Strategic Advisory Board

InterAct is committed to building a resilient, adaptive network with the valuable input of experts from across the academic, manufacturing and digital technology sectors. Our Strategic Advisory Board assists the Network team in shaping the efforts and funding calls of InterAct.

Charlotte Horobin

Strategic Advisory Board Chair
Cambridgeshire Chamber of Commerce
Chief Executive Officer

Charlotte was recently appointed the CEO of the Cambridgeshire Chamber of Commerce. Her previous role as Region Director of Make UK aimed to engage manufacturers and assist them in advancing their business by providing bespoke introductions, providing industry insight, attendance at events & networking, promoting their business and ensuring their views were heard. Charlotte also is a Trustee of the WMG Academy for Young Engineers business led schools for 14-19 year olds who are interested in a STEM career, she is a Careers and Enterprise Advisor in Lincolnshire and has recently been appointed as a Senior Industrial Fellow at Aston University.

Charlotte gained her undergraduate degree from The University of Leeds in Biomedical Science before completing her Masters at The University of Nottingham. Before joining Make UK (formerly EEF) in 2013, Charlotte worked in food manufacturing where she focused on business development and food safety management.

Chris Corkan

Strategic Advisory Board Member
ke UK
Interim Region Director – Midlands & East of England & Affiliates Partner Programme

Make UK is the largest voice supporting UK manufacturing employers. Chris’s role as Interim Region Director for the Midlands & East of England is to engage Make UK’s members and to assist them in advancing their business. By providing bespoke introductions, industry insight, a programme of events & networking opportunities, promoting their business and ensuring their views are heard with government at both a local and national level. Another key part of his role is to engage with stakeholders representing member views. Including with the media, Local Enterprise Partnerships, the West Midlands Combined Authority, Midlands Engine and the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Combined Authority. Additionally, Chris is also responsible for Make UK’s Affiliate Partner network of sector-specific trade association and regional cluster networks across the country.

John Burdett

Strategic Advisory Board Member
McCormick & Company
EMEA Operations and Supply Chain Director

John Burdett is an experienced Supply Chain and Operations leader in global fmcg businesses. He is currently the EMEA Operations and Supply Chain Director at McCormick & Company. He runs their European network for their Consumer business with a team of ~1000 people. McCormick is a global branded leader in flavour in both B2C and B2B and is recognised as one of the most sustainable companies globally.

John was the Global Operations Director for Tata Consumer Products leading the end to end supply chain operations for their International businesses. TCPL is an integrated Food & Beverage company with global brands such as Tata Tea and Tetley and is the #2 branded tea player globally. TCPL operates a global network of more than 20 factories plus co-manufacturing partners with a range of different routes to market and a team of more than 3,500 people working in the supply chain.

He is a Chartered Engineer and spent 14 years with Mars in manufacturing, NPD, S&OP and European supply chain roles in their Snackfoods and Foods businesses. He was also the Supply Chain Director for a recycled plastic packaging business prior to joining Tata as the VP for Global Operations Planning in 2009.

Professor Sam Turner

Strategic Advisory Board Member
Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre

Professor Sam Turner is the current CEO of the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (AMIC). He was formerly Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of the High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult. Sam worked across the HVM Catapult centres and stakeholders, including government, to develop manufacturing strategy for the UK. He is part of the Made Smarter strategy implementation group led by Juergen Maier and was part of the review team. In this role Sam has chaired the D4I digital industry group, the Through Life Engineering Services (TES) Council and the IMechE Manufacturing Industries Division.

He joined the HVM Catapult team in 2017 from his role as CTO of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing, where he worked on a range of projects and capabilities including the flagship digital facility Factory 2050, machining, casting and composites technology.  As a founding member of the AMRC, Sam led the growth of the AMRC’s Machining Group, with successes in delivering impact to UK industry, before moving into the CTO role. Sam has over 20 years’ experience in manufacturing working across the aerospace, steel, defence, automotive sectors.

Professor Tim Vorley

Strategic Advisory Board Member
Oxford Brookes University
Pro-Vice Chancellor and Dean of OBU Business School

Professor Tim Vorley is Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of Oxford Brookes Business School and is the VCG lead for Entrepreneurship and Enterprise. Prior to his current role, Tim held positions at Sheffield, Cambridge and the Saïd Business School (University of Oxford). He currently leads the Innovation Caucus, co-funded by Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and Innovate UK and has previously led several projects funded under the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, Horizon Europe and ESRC.

Tim is an economic geographer by training and his research focuses on entrepreneurship, enterprise and regional economic development, he works extensively with a number of central government departments and agencies, as well as with Local Enterprise Partnerships and local government bodies.  He is a member of the ESRC Strategic Advisory Network, the UKRI Skills and Talent Advisory Group, and chairs the ESRC’s Transforming Business through Social Science advisory group. Tim is also the Vice-Chair of the Small Business Charter, created by Lord Young, which is leading the delivery of the Help to Grow Management programme through business schools across the UK.

James Davies

Strategic Advisory Board Member
Industry Wales

Born on the Gower and graduating from Swansea University (Mech Eng), James worked for 32 years at CalsonicKansei (a Tier 1 Automotive supplier, now Marelli) in UK, Europe and Japan, leading their Thermal Management Division ($2.5bn).

