Also at this time the Armed Forces community was going through tremedous change. Many thousands of serving personnel were transitioning to civilian life due to the reduction in military personnel announced in the Strategic Defence and Security Review of 2010. Driven by the UK government austerity policy, thousands were required to transition into civilian life, in what was still a challenging economic environment. The military resource profile was shifting significantly to fewer full-time military positions and an increased reliance on reservists. A perfect employability-challenge storm! After a year of extensive research and working with leading experts within finance, corporate engagement and government policy, X-Forces developed a blueprint for the self-employment of ex military personnel. This blueprint would not have been possible without the support of many people from the Armed Forces, Military Charities, MoD, Home Office, BEIS (BIS) and our Corporate Founding Members. Lord Young, Enterprise Advisor to Government also played an instrumental part in helping us change policy to allow Start Up Loans funding to become available for those over 30 years old for the first time ever. For X-Forces, this was a fundamental win which gave us hope that a rounded and holistic solution was possible for the Armed Forces community. A community that now extends to not only military veterans but their spouses, family members, cadets and reservists.
Today X-Forces is proud to be able to support other government and charity organisations to see how the X-Forces model can be translated, with some modifications, for other communities. Ren Kapur MBE, our Founder and CEO, is advisor to the Home Office to support such work for displaced families and also has a keen interest in supporting young people in the education system to embrace Enterprise Skills as Life Skills.
The Rt Hon Earl Howe PC
Earl Howe is Deputy Leader of the House of Lords and former Minister of State for Defence. He took up this position in May 2015, moving from the Department of Health where he had been Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Quality since May 2010. In his former role as Minister of State for Defence (May 2015 to July 2019) he had ministerial responsibilities covering NATO and EU relations, commemorations, ceremonial, medallic recognition, arms control and proliferation, community engagement, and being spokesman in the House of Lords on all defence matters. Educated at Rugby School and Christ Church, Oxford, Lord Howe joined Barclays Bank in 1973, where he served in a number of managerial and senior managerial posts both overseas and in London before being appointed London director of Adam & Co plc in 1987. In 1991, Lord Howe became a government whip in the House of Lords. He served as Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food from 1992-1995 and as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Defence from 1995-1997. In opposition he served as Spokesperson for Health from 1997 to 2010. Lord Howe is an elected hereditary peer under the provisions of the House of Lords Act 1999. Apart from his frontbench responsibilities, Earl Howe has previously been a member of the all-party groups on penal affairs, abuse investigations, pharmaceuticals, adoption, mental health and epilepsy. Earl Howe is married with four children.
Martin is the Co-CEO and Chairman of the Board. Martin provides advice and critic for the X-Forces executive team on many internal aspects, beneficiary delivery programs and stakeholder engagement.
Since 1995 Martin has held a variety of management consultant, business advisor and non-executive director positions within SME, start-up or scale-up operations. He brings to X-Forces a variety of experiences in leadership, training and professional development having worked across many different business sectors within the supply chain for both B2B and B2C multi-national organisations. He has been a business owner for over 15 years and also worked on MOD contracts whilst with BAE Systems building Jaguar and Tornado Aircraft.
Martin is a member of the Institute of Directors and a Chartered Engineer.
Ren Kapur MBE
Ren has started and run her own businesses throughout her life and is passionate about enabling individuals and communities to support themselves through enterprise. She believes that Enterprise skills are equally important whether you work for yourself or for an employer.
She has combined her years of experience from various organisations to concentrate on entrepreneurial endeavours and support new enterprise. Essential to this is bringing together; Corporate, Government and Charity stakeholders.
She has channelled contacts and working relationships to X-Forces, of which she is CEO and Founder, supporting new enterprise for the wider military community and their families.
Ren was awarded an MBE for service to the Entrepreneurship in 2016 in the Queen’s 90th Birthday Honours list and is a Reservist in the British Army; a Visiting Fellow at Lord Ashcroft’s Business School, Armed Forces Champion for the Federation of Small Businesses, and newly-appointed board member and SME Lead for Enterprise M3 LEP.
Lieutenant General Richard Nugee
Lieutenant General Richard Nugee was commissioned into the Army in 1986. He served on numerous operational tours in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, Cyprus and Afghanistan while at the same time focussing on personnel (HR) roles within the Army and Ministry of Defence. This included instructing at the Joint Services Command and Staff College, being responsible for the organisational design of the Army post the 2010 Defence Review; and latterly spending the last 4 years as Chief of Defence People (i.e. Defence Global HR Director) responsible for central policy for all Service personnel, their families, all Defence Civil Servants and the nation’s veterans. In January 2020 he took on a review of Defence’s approach to delivering carbon net zero by 2050 and is the Defence representative across Government for COP26.
