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Innovation centre appoints new Outreach Director

The Welsh Innovation Centre for Enterprise, (Welsh ICE) has appointed Lesley Williams to its Board of Directors.

Lesley will take on the role of Community Outreach Director and will be responsible for leading all outreach strategy, projects and partnerships.

Lesley Williams

Lesley joined Welsh ICE in 2019 as Community Outreach Manager where she was responsible for the campus’ 5-9 Club™, an after-work programme designed to support people into starting businesses without having to give up the day job.

The programme was initially aimed to support communities across the South Wales Valleys, but under Lesley’s guidance, has grown rapidly. In its first two years, the programme has supported 228 people resulting in the launching of over 100 enterprises. The scheme has seen the Campus partner with a range of organisations, from youth and social enterprise services to local councils and the Welsh Government.

Formerly an events and business development manager, Lesley previously ran her own business internationally exporting hand-made teddy bears. Lesley was also a Big Ideas Wales Young Ambassador and Role Model as well as being a board member for the Women’s Enterprise Hub.

Speaking of her appointment Lesley said she was excited by the opportunity such a senior role would bring: “As the 5-9 programme grew, I’ve had more opportunities to work with the board and expand on my vision for ICE. Thanks to the support of the team around me, we’ve been able to widen our outreach programmes to a position where it helps us support more and more individuals, but also grows our revenue and our list of partners and stakeholders.

“There are still a number of communities out there that are underrepresented in the world of entrepreneurship, and I’m pleased to say that this new role will give me the licence to continue making enterprise a freeing force, across Wales and beyond.”

Through her work Lesley has also been recognised for her outstanding contribution to equality and is a finalist in the Gender Equality Champion category at the Chwarae Teg, Womenspire Awards 2021.

The award category aims to recognise individuals that have taken a proactive approach to close the gender divide in the workplace – something Lesley has empowered many others to do.

Commenting on the nomination, Lesley said she was proud to play her part championing women in Wales: “The work of Chwarae Teg is as important now as ever, and their mission to make Wales stronger through equality, diversity and inclusion is something everyone should strive to support. I’ve long looked up to the role models recognised in the Womenspire awards, and so to be joining them is truly special to me.”

CEO of Welsh ICE, Jamie McGowan, said Lesley’s appointment added another strong voice to the board. Jamie said: “When Lesley first joined us roughly two years ago I knew her warm personality and business experience would see her grow into the outreach role. However she has surpassed our targets and then some, and I’m delighted to welcome her to the board.

“Lesley is an incredible leader and role model and every one of the hundreds of individuals she has supported through the 5-9 programme will attest to that. Her vision for the future of ICE’s outreach partnerships and programmes is ambitious, but with the support of her team, I have no doubt she will continue to set the standard others aspire to achieve.”