Operational Team

Our mission is to facilitate employer engagement to enhance the aspirations, opportunities and career prospects of enthusastic and commited young people.


Di Vernon

Founder & Chief Executive

After eight years working in the third sector, Di created EmployabilityUK – an education charity. In her previous role, Di was responsible for developing Career Academies UK’s regional strategy and delivering the national programme. Having built a team of regional managers and taken the programme to all parts of the UK she then went on to become Director of Business Development.

Di has more than 25 years of corporate business experience from BT and O2, including delivering BT’s education and community programme in the Midlands. Di has held a number of volunteering roles including 6 years as a Special Constable with West Midlands Police. She is on various Boards and committees including a multi-academy trust and is a Parish Councillor.


Carol Phillips

Head of Kickstart

Carol is strategic business professional with more than 30 years of experience in senior leadership and management roles. Most recently Carol has held roles in the medical device and healthcare sectors as Country Business Leader, UKI for BD’s Diabetes Care business, and as Business Director for Bounty Healthcare Network.

Carol volunteered for the charity’s Programmes Team as a workshop presenter, then as chair, helping to build a Resource Library of valuable employability and life skills programmes. Carol also serves on the Board of Trustees of a S.E.N.D Academy, that operates two independent schools in the West Midlands.


Andy Nyanyo

Head of Operations

Andy is a highly experienced professional having spent over 30 years in the telecommunications industry, latterly providing secure communications solutions for public safety organisations in several countries across the world.

Andy has led many teams in the area of managed and support services, initially at an operational level in BT’s retail business, then moving into the design, implementation and delivery of managed services with Airwave Solutions and ultimately with Motorola Solutions in the Middle East.
Andy has always been passionate about helping others succeed in their careers. Having spent the past 20 years delivering value overseas, the opportunity to join EmployabilityUK and give back to local community where he lives is just too good an opportunity to miss.


Krystyna Nosek

Head of Programmes

Krystyna is responsible for EmployabilityUK’s programmes. She has extensive experience in student development and of leading large teams. With 23 years’ experience working in the Higher Education sector, she has developed a wide range of employability skills modules and workshops for outreach activities and work-related skills.

Krystyna is a trained Mentor and enjoys coaching young people of all ages. She has worked with youth organisations for over 30 years and is a long-standing supporter of the Crohns and Colitis UK group in the Wolverhampton area.


Tom Mabley

Programme Manager

Tom has been a member of the fire and rescue service for 8 years, starting as a retained firefighter and progressing through to the community safety team as a community safety officer before becoming a full time firefighter in 2017.
Tom joined EmployabilityUK in July 2021 as a Programme Manager and is responsible for the day to day admin of the programme, networking with partners and delivering content to young people.

Tom’s hobbies include fishing, mountain biking and camping in his VW with his fiancé, 1 year old daughter and his labradoodle called pip


Shelley Harding

Business Manager

Shelley is a proficient Administrator with years of experience working within office management and property management. She possesses impeccable written and verbal communication skills and excellent interpersonal skills. She is a motivated individual and well organized, meticulous in her approach to data collation and presentation. Shelley has a warm personality and great sense of humour combined with attention to detail and professionalism.
Shelley understands the difficulties that Covid has brought to the economy and workplace for people already experienced in the world of work, let alone the difficulties young people just starting out have to face. This has encouraged and driven her passion to want to play a part in EmployabilityUK’s mission of assisting young people to gain employability skills and valuable career opportunities.


Leanne Drury

Marketing Manager

Leanne is currently studying towards her Master’s degree in Sports Science, but is keen to gain experience within the marketing sector following her role as a Brand Ambassador for UBSport.

Leanne is driven to make the most of every opportunity and is passionate to share her story with other young people. As part of this, she has been a leader on multiple NCS programmes, inspiring young people to appreciate their communities and use existing skills to create and conduct charity projects within limited timeframes. Consequently, she is excited to translate this passion through her work with EmployabilityUK, promoting their services to a larger audience, in the hope that many more young people can benefit from them, as she did.


