Congress Speakers

OPENING SPEAKER: Dr Cath Bishop, Triple Olympian, Former British Diplomat, Leadership and Culture Coach

Cath teaches on Executive Education programmes at the Judge Business School, Cambridge University and is the author of an acclaimed book, ‘The Long Win’, one of the FT’s top 10 Business books of 2020.

Cath competed in rowing at 3 Olympic Games, winning World Championships gold in 2003 and Olympic silver in Athens 2004. As a diplomat for the British Foreign Office for 12 years, Cath specialized in policy and negotiations on conflict issues, with postings to Bosnia and Iraq.

Cath now works as a leadership and culture consultant, executive coach, speaker, facilitator and author. Cath is a member of the Executive Education faculty at the Judge Business School, Cambridge University.  She works with leaders across business, education and sport to develop high performing teams, resilient and inclusive environments, sustainable performance and cultures where people can thrive.  Her approach is one that both challenges and supports leaders to think differently, to trust and to adopt a human centred approach.

Cath speaks at events globally on topics of leadership, learning and cultural change in business, sport and education.  Cath is an Independent Advisor to British Gymnastics on cultural reform and writes on topics relating to culture in sport for The Guardian. Cath is also Chair of Love Rowing, British Rowing’s charitable foundation that raises funds for projects to increase access to rowing and an Advisor to The True Athlete Project, a non-profit organisation which provides holistic development programmes in sport.  Cath is a Steward of Henley Royal Regatta and Honorary Fellow of Pembroke College, Cambridge.

Olivia Anderson

As well as consultancy EDI work, Liv has worked in a variety of clinical and non-clinical communications roles since qualifying as a vet in 2016. Growing up at multiple intersections of marginalised communities, for the last five years, educating the veterinary profession on how to recognise discrimination, improve diversity and inclusion, and move forward with accessibility. As a director of British Veterinary Chronic Illness Support (BVCIS) she is championing inclusion for disabled students and staff across the profession, engaging with RCVS, BVA, universities and corporate and independent veterinary employers and various other organisations across the profession to make change happen.

Rebecca Armstrong

Meet Rebecca Armstrong, the driving force behind Veterinary Sparkle, a specialised branch of Sparkle Develop dedicated to tailoring services for the veterinary industry. With a warm and friendly approach, Rebecca and wears multiple hats as a coach, consultant, and trainer, all fuelled by her passion for transforming veterinary businesses into exceptional workplaces where team well-being takes centre stage.

Rebecca is not just an expert behind the scenes; she’s a dynamic international speaker who’s graced prestigious stages, including national conferences hosted by BVA, VMG, and SPVS. Her passion for sparking change led her to become a TEDx Speaker, too.

Drawing from a wealth of experience, Rebecca and her team have collaborated with national veterinary practices, delivering CPD sessions on inclusion, mental health and neurodiversity in the workplace. Her contributions extend to working closely with influential organizations like VMG, RCVS, and her latest accomplishment – crafting the Global Certificate in Professional Development and Personal Wellbeing in partnership with WSAVA, now accessible to veterinary professionals worldwide.

What sets Rebecca apart is her holistic perspective. She brings insights from diverse sectors that intersect with veterinary care, including charities, retail, and medical fields. This unique vantage point equips her to drive lasting, positive change.

With over two decades of experience, Rebecca has a track record of helping organizations cultivate secure, fulfilling, and high-performing cultures. She’s equally committed to supporting individuals at all organizational levels in achieving mental well-being through coaching.

Her qualifications speak volumes – an MSc in Human Resource Development, a Post Graduate Diploma in Leadership and Management, and certification as a coach by the International Coaching Federation. Her work is deeply rooted in psychology, complemented by her role as a Psychotherapeutic Counsellor. But that’s not all – she’s also trained as a Canine Behaviourist, Hydrotherapist, and Myotherapist, adding a unique touch to her expertise.

Rebecca draws on her professional experience, qualifications as well as her own lived experience of living with disability and neurodiversity.

Connect with Rebecca and Veterinary Sparkle for a brighter, healthier future in the world of veterinary care. You can find her on linked in , or

Sarah Armstrong, MRCVS

Sarah is a vet and senior Human Resources professional with a broad commercial background and extensive experience of leading and facilitating organisational and cultural change.  After a stint in mixed practice, Sarah spent time in organisations including Mars, Zurich Financial Services and Santander – holding management roles in sales, sector management and operations before moving into HR. She is passionate about improving performance through people and implementing this with a healthy balance of creativity and common sense, and now enjoys a portfolio of work for many and varied clients in both an HR and board advisory capacity.  Sarah is also a trustee of the Arboriculture Association and non-exec director of climate and nature campaign group, ZeroHour.

Richard Artingstall, Vet-CT

Richard holds the position of Director of Teleconsulting for VetCT – leading a ‘digital specialist referral hospital service’  of over 60 veterinary specialists that provide specialist case advice, management and support at the point of need directly to primary practice.

Richard has extensive experience running and managing veterinary teams in both primary and referral practice settings.  Previous roles included clinical director, referral soft tissue and orthopaedic surgeon at Vale Referrals – a multidisciplinary referral and primary practice based in the South West of England. Alongside this, Richard helped shape and advise IVC Evidensias’ Referral Strategy in a strategic referral business development role – across both the UK and Europe.

Richard has a number of non-clinical interests, holding an MBA focused on organisational change in the veterinary industry as well as postgraduate (ILM7) qualifications in coaching and mentoring.

Richards’ main interest now lies in narrowing the gap between primary practice and specialist care – looking at how new approaches, new technologies and new efficiencies can help integrate specialist advice and support directly into practices – for the benefit of practice teams, practice growth, our patients and their owners.

Huw Aveston, Vets Digital

Huw Aveston has spent 15 years in Digital marketing working with hundreds of clients from as large as Google to small businesses. Having spent the last 3 years working in the Veterinary world, Huw is bringing his digital expertise to an industry that is behind the digital curve and will benefit from learning from other industries.

Jen Ayers, RVN – RCVS Academy Manager

Jen is the Manager for the RCVS Academy digital learning platform for the veterinary profession.
Qualifying from Napier University as a registered veterinary nurse, Jen worked predominantly in charity hospitals and in emergency and critical care.