Appointed MBE in 1998, CBE in 2012, CVO in 2016 and CB in 2020 he was awarded the US Legion of Merit for his services in Afghanistan in 2014. He has numerous interests both within Defence and outside, including as a Non-executive director of the NAAFI. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, a Chartered Fellow of the CIPD, a Companion of the Chartered Management Institute, has an MA in Military Affairs and is a Graduate of the City and Guilds Institute. He is Chair and Trustee of a number of charitable trusts.
Lt. Gen. Richard Nugee joined the X-Forces Enterprise Board in June 2020.
Starting his career as an electronics engineer at BAE Systems, Andrew moved into management consultancy in 1994. He subsequently became a founding partner of Curzon Consulting in 2002 and has since grown the organisation into an award winning UK based consultancy.
During his consulting career he has directed numerous large-scale business transformations and growth programmes across a broad range of sectors including Financial Services, Media, Engineering Services and Utilities. Andrew has a particular specialism in operating models, operational efficiency, profit optimisation and customer growth.
A Corporate Member of X-Forces Enterprise (XFE) Big Business supporting Small Business initiative since October 2017, Curzon Consulting proactively support XFE by providing ongoing consultancy support to the XFE leadership team on a pro bono basis.
Deana is currently the Director and Chief Operating Officer of the Government Security Function in the Cabinet Office, responsible for delivering an effective cross-Government Security Function to protect Government assets and people. Prior to taking up this role in May 2019, Deana undertook a range of roles in the Ministry of Defence over a period of 20 years.
As an HR professional within the wider business context, this included as the Head of Civilian Workforce and Secretariat in Navy Command where she led the Command’s strategic workforce planning, the Department of State function and oversight of the Third Sector; as Chief of Staff to the Permanent Secretary where she led initiatives on behalf of the Perm Sec in relation to leadership, employee engagement, corporate governance and performance management; as the MOD Head of Defence Security; and as the Head HR Business Partner for the Royal Air Force.
Previously, Deana undertook roles in communications, policy, HR, Ministerial Private Office and in support of the military operation in Iraq for which she was awarded the MBE.
Deana is passionate about working with, and supporting, the military community and is delighted to take up the position of Non-Executive Director for X-Forces Enterprise.
Diane Cote is a Non-Executive Director at X-Forces, Societe Generale Group, a Trustee at Shaw Trust, Chair of La Nuova Musica. She was the Chief Risk Officer and member of the Executive Committee of the London Stock Exchange Group where she also chaired its Foundation and its Diversity & Inclusion Committee.
Prior to this she held the position of Chief Finance Operations Officer and of Group Chief audit Officer at Aviva plc. Diane also has many years of experience holding senior positions in other leading organisations such as Standard Life ( now Standard Life Aberdeen) and Prudential Assurance. She qualified as a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) with EY.
Past Non-Executive Director roles: Board member and Chair of the Audit, Risk and Compliance Committee, Novae Syndicates Ltd; Board and Audit Committee member, LCH SA; Board member, Frank Russell Company Ltd; Trustee, Mulberry Schools Trust
Chris has 22 years of knowledge and experience within the Retail Banking and Financial Services arena. Chris has previously worked for Nationwide Building Society and M&S Bank (HSBC Group) and undertaken various roles giving him exposure and insight in the industry. His most recent role was as an Area Manager.
As an Area Manager Chris was responsible for leading his team to meet and fulfil the needs of the customer by identifying suitable financial products. Chris is passionate about people, development and customer centricity and hence, holds the role of Head of Business Lending at X-Forces.
After serving 27 years with the British Army, Doug is passionate about helping veterans, service leavers, and their families to find their next pathway. He has worked with the MOD to support WIS service men and women, and with Help for Heroes supporting WIS veterans and their families. Doug first attended a X-Forces course to help understand how to start up his tree surgery business, and joined the team in 2022 to oversee the wide range of training courses and events delivered by XFE for its network.
Roger has a real passion for enterprise and has been supporting new businesses for more than two decades. Most recently he has been supporting service leavers with business training and advice and has developed a true empathy and understanding of those going through the research and planning stages.
Having ran his own businesses in the past, Roger applies his ‘hands-on’ experience and comprehensive knowledge when guiding X-Forces Start-Ups.
Simon has a financial background, having gained a wealth of experience within the banking sector for 22 years, and industry for 10. As a Corporate Banking Relationship Manager with Yorkshire Bank he was responsible for a portfolio of up to 75 connections, across a variety of business sectors, with individual borrowing facilities of between £250k and £2m. As Credit Manager Simon provides the objective eye to all X-Forces loan and grant applications.
Justin Kelly is a graduate of Classical Civilisations and Classics most recently having qualified for his MA at Kings College London. Prior to joining X-Forces, Justin has qualified for a BA in Classical Civilisations at the University of Roehampton and has volunteered in administration support roles throughout his academic career.
