Our Board

Web Site Staff Member

Prof. Ian Oakes

Deputy Vice-Chancellor
University of Wolverhampton

Ian is responsible for co-ordinating the University of Wolverhampton’s growing innovation and enterprise arena at regional, national and international levels, as well as overseeing the strategic development of the University’s Science Park and incubator activities.

Throughout his career, Ian has been involved in numerous initiatives focusing specifically on the transfer of knowledge from academia to both large and small firms. He is passionate about the exploitation of the university’s intellectual capital and resources for the benefit of Black Country businesses to help them grow and become more competitive.

Ian is a member of the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership Board, Chair of the Marches Skills Board and Chief Executive of the University of Wolverhampton Science Park. He is Chair of the Black Country Talent Match programme, Chair of Green Shoots Board and is President of the Institute of Knowledge Transfer.

Web Site Staff Member

Lorraine Gregory

Partnership Manager

Lorraine Gregory is the Partnership Manager – Midlands for CITB. Her role involves strategic relationship manager across the midlands area as well as being the lead partnership manager for HS2 and construction careers.

Construction is a key priority sector across the West Midlands and it is vital that the construction sector is heard in the development of the skills landscape. Lorraine admittedly has a passion for careers, training and development and the role construction has to play in this. Believing that by investing in the current and future workforce the benefits will be felt far and wide from delivering the capital build programme, increasing the economic activity of the local area and most important deliver enhanced economic benefits to individuals.

Lorraine has a back ground in education policy, relationship management and project development. With her most recent project leading the new nationwide construction industry image and culture project Go Construct which is aimed at inspiring and engaging potential entrants to the sector.

Web Site Staff Member

Tim Kibble

Plant Director
ZF Lemforder UK Ltd

Tim is the Plant Director of ZF Lemforder UK Ltd. A first tier supplier of chassis structural parts to the automotive industry based in Darlaston. He Started his career as a GKN apprentice and has now completed 38 years and has experience in the automotive industry in a number of senior roles in the Just in sequence (JIS) and Just in time (JIT) environments. Tim is also a strong advocate of lifelong learning and graduated in 2011 from University of Wolverhampton with an MBA.

For three years he has been a steering committee member of the Talent match program, helping young people furthest from the work place. In 2016 Tim became a strategic enterprise advisor for Pool Hayes Academy supporting careers advice by developing educational and business links. He has also recently been invited on to the Walsall economic board, adding a local business perspective to its skills and employment goals.

Web Site Staff Member

Colin Parker

Skills Factory Director
Black Country Skills Factory

The Black Country Skills Factory is a new employer-led education & training collaboration being coordinated by the Black Country Consortium Ltd (the enabling arm of the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP)) with funding via UKCES. The Skills Factory is Employer Led and harnesses both HVM companies and the Education establishments to deliver suitable training & up-skilling.

Colin has over 30 years’ experience working in Operations Management and Plant Management in the Automotive Component industry in the West Midlands. He has worked for a number of leading companies including Lucas Industries, Perkins Engines, Denso Manufacturing UK Ltd, UYT Ltd, and TRW Automotive Electronics & ARRK Europe Ltd. Colin qualified as a Chartered Engineer following a degree in Mathematics and has a thorough understanding of the skills issues facing UK high value manufacturing company.

Web Site Staff Member

Graham Pennington

Principal & Chief Executive
Sandwell College

Graham holds a BSc Hon and MSc in Economics and is a qualified accountant. Graham has over 25 years’ experience of the FE sector working in a variety of roles and was instrumental in the creation of the Salford City College Academy Trust. He chaired the Trust from its inception until leaving the College to take up the post of Principal at Sandwell College.

His other achievements at Salford include creating a new Centre at Media City UK focussed on digital and creative skills, leading the skills division including adult learning at Salford City College, acting as Chief Executive of Trinity Business Training, Salford City College’s Apprenticeship and Employer Engagement arm.

Since 2013, as Principal & Chief Executive of Sandwell College, Graham has worked with the Governors and Senior Leadership team to improve quality, which was recognised by Ofsted in 2014 when they graded the College as Good

Web Site Staff Member

Steve Smith

Service and Operations Director
Lift Engineering & Services Ltd

Lift and Engineering Services Ltd was founded in 1982 and is a privately owned family led business. Manufacturing and maintaining all types of lifts as a leader in specialist, bespoke Lift Engineering, they have expanded their range of services and now have 4 operating bases in London, the West and East Midlands.

Steve was appointed Director in 2010 as a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership & Management and champions the development of apprentices and his team to their full potential. Leading by example, Steve has himself achieved an NVQ Level 7 Diploma in Management and volunteers as an Officer with the Black Country Constructing Excellence Club.

Web Site Staff Member

Vicki Wilkes

Managing Director
Phoenix Calibration & Services Ltd

Phoenix Calibration is an advanced engineering company which specialises in materials testing technology. The company offers a complete service from bespoke design, manufacture and installation of machines and control systems, to ongoing support, refurbishment and repurposing of existing equipment. In addition, Phoenix offers a specialist in-house sub-contract materials testing service. Their customers range from local businesses to global corporations.

Vicki is passionate about improving links between local schools and businesses and support for Small Medium Enterprises (SME's) in the Black Country. Vicki is an active STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) Ambassador, which involves going into schools to take part in activities organised to help engage pupils with STEM subjects or STEM careers.