New Chair for Coventry & Warwickshire LEP

Photo shows: Sarah Windrum, the new chair of the CWLEP

An entrepreneur and digital transformation expert will take over as the new chair of the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) in April to help lead the area’s recovery from the Coronavirus pandemic.

Sarah Windrum is the founder and a director of the Leamington-based technology company The Emerald Group.

She joined the CWLEP as a board director in 2016 and is the chair of its Digital and Creative Business Group. She will succeed Nick Abell as chair when his term of office comes to an end in April.

Sarah is a board member of the West Midlands Combined Authority’s Innovation and Strategic Economic Development boards and a member of its Mental Health Select Committee as well as just finishing two years as the West Midlands Policy Advisor for the Federation of Small Businesses.

She is also a former vice-chair of the Skills Board at Tech UK and was an industry advisory board member of Ada, the National College for Digital Skills.

Sarah said this was a critical time for Coventry and Warwickshire’s economy to reset and recover from Covid-19.

“The CWLEP has never had a more important role to play in helping to attract funding from the Government and working with our business groups and business support organisations to help Coventry and Warwickshire emerge as strongly as possible from the pandemic,” she said.

“This has been the toughest period that many businesses have ever faced and the CWLEP will be continuing its successful partnership approach to provide the assistance which companies of all sizes and in all sectors need to recover.

“The digital and creative community has played a major part in helping businesses to secure online orders and interest whether that has been in retail or virtual tours of visitor attractions and that will increase as 5G becomes embedded in our communities.

“I am honoured to become chair of the CWLEP and I am looking forward to the challenges ahead because I am a great believer in making a positive difference.”

Current chair Nick Abell is to remain as vice-chair of the organisation which has brought more than £330 million of government funding to Coventry and Warwickshire since it was formed in 2011.

He said: “It was a unanimous choice to suggest to the board that Sarah should become our new chair because of the vibrancy, enthusiasm and ambition she will bring to the position.

“She is already a passionate advocate for our sub-region and this role will enable her to provide the leadership that will help the CWLEP to continue to attract public funding and inward investment.

“Sarah also has vast knowledge of the digital and creative industry which is becoming an increasingly important sector and I have every confidence that our board will be able to provide any support she needs to develop her experience as chair.”

Existing interim vice-chair Marion Plant will remain head of the Strategic Reset Framework team which has been established at the CWLEP to focus on its short, medium and long-term priorities to help businesses adopt new practices and ways of working due to Covid-19.

Sarah added: “Nick has been an amazing chair and has really stepped up during the crisis by lobbying on behalf of Coventry and Warwickshire with daily calls to Government. He has some incredible skills that I will be calling on.

“Marion has done an incredible job on setting up the Strategic Reset Framework group and we need her to continue driving that forward. I am really pleased that she is going to continue to play such a vital part in the CWLEP because her experience and knowledge is second to none and I think we will all make a great team.”