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Meet the team

Dick Palmer is an experienced educational expert with a career of over 30 years across the schools, further education and higher education sectors.

Dick was awarded Principal of the year in 2010 by the national Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS) and has received numerous awards including Education Reformer of 2012 by the Education Foundation. In 2000, Dick founded the national ICT Unit (now the E-Learning Unit) as part of the UK’s Department of Education and was also part of Matthew Hancock’s (Minister for Skills) Further Education Learning Technology Action Group (FELTAG) to 2013.

Dick was awarded a honorary doctorate by the University of East Anglia in 2018, for his services to education.

Why did you become a Director of EduGrowth?

I wanted to help support the development of EduGrowth because it appeals to two streams of my experience and expertise – on-line learning and start-ups. 

As well as initiating the Government’s E-Learning Strategy Unit in 2000, Dick was also the founding Principal of the Gazelle Colleges Group – a national group of innovative colleges which developed programmes to support young people start their own businesses. 

What is your biggest career achievement?

There have been many highlights in my career but probably receiving the Queen’s Anniversary Award for Higher Education, in 2009, from the Queen herself in Buckingham Palace certainly stands out! 

What was the last book you read?

The President’s Garden by Muhsin al-Ramli was truly wonderfully written – hilarious and tragic at the same time and showing a different view of the issues in the middle east. 

What do you do to relax? 

I read often and walk even more – two patterdales take some tiring out! 

What do you think is the key benefit EduGrowth provides for people setting up their businesses?

EduGrowth offers that flexible support – you choose when you want access the skills and information you need to develop your particular business idea – with on-going after-programme support that means you get rapid responses to your issues as they arise.

What piece of advice would you give to someone starting a new business?

Focus on your USP – being different is as significant as being disruptive.

Which entrepreneur do you most admire?

A tough one this – but I will go with Sir James Dyson; a true innovator who has created novel technology which you can see in most UK households today

Joseph has led EduGrowth since its founding and is responsible for the day to day operational management of the business and implementing the strategy developed with the Board of Directors. Prior to starting EduGrowth Joseph has owned three successful businesses in education, property investment and hospitality. His most significant role being the Chief Executive and co-founder of an international awarding organisation/exam board before it was acquired by an investor in 2016.

Why did you start EduGrowth? 

I wanted to start EduGrowth as I believe the learning experience currently available to business owners and individuals wishing to set up their own business are not always fit for purpose. I think the flexible, mentor supported, practical learning EduGrowth provides can have a significant influence on businesses achieving success. Also, business and education are two of my passions so being able to run an organisation which combines both is great for me!

What is your biggest career achievement? 

My biggest career achievement would have to be when I exited the last company I ran. It is enormously satisfying when investors want to acquire an organisation you and your colleagues put a lot of effort into.

What was the last book you read?

Lateral Thinking by Edward de Bono. It is using a different way of thinking to improve creativity, innovation and problem solving.

What do you do to relax? 

I’ve recently started meditating every morning which I’ve found really helps with developing one’s clarity and focus. In addition, I read a lot. Mostly related to business and personal development as we like to practice what we preach at EduGrowth, a learning entrepreneur is a successful entrepreneur!

What do you think is the key benefit EduGrowth provides for people setting up their businesses? 

I think the flexibility we offer is key, we know that business owners don’t have the time to sit down for days on end reading, our programmes give you the option to dip in and out to get the knowledge and skills you need, when you need it.

Colleen Chater has significant experience in education and training having worked in both schools and colleges. She has held management positions in these sectors and been a Principal of two colleges. Both of them were judged as outstanding by Ofsted inspectors.

She has developed curriculum provision internationally and worked with the Department for Education in the UK. She has also participated in national committees considering qualification development and delivered training on teaching and learning on a national basis. 

Since 2011 she has worked as Head of Quality and Assessment at an awarding organisation. Her role involved leading a team of External Verifiers in the monitoring and support of recognised centres. 

In 2018 she acted as the CEO. Colleen continues to support this company with the creation and delivery of strategic projects and she is a Director.

Why did you become a Director of EduGrowth?

My working life has focussed on helping individuals to succeed and progress. Initially this was working alongside learners and it then developed into strategic management of provision. This enabled me to manage learning provision across organisations and ensure learners had a quality experience. Being involved with EduGrowth allowed me to continue this focus and in a targeted way which I find interesting.

