Meet the boss who aims to help the East Yorkshire economy reach new heights Yorkshire News

Career opportunities can arise in strange places.

When her phone rang in the airport lounge, Debra Leeves would never have imagined that she was about to start a conversation that would change her life. His mind had been focused on a movement across the Atlantic, but the pull of his hometown was going to prove too strong.

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“I worked in Zurich and my mission as CEO was to grow a medical technology company, turn it around, and then sell it,” she recalled.

“I was at Zurich airport waiting for my weekend flight home to the UK and thinking about my next role. I had already been offered a position in the United States when I received a call from a recruiter. They told me there was a job in the north of England. “

Intrigued by the expression of interest, Ms. Leeves wanted to know where the company was located. Initially, the recruiter was a bit shy.

“They finally revealed that he was in a place called Hull. They were afraid I wasn’t interested in the location. I told them I was very interested. I was born there. “

Ms Leeves’ pride in her birthplace is reflected in her decision to lead the East Yorkshire branch of the Institute of Directors, where she intends to reach out to new members who might have assumed that IoD was not for them.

The job she took at Hull, as CEO of Vertual, a technology spinoff from the University of Hull, puts her at the forefront of innovation in a region that is outward-facing and fiercely self-sufficient. The Wolfreton School alumnus has had a remarkable career path.

He has worked in technology, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals for 25 years, leading companies in the United States, the Middle East and Europe. Ms. Leeves currently sits on the board of directors of the AIM-listed technology company Cambridge Cognition, reflecting her national importance. But his main focus is on East Yorkshire.

“The region has a wealth of successful entrepreneurs and self-made business leaders with a strong presence in energy, manufacturing and engineering, technology and digital, agri-food and bio-renewables, as well as ports and logistics,” he said.

“I want to ensure that, in the post-pandemic world, all directors are as prepared as possible to negotiate and accelerate their business operations.

“My goals are to help shape the IoD agenda and make it relevant to all managers in the region, while promoting East Yorkshire to the wider IoD community and government policy makers.”

“I want to encourage more managers to get involved in IoD,” he said. “Sometimes it’s only associated with London and the South East, but IoD has many facets. This region is so diverse. Hull and East Yorkshire have more young entrepreneurs than anywhere else outside of London. “

The person who had the biggest impact on his career was his late mother, Heather Brown.

He encouraged his daughter to run as principal at the Wolfreton School in Willerby, and also urged her to apply to go to college to study pharmacy. Heather later supported Ms. Leeves’ decision to seek career opportunities in London.

Ms. Leeves said: “I hope you have been proud of what I have accomplished in my career and of returning to my roots.

“Having gone through the ranks, I know that female directors are still a minority,” she added.

“I want to encourage more women to become directors and see a policy develop that is relevant to this region.”

Since returning to Hull, she has realized the powerful sense of community in the city.

“There is a real sense that we are all in this together and we will help each other to be successful,” he said. “Most of the Vertual staff went to school and college in Hull.

“There are many talented graduates in this region and some great technology businesses. I would like to see East Yorkshire as the technological region of the north. Hull and the Humber companies can make a big difference in terms of tackling climate change. Renewable energy is a massive industry that is set to grow even more. The region has the talent and the ability to lead the way ”.

The company that Ms Leeves runs, Vertual, is working on a portfolio of new products. Develops virtual reality training systems for students, radiation therapists and physicists.

“Our software places the student in a 3D environment, to help them visualize how they would treat a patient or detect a cancerous tumor, so they don’t have to rely solely on textbooks,” he said. “The software tricks the brain into making the student feel like they are actually in the treatment room using radiation therapy equipment.

“We believe that we can expand the product portfolio to help train more healthcare professionals, such as nurses and doctors. We started with nine employees and now we have 20.

“We are looking to expand further by hiring software developers and business personnel over the next three years. We already sell to 34 countries. Almost all of our software …

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This notice was published: 2021-05-22 14:06:12