As our Business Advisor, Akshat assists Start-Up Loan applicants throughout the process to formulate and communicate their company idea in the form of a business plan with a financial forecast.
Akshat graduated from the University of Delhi with a Bachelor's Degree in Commerce. He holds a double Masters: MBA in Finance from Symbiosis Centre of Distance Learning, and MSc in Business Finance from Brunel University London. Prior to joining X-Forces Enterprise, Akshat has worked in research, financial analysis and management across different range of industries in India and the UK.
Mark has wealth of experience working within the financial sector. He completed his Certificate in Retail Banking Conduct of Business in 2015 and has also spent time working on the front lines of the NHS.
As a Start-Up Coordinator Mark provides expertise and a broad knowledge of finance and processes to customers and clients. Mark has a passion for customer services, an abundance of financial and customer service experience and a personable personality.
As a Business Analyst, Annas provides expertise and assistance to Start Up Loan applicants who are looking to secure funding for their new companies. Annas brings a passion for numerical analysis and start-up business development to his role.
Annas holds a Master's degree in Management from Brunel University London with specialization in innovation and technology. Prior to joining X-Forces, Annas had worked in finance sector for over 4 years with some organisations in the UK as well as with a private bank in Pakistan.
Anna is an experienced Marketing and PR professional, and a Royal Navy spouse. Anna started her communications agency, Fresca Marketing, in 2005 and supports both large national brands and start up conceptions. Passionate about improving opportunities for veterans and military spouses in her military community, Anna is well placed to deploy effective communications in the sector.
Michael has been involved with Resettlement and Veterans employment since the Options for Change programme in 1991. He has spent that time championing the excellence of Service Leavers to employers and the wider public.
The driving force behind Pathfinder magazine, Michael led the title to become the foremost source of resettlement and veterans information in the UK. He now brings his many years of experience to XFE as we enter the next stage of our evolution as the nation’s leading ex-military enterprise organisation.
As Event Coordinator, Zuzana mainly oversees the end-to-end management of XFE virtual events, including planning, event logistics, and post-event follow-ups. She is passionate about improving attendee experience and overall event execution. Zuzana holds a Master’s Degree in Management and Marketing from a university based in Slovakia. Prior to joining X-Forces Enterprise, Zuzana has worked across multiple roles within customer service.
Yasmin supports the Communications department to develop brand resources for XFE across the online and offline channels.
Yasmin is passionate about diversity and inclusion and champions this online and via voluntary work in her spare time including workshops to RAF personnel which led her to be nominated for a Celebrating Forces Families Award In April 2023. As an RAF spouse, Yasmin is committed to the Armed Forces community, driving her work within this sector.
Richard is a Partner at Harrison Clark Rickerbys, he is the firm’s Head of Litigation and Head of the Defence, Security and Forces sector services. He qualified as a solicitor in 1984, and has specialised in civil and commercial litigation throughout his career. He has assisted numerous clients within the Defence and Security sector in contract disputes and national and international litigation. Richard provides direct legal support to XF and helps assist XF Businesses.
Helen is a former Regular Army soldier and officer with 25-years’ service. She left to gain a degree in War Studies at King’s College London and is now a Reservist. She has undertaken full and part-time work with ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, supporting grants and communications activity, before joining X-Forces as a part-time Projects Associate. She splits her time between the Reserves, X-Forces and her obsession with Great War history.
Simon is a professional leadership and resilience coach and trainer, and delivers some of X-Forces training programmes. During his 23 year career in the Royal Air Force, he led a number of different teams, nationally and internationally, in a variety of roles and circumstances. This included 4 years as a project manager on the Eurofighter project along with numerous other management roles.
Since leaving the RAF Simon worked for 5 years as a commercial business improvement consultant, working across industries in both the private and public sector.
Neel Singh, a Royal Navy Reserves officer, bought Dorking Brewery in early 2016 after receiving a start-up loan from X-Forces and has since attended XF workshops as a speaker. Since then, the brewery based in Surrey has taken off. After spending six months in the original location, Neel made the half a million-pound decision to expand and move into a new state of the art brewery in Capel with its own tap room for customers to enjoy their craft beers on site!
Neel has also received mentoring from NatWest to expand his reach, and with the help of X-Forces, Neel has entered into a partnership with the Royal Navy Charity. Defaulters Pale is one of Dorking Brewery’s beers which donates five percent of the sales to the charity. Dorking Brewery has also created a garden in conjunction with Blind Veterans U.K. for veterans and their families to enjoy a Dorking beer.
Neel is X-Forces Ambassador for the Greater London region.dorkingbrewery.com
RAF veteran Karen Tracey has an exceptional reputation in Learning and Development which led her to set up Dunelm Business Consultants in 2010, offering leadership coaching for CEOs, Directors and senior Executives.