What is your biggest career achievement?

It is difficult to identify one. I was very proud of every one of my learners who achieved their potential and progressed on to their chosen career path. I worked at a national and international level and visited No 10 on several occasions. The visit to Buckingham Palace was also a highlight.

What was the last book you read?

‘Mercy’ written by Jussi Adler Olsen. This is a tense, political thriller which kept me intrigued to the end. I wanted to know the outcome but did not want the characters to leave, so the only answer was to read another book for the same author.

What do you do to relax?

I enjoy gardening, music and art. Most creative hobbies keep me interested and involved.

What do you think is the key benefit EduGrowth provides for people setting up their businesses?

EduGrowth supports and guides you through the many steps needed to set up your business, so you can do so with confidence. It is practical, personal and focussed on your business, so the learning is immediately relevant. And if you wish it can lead to a recognised qualification.

What piece of advice would you give to someone starting a new business?

Know your personal strengths, be honest about areas for development and address them. This will help the business at any stage.

Which entrepreneur do you most admire?

Steve Jobs, as he had a difficult start leaving college because his family couldn’t afford the fees. He unofficially followed the classes, living off free meals from a local charity and making some money by returning Coke bottles. This determination to succeed led him to the formation of the Apple Computer Company with his childhood friend and electronics expert Steve Wozniak.

Salena Dawson qualified as a Solicitor in 2002 working in Norfolk private practice and for Aviva PLC prior to setting up her own Firm, Dawson Law in 2007.

Salena has been a proactive advocate of seeking skilled workers into the rural workplace and promoting the upskilling of employees in rural businesses. Salena has previously sat on the LEP Skills Board and as a Governor for City College, Norwich.

Why did you become a Director of EduGrowth?

EduGrowth is about empowering people through on-line training to become better skilled entrepreneurs, more efficient business leaders, better business managers. It relies on existing or budding entrepreneurs wanting to self-develop through online training. I am an advocate of people upskilling for the journey ahead. EduGrowth is a quality support system, through education and I wanted to be help support EduGrowth in the vision of enhancing the skills of current entrepreneurs and to support the next generation of business leaders.

What is your biggest career achievement? 

Every step on this journey is the next biggest career journey. On the day I qualified as a Solicitor that was my biggest success. Securing my next career advancing position was that place in times success. Starting my own Legal Practice, employing staff and remaining successful in business. I am a great believer in acknowledging and celebrating every successful step along the way.

What was the last book you read?

Zen and Mediation by Martin Plowman. I am very conciliatory in nature and have built my legal practice on the foundations of finding a resolution without defaulting to litigation. Martin Plowman is a Norwich mediator with a very qualified legal background. It is breath of fresh air to know I do not stand alone.

What do you do to relax? 

I run lots which I find a great way to be alone with my thoughts and to see the beautiful scenery. I enjoy people and am a social butterfly but to really relax I release my hidden Trekkie and put on a few episodes of Star Trek Voyager or The Next Generation.

What do you think is the key benefit EduGrowth provides for people setting up their businesses?

EduGrowth offers confidence to people starting up their business through quality training which is accessible when required. I know that setting up a business is time consuming and often there does not feel like enough hours in the day. EduGrowth provides training that fits in with the individual, it empowers the individual through training which provides that confidence, which gives that empowerment to succeed.

What piece of advice would you give to someone starting a new business?

Do not be an Island. Ask, Train, Empower yourself

Which entrepreneur do you most admire?

Eliud Kipchoge – The fastest male marathon runner. The man attempting to break the 2 hour marathon. Although an athlete first and foremost, he is an admiral entrepreneur who believes in bettering oneself through gaining skills, training and books

Scott is a Chartered Accountant, with prior experience of working within industry as a Finance Director and as an Investment Executive in private equity. Scott is also a Partner at an accountants based in Norwich.

Scott is passionate about working with entrepreneurs, providing his financial expertise to help them successfully deliver their business objectives.