Jen formed part of the initial community and education nurse team at the PDSA, furthering her experience in animal welfare and public education.  This extended to work as a lecturer and a career in learning and development for the profession, an area she has been working in for the past 10 years.

Remaining passionate about both animal welfare and developing the profession, Jen leads the Academy team in providing accessible and flexible opportunities to support workplace learning. As an advocate of continuous career development, Jen is currently completing an associate diploma in organisational learning and development.

Liz Barton, Head of Communications – VetCT, Co-Founder – Vet Mums and WellVet

Liz Barton is Head of Communications at VetCT. During a varied career in clinical practice, Liz developed a passion to support the health and wellbeing of veterinary teams. She has created and curated resources and tools as Director of WellVet and SPVS Wellbeing Representative. Liz co-founded the Vet Mums Facebook community to support parents in the profession, and as editor of Veterinary Woman she tackled issues around women’s health and produced the Veterinary Menopause Report. Through these roles she diversified into PR and marketing for the veterinary and animal health sectors, joining VetCT in May 2021.

James Bigglestone, Veterinary Consultant

James Bigglestone has been a veterinary surgeon in practice for over 25 years and an expert in Veterinary Pricing and Charging Strategies for 5 years. His mission is help improve understanding of the true costs involved in providing veterinary care and to structure a professional fee strategy based upon the real value of these services. Until the end of this year, this was within a corporate structure, James’ plan moving forward is to help independent practice owners improve performance and quality of life in practice by greater understanding of professional fee structures. As of January 2024, James is available to work with non-corporate, independent practices to provide personalized resources for Practice Performance and Business Intelligence.

Lizzie Bewsey-Dyke, MRCVS

Lizzie graduated in 2014 from Cambridge and has enjoyed being a first opinion small animal clinician ever since. Alongside her clinical work she founded Grads to Vets in 2017. This graduate programme for independent practices flourished, allowing her to work with a range of practices across the UK and support numerous graduates. She undertook a PGCert with the RVC in Veterinary Education in 2020. Now married and with two small children at home, her focus has shifted to looking at how best to support vets and vet nurses returning to practice after career breaks or moving from one area of practice to another. Balancing clinical work for Cromer vets and non-clinical work for XLVets with family life is very rewarding but not without its challenges and this life experience helps to inform the work on returner’s support.

Tom Cardy, MRCVS – European and RCVS recognised Specialist in Veterinary Neurology

Tom is a veterinary neurologist and neurosurgeon who completed his specialist training at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) where he helped establish a brain and tissue bank to advance research into neurological diseases. Tom spent two years as a lecturer in neurology and neurosurgery at the RVC before moving to private practice and is currently head of service at a leading veterinary referral centre. Areas of interest include the lifelong management of canine epilepsy and the use of 3D printed guides and implants in complex spinal surgeries. Tom has published in a wide variety of subject areas and presented at multiple national and international conferences. He also mentors a number of students across the UK seeking to study veterinary medicine as a post-graduate degree.

Prior to his veterinary career Tom completed a PhD in neuropharmacology at Cambridge University and worked in the pharmaceutical industry performing commercial strategy analysis on central nervous system drug pipelines for leading pharmaceutical companies. Tom subsequently joined the European Medicines Agency (EMEA) in London as their Business Pipeline Manager providing a critical link between the regulatory body and global pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.

Throughout his veterinary career Tom has had a strong interest in the impact of mental health and wellbeing on the performance of individuals and organisations within the veterinary sector. This naturally progressed to an interest in Human Factors and the impact they have on the quality of care that veterinarians deliver to their patients and themselves.

Rash Cassem

Rachard, or Rash as he likes to be known, holds the Chartered Insurance Institute’s (CII) Diploma in Financial Planning, as well as various CII accreditations covering personal taxation and later life planning. He has additional qualifications for post-retirement planning, such as equity release and long-term care. Rash is experienced in all aspects of holistic planning  and in recent years has been dedicated to providing expert advice to clients upon all ‘later life’ financial matters.

Rash has worked within the financial services industry for about 20 years. He started his career with NPI, before moving to Scottish Widows and then Clerical Medical in support and business development roles. In 2006, Rash became an advisor with Legal and General. It was here that he developed experience in estate planning and inheritance tax mitigation. Moving to NatWest and based in the City and London’s West End, Rash worked with entrepreneurs and high net worth business clients as a business advisor. During the last 8 years, Rash has been working in international wealth management and has focused on expanding his knowledge of estate and later life planning, before joining the Lloyd and Whyte Team.

Although Rash has experience in many different aspects of financial planning, he focuses on a holistic approach to advice, with particular attention to communicating “how all the parts fit together and work for you”. Rash is committed to forming long term relationships with clients and considers regularly reviewing their plans and investments to be a critical element in the financial planning process.

Rash has an active family life and is very keen on outdoor activities, most recently kite surfing and archery. He has also participated in some extreme activities, usually involving travelling at high speed towards, or across, the earth

Dr Jamie Crittall, MRCVS –  Co-Founder & Director of Virtual Recall, Senior Commercial Director Digital Services, Zoetis, Owner of Beech House Veterinary Centre

Jamie is Co-Founder of Virtual Recall which provides iRecall® and OurVet.Shop®. iRecall® is the U.K.’s most successful client communication solution and operates in over 2200 clinics across 4 continents. OurVet.Shop® enables veterinary practices to provide their very own home delivery service to their clients. Since Zoetis’ acquisition of Virtual Recall (July 2020), he was appointed Senior Commercial Director within Zoetis’ Digital Practice Services Business Unit. In addition, Jamie owns and runs a 147-year old family-owned multi-branch veterinary practice in Surrey. He has also had a 20-year career in media, appearing regularly as a vet on The Big Breakfast; Sky News and co-presented Pet Rescuers and Pet Rescue Roadshow. He regularly broadcasts around the country and is a regular speaker at UK veterinary business, technology and marketing seminars, conferences and events. Jamie is Vice-Chair and Trustee of the Petplan Charitable Trust.

Carolyne Crowe, BVetMed (Hons), BSc (Hons), MSc, Dip Coaching, Dip Stress Management and Wellbeing, FRCVS – VDS Training

Carolyne is head of training at the VDS. She is an experienced equine vet, an award-winning high performance coach, mentor, international speaker, researcher, and lecturer.

Carolyne has a Masters degree in Workplace Health and Wellbeing, diplomas in stress management and wellbeing, personal and team resilience.

