Our Team

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 Bird

Project Manager/Consultant

Recently recruited from Pitney Bowes Craig enjoyed a leading global role, with delivery responsibility for all client projects delivered in EMEA and AMER regions, with additional involvement in APAC. Managing governance, stakeholders and process improvements, capturing, designing and implementing complex digital solutions.

Managing and coordinating geographically spread Technical and Creative delivery teams, including offshore resource, through sales support, project delivery and after-sales service. Meeting challenging deadlines and budgets, striving to drive innovation, insight and business results for internal and external clients. Responsible for resourcing and financial forecasting and improvements to the global framework for service delivery.

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 became a Commercial Manager in the paper trade and then for an engineering company running home and export sales plus warehouse and distribution. He then moved over to become Production and Materials Controller responsible for manufacturing and stock control systems.
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 on how to increase their business efficiency through the implementation of efficient systems applications.
He has also been a part-time lecturer in Business Organisation and Management Studies in the Technology Department of Anglia Ruskin University working with students (both full and part time) taking degrees in engineering, communications and electronics.
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.

Katherine 'Frin' Arnold

Business Trainer/Project Manager

After obtaining her Arts in a Social Context master’s degree, Frin used her 11 years of experience in the Project Management and Textile industry to start Frinfings. Founded in 2013, Frinfings provides project management and facilitation services, specialising in textile manufacturing, education and the creative arts.


Jackie Clifford

Business Trainer

Jackie Clifford 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, Jackie 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. She has worked in the retail, recruitment, education, port and government sectors.

Jackie’s passion is for learning – she loves to see the lightbulbs come on for participants in her workshops and for her coaching clients. And she loves to keep learning herself, which means there is always something new and fresh to share! One of her favourite quotes is from Gandhi: “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”

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. His background is in finance, but he has first-hand experience of business development across multiple industries, including, travel and tourism, hospitality, retail, educational services and business training and consultancy. He has worked with multiple business models in the for-profit area including franchises, sole traders and incorporated bodies. He also has experience in establishing a co-operative, social enterprise and charity. He is a trained facilitator using different tools including the Business Model Canvas, Design Thinking and Systems Thinking, the art of creative problem analysis. 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. James is a local activist and is an independent Trustee for Anglia Community Trust, a health and wellbeing charity dedicated to solving local issues. 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.

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.

Val Baggalley

Tenant Services Manager

The Tenant Services Manager is responsible for the management of services and processes that support the tenants of Colbea’s Business Centres using best business practice to meet Colbea’s enterprise remit and facilitate efficiency, by reducing operating costs while increasing tenancy rates.

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.

Fee Cuthew

Personal Assistant to CEO and Office Manager

The CEO’s Personal Assistant is responsible for providing a comprehensive, confidential and professional support service to the Chief Executive in all aspects concerned with the efficient and successful operation of the offices and organisation.

Franceska Soanes

Business Administrator Apprentice

The Business Administrator Apprentice is responsible for providing a friendly and efficient front desk customer experience alongside maintaining Colbea’s administrative support.