Abigail Davidson

Creative Officer

Abigail is EmployabilityUK’s Creative officer through the groundbreaking Kickstart Scheme. She has spent many years in the hospitality industry, and as a freelance graphic designer in her spare time for small businesses and film makers. Before joining the team, Abigail fund raised with other charities, such as Musicians Against Homelessness and MIND through her work. She is dedicated and strives to give 100% of her time and effort to the charity’s cause. She is always willing to go the extra mile to make a positive change for as many people as possible.
Abigail’s hobbies include gardening, competitive gaming, and drinking profuse amounts of tea.

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Mawiyah Sadiq

Employability Skills Programme Officer

Mawiyah is currently studying Nutrition and enjoys being active and developing her fitness. She is extremely passionate about impacting the development of young people, which stemmed from her role as Head Girl during sixth form. As Head Girl, she set up a mentoring team to provide young people with support to grow both personally and professionally. This encouraged her to join the charity and continue to help young people excel in their future careers.
Mawiyah is enthusiastic to contribute towards the development of the charity and positively impact young people’s attitude towards their careers. She is excited to meet new people through EmployabilityUK and interact with individuals who share the aim of improving the lives of young people.


Jake King

Programmes Officer

Jake joined EmployabilityUK in the autumn, as part of the Kickstart project, bringing his creative skills and flair into the Partnerships Team. With experience in digital, retail and the service sector, Jake will focus on developing programmes, enhancing partnerships and exploring new ways to bring employability skills to young people. He has many hobbies including gaming and acting, and writing scripts and pantomimes.


Madhav Gohil

Project Coordinator

Madhav joined EmployabilityUK in the autumn as part of the Kickstart project. A recent graduate with a degree in Biomedical science (BSc Hons), Madhav has five years work experience under his belt already. He has a background in retail, education and insurance, gained by working as a customer services agent and a private tutor whilst carrying out his studies. Madhav is assigned to the Operations Team where he is responsible for process planning and documentation and is exploring new ways to improve the sustainability of the charity as it enters its eighth year of operation.

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Our mission is to facilitate employer engagement to enhance the aspirations, opportunities and career prospects of enthusiastic and committed young people.


Joel Blake OBE

Chair of Trustees

Joel is a multi-award winning businessman, public speaker,and corporate advisor with over 15 years’ experience in helping organisations deliver inclusive business growth strategies.
He is the Founder & CEO of fintech firm www.gfaexchange.com and Chairman of The Cludean Group, a business advisory firm specialising in inclusive business support.
A former executive for Growing Business and Access to Finance for the GBSLEP, he was also the former National Diversity Advisor for Golf. Joel consults with professional services firms and public sector bodies on diversity strategy development and inclusive business support models and ecosystems. He has guest lectured at several globally recognised business schools on entrepreneurship, diversity, and technology. He has also worked with No 10 Downing Street business policy advisers on UK business growth strategies.
Outside of Employability UK, Joel is the current President of the Commonwealth Chamber of Commerce, Founding Board Director of Birmingham Tech, a Trustee of the B:Music Charity and was awarded an OBE for Services to Business Support and Enterprise in 2016.


Lynn England

Vice Chair of Trustees

Lynn has over 30 years’ experience as a teaching professional and a senior manager in an 11-18 Academy in Walsall, West Midlands. Lynn is a school governor and an assessor for initial teacher training. She has worked as a supporter and ambassador for various education charities and has also been responsible for the development of a number of Enterprise courses for delivery in schools.

Lynn supports a range of charities and enjoys antique hunting, the arts and watching motorsport in her spare time.


John Bradford


John recently retired after a 30 year career in finance and banking having undertaken senior leadership and executive roles. Experienced in both the retail and wholesale sectors – John’s latest role was as Distribution Director bringing TSB back to the high streets of the UK as a customer champion and challenger to the larger banks. John can bring a business transformation and strategic insight to the charity. In addition he has been a mentor to LGBT, BAME and young learner networks.

