Former top criminal barrister Sharon Amesu, newly appointed chair of the Manchester Institute of Directors, is determined to “fly the flag” for local business.

The first black woman in the role, she has built a reputation as one of the most renowned leadership coaches in the country through her own company, SA Consulting, which she founded five years ago.

“The way I see Manchester business is that we have so many incredible thinks going on but we don’t really celebrate it as much as we could,” said Sharon. “So we don’t get the national recognition we deserve.

“I want to encourage local firms to become more involved in vying for national awards to bring the spotlight on all the good things happening here and take recognition of what we do to a higher level.”

The Institute of Directors was established in 1903 to ensure that that the view from the boardroom is taken into account when the government is reviewing policy, legislation or seeking the opinions of the wider business community.

There are 700 members in Manchester and around 2,000 across the north west, largely representing small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and companies offering professional services.

Called to the Bar in 1999, Sharon became adept at representing the interests of her clients in the courtroom; her new role will see her act as the voice for Manchester business leaders on the national stage.

“I am delighted with my appointment and keen to communicate the message that I am here to serve the business community in Manchester and promote our city UK-wide and beyond,” she said.

“Manchester businesses ‘mean business’ and with our longstanding industrial heritage, I very much look forward to flying the flag for the great work we’re doing here. My commitment to our business community is to listen earnestly, learn quickly and lead fearlessly – lending our collective voice to the shaping of agendas and policies at both local and national levels of government.” 

Trafford-based Sharon, who replaces outgoing chair Paul Battye, is also hoping to use her platform to contribute to key business issues including diversity and inclusion and the region’s skills-shortage.

“By virtue of my appointment I want to demonstrate that the face of business and entrepreneurship is changing and now is the time to celebrate the amazing people leading the change,” she said.

“I also want to bring focus and attention to our untapped workforce; ex-offenders, women, young people – areas of society we should be investing more into to help fill skills gaps. There’s so much I want to achieve and I look forward to collaborating with the IoD and its members in Manchester to do so.”

The award-winning speaker – able to “hold” a room of 1,000 people with ease – is well qualified for making her voice heard. Sharon is a founding fellow and leadership facilitator for the Society of Leadership Fellows at St Georges House, within Windsor Castle. It was established by the Duke of Edinburgh as a place where people of influence and responsibility in every area of society can come together to explore and communicate their views and analysis of contemporary issues.

“Sharon’s infectious personality had us hooked,” said Claire Ebrey, regional director IoD North West.

“She is completely invested in everything she does and we found no better candidate to carry out the job of Manchester chair.

“I am incredibly excited about the great work we will be doing together in the coming months and encourage all of our members – and other business leaders in Manchester – to engage with Sharon and join her agenda to help organisations here lead the way.”

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