Carolyne has specific expertise and interest in creating healthy workplace cultures, positive leadership and is passionate about helping others thrive at work and in their lives.

Carolyne was awarded Coach of Excellence accreditation and her Fellowship to the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons in 2020 for her outstanding contribution to the profession.

Loving a challenge, in 2017, Carolyne ran 10 marathons in 10 days raising over £100,000 for the Brooke charity.

Andy Edwards

Andy is an accredited behavioural psychologist and author of two books.  Using an accessible model of human behaviour, he helps organisations and people to prioritise how they get on with each other or as he calls it ‘play nicely together’.  You can claim your own mini personality profile by playing his card game at

Andy created the concept of “Relationomics”. He believes the primary currency in organisations is not money… it’s relationships.  And that improving workplace relationships – improves every measure of a practice’s success.

Andy’s ideas on relationships, personal impact, and communication have found favour with many thousands of people who attend his workshops and talks across the world.  Much to the surprise of his high school English teacher who once wrote in his report: “Andy must understand that he will never make a living just from talking…”

His talk for us will be all about creating, building, leveraging, and repairing quality relationships in the workplace.

Brian Faulkner, FRCVS

Brian graduated from Edinburgh Vet School in 1995 and worked in mixed practice before studying for an MBA at Nottingham Business School in 2001. He has set up and developed 8 veterinary practices from start-ups during and currently leads and works as a clinician in his current practice Aldeburgh Vets. Brian completed a Masters in Applied Positive Psychology, as well as General Practice certificates in Business and Professional Studies and Small Animal Medicine. He was The UK’s Petplan Vet of the Year in 2008. He is Associate Professor in Veterinary Business at Nottingham University Vet School and in July 2020 he was awarded the title Fellow of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (FRCVS) in recognition of outstanding contributions to the veterinary profession. In 2017 Brian raised £120,000 for Brooke Animal Hospital by running 10 marathons in 10 consecutive days all across the UK and Ireland. In August 2020 Brian ran 31 marathons in 31 days from John O’Groats to Lands End to raise £10,000 for a charity called Street Vet which attends to the dogs of the homeless. In 2022 he was also awarded the RCVS Inspiration Award for his work with charity and support for colleagues within the profession.

Eleanor Ferguson

Eleanor qualified as a Solicitor in Scotland in 1981, and in England and Wales in 1987. During the first part of her career she focused on litigation, then spent a number of years advising on investment and commercial projects in Asia and Egypt.

In July 2004, she joined the RCVS to develop and launch the Practice Standards Scheme, and has headed up the Scheme ever since.

She subsequently took on the role of Disciplinary Solicitor and then progressed to become Head of the Professional Conduct Department, overseeing the management of the College’s concerns process. In 2016 she was appointed Registrar.

Dr Charlotte French, MRCVS

Dr Charlotte French studied veterinary medicine at Cambridge, following a first degree in Zoology.  She has since spent more than 25 years working in both mixed and small animal practice and in shelter medicine. She has worked extensively in veterinary education, training veterinary nurses and developing curricula at diploma and degree levels. She has also worked with awarding bodies. In 2017 she completed a postgraduate certificate in Veterinary Education from the RVC and was awarded Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy.  In 2020 she joined Improve International and is currently Head of Business Development for Improve Veterinary Education in the UK, Ireland and USA markets.

Dr Tshidi Gardiner

Tshidi is a Wellness Coach, Speaker, Author, Award Winning Wellbeing Educator and a Small Animal Veterinary Surgeon with over 20 years of clinical experience in almost all sectors of the veterinary industry. She holds a postgraduate Certificate in Small Animal Surgery & works in clinical practice.

She is an elected member o the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. She is the current Chair of the RCVS Diversity & Inclusion Committee and Lead for Global development. She is a passionate Burnout Prevention Advocate, supports Mental Ill Health intitiaves within the veterinary community and trainer for Active Ally-ship and DEI work. She is also a trustee for Vets in Mind that creates triage tools & assessments for veterinary professionals.

Her process uses deep health as the basis for her Wellness Coaching & Stress Management practice. She is a mom of two and enjoys walking her her dog along the beach for much needed rest & recovery.

Howard Goatley

Warning!  Howard is not a Vet, repeat Howard is not a Vet.

Howard started life as a legal drug dealer in the NHS before moving into the private world of Healthcare IT creating prescribing programs and apps for human medicine.

He bought Village Vets Formby with his wife 12 years ago as a 1 vet practice and it has grown to a 6.5 vet practice over 2 sites. He has been chief dementor and chief reminding officer (nag) to his co-director (wife) and TeamPawsome for the last 5 years.

Howard loves systems and processes and firmly believes these give you freedom in a busy and demanding world, just ask him about the spreadsheet he created for his kids and their morning routine 😉

In his spare time he loves to spoil a good walk by golfing, spending time with his family, reading, listening to Jazz (on his own as nobody else can stand it!) and relaxing with a movie

He hopes to convey this love of systems and process during the talk and is always happy to talk further over a wine in the bar.

Steven Goodear MRCVS.  Practice Owner of Black Sheep Vets and East Lincs Emergency Vets

Steven has been a clinical vet for 25 years and has been a practice owner for 17 of those years, first setting up a small animal clinic in Sheffield, and more recently owning, working and managing a small animal practice in rural Lincolnshire.

Two years ago he set up an independent emergency practice in deepest, darkest Lincolnshire which now covers 10 vet practices, providing 24 hour care for East Lincolnshire patients and a more sane work-life balance for vets and nurses in the area. The independent emergency practice is pioneering one of the first monthly emergency only membership subscription service for patients.

His main areas of interest are in developing and growing the clinical and non-clinical teams in his practices, and stimulating them to understand why we all behave differently and what our different motivators are in independent practices, in order that we can all have long lasting and fulfilling careers in this amazing profession.

Major (Retired) Catherine Gregg

From the age of 22, Cathie served for 16 years as an officer in the Royal Army Educational Corps and Royal Signals, where she trained senior soldiers and officers in a variety of management and personal development fields, including for civilian management diplomas. On finishing her military service, she moved to France with her family to set up a business teaching English and business communication, as well as customer service courses and team-building, motivation and personal development.

