Our Team


Colchester Business Enterprise Agency Team.

Colbea is a not for profit organisation dedicated to helping businesses in Essex start, grow and thrive. Our sole aim is to help improve the economic prosperity of the region. If you wish to contact us, please do not hesitate to call or email us. Our friendly team will be more than happy to help you.


Ashleigh Seymour-Rutherford

Chief Executive

Ashleigh has spent four years in business support arena as Assistant CEO of the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, where she led the business development team as well as establishing the Suffolk Young Chamber brand, which ‘bridged the gap’ between business and local schools. Her time working within the Chamber network also encompassed a fellowship with the Policy team at the British Chambers and has led to a passion for both business support and supporting young people into business.

Prior to working in the counties, Ashleigh worked in the City in financial services for 12 years, the last six of those spent at Seymour-Pierce where she was part of the team that listed Supergroup – known better as the brand Superdry. Ashleigh has worked with and within many different industries throughout her professional career, which has given her a well rounded view on what makes a business successful.

Craig Baston

Operations & Partnerships Manager

With over 12 years of experience spent in industries ranging from Financial Services to Property, Craig has a background both in Commercial and Operational management consultancy, as well as organisational Learning and Development.

Having let the launch of new businesses and the strategic delivery of existing ones, he has a strong understanding of how to help companies establish themselves, grow and thrive. Craig applies this understanding at Colbea to support those the company works with.

Deputising for CEO, Craig is responsible for day-to-day operations of Colbea, as well as playing a key role in the delivery of Colbea enterprise services, and managing effective growth partnerships with Colbea’s clients , sponsors and partners.

Jane Green

Facilities Manager

The Facilities Services Manager is responsible for the management of services and processes that support the core business of Colbea’s Business Centres using best business practice to improve efficiency, by reducing operating costs while increasing productivity.

Liz Bourne

Business Services Manager

The Business Services Manager is responsible for the management of the Business Advisory Services, Training Services and any related services either funded or part of the core services function that Colbea provides to our customers to ensure a professional and valuable service is provided.

Franceska Soanes

Business Administrator Apprentice

Accountable to the Chief Executive, the Business Administrator Apprentice is responsible for providing a front desk customer experience and ensuring Colbea’s business centres reception is manned in a friendly and efficient manner. They will also be responsible for adhoc projects and maintaining and improving Colbea’s front desk administration function.

Georgi Agov

Social Media & Web Assistant

Responsible for promoting Colbea’s events, services, mission on social media as well as assisting with any marketing or web site updates. Administrative responsibilities include booking meetings, preparing presentations and reports, dealing with face-to-face, telephone or e-mail enquiries while covering the Business Centre reception desk.

Daniella Lewis

Customer Care Co Ordinator

Our Customer Care Co Ordinator is situated at the front desk of both of our Colbea sites – Central & North. Daniella is welcoming visitors, tenants, dealing with enquiries, managing the meeting room bookings and maintaining the overall appearance of the reception area.

Keith Powell

Business Advisor

Keith spent 25 years in industry in a variety of jobs in the packaging industry before spending seven years as a salesman.

He then decided to form his own business and for twenty-five years he was an independent systems consultant assisting small and medium sized enterprises.

He holds the Diploma in Marketing of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.
He was accredited as a consultant under the Enterprise Initiative, by The Assessment Network under the Small Business Service Consultancy scheme and registered with the Supplier Matching Scheme operated by Business Link.

Mandeep Gabhari

Business Advisor

A serial entrepreneur, Mandeep started his first business venture of a restaurant at the age of 23. He then run numerous businesses within the hospitality sector ranging from restaurants, cafes, contract & event catering, end to end event management, to a marquee business. He’s project managed several property developments/refurbishments.

Mandeep has also undertaken several charitable/voluntary roles as a steward, then committee member for a regular Children with Cancer Summer event, teaching business English in Spain, a Trustee Director for Vision Redbridge, and Redbridge CVS. Since 2003, he’s been a business mentor , a member of the funding panel, a specialist mentor and an inspirational/business speaker on the Prince’s Trust’s Enterprise Programme.

Presently, Mandeep is a Business & personal mind-set mentor/adviser, Events/hospitality consultant & an Inspirational speaker.

James Cracknell

Business Advisor

James is a SFEDI accredited business advisor who has been working in this capacity across NE Essex and Suffolk for the last six years.

He also has experience in establishing a co-operative, social enterprise and charity. He has worked with both Colbea and Menta, in Suffolk as a business adviser and mentor; facilitated Colbea’s BIG programme of building a business support community for three years and developed an expansive network across the region.

He has close ties with the University of Essex and has facilitated their i-Teams programme for the last two years. He is currently setting up a business, Relocon, to build community or practices within the domains of organisational learning and business scaling for the benefit of regional growth.

Jackie Clifford

Business Trainer

Jackie has been running Clarity Learning and Development as a limited company since 2009, prior to which she worked as a freelance sole trader. Before “taking the leap” to self-employment, she worked in a number of organisations, supporting managers and employees to develop the skills and knowledge they needed to perform their roles effectively.

Her career has taken her to various parts of the world, including Europe and the UAE, and has given her the chance to work in private, not-for-profit and public sector organisations.