprise and Skills at the South West Regional Development Agency and for the Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS).

His senior management experience has included 13 years as a non- executive director of a significant charity – a leader in the field of developing people and management. Alongside this role Chris worked closely with voluntary organisations, establishing the Western Development Partnership, a major economic development partnership for the West of England. Within this role he worked closely with voluntary organisations and Local Government departments raising around £30m to overcome deprivation and social exclusion in inner city Bristol.

Chris is passionate about living in the South West and wants to ensure that Devon, Plymouth, Somerset and Torbay are equipped to work and succeed in a global economy, by driving economic growth and boosting jobs throughout the area.

Mike Matthews ~ Managing Director, Lineal Software Solutions

Mike Matthews, Managing Director of Lineal Software Solutions at OPEN FOR BUSINESS, Ilfracombe, North Devon on Friday 4 March 2016Mike Matthews is the Managing Director of Lineal Software Solutions Ltd, a Barnstaple-based IT Support and software development company founded in 1983.

As the former Branch Chairman of the North Devon Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), a private sector Director of North Devon+, and an advisor to the Employment Skills Board, Mike takes a keen interest in supporting education and skills training – and in the benefits to North Devon’s local economy and skills base. He is part of the campaign for wider access to superfast fibre-optic broadband in rural areas.

Mike is also an organiser of the international OMNISworld group of software developers, and lives in Loxhore where he is Chair of the Parish Council.



Philip Milton ~ Managing Director of Philip J Milton & Company PLC

Philip Milton, Managing Director of Philip J Milton & Company PLC at OPEN FOR BUSINESS, Ilfracombe, North Devon on Friday 4 March 2016Philip Milton was born in Barnstaple and established his own independent investment advisory and management business in 1985.  Since then, it has grown into one of the largest regional firms and with a reputation for integrity and professionalism centred upon customer care and service. In December the firm relocated to new premises in Boutport Street in Barnstaple to help with ongoing expansion and to accommodate the growing staff team which now numbers 27.

With amongst the highest levels of qualification in the industry, the company has expanded into discretionary wealth management, trusts, wills, probate and personal accountancy, all working together to create holistic and independent solutions for its growing clientele.  The firm now manages in excess of £110 million on this basis and has solutions to look after clients with the smallest of means to the rather larger.

Philip is a real supporter of North Devon and works from Trimstone Manor Country House Hotel.

Philip is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Bankers, a Fellow of the Personal Finance Society and a Certified Financial Planner.

Adam Saunders ~ the man from the ‘cloud’

Adam Saunders at OPEN FOR BUSINESS, Ilfracombe, North Devon on Friday 4 March 2016

Adam is the man from the ‘cloud’.

He might be a geek and you might not have heard of him before, but he is the guy some of the largest companies and agencies in the world call on when looking to do anything serious on the internet.

Adam started his first software company when he was just 16 years old and has built and sold more businesses over the years providing services and products in more than 150 different countries.

With all of that experience he now helps small businesses to find practical ways to grow and to overcome the stresses company owners commonly face.


Robert Zarywacz ~ COMBEbusiness & Project Shop

Robert Zarywacz at OPEN FOR BUSINESS, Ilfracombe, North Devon on Friday 4 March 2016Robert has brought his experience in corporate communications roles with British Airways and Baker & McKenzie and as Partner in his own communications business to his voluntary role as Chairman of COMBEbusiness.

He strives to champion businesses in North Devon at every opportunity, believing that the area’s business community consistently punches above its weight and needs to be recognised for this further afield. As Business Editor for the North Devon Journal, he created the idea of Made in North Devon, now one of the newspaper’s annual business awards categories.

Robert is Vice-Chairman of the National Campaign for Courtesy and a director of the SPACE, Ilfracombe’s new centre for the performing arts community, based at Emmanuel Church.

Robert is launching a collaborative venture – Project Shop – to support businesses wanting to develop, expand and harness their full potential.

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