A New Business Council for a New Business World


When Nigel Griffiths took the Chair of the CCR Business Council in November, he wasted no time in setting out his stall on what he wanted the Council to become – and achieve.

Strengthening the Business Council Board to reflect the diversity of the CCR business community (and bolster a critical mass to meet the challenges and opportunities ahead) was identified as key. With that front and centre, an inclusive recruitment campaign in January was written as an open invitation to visionary business leaders to bring “fresh acumen, energy and passion to help direct, inform and shape the future of business in South East Wales.”

That new Board is now in place, with the team including two past Board members – Rob Basini (Development Manager at the Federation of Small Businesses) and Paul Webber (Director of Arup) – and new faces in the form of Rakesh Aggarwal (Founder & CEO of Escentual), Peter Cashin (MD of Huntleigh Healthcare Ltd), Andrew Evans (Senior Director at SPTS Technologies and KLA), Victoria Mann (Founder & CEO of NearMeNow), Karen Maguire (CFO of Confused.com), Andrew Morris (Partner at Geldards LLP),  Angharad Neagle (CEO of Freshwater Ltd), Damon Rands (Founder & CEO of Wolfberry) and Matthew Tossell (CEO of Hugh James Involegal).

Given the critical time ahead for a business community looking to build back better, we spoke to the team to find out what motivated them to join the Business Council – and what they expect to achieve moving forward. 

Taking the lead in nurturing and harnessing our local diversity, skills, talent and resources

Rakesh Aggarwal, Founder & CEO of Escentual

“After growing up in Cardiff and setting up a successful, family-run internet business here, I’m delighted to be able to utilise my knowledge of the business sector and make a positive impact in the region as a member of the CCR Business Council. I’m particularly excited about the opportunities to represent, celebrate and support the communities and businesses of South East Wales, and continue to show that this is a great place to live, work and invest – a region where we can take the lead in nurturing and harnessing our local diversity, skills, talent and resources to build a strong and sustainable future.”

Rob Basini, Development Manager, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB)

 “I’ve been in and around small South Wales businesses for over 30 years now – and I’ve never known such a challenging or exciting time for the SME businesses that are the backbone of our private sector economy across the region” says Rob. “Having graduated from Cardiff Business School, I owned and managed several businesses in the Welsh Capital and the Valleys, before spending time developing small businesses and organisations in Africa and then London. That experience has given me a deep and wide-ranging understanding of what businesses need to succeed and prosper – and being part of this new team convinces me even more that we can raise our ambitions like never before.”

Peter Cashin, MD of Huntleigh Healthcare Ltd

“Having enjoyed 20 years based in central Cardiff as MD of Huntleigh Healthcare Ltd and Huntleigh Healthcare GmBh (Germany), as well as having held a main board position in the €1Bn Arjo Huntleigh Swedish company, I want to put my engineering, manufacturing and business development experience to work for the Region in this post-Brexit world, especially in our medical devices and life sciences sector, which has what it takes to become a world-renowned cluster.”

We have it in us to develop our success on a national level and then ultimately an international stage

Andrew Evans, Senior Director at SPTS Technologies and KLA

“My role at SPTS Technologies and KLA gives me a global perspective on many different markets – and I truly believe that our businesses have the capability to shape and deliver economic growth and regeneration across the region. I think the key challenge is identifying and creating a concise message. To do that, you need to understand not only the diversity of businesses within the region but the challenges and opportunities those businesses face, particularly SME’s. We have it in us to develop our success on a national level and then ultimately an international stage, enabling the CCR region to achieve the greatest possible sustainable growth and prosperity.”

Victoria Mann, Founder & CEO of NearMeNow

“As an area predominantly made up of post-industrial and rural communities, we’re a region of grafters; strong, resilient workers, who, only a few generations ago, worked tirelessly for others to hollow out our natural assets from our hills or to farm our land. I believe it is that work ethic, transposed into home-grown entrepreneurship in both the foundational sector and digital, that will drive success in the region and create a wealth of opportunities for future generations – and with that mission in mind, I’m delighted to have been asked to support the Cardiff Capital Region’s as a voice for home grown start-ups and female led businesses.”

Karen Maguire, CFO of Confused.com

I want to see the Cardiff Region develop as a hub for business initiatives and innovation – and that requires strong business engagement, a flexible and innovative approach to supporting local businesses; and access to the tools that will help those business leaders and their teams develop. That’s where the Business Council can make a real difference – and I’m delighted to be part of this team, able to use my experience of working for a leading fintech operation in Cardiff, to the benefit of other businesses.”

Developing the strategies and support services needed to help our SME’s thrive

Andrew Morris, Partner at Geldards LLP

“South East Wales already has a reputation as a great place to live, work and study – and across the region we have a skilful workforce, excellent universities, and successful businesses at the forefront of their sectors – and a real desire for sustainable growth. I’m keen to use my years of experience of working with businesses in the region and knowledge of the business sector to help develop the strategies and support services needed to help our SME’s thrive and make the most of every opportunity open to them, both now and for years to come.”

Angharad Neagle, CEO of Freshwater Ltd

“This is an exciting and pivotal moment to be joining the Cardiff Capital Region Business Council. Businesses across the region already play a key role in bringing investment, training, jobs, transport and digital connectivity to South East Wales, but together there is much more we can do. I’m looking forward to working with the new chair and Council members to harness the full potential of our region – and using my experience in building brands, engaging with stakeholders and driving sales to help our business community make a significant and serious contribution to CCR’s economic growth plans.”

Damon Rands, Founder & CEO of Wolfberry

“I’m incredibly excited to be able to help the Business Council highlight the amazing tech companies that we have here in the Cardiff Capital Region. At Wolfberry and in my role supporting Welsh government, a huge part of my remit is getting people in Wales to realise this region has become an important hub for cyber security excellence – a magnet that attracts many global businesses to our region. This native ability can inspire our region to become a true eco-system for tech and cyber companies, where we can incubate initial ideas and establish an environment that has everything a company needs to grow, providing the necessary support that enables those businesses to build a global reach from the heart of the CCR.”

Seriously enhancing the region’s position as a major commercial, sporting and cultural centre within the UK and beyond

Matthew Tossell, CEO of Hugh James Involegal 

“Having graduated from UWIST and built a career on successfully redesigning, implementing and growing businesses and service provision for many different client organisations, I’m extremely proud of the Capital Region as a fantastic place to live and work – and I’m delighted to join the Business Council at a time when we can seriously enhance the region’s position as a major commercial, sporting and cultural centre within the UK and beyond. The CCR’s coordinated approach across the public and private sectors offers real opportunities to grow our prosperity by creating the best possible business environment – and I want to play my part in doing that.”

Paul Webber, Director at Arup 

“I’m delighted to have been re-appointed to the Business Council as I passionately want to make a difference in helping the region become more prosperous – and be an exemplar for the UK of how regional governance can drive prosperity and quality of life. With my personal experience of the challenges both SME’s and Global  businesses face – in the UK, India, Middle East and Africa – I’m looking forward to working with my new colleagues in helping the region’s businesses grow and succeed.”

Looking forward to how this new Board will help realise the potential of the business community across CCR, Nigel Griffiths is emphatic in his summing-up:

 “This is a board of real calibre, a team of thinkers and doers – and a group of people who can be a catalyst for the high ambitions we have for businesses throughout the region.”

We look forward to hearing more about the plans and the key initiatives that the council will be initiating in due course.


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