Paul Bacsich has over 40 years’ experience in online education. He has had a long teaching, administration, research and project management career mainly in the university sector but with two spells in the corporate world. He has worked at the University of Oxford, The Open University, International Computers Ltd (now part of Fujitsu), Sheffield Hallam University (as a professor and head of department), and the UK e-University and has been Visiting Professor at the University of Middlesex and (currently) University of Derby.

His teaching has covered mathematics, computer science, education and business studies, including an innovative masters programme where student teams had to pitch their IT-based start-up proposals.

He set up his consultancy company Matic Media Ltd in 1996, focussing on distance and online learning.
He became interested in affordable high-quality online learning around 2010 after a series of studies for the UK government and the European Commission.

Why did you become an Advisor to EduGrowth?

I have known Joseph the CEO for some years and in fact worked closely with him and Colleen Chater, another EduGrowth Board Member. on an online learning project last year. I have felt for some time that there is a niche in vocational education for high-quality but affordable online learning and when Joseph approached me I was glad to accept. His current focus on entrepreneurship was an additional draw.

What is your biggest career achievement?

My largest education-related project came unusually in mid-career: it was to run the JANUS project for the European Commission in the early 1990s. This was a 3-year project to develop satellite-based interactive online learning across six countries in Europe, which led on to several later projects and big changes in the approach to online learning at the Open University.

I have also been honoured to be invited to make study visits to famous distance teaching institutions in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Sweden, and Thailand; and in particular at present to be Professor of Practice in Online Learning at the University of West Indies Open Campus, who provide online learning across the English-speaking Caribbean region.

What was the last book you read?

In this strange time, I am doing a lot more reading of fiction. Apart from a steady diet of shorter novels set in Wales or Ireland, I just finished “A Week in December” by Sebastian Faulks, a magisterial but true to life novel set in London political/financial circles weeks before the 2008 slump. Seemed appropriate. I wonder what the definitive novel of Covid will be like?

What do you do to relax?

Reading (often of science fiction or politics), walking and occasional gardening.

What do you think is the key benefit EduGrowth provides for people setting up their businesses?

The combination of up to date practical skills with a formal qualification for those that wish that also.

What piece of advice would you give to someone starting a new business?

Trust your own judgement and skills but listen carefully to your advisors both professional and personal – advice is often found in unlikely places or from unlikely people.

Which entrepreneur do you most admire?

I have had a number of mentors in my professional career and have mentored several people myself. I was privileged to work for a while for Ryan Craig, a co-founder and now Managing Director of University Ventures, an investment fund (and much more). He founded and built Wellspring, a network in the US of boarding schools and summer camps for overweight children. Then he changed focus for his second start-up (in fact back to an earlier interest of his – useful point to remember) and became the Founding Director of Bridgepoint Education, one of the largest online universities in the US. He is also an excellent communicator – the author of two insightful books on how new pressures and approaches will transform the university and college sector in US and elsewhere.

Janice Caplan is an HR professional, coach-mentor, international guest lecturer and published author. She is co-lead partner of London-based HR consultancy Scala Associates and in this role has advised organisations across all sectors, including household name businesses. She works extensively as coach-mentor at all levels. Until recently, Janice was governor and HR Committee Chair at University of Portsmouth.

Janice’s career has had a distinctly international flavour, advising international and multinational firms, guest lecturing in Moscow and Latin America, as partner in ACE Network of Europe and, at the start of her career working in HR at Alitalia and then for an American multinational. Janice speaks fluent Italian, French and Spanish.

Prior to setting up Scala, Janice was associate director, learning and development at Midland Montagu investment bank, where she also had profit-centre responsibility for treasury and capital markets training.

Janice was awarded the honorary role of CIPD Vice-President, where she had oversight responsibility of the CIPD’s Learning and Talent Development research, as well as national policy. As recognition for her contribution, Janice was then awarded Chartered Companion status of CIPD.

Janice was awarded an Honorary MBA by University of West London, where she was also Visiting Professor, Talent Management.

Together with Dr Michelle Selinger, Janice has created the New World Talent suite of online learning.

Janice’s publications include ‘Coaching for the Future: How smart companies use coaching and mentoring, published by CIPD, and ‘The Value of Talent,’ and ‘Strategic Talent Development,’ both published by Kogan Page.

Why did you join forces with a EduGrowth?

My first contact with EduGrowth was to receive the specification for the coaching and mentoring diploma course. The outline suited my style, which is to cover depth, as well as breadth: it is thorough and structured in such a way as to suit a variety of learning styles. The assessment process is rigorous. This gave me confidence in EduGrowth’s professionalism and that, together, we could produce a high quality learning experience for students. Once we entered discussions, my first impressions were confirmed and it has been a great pleasure working with Joseph, Dick and the team and I am now committed to EduGrowth’s success. I believe they fill a gap in the market for high quality, practical, flexible learning that entrepreneurs can use on a ‘just-in-time’ basis.

What is your biggest career achievement?

My biggest tangible achievement has been the recognition I received from CIPD. I thoroughly enjoyed my time as Vice-President and took full advantage of the opportunities the role offered; I believe, making a good contribution in return.

What was the last book you read?

Il calamaro gigante by Fabio Genovesi. Genovesi is an acclaimed, best-selling author with an unusual and charming style. Moreover, his books are set in the Versilia, which is a part of Italy I love especially.

What do you do to relax?

I verge on being fanatical about Zumba and also HIIT. I try to do one or the other every day. I also love walking over Hampstead Heath or on the beach in the Versilia, listening to music and pursuing cultural activities.

What do you think is the key benefit EduGrowth provides for people setting up their businesses?

Business is too fast moving and the cost of failure too high for entrepreneurs to learn through trial and error and by relying on their own resources. EduGrowth has identified and structured programmes that accompany you as you develop your business, providing you with learning, resource and support you can draw on when you need it.

What piece of advice would you give to someone starting a new business?

I believe passionately in the value of self-awareness as the key to realising potential. Take every opportunity to seek feedback and give feedback too with the balance tipped towards positive, developmental feedback so as to leverage strengths.

Which entrepreneur do you most admire?

As a long-standing user and die-hard admirer of all Apple products, the answer of course has to be the late Steve Jobs.

Dr Michelle Selinger heads up ConsultEdu, an edtech consultancy. She has extensive experience helping governments and educational institutions around the world in both developed and emerging economies to create and evaluate strategies for technology enhanced education reform. She has an academic background in digital education in both campus-based and distance education. She was responsible for technology across the curriculum in the Open University’s distance taught initial teacher education programme. She later established and led the Centre for New Technology Research in Education at the University of Warwick, and then took the role of lead education consultant for Cisco Systems Corporate Affairs and then Cisco’s Consultancy Services. Michelle is a former member of the Australian Federal Minister of Education’s Digital Education Advisory Group and has acted as expert advisor to national governments and international agencies including the European Commission, UNESCO, the World Economic Forum’s Global Education Initiative, Saudi Arabia and South Africa. She has also been a consultant to Hp, Intel, Microsoft, Oracle and Pearson.

Michelle’s distance education experience and deep experience of education technology, together with her pedagogical understanding has led to her involvement in the development of digital courses.

What is your biggest career achievement?

Setting up the education technology strategy for the distance taught Open University postgraduate certificate in the UK which involved ensuring the use of technology across the curriculum subjects being taught. I engineered the loan of a computer to every student and instigated the asynchronous collaboration technology when it was in its infancy.

What was the last book you read?

The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christie Lefteri. It gave me an excellent insight into the plight of refugees. I belong to two reading groups so get to read books I would never have chosen and glad that I read.

What do you do to relax?

Teaching Pilates, fitness classes and walking with friends.

Gunjan is a Campaign Manager, with prior experience as a Business Analyst. She is a MBA graduate during which she was a part of consultancy projects where she helped two SMEs in the Norfolk region with devising business strategy and marketing plans. Gunjan’s previous roles have been within technology sector covering multiple domains like healthcare, insurance. She was responsible for bridging the gap between IT and the business using data analytics to assess processes, determine requirements and deliver data-driven recommendations and reports to executives and stakeholders.
Keisha is a Marketing Executive at EduGrowth, with previous experience as a Digital Marketer. She has a degree in computer science which she completed at the University of East Anglia. Keisha also has experience with running a business of her own which she started in 2020. Since starting her business, she has developed in-depth knowledge of using social media. She has also started undertaking charity work for the men’s mental health movement, Movember. In her spare time Keisha likes to cook and paint.