WLEP Executive Team

Gary Woodman, Chief Executive

Gary is tasked with driving forward Worcestershire LEP and leading an Executive Team to support the WLEP’s ambitions and delivery of the WLEP business plan.

From his former role as Head of Policy and Education at Herefordshire and Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce, he has brought with him a wealth of business insight and networks as well as considerable experience of Government policy and delivery. Educated at the University of Wales, Cardiff, where he obtained his degree in Leisure and Recreation Management, and the University of Gloucestershire, where he studied for his postgraduate diploma in Business Administration, he previously worked for Gloucestershire County Council’s market towns and economic development arm, overseeing regeneration.

Gary Woodman – Declaration of Interest

Claire Bridges
Claire Bridges, Strategy and Partnership Executive

Claire leads strategic partnership and stakeholder engagement with other LEPs, government interests, businesses, third sector and public organisations to convert economic ambitions into delivering business growth and jobs creation. Claire led numerous national, regional and local cross-sector partnerships and networks to deliver practical solutions across wide ranging strategic policy areas during her central and local government senior management career.

Originally a qualified and practising town planner, she maintains her professional interest as a member of the West Midlands RTPI Committee and as a Partnership Board member for Birmingham City University’s Built Environment Faculty.

Luke Willetts, Director of Operations

Luke is responsible for leading on the delivery of LEP funded activity, working closely with the Chairman, Chief Executive, LEP Board and partner organisations.  Luke is responsible for ensuring the Executive Team operate effective programme and performance management arrangements across the LEP’s broad portfolio with a clear commitment to continuous improvement.  Luke has a key role to play in stakeholder engagement, with a particular focus on working with partners to generate concepts or ideas in response to national or local programmes to support economic growth in the county.

He has extensive experience of the public sector, having worked the vast majority of his career in local government.  Luke has established a strong track record in programme and project management, particularly in developing and implementing economic development projects, and was a key member of the team that led on developing the county’s Strategic Economic Plan.  Educated at the University of Worcester, Luke graduated with a degree in Business Management and Information Technology.

Stephen Butterworth, Inward Investment Manager

Steve has a wealth of experience supporting businesses with grant funding to realise key expansion and investment projects. Having worked within marketing and communications agencies throughout the West Midlands, Steve brings his experience to the Inward Investment role. Steve has worked with a wide range of major corporates and organisations in the UK and overseas, advising on inward investment projects, supporting business relocations, expansion and consolidation projects.

Stuart Emmerson, Invest in Worcestershire Manager

Stuart Emmerson leads on the Invest in Worcestershire initiative for WLEP. Stuart supports and encourages new and existing business to invest in the county. He works  closely with the wider local authority, the business community, Midlands Engine and the Department for International Trade. Stuart has previously worked at a number of national business organisations including Social Enterprise UK, where he was a Regional Director and for the Federation of Small Businesses, where he worked closely with local, regional and national government and acted as a media spokesperson. He has extensive experience in local government, has been an advisor to an MEP in the European Parliament and spent two years working in China for the British Council.

Stuart holds a BA in Economics, Politics and Philosophy, from the University of York and an MA in International Studies (Diplomacy) from the University of Birmingham.

Lorraine Stone, Connected County Manager

Lorraine is tasked with bringing the Worcestershire LEP’s vision of a Connected County to life; working in partnership with network operators, businesses and other public sector bodies to become an exemplar in enhanced connectivity for the county. This includes the creation of a 5G test network with the University of Surrey’s 5G Innovation Centre, which aims to put Worcestershire at the forefront of the next wave of technology.

Lorraine has a vast amount of experience in the Telco sector having previously held Executive roles in BT, o2 & Telefonica. Her roles range from leveraging the commercial value of Big Data to the development of the business product portfolio & marketing strategy as Business Product & Marketing Director at o2.

Linda Smith, Director of Enterprise

Linda has joined the team in this newly created role to develop a Centre of Entrepreneurship and support new businesses setting up across emerging technologies in Worcestershire.

From her former roles as Director of International Trade at Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce (DIT) and her directorships in a number of small technology companies she has brought with her a diverse range of commercial  and international business development experience. Linda has also represented the defence and security sector for the West Midlands region and has brokered trade missions and commercial relationship development with over twenty countries.  She will continue to develop links as part of the Midlands Engine Cyber programme  following the recently signed MOU with the State of Maryland, USA.

Jack Barnett, PR & Communications Executive

As PR & Communications Executive, Jack’s role entails raising the profile and reputation of Worcestershire as a connected, creative and dynamic location. Jack is responsible for the LEP’s communications including monthly newsletters, media releases, events, websites, social media, among other responsibilities.

Having graduated from the University of Worcester with a BA degree in History, Jack is now enjoying his first full-time job and is currently studying for his Level 6 Diploma at the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

Alex Price, Digital Marketing Apprentice

Alex’s role as Digital Marketing apprentice is to help run the social media accounts, maintain the website and also help out wherever else he can.

Alex has graduated from John Kyrle High School Sixth Form with A levels in ICT, Business Studies and Psychology. Whilst working for the Worcestershire LEP, Alex is studying for his Level 3 Diploma in Digital Marketing.