Spending more time in the UK, Cathie developed a full staff training course for a small veterinary company which was so successful in its results, that she has remained closely linked to the Veterinary Industry ever since. She has adapted to the massive changes in the sector as needed by adding such training as Change Management, Mentoring and Leadership to her training package, informed by her experiences in the years of similar consolidations and mergers in the British Military, which necessitated a new approach to motivating and building teams as well as coping efficiently with change.

Her passion is training through experiential learning and building on the knowledge and experience that veterinary professionals already possess. All her courses are specifically tailored to the needs of the company or practice that she has undertaken to train – which benefits the company, but also renders the work itself infinitely enjoyable and rewarding for the trainers.

Joe Hill, MRCVS

Since qualifying over 20 years ago Joe has worked in a variety of veterinary practices being exposed to a wide range of technical procedures as well as different business models and management styles.  Joe states ‘In order to be successful, a vet requires the key mix of veterinary ethics and technical knowledge with business acumen and people skills. It is these non-clinical elements that I have focused on over the last decade through completion of my MBA, teaching undergraduate and postgraduate students and journal publications. The development of these skills across the profession is essential for the creation of more successful businesses leading to better patient outcomes and working environments’.

Mark Harwood, Hazlewoods

As a Partner at veterinary specialist accountants, Hazlewoods, Mark works solely with veterinary practices, encouraging focus and healthy challenge around all aspects of finance, tax and practice strategy.  Whether working with an established practice or new practice venture, Mark enjoys providing clear guidance in plain English, so practices and their teams can really see opportunities through to their full potential.  Outside of work Mark enjoys fitness (he has to, with his wife being a personal trainer!), motorsport and playing the piano.

Kate Higgins, MRCVS

Kate is a Vet, leader, business owner and consultant with over 20 years experience in practice.

Since acquiring her single vet practice in Merseyside 12 years ago, along with her husband and co-director, she has invested heavily in team and culture, growing it to a 2 site, 7 vet practice where her amazing Team Pawsome have the autonomy to run the day to day and maintain their reputation for outstanding client care.

Always looking for ways to change and innovate, they became one of the first vet practices to include unlimited consults in their health plan, and over two years ago they also became one of the first membership-only practices in the UK.

Dr Paul Horwood , MRCVS

Paul has had a varied career so far, initially an Officer in the Royal Marines, Paul left and trained as a vet at RVC, qualifying in 2000, but kept his links with the military, returning to the front line in Afghanistan in 2012 with the Grenadier Guards.

After an Internship at the Royal Veterinary College London, and the University of California, Paul joined Westpoint Farm Vets, becoming partner, owner and director along the way, before selling the Veterinary Group to Private Equity in 2015.

In 2017, Paul diversified out of clinical practice and set up a leadership training consultancy, Sandstone Communications, with some other interesting people he had met, using his experiences of business, adventuring, and the military to bring to life the soft skills we need to succeed.  It also supports, and mentors aspiring British Olympic athletes.

Paul returned to the profession in 2020 and is currently Country Head of Farm for IVC Evidensia.

Paul has an Diploma in Bovine Reproduction, an MBA from Open University, is a trustee and honorary treasurer of Vetlife, a non-exec director of BVA, and a founder of VetYou, a financial advice platform for the veterinary profession.

Social Media links:


Silvia Janská, MRCVS

Silvia is a veterinarian passionate about flexible working and helping to modernise the veterinary profession for a sustainable future. Silvia is the founder of Flexee, helping to address the way vets work with the aim to improve staff work-life balance, retention, recruitment and return to work. She is also the Junior Vice President for SPVS, and a member of the Greener Veterinary Practice working group for VetSustain.

Thom Jenkins, MRCVS – CEO, PetsApp

Thom is a vet and has run veterinary clinic groups internationally. He has sat on the board of and been an advisor to various companies both within and outside of the veterinary sector. He is the CEO and Co-founder of PetsApp, a client communication and engagement tool used by over 400 clinics, thousands of veterinary professionals and over a million pets in the UK alone. Thom is proud of the work the PetsApp pack have done in alleviating the load on veterinary teams facilitating business growth, while improving the care received by pets and their owners.

Mark Johnston, Vets in Mind Alliance

Following a career in equine veterinary medicine at the equine referral practice of Rossdales in Newmarket, Mark obtained his PhD with the “Confidential Enquiry into Perioperative Equine Fatalities”. He moved into veterinary publishing and is CEO of Vetstream, a global provider of Vetlexicon’s digital resources to the veterinary profession. Vetstream is a Global Educational Partner of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association.

He is also a keen beekeeper and Committee Member of the British Bee Veterinary Association; and Chairman of the Trustees of UK based charity “Our Special Friends” which via the Human Animal Bond helps people continue to benefit from animal companionship by providing physical and emotional support during illness, bereavement or other crises.

He also founded The Vets in Mind Alliance – a not for profit which aims to support the mental health and welfare of all members of the veterinary community.

Michael Lazaris, Vets on the Common

After working for several years as a small animal vet at independent practices, the RSPCA and a brief stint locuming, Michael and his business partner, Ellie, decided to open their own independent clinic in central London. The idea was spurred on by the closure of RSPCA Putney Animal Hospital, where Michael and Ellie met as colleagues. Vets on the Common opened its doors in November 2021, and has continued to grow since, providing the joys (and headaches) of running their own clinic!

Robyn Lowe, RVN – Veterinary Voices UK

Robyn LoweBSc (Hons), Dip AVN (Surgery, Medicine, Anaesthesia), DipHE CVN is a small animal Registered Advanced Veterinary Nurse (AVN) who regularly writes articles for academic journals and publications for animal owners. Robyn has a passion for evidence-based medicine, has volunteered for Canine Arthritis Management to write owner literature, is Director of Veterinary Voices UK, runs the Veterinary Voices Public Page, and campaigns on mental health and animal welfare issues. To this end she also sits on the Board of Trustees of Vetlife, the first RVN to do so in the charity’s history.

Robyn is still working in clinical first opinion practice, so has first-hand experience of the current issues faced by UK veterinary practices – she wants to see more practices act proactively to create a positive work environment that results in sustainable workload, content employees, great retention and supportive practice culture.

Rebecca Maher, InsideMinds Consulting

Rebecca is the founder and Managing Director of InsideMinds Consulting Ltd, a specialist consultancy business applying behavioural science and consumer psychology principles to the veterinary sector.  Human behaviour is much less rational than we tend to realise, being largely driven by emotions, subconscious biases, habits and heuristics. InsideMinds decodes the real drivers of client behaviour to help veterinary businesses guide owners’ decisions in the best interests of patients.