Married with 5 sons John has always had a passion for helping young people fulfil their potential, creating environments that facilitate that, and achieve what they want in life. In addition to EUK he is trustee to another charity that supports literacy in schools, governor of an FE College and works with the Citizens Advice Bureau supporting local people and communities. Passionate about sport and young people being physically active John is also manager of a youth rugby team. As well as sport he enjoys reading, travelling and being walked by 2 very energetic dogs!


Diane Burdett


Diane has over 25 years in senior brand marketing roles in a wide variety of sectors and has more recently been working in NFP.  She has significant experience in developing brands and will be focusing on supporting the charity’s growth and development. Diane will provide strategic marketing oversight for the charity, which will complement her marketing consultancy work in the NFP sector and her other trustee role for Coventry outdoor arts charity, Godiva Awakes Trust. Diane also supports women in the marketing industry through the NFP she co-founded, Women Unltd.  With a degree in psychology and many years of senior business leadership roles, she is passionate about supporting young people into the workplace.  Diane is a keen traveller, with a home in Spain, and loves spending time with friends and family.


Tony Barnett


Tony is pleased to join the Board of Trustees of EmployabilityUK with a specialist lead on Safeguarding and Duty of Care. Following a long career in education, with roles from the classroom to senior management for both Wolverhampton and Walsall Borough Councils, Tony was instrumental in implementing the Sports Council ‘Action Sport’ programme to local schools for groups not predisposed to participation. He went on to establish community education in schools. On retirement, Tony was engaged as a management consultant for challenging schools and pupil referral units. Despite his extensive work for a range of charities, Tony still finds time to enjoy travel. DIY, walking and watching most sports.


Paul Broadhead


Paul recently retired from Rolls-Royce plc after a career spanning 34 years, the majority of which was spent in leadership roles in engineering, programme management, supply chain, procurement and business systems; Most latterly developing & leading Rolls-Royce’s community investment and education outreach strategy, partnerships and delivery.

Paul remains extremely passionate about ensuring every child & young person has the opportunity to be the best they can be. To dream big and have a chance of achieving those dreams.

Paul is a STEM Ambassador, and is a Trustee with Enterprise for Education (E4E Derby) and Foundation Derbyshire Community Foundation and is a governor with Wyndham Primary Academy.

Born in Yorkshire, made in Sheffield, Paul enjoys sport, travelling and walking (with their 3 English pointers).


Neil Makin


Neil retired following a career in the food manufacturing sector, and with 25+ years operating at Board level with Kellogg’s, then Cadbury in human resources and change management; public affairs and corporate responsibility. He has extensive experience of education and the public policy arena from a range of external appointments including the Birmingham Careers and Education Business Partnership and Young Enterprise. More recently Neil has served as a school governor and is currently a Governor of Sandwell College. He is an Honorary Ambassador for the charity Teach First.

He remains passionate about encouraging Education and Business to work together to engage and inspire young people everywhere.

Patrons & Ambassadors

Our mission is to facilitate employer engagement to enhance the aspirations, opportunities and career prospects of enthusiastic and committed young people.


Keith Fraser

Chair of Trustees

Keith is the Chair of Youth Justice Board for England and Wales and an independent member of the Ministry of Justice Race and Disparity Board. He was appointed in July 2020,  by the UK Prime Minister as a Commissioner on the Commission for Race and Ethnic Disparity. He was  a police officer for 32 years, serving in both the Metropolitan and West Midlands Police services. In his last role, Keith was a Superintendent with West Midlands Police. With a degree in HR, Keith operated at a strategic level in policing, and managed significant portfolios, hundreds of staff and multi-million-pound budgets.
Keith is passionate about helping young people and is delighted to be involved with a charity that shares the same commitment to raising the aspirations of young people throughout the West Midlands and beyond.


Professor Paul Cadman


Paul is a strategic leader with extensive experience in leading business transformation, P&L/growth strategy, B2B/B2C operations, restructuring and performance improvements to optimise efficiency, productivity and profitability in highly competitive commercial settings.

As a persuasive communicator, Paul is able to cultivate strong and sustainable stakeholder relationships and build robust teams within the range of sectors which include automotive, recruitment and e-commerce. He is an Ambassador for a wide range of initiatives and charities and brings expert support and influence to drive EmployabilityUK’s growth strategy.