Alongside her business, Karen chairs the Birmingham UK group of the Women Presidents’ Organisation, an international peer learning network for women-owned multimillion-dollar companies. In 2017, Karen received the Adrienne Hall Award for “Breaking Down Barriers” from WPO, the first time this award has been won outside of the USA.
Karen is also an Honorary Consul to Latvia, appointed by the Latvian Ambassador to the UK in 2016, and a business board member of the Women in Enterprise All Party Parliamentary group, focussing on developing the agenda for supporting female entrepreneurs in the UK.
Lee Harris-Hamer, the Owner of White Horse cleaning services, founded the business in 2016 and has found great success through referrals over the past couple of years.
Lee spent 8 years in the British Army, which taught him to be forward thinking, disciplined and has a great eye for detail that has enabled his business to expand in a short period of time. Lee brings top quality service and knowledge to business; White Horse cleaning services is an environmentally-conscious Commercial cleaning and management company serving North Yorkshire businesses.
Lee was appointed as North East Ambassador for X-Forces enterprise since November 2019 and is also the elected National Councillor for the Federation of Small Businesses covering Yorkshire, North Yorkshire and the North East region. When Lee isn't doing all things business, he enjoys spending time with his wife, two boys and two ‘crazy’ working Cocker spaniels.
Hannah Saunders left the RAF in 2017 to set up an adventure skincare start-up, Toddle, of which she is the Founder and Director of.
Hannah attended the High School for Girls Gloucester, Sheffield University and then Loughborough University to conclude her education. She then set out on a year in America, travelling and working; at an American summer camp, as a Nanny and a gymnastics coach in Florida.
She then joined the RAF in 2008, highlights include; receiving a Chief of the Air Staff Commendation, coming 3rd out of 150 cadets for the 9 month Officer training course, gaining a Masters in strategic HR and working in a range of jobs from HR assurance, through to training management and intelligence. Hannah enjoyed the RAF immensely, particularly the people, challenging jobs, skiing and representing the RAF Cross-country running team.
Taylored Games is a family-run Gaming Centre based in Kingsbridge. The company was started by husband and wife team Adam & Rachel Taylor to provide the people of Kingsbridge and the South Hams with a gaming space that is open and friendly without a Monopoly in sight.
After an Aspergers diagnosis, Army veteran Adam decided to leave his job at Devonport Dockyard, and do something that plays to his strengths and skills. Recognising a definite lack of games shops in the area, Taylord Gaming was launched in September 2017. As well as offering a space to game, the shop stocks cards, models and paints to purchase.
David Smith, Royal Air Forces Veteran and founder of CrossFit Spitfire in Norwich, is the X-Forces Ambassador for East Anglia. After David received a Start-Up Loan and mentoring from the X-Forces team, he launched his business and is keen to continue working with X-Forces long term to inspire other members of the Armed Forces community to explore self-employment.
David’s business, CrossFit Spitfire, is based in Norwich, Norfolk and offers Specialty Olympic Weightlifting, Powerlifting, Gymnastics and Strength and Conditioning classes and workshops for both adults and kids. David created the businesses after his time in the RAF; he fell in love with fitness, functional movement and strength/conditioning training through the RAF and threw himself into fitness which ultimately gave him the idea to turn his passion into a businesses.
Gary Tucker completed 23-years in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. On leaving the military in 2016, Gary had a brief spell in the commercial sector before taking the plunge to form Network Training Partnership with his business partner Jane Cattaneo. NTP specialises in producing bespoke training courses for the automotive, logistic and emergency services.
The company has rapidly grown and been rewarded by their hard work by winning Business Start-Up at the 2019 Soldiering On Awards, a finalist in the Talent in Logistics Awards, Silver Award Holders under the Armed Forces Recognition Scheme and more recently Gary was awarded the Outstanding Contribution to the Automotive Industry at the 2020 Institute of the Motor Industry's Centenary Awards.
Additionally, Gary is the CEO of PATAM Group Limited, a company that produces digital identity App solutions as well as being a member of several committees across the automotive industry.
RAF Veteran James Wilthew, owns and operates The Afghan Rug Shop in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire - the only shop purely selling fairtrade Afghan rugs and products outside Afghanistan - anywhere in the world.
Of the four operational campaigns James took part in, one was a 6 month tour of Northern Afghanistan in 2003 as part of the UK Provincial Reconstruction Team. It was here that his fascination for rugs started and where he founded a friendship that was reignited 12 years later, after he managed to track down the man he had previously bought rugs from in Mazar-e-Sharif, using social media.
James won a ‘Highly Commended’ in the Solderingon Awards in 2019, for his positive impact on the Afghan community he supports, which was his introduction to XFE. ‘Having seen the great work XFE do and the support they offer veterans and leavers interested in business, I was honoured to be asked to be an Ambassador in my region’.