Rebecca is a small animal veterinary surgeon, qualified marketer, consumer psychologist and has over 18 years of commercial experience in blue-chip veterinary pharmaceutical companies. Rebecca is passionate about helping veterinary businesses make the biggest difference to animal health by ensuring that the experience clients have and the way in which veterinary information is presented guides their subconscious to do the right thing. Find out more about InsideMinds at

Stephenie Malone, Legal Director, Harrison Clark Rickerbys

Stephenie is a specialist employment solicitor and is part of the health and social care team. She advises clients on employment aspects of the acquisition and disposal of businesses and is an accredited workplace mediator. Stephenie contributes to legal articles on practice management and offers training on a wide breadth of HR and employment law issues.

Dr Paul Manktelow, Chief Vet, Blue Cross

Dr Paul Manktelow has a diverse 20 year career in the veterinary industry with a wealth of experience gained through clinical practice, leadership, communication, strategy and business development.

As Chief Vet at Blue Cross Paul oversees delivery of the charity’s UK veterinary service with a focus on driving efficiency through continual improvement, developing pragmatic expertise frameworks and exploring new and sustainable veterinary service models for the future.

Paul is an accomplished writer, public speaker and media presenter and he regularly appears on our TV screens presenting on a variety of pet health topics.  His pet lifestyle podcast and blog ‘The Consult Room’ was recently voted one of the top pet podcasts in the UK.

Emma McGrath – Professional Support Solicitor at Citation

Emma originally qualified and worked as a solicitor in private practice, specialising in employment law. She started working for Citation in 2007 working on the Employment Law Team, first as an adviser and then as a manager. In 2019 she moved to work as a Professional Support Solicitor in our Professional Support Team. Her role includes delivering training and seminars as well as researching and guiding on difficult employment law points, always looking for practical approaches that work for the particular client.

Mark Moreton, MRCVS – RCVS

Mark graduated from the RVC in 2002 and has been a Small Animal GP Vet ever since. He owned and ran a Small Animal practice in Kent for 15 years, then joined CVS in 2017, where he has been a Clinical Director, Hub Clinical Lead and is now Small Animal Veterinary Director for the South of the UK.

He is passionate about collaborative team working and embedding the principles of quality improvement and systems thinking into the workplace, to reduce error and improve the working environment.

Since 2021 he has been involved in piloting a framework to introduce teams and leaders to a shared leadership model. This framework has been delivered in over 100 practices to date.

Malcolm Morley, MRCVS  – Senior Vice President, BVA

Malcolm Morley is the current Senior Vice President of BVA. He is an experienced equine vet whose clinical interests lie in first-opinion practice and pre-purchase examination. He has been a practice owner and clinical director of Stable Close Equine Practice in Hampshire. His BVA presidential theme was “Investing in People”, which goes to the heart of many of his professional interests in workplace teams.

Tracey Morley Jewkes

A Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute, Tracey has 25 years of experience in leading large and small businesses to reach their full potential through creating sustainable competitive advantage.  Tracey has a successful track record in both the corporate and independent sector and has also owned her own businesses and management consultancy.

A trained Business Coach, Wellbeing Coach and with a Masters degree in Business, she has spent the last nine years in the veterinary industry in both general practice and referrals as a Managing Director, Programme Director and Director of Special Projects for some of the largest hospitals in the UK. Tracey has led teams to win Best UK Vets three times, the Veterinary Wellbeing Award twice, won numerous business awards and built the most successful health plan in the UK as well as being a keynote speaker, column writer and appearing on Channel 4 flying the flag for client experience in the vet sector.

Pam Mosedale,  FRCVS – RCVS Knowledge

Pam is QI Clinicial lead for RCVS Knowledge and Chair of the RCVS Knowledge Quality Improvement Advisory Board.  She was formerly Lead Assessor for the RCVS Practice Standards Scheme She has worked in first opinion practice for all her career.

Pam has been involved in establishing Quality Improvement resources for the veterinary practice team. She is passionate about QI becoming part of the normal working day for veterinary teams and contributing to better care and outcomes for animals and a just learning culture for team members in practice.

Adrian Nelson-Pratt, MRCVS

An accredited performance and business coach, Adrian is a Director of Vets Stay, Go Diversify, an entrepreneur and experienced business leader.

Alongside his fellow Directors at VSGD, Adrian leads on the content creation, career development coaching and recruitment services to deliver on VSGD core values – supporting veterinary professional in finding their career satisfaction through their #vetpassport.

His experience as a business executive, leader and people manager enables him to bring 28 years of business skills to coaching. Working at C-suite level, in boardrooms and supporting senior teams is challenging and rewarding and he loves helping to develop leadership, strategy and operational delivery of plans.

He’s focused helping people fulfil their potential and is driven to help people achieve their dreams, taking great pleasure in seeing how people become unstuck, discover their vision and ignite their passion.

Fiona Nichol, VetPartners

Fiona is Business Support Director for VetPartners UK. Her team and role focuses on supporting the needs of practices, by understanding the opportunities and development they require. She provides analysis and solutions on topics including; team development and engagement, business operations, client relations and experience as well as practice performance and productivity.

Prior to this Fiona was involved in the planning and implementation of Zoetis business consulting services, aiding in the design and delivery of a range of business support services and solutions. Her training included the completion of a veterinary specific business course at Purdue University in the USA, study with the European School of Management and working alongside experts in the UK.

She has spent more than 20 years in the veterinary profession and before moving into the veterinary pharmaceutical industry, spent five years in small animal practice in head nurse and practice management roles.

Fiona has authored several articles that have appeared in the veterinary press and has provided workshops for the SPVS/VMG CPD series and The University of Liverpool.

Dr Dave Nicol, VetX International

Dr Dave Nicol is a veterinarian with more than 20 years of experience in general practice and has held several leadership roles within practice and industry. He has written three books, most recently the best-selling, So You’re A Vet…Now What? – a manifesto on how to survive as a veterinarian after graduation.

Dr Dave hosts The Blunt Dissection podcasts which combined has been played more than 250,000 times.

He owns Roundwood Vets, a boutique vet practice in London and founded VetX International to help vets connect with their career and help practice owners create fantastic practices for the vets to work in.