Ninder Johal DL


Former President of the Black Country Chamber of Commerce and current Board member of the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership, Ninder Johal is a Deputy Lieutenant of the West Midlands.

He brings a wealth of knowledge as a business professional to EmployabilityUK. Skilled in negotiation, business planning, coaching, sales, and customer relationship management, Ninder is a strong business development professional with an MBA focused from Aston University. Ninder‘s knowledge of the region’s business landscape is without parallel.

Ninder said “I’m extremely impressed at how EmployabilityUK is using innovative methods to address important business and education needs. 80% of small and medium-sized business leaders say that children leaving school are not work-ready (70% of college graduates and 50% of university graduates). I am delighted to be supporting EmployabilityUK as they lead the way in making important changes to address this.”


Ravi Bains

Brand Ambassador

Ravi is one of the UK’s leading social care entrepreneurs and renowned sector experts. He is a shining example of how hard work and community values can lead to business success. His goal was to fulfil the unmet care needs in his local community, inspiring Ravi to create Sevacare in 1998 – A domiciliary care provider.

Now known as Grosvenor Health and Social Care and encompassing a number of brands it is now the largest family-owned care company in the UK with offices throughout the Midlands.

In his role as brand ambassador Ravi will help EmployabilityUK by fundraising, providing mentoring and raising the charity’s profile through his network of business contacts.

Young Ambassadors

Our mission is to facilitate employer engagement to enhance the aspirations, opportunities and career prospects of enthusiastic and committed young people.


Adam Ahmed

Young Ambassador

Adam is a versatile and ambitious student who fuses a background in profesional screen acting/Performing Arts and Sport Science. He has delivered performances with Birmingham’s leading Performing Arts Theatre ‘Round Midnight’. He also starred EUK’s Inspiring Young Birmingham launch video.

Adam says “Along my journey, I want to relate and demonstrate to the youth that it’s possible to break away from their negative lifestyles, also to encourage them to pursue anything and everything that provides them with purpose”.

His hobbies & interests include Basketball, modelling, reading and music.


Simran Kaur

Young Ambassador

Simran is currently studying towards a bachelors honours degree in marketing at Birmingham City University. She is a highly-motivated, ambitious, and proactive professional in all areas of her work. Simran is a confident communicator who is also a self-starter with the dedication and motivation required to succeed in demanding projects. She has been volunteering for the charity for more than six months as a marketing officer, undertaking a range of special projects. Simran has contributed significantly towards our goal of inspiring young people into FE, HE and Apprenticeships and to motivate the future workforce. As a young person herself, Simran was able to offer insight into how to engage our younger audiences. Her long term goal is to progress in to a career within the media and marketing industry and have a meaningful impact.


Erin Jones

Young Ambassador

Erin is a recent Business Management graduate, who has first-hand experience of the struggles faced by young people when seeking work opportunities in today’s job market. Erin is keen to help raise awareness of how opportunities offered by EmployabilityUK can benefit young people, as well as highlight to organisations the benefits of hiring students and graduates.

Having completed a placement year within the marketing function of a leading financial services company, Erin is excited to further develop her marketing experience, whilst supporting a cause close to her heart. With two years’ experience as the Social Media Officer for Coventry University Netball Club, Erin has experience of engaging young people through social media, and looks forward to utilising this with EmployabilityUK. Erin is passionate about equal opportunities for all. She recently presented a paper on workplace gender equality at BAM Conference 2020, and has also initiated a campaign which raised over £1,000 for an organisation supporting young people who are likely to face racial injustice.


Katherine Hall

Young Ambassador

I am a recent Marketing Graduate with a passion for learning and a strong drive for success. As a young person emerging from full-time education, into the `real world’ I have a true understanding of the struggles faced by young people today and therefore I know that contributing to helping even just one young persons journey is important and meaningful.
In addition, I am enjoying being given the chance to take part in many projects that both interest me and push me professionally. Both the projects and experienced team in EmployabilityUK have given me the opportunity to gain invaluable experience and to develop as a marketer at an organisation in which everyone truly cares about the employability of young people.
In the long term, I aim to continue developing and learning professionally and personally and hope to own my own successful business while always contributing to causes I believe in.


Charlotte Murphy

Young Ambassador

Charlotte is a creative individual, recently graduated from a degree in Textile Design. Throughout her degree she gained experience related to charities including working as an Art Tutor and interning as a Project Officer for the Mentoring and Volunteering department at her university. These opportunities sparked a desire to pursue a more meaningful career within the third sector. Knowing the impact that saying ‘yes’ to opportunities has had on her own confidence, Charlotte is passionate about bringing out the confidence in others.
Charlotte is also a nature lover, who enjoys spending as much time outdoors as possible with friends and family.

Advisory Team 

Our mission is to facilitate employer engagement to enhance the aspirations, opportunities and career prospects of enthusiastic and committed young people.


Desna McAll

Founder Director

Desna was Vice Principal at Cirencester College, where she was responsible for developing employer partnerships and a range of employability and enterprise programmes. Desna pioneered a range of business/education initiatives and built a suite of employer-led initiatives and activities for students.

She then worked as an Associate of the National Skills Academy in Financial Services, and an assessor for the Institute of Customer Service.

Now fully retired, she is a registered speaker for Dogs for Good and enjoys the challenge of tough charity fundraising treks, worldwide travelling, and relaxing with her dogs and horses. Dogs for Good is a UK-based charity, training and providing accredited assistance dogs to people with physical disabilities and children with autism.


Daljit Ghai

Chief Advisor

A vastly experienced operational expert, Daljit possesses demonstrated experience of strategic business growth in the corporate environment. He has managed operations across multiple sites throughout Europe and Asia. Daljit also supports SME businesses as a consultant, to increase efficiency and maximise profits.

A keen contributor to the local community, Daljit has previously volunteered at the Citizens Advice Bureaux and is currently a Board member for the Independent Monitoring Board at a local prison. He has also previously been a local Parish Councillor, having served a term of 4 years.


Rob Bowker

HR Advisor

Robert is a Chartered Fellow of CIPD and has over 25 years experience in Human Resources. In addition, Robert is a qualified health & safety professional with a similar level of experience. His experience has been in the West Midlands with several private SME’s and multinational companies. He now runs his own consultancy business.
Robert was a leader in the Scouts for over 20 years and has worked within the local parish church network. Currently, Robert is a trustee for a charity based in Brierley Hill, providing support for people to overcome barriers. Robert joins the charity at a time of transitional change and will advise and guide the charity as we provide Kickstart opportunities for young people.


Nigel Vernon

Brand & Media Advisor

Nigel has 25 years experience in the creative marketing sector, working on national and international brands such as FedEx, Volvo, Vauxhall, Saab, Boots and Walkers Crisps, to name but a few. In 2003 Nigel took a career break to fulfil an ambition to design and build his own home. He then started a successful photographic services business which is now in its sixteenth year. As a volunteer, Nigel applies his creative and photographic skills to create the majority of the images and marketing material for the charity, helping to reduce our marketing budget.


Jo Sutherland

Designated Safeguarding Lead

Jo is a qualified social worker who has been working in professional and practice development for the past 25 years – within the statutory, private and third sectors. Her focus has been on service re-design, staff development and coaching and 1:1 support. Jo’s particular attention has been working with individuals to assess their strengths and skillsets, building on their personal and professional development and helping people build their resilience to effectively navigate personal and organisational change.
Jo volunteers with the NHS, and became a volunteer with EmployabilityUK to bring her experience and passion for training, learning and development. Jo supports the L&D Department with presenting and creating and delivering meaningful and life-changing training to young people. Jo is also the Safeguarding Lead for EmployabilityUK.


Sara Aslett

Marketing Advisor

Sara is Chartered Marketer and business practitioner with over 12 years marketing and business development experience in both the private and public sector. Working predominately within the West Midlands, Sara has worked with SME’s, blue chips and start-up businesses in the region, supporting them with their business growth plans. Sara is delighted to be joining the charity and shares its ambition of inspiring young people to reach their potential and grow.