In April 2017, he became CEO of Industry Wales (a company and ALB of Welsh Government), to bring voice of Technology, Engineering and Manufacturing industry to Welsh Government and UK Stakeholders covering all sectors including responsibility for three Industry sector forums – Electronics/Software (Technology Connected), Automotive (WAF) and Aerospace (AWF). In 2022, a additional industry forum (Net Zero Industry Wales, NZIW) will be established and continue to progress the Industry DeCarbonisation including the SWIC cluster.

A Member of the HEFCW Council, he sits on Regional based strategy Groups such as the Swansea Bay City Deal ESB and CCR Skills Partnership. He has recently re-appointed on the Ministerial Advisory Board (MAB) for Economy in Wales having also completed terms on Valleys Taskforce and the Burns Commission to progress the South East Wales Traffic concern.

He recently joined as Board Member of Respiratory Innovation Wales to support business and industry engagement in Health and Care Innovation.

Alan Banks

Strategic Advisory Board Member
Ford Motor Company
UK Lightweight Innovations Manager

Alan Banks is the Lightweight Structures Manager at Ford Motor Company. He started work at Ford in 1983 as an apprentice and his remit is to lead projects with light-weighting technologies and applications in design with mass production capability.

He led the Composite Lightweight Automotive Suspension System (CLASS) project, which won the 2018 JEC World Automotive Application Innovation award and the Composite UK Innovation Award winning Composite Hybrid Automotive Suspension System Innovative Structures (CHASSIS) project.

Alan has a First-Class Honours Degree and an MSc from the University of Bradford, is a Fellow and Chartered Engineer with the Institute of Engineering Technology and a Fellow of the Institute of Innovation and Knowledge Exchange and a member of the Society of Automotive Engineers. He is Chairman of the Board for the Composites UK Trade Association and Chairman of the Vehicular Composites Group and the Lightweighting UK Auto Council Strategy Group.

Ayodeji Akiwowo

Strategic Advisory Board Member
Senior Consultant (Data Science)

Ayodeji is a Senior Consultant (Data Science) at Fujitsu and Founder of Black Excellence (BE) UK. He has vast Data Science experience in various industries including Finance, Technology, previously working at organisations like SWIFT, BNP Paribas – PF and West Coast, UK. He has a PhD in Data Fusion from Loughborough University, UK and experience working within academia at Loughborough and Liverpool John Moores Universities. 

With Black Excellence UK, Ayodeji has been involved in a number of initiatives focused on bridging the gap between the BME community and organisations, government. Their award winning BE Achievers project showcasing the stories of Black individuals in the UK won the Charnwood Community Heroes in 2019.

Ben Peace

Strategic Advisory Board Member
The Growth Company
Net Zero Principal

Ben has over twenty years’ experience in innovation, supporting and fostering the better products, processes and systems for the industry of the future. He is currently Net Zero Principal at The Growth Company. He was previously Director Of Sustainability at Valuechain where he works on Valuechain’s suite of business intelligence platforms & digital tools. These create unprecedented visibility of the right information across supply chains, industry sectors and geographies, and drive improved performance, competitiveness, resilience, and sustainability.

Previously Ben spent ten years at KTN (now Innovate UK KTN) – the UK’s innovation network – making connections across sectors, disciplines and geographies. He has also worked in sustainabiltiy consultancy, product design, engineering, and project management.

Russell Watkins

Strategic Advisory Board Member

Russell is the Co-founder of Sempai®, assisting organisations with improving the performance of their business. He has held Operations, Materials and Lean positions within the Automotive, Aerospace and Construction Equipment sectors. Russell’s Lean transformation work has taken him to shop-floors and boardrooms in the UK, Europe, the US, China, India, Japan and South America. He is also leading a digital start-up around lean skills, whilst helping manufacturers with his keen eye for identifying and supporting Industry 4.0 opportunities. Russell is the author of “Adventures in Leanland”, a speaker, and awards judge.

Claire Scott

Strategic Advisory Board Member
Made Smarter North West
Technology Adoption Specialist

Claire is a Technology Adoption Specialist with Made Smarter in the North West. She has played an important part in the growth of the Made Smarter Adoption Programme, since its launch in 2018 which she guides manufacturing SMEs through adopting industrial digital technologies to elevate their business practices. With an early career in the aerospace sector at GKN Aerospace and a keen focus on additive manufacturing she shares her expertise and experience with SMEs.

Claire believes that technology is an important tool for manufacturers but without having the right skills and culture in place, the benefit of technology cannot be truly realised.

Ben Farmer

Made Smarter Innovation Challenge
Deputy Director

Ben is the Deputy Director of the Innovate UK-led £300 million Made Smarter Innovation Challenge; a collaboration between UK government and industry designed to support the development and novel application of industrial digital technologies.

Prior to this, Ben held positions at HiETA Technologies, Airbus Group, University of Bath and Cobham. He is also founder of Added Lightness, a technology strategy consulting business, and Atherton Bikes, which brings together multiple-world champion and world cup winning athletes with the latest composite and additive manufacturing technologies.

Ben holds a degree in Materials Science and Engineering and an MBA from the University of Bath, a PhD in Materials Science and Metallurgy from the University of Cambridge and is a Chartered Engineer.

Sharon Walker

Strategic Advisory Deputy Chair
Made Smarter Innovation Challenge
Programme Manager

Sharon Walker has been the Programme Manager for the made Smarter Innovation Challenge since 2020. Sharon graduated from The University of Liverpool with a degree in Economics and has held a number of senior commercial and operational roles at organisations including Dyson appliances, Walkers Snack Foods, Vodafone, EE and Virgin Media. Sharon is also a fully qualified Pilates instructor.