He speaks at conferences all over the world to speak about his favourite topic of leadership and generally cheerleading for the veterinary profession. In 2019 he was
voted VMX Practice Manager Speaker of the Year.

You can learn more about his work at

Stephanie Olson, Inspirational Speaker, International Podcaster, Author, and CEO of The Set Me Free Project

Stephanie Olson is an inspirational speaker, an international podcaster, an author, and the Chief Executive Officer of The Set Me Free Project, a prevention education organization on human trafficking, social media safety, and healthy relationships.

Before founding The Set Me Free Project, Stephanie worked with women in the area of sexual and domestic violence, addiction, and homelessness. She also worked with youth teaching healthy relationships. After seeing the realities of the world of human trafficking, she co-founded The Set Me Free Project. Stephanie has had extensive training, research, and study of human trafficking prevention education and social media safety.

Stephanie speaks to youth and families on the importance of each and every person to understand that they have an intrinsic value that cannot be changed. Stephanie also helps leaders build resilience. Her work on teaching resilience in leadership has inspired people across the United States with topics such as, leadership, trauma, a toxic workplace, mental health, resilience, and DEI. As a woman of color and a survivor of domestic and sexual violence, Stephanie brings lived experience, research, and humor to impact lives. She is a sought-after speaker on women, youth, human trafficking, and social media safety while leading The Set Me Free Project to help prevent youth and young adults from personally experiencing trafficking.

P-J Noble

P-J  works in the Small Animal teaching Hospital at the Leahurst Campus as part of the internal medicine team. Here he oversees internal medicine referral cases and train undergraduate students in small animal internal medicine. With nearly thirty years of experience, he enjoys encouraging students to develop the complex, integrative thought process required to manage these cases.

P-J is also a PI on the Small Animal Surveillance Network (SAVSNET) project. SAVSNET collates a growing database with over 8 million clinical notes from over 400 veterinary premises across the UK. His key interest there is text-mining clinical notes to gain insights in to companion animal health. This brings together interests in small animal medicine and computer programming. P-J has written a suite of tools (SAVSNET Datalab) used by undergraduate and post-graduate students to pursue text-mining projects using SAVSNET data. Through collaborations with the Departments of Computer Science at Liverpool and Manchester and Durham University, he is also pursuing the use of the latest methodologies in AI and machine learning to unlock the potential of the SAVSNET database for insight in disease surveillance and animal welfare.

Peter Orpin, Chair, SPVS

Peter graduated in 1983 from Bristol University.

He joined a Leicester practice in 1984, working with colleagues to grow the business from a 4 vet, 10 person predominantly single site business, to a 4 site business with 7 business operations employing over 120 people.

For the last 23 years he has worked as a consultant for Anval – delivering business advice to practices.

Peter is also a Director and co- founder of®: a web health management tool to help vets and farmers improve cattle health.

He became a Board Member for SPVS in January 2020 and is now Chair of SPVS.

In 2021 He was awarded a Fellowship of the RCVS for Meritorious Contributions to the Profession.

His major passions have always been how to improve the quality of work we can provide for clients whilst achieving a happy well-balanced motivated team.

Dr Sue Paterson, RCVS

Dr Sue Paterson is a RCVS and European Board-Certified Veterinary Dermatologist.  She is an elected Fellow of the RCVS for her contributions to clinical practice in the field of Veterinary Dermatology.

Sue has written 7 text books and more than 90 refereed publications in English, European and American journals. She has lectured extensively in the USA at the NAVC Congress, in the UK at national meeting including being a regular speaker at the Annual BSAVA Congress. In Europe, she is a regular contributor to the Annual European Dermatology Congresses and has lectured at the WCVD Congress on numerous occasions. She has been an invited speaker at international meetings in more than 40 countries.

She is an elected member of RCVS Council, Chair of the Advancement of the Profession, Council lead for Sustainability and for Leadership and currently President of the RCVS. Sue is a past president of the BSAVA and of ESVD. She is the current President of the World Association for Veterinary Dermatology. Sue is a Trustee of Battersea Dogs and Cats Home and in her spare time enjoys long walks with her dogs across the Cumbrian fells where she lives.

Rachael Paul, Simply Veterinary Coaching

Rachael is the founder of Simply Veterinary, a company that has been shaping the veterinary industry for the past decade. With a unique blend of services that include a specialist headhunting firm and an exceptional leadership coaching service, Rachael has been at the forefront of transforming the lives and careers of veterinary professionals.

For ten years, Rachael has relentlessly pursued her passion for personal growth and development, fostering an intimate understanding of the veterinary world, its challenges, and its aspirations. Her commitment to doing things differently and achieving unparalleled results has earned her a reputation as a true industry disruptor.

As a seasoned coach, Rachael specialises in empowering veterinary leaders to unlock their fullest potential. Her clients, typically vets in leadership roles, benefit from her expertise in the five pillars of inspirational leadership: 1) Self-Awareness and Authenticity, 2) Elevating Impact, 3) Sustainable Leadership, 4) Effective Coaching, and 5) Strategic Recruitment.

In an industry that demands a new kind of leadership, Rachael is leading the charge, inspiring veterinary leaders to embrace their roles as agents of positive change. “Leaders have to BE the change they want to see in the profession,” she says, emphasising the need for inspirational leadership that goes beyond conventional norms.

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Dr Naeema Pasha, Director of Research, MKAI

Dr Naeema Pasha is a leading expert in the future of work, skilling and worker transitions. She focuses on the impact of AI, Diversity, Hybrid working and Generational Differences – GenZ, GenY and GenAlpha. Naeema is Director of Research at MKAI looking at the future of work, diversity, and careers. And was previously Director of the World of Work Institute at Henley Business School, University of Reading where she built a reputation on thought leadership in the future of work. She is a trainer in applied behavioural science, skilling and people development. She has been shortlisted as one of the Top 30 Global Thinkers, 2021 by HR Magazine as well as voted 11th in the Top 50 Global AI Ethics Thinkers, 2020. She has also spoken at the UK Parliament on Equity and Future of Work and her latest book Futureproof Your Career was published by Bloomsbury in 2021.

Jack Peploe, Veterinary IT Services CEO & Founder

Jack is a Veterinary IT Expert and Certified Ethical Hacker, who has worked alongside the veterinary sector since he set up his first business aged 16. He has made it his mission to help veterinary practices across the UK utilise their technology so that they can function in a secure, professional, and efficient manner, leaving vets to focus on patient care.

