The Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership Ltd. (LLEP) has appointed three new members to its Board of Directors.
Rani Mahal, Anne-Marie Hunt and Sonia Baigent have been officially named as non-executive directors, after a recent recruitment drive.
Rani Mahal is a local businesswoman who started out in advertising and telecommunications. She has extensive management experience in textiles, and more recently in property development. Her family-run company, Midland Corsetry, supplies several high street retailers.
Rani is Vice President of the Leicestershire Asian Business Association (LABA). In this role, she champions the contribution of women, running business networking events and enabling local business communities to engage with national government.
Upon her appointment to the LLEP Board of Directors, Rani said: “As a local business leader with over 40 years’ experience in developing and managing a family run business, I will assist with the strategic direction of the LLEP. My skills in governance, scrutiny, equality and diversity gained as a charity trustee and local councillor will enable me to be a critical friend to the board and bring about a more balanced approach to the decision-making processes.
“Leicestershire has been my home for over four decades, so I am very familiar with the region to represent those living within it. I represent women at local, regional and national level as Vice President of LABA, the female business leaders across Leicester, Leicestershire and beyond too. I want to be instrumental in bringing about investment, shaping the future economic direction and delivering business growth in Leicester and Leicestershire.”
Anne-Marie Hunt studied law and psychology at De Montfort University before joining NatWest Bank as a trainee in 2000. Over the last 20 years she has held many positions within the bank, both in Leicester and across the wider East Midlands.
In 2018 she was appointed Director of Commercial Banking in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland – a role which sees her heading up a team of commercial bankers who look after 500 SMEs across the region.
Her team supports a local homeless charity through volunteering and fundraising, helps school pupils through the NatWest’s Moneysense programme, and young people through her work with The Prince’s Trust.
After accepting her position on the LLEP’s Board of Directors, Anne-Marie said: “I have strong local connections as a result of my time spent within the Leicester and Leicestershire business community and look forward to being a voice for the LLEP to benefit local businesses and to helping shape the region’s strategy.
“Small and medium enterprises play a huge role in all our lives – they are the backbone and lifeblood of our local economy. I aim to be a strong voice for SMEs in Leicester and Leicestershire and represent their interests as we develop a strategy to take our city and the wider region forward.”
Sonia Baigent is a qualified accountant and licenced insolvency practitioner who has provided business consultancy advice and support to SMEs for over 15 years. She is experienced in advising businesses on all manner of challenges they face, and assisting with ambitious growth plans, strategic direction, and succession planning.
Sonia also runs her own business and has experienced first-hand the opportunities and challenges they can face. This has given her a comprehensive understanding of the issues faced by SMEs in Leicester and Leicestershire, enabling her to offer a unique and valuable business perspective.
On becoming a member of the LLEP Board of Directors, Sonia said: “This is both a challenging and exciting time for our region and the businesses within it. I am excited to bring my passion for Leicester and Leicestershire together with my experience and knowledge as a business adviser to represent the SMEs that make up such a large proportion of our local businesses.
“I look forward to playing a key role in developing strategies to enhance growth and investment in these SMEs, and to positively represent a significant sector of the business community that is served by the LLEP.”
Kevin Harris, Chair of the LLEP Board of Directors, said: “I wholeheartedly welcome Rani Mahal, Anne-Marie Hunt and Sonia Baigent to the LLEP Board of Directors. Their appointment will galvanise our ability to champion Leicester and Leicestershire as an outstanding region in which to live, to work and to invest.
“That all three of the new Board members are women underscores the LLEP’s commitment to equality of representation at all levels of our decision-making processes. Rani, Anne-Marie and Sonia’s appointments double our number of female Board members, joining Karen Smart, Managing Director of East Midlands Airport; Emma Anderson, Director of Freeths Solicitors; and Verity Hancock, Principal and CEO of Leicester College.
“All six women are outstanding local business leaders, offering unique and valuable perspectives as we continue our work to improve the economy of our incredibly diverse region.”