Jack’s Credentials:  C|EH MASTER, CYSA+, MCSE, CCNA, CompTIA (A+ Cloud+ Security+) and Veterinary IT Expert

Kirstie Pickles, MRCVS – European Specialist in Equine Internal Medicine

Kirstie is an equine medicine diplomate, with a background in both clinical practice and academia, and has worked in the UK, New Zealand and the USA. She is passionate about teaching, equine medicine, neurodiversity awareness, and wellbeing in the veterinary profession. Additionally, Kirstie is a Mental Health First Aid England Instructor, an Expert by Experience for Health Education England training of mental health professionals and is currently undertaking a professional coaching qualification. In 2021 Kirstie and her colleagues at Nottingham received the MMI Sarah Brown mental health research award to investigate workplace stressors of autistic veterinary surgeons.

Andrew Rastall, Connected Vet

Andrew Rastall founded Connected Vet ten years ago to provide digital marketing support in web, email, social and paid disciplines, for independent veterinary practices.  As of 2024 his presentations draw on 30 years’ experience in marketing 15 of which have been in digital marketing. His presentation content references practical examples taken from the veterinary, hospitality, automotive and legal industries. It’s the cross pollination of insight and ideas across sector boundaries that often benefits his lectures and the veterinary practices that Connected Vet now support. Andrew regularly presents at the SPVS Congress  and is a founding contributor to SPVS ‘Thriving in Practice’ E-learning Hub.

Alan Robinson, MRCVS – Vet Dynamics

Alan Robinson B.V.Sc. MRCVS DMS is a vet and independent practice management consultant. Alan has been a veterinary surgeon in practice for 20+ years, a successful business consultant for 18 years to over 1200 practices and a director of Vet Dynamics.  His mission is helping independent practice owners improve performance and quality of life in practice.

What sets Vet Dynamics apart from other veterinary business education groups are the personalized resources we have developed around our four areas of focus: Practice performance, Business Intelligence, Leadership & Culture and Team Engagement.

Debbie Robinson, Vetnetics

Debbie Robinson was born and raised in England but has worked in Scandinavia and the United States in the Information Technology sector. After selling her successful technology business, Debbie changed career direction and qualified as a performance coach and NLP practitioner in 2009. She has guided and supported countless companies and their teams to create happy, harmonious and profitable businesses.

In 2015 she had the opportunity to provide coaching and training to the independent veterinary sector for Vet Dynamics where she coached and mentored some of the UK’s now top performing independent veterinary practices.

Debbie founded VetNetics in 2022. Its purpose is to help practice principles and their teams to build kinder, more people friendly and empowering veterinary practice cultures.
Debbie believes that everyone has potential to be amazing…and that a healthy and empowering culture can inspire people to be at their best. She helps individuals and veterinary practice teams to get ‘unstuck’ and accelerate toward high performance and fulfilment. Her facilitation style is to create high-trust environments, clarity and alignment to a worthy mission, and unified attention towards quality and positive results.


Issa Robson

Issa is a race equalities advocate & regular speaker on equality and diversity on podcast, panels and international conferences. She is a founder & trustee of The British Veterinary Ethnicity and Diversity Society (BVEDS) now in its 7th year. She speaks on a number of topics including allyship, diversity & inclusion, anti-racism, neurodiversity and mental health.

She is a farm veterinary surgeon with over 15 years of clinical experience and a lecturer in farm Veterinary Clinical Practice at Surrey Vet School, and is a winner of a Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence. She holds an MSc in Ruminant nutrition and previous BSc in Animal Physiology. As a director of Affinity Futures Consultancy and for over 5yers, has been offering allyship training and equality consultancy to veterinary organisations. Issa is the founder of the Courageous Conversations Conferences, the UK’s first dedicated veterinary diversity conference held in 2020 and 2021.

Elly Russell, MRCVS – VDS Training

Elly qualified as a veterinary surgeon in 2002 and has worked in a variety of small animal settings.  After completing a surgery certificate in 2019, she undertook a PhD at the University of Lincoln, supported and funded by the Veterinary Defence Society (VDS), researching communication and patient safety in the veterinary profession. Elly is particularly interested in team and organisational communication and is passionate about helping veterinary teams deliver safe care. Her research focuses on how veterinary teams communicate and how we can make ongoing and meaningful improvements in how we deliver care as a team in practice.  Elly is part of the VDS training team where she heads up the communication training provision and supports vet teams use and benefit from Vetsafe, the VDS’s adverse event reporting system. She enjoys helping veterinary professionals, teams and practices communicate well, achieve great patient outcomes, and to thrive.

Captain Adam Rough, Royal Logistics Corps

Adam joined the British Army from school and throughout 12 years of service quickly learned the importance that coaching and mentoring has on improving performance. Deployment to various theatres and countries fostered a passionate interest in assisting others to develop their potential and creating high performing small teams in a variety of environments up to cross-governmental department task forces.

Selected to instruct at the world-renowned Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, he was responsible for training future military leaders from all over the world, that included future Heads of State, as well as through the Academy’s Defence and Industry Outreach Programme, civilian corporate leaders.

By applying the key tenets of Leadership, Coaching and Mentoring he succeeded in producing the highest performing Platoon for commissioning in recent memory.  He was awarded a commendation by the Queen for services performed whilst at Sandhurst.

In his final tour of duty, his role was as Army Instructional Leader within a Defence College where he established a robust system for training and mentoring new teachers both civilian and military. He firmly believes that the ability to communicate and allow others to grow their skills and character within a close-knit team is a vital force multiplier not only within the Defence sector, but also in any civilian environment. He joined the GLCM team in January 2023, to offer his considerable skills in an international environment.

Sarah Schofield, Sarah Schofield Coaching

After graduating from Cambridge Vet School, Sarah initially pursued a career in small animal practice. Over 6 years, she worked in both corporate and independent settings, with a 3-year stint leading a sole-charge branch. However, she eventually came to the realization that this career path wasn’t sustainable for her.

In 2014, she made a significant shift and transitioned into management consulting, where she developed expertise in culture and change management. Over the next 10 years, Sarah supported clients from various sectors, including pharmaceuticals, healthcare and professional services.

Today, she leverages her extensive knowledge in culture change, workshop facilitation, and coaching, to help create happy and productive practice teams so they can retain their talent and stand out in the recruitment market. She does this by working at two levels

  1. Helping practices transform their culture
  2. Helping individual veterinary professionals tackle their specific challenges and build enjoyable sustainable careers

In short, she provides the support she wished she had access to during her own career journey.


Helen Silver-MacMahon

Helen Silver-MacMahon, RCVS Knowledge Quality Improvement Clinical Lead

Helen qualified as an RVN in 2000 and has worked in both first opinion and referral hospitals. Since qualifying, she has gained certificates in ECC and Small Animal Nutrition and the Advanced Diploma in Veterinary Nursing (surgical).

In 2021, Helen completed a MSc in Patient Safety and Clinical Human Factors at the University of Edinburgh and is currently undertaking a PhD at the University of Lincoln exploring the non-technical skills that veterinary nurses require when monitoring and maintaining anaesthesia. She is also collaborating with the University of Aberdeen to research Incivility in veterinary practice and working towards chartered ergonomist status.

Helen is an RCVS Knowledge Champion for her role in the sustained training and use of a surgical safety checklist within the small animal theatre at the former Animal Health Trust.

Helen is passionate about developing the veterinary profession’s understanding of Human Factors as a powerful aid in improving patient safety, enhancing performance, and supporting the wellbeing of the veterinary team. She enjoys designing bespoke coaching, training and speaking on topics that advance the quality of care. She has written articles and co-authored several book chapters on both clinical and non-clinical aspects practice.

Rachel Simmons, MRCVS – Edhen Veterinary Surgery

Rachel, an Edinburgh graduate has always sought diversity in her career. Alongside working in practice she co ran an academic travel company for many years. When COVID bought the collapse of the travel industry it left Rachel with a lot of spare time, a lot of knowledge in business and a will to create something new. She knew if she was going to return to practice life 5 days a week it had to be under her own roof; Bringing total ownership, total responsibility and occasionally, total pain in the arse moments. Who knew how much admin owning a practice would bring and how many spreadsheets were needed; and who knew how lonely it would be at times.

Edhen Vets is centred around caring for pets and people; with good personal service and 5 key values underpinning everything they do. The past 8 months has been a steep learning curve, but Rachel has quickly identified her weaknesses and what she would have done differently. Non the less, the first 8 months has been a resounding success with turnover far exceeding what was predicted and a very happy team of seven staff.

Jacqui Skelly, MRCVS – Elanco

Jacqui qualified from the RVC in 2005 and spent six years in first opinion practice before moving into the pharmaceutical industry, joining Novartis and subsequently Elanco. She now heads Elanco’s Veterinary Technical Services team for the UK and Ireland.

Still a vet to the core, Jacqui believes the pharmaceutical industry can play a key role in making life better for the animals we care for, and can offer valuable support to practitioners as they navigate the many challenges of modern clinical life.

Toby Trimble, Trimble Group

Toby is the founder of Trimble Group, a film production company reinventing education for animal health, making it less like PowerPoint and more like Netflix. He focuses on making education engaging, visual, and memorable. With his team, Toby has created over 800 CPD videos and live broadcasts in the UK, Europe, Asia and Australia.

Oli Viner

Oli is a vet and also a software engineer as well as a regular contributor to the VBJ and Vet Times writing about all things tech. After 10 years as a partner and GP vet in London, a few years as CTO and co-founder of Digital Practice, he now works as “Chief Veterinary Technology Officer” at Hello Vet, a venture backed startup rethinking veterinary care and launching clinics in London in Summer 2024.

Matt West, Tranetics

Matt has been an airline pilot with British Airways for 24 years, with the latter fourteen of those operating as Captain. In his career he has flown various types, and currently flies the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. As he gained flying experience, he became aware of the numerous benefits of the effective application of ‘non-technical’ skills within the operational environment, and also the complex nature of the anatomy of error.

Matt had the opportunity to develop both these interests when he became a CRM Trainer for British Airways ten years ago, delivering courses in house for new and current pilots. Matt, being an expert error maker himself, recognises the importance of accounting for the ‘human’ in the equation, ensuring the training he delivers in these areas is practical and effective.

Matt enjoys presenting because he believes in the essential nature of human factors training and feels that the mix of facilitated classroom work and practical training is the most effective delivery method for it. Alongside this role, Matt has been involved with the development of courses instructing British Airways pilots in new roster generation software and on how to make better PAs to passengers.

George Western

George has been working exclusively within the healthcare insurance and risk management space for over 6 years and has an expansive knowledge of the insurance markets for both small and corporate clients. George holds the CII (Chartered Insurance Institute) qualification and is currently working towards his Diploma.

George prides himself on ensuring that the client obtains the most suitable solution by means of developing personal relationships and planning for the future of the business in question. George believes that the long term development of risk management for a client by means of regular contact can save the client time and money and mitigate risk for the future. From a healthcare perspective, he is au fait with regulatory requirements, planning for mergers and acquisitions, budgeting and business development. George regularly deals with complex risks and takes a forward thinking approach to risk planning, at both practice and group level in terms of protection.

George also liaises effectively with other areas of our business such as patient and pet plans schemes, Lloyd and Whyte’s suite of independent financial advisors and all personal insurances too, ensuring that the client has the option to have all their protections ‘in-house’. He believes this saves on time, admin and money, realising better practice for his clients and provides trust and longevity to his working relationships.

In his spare time George enjoys to cook both privately and professionally, having trained as a chef in his younger years. Currently he works sporadically around London and South Wales at the weekends! George also enjoys fitness and is a regular gym goer. Predominantly working from home allows George to spend time improving his recently purchased period cottage on the Devon/Somerset border.

Shawn Wilkie, Talkatoo

Shawn Wilkie is a serial entrepreneur and technology enthusiast who has founded six companies over the past 20+ years. As a passionate supporter of the pet health industry, Shawn has worked tirelessly to create tools that positively impact veterinary professionals both in their day-to-day clinical operations and personal lives. Shawn is currently the CEO of Talkatoo, a company that provides dictation software that saves veterinary professionals time on record-keeping. Talkatoo reduces burnout allowing veterinary professionals to spend more time with their patients. He also produces and co-hosts the top-rated Veterinary Innovation Podcast.

Shawn received first-place honors in the 2021 Pet Pitch competition, being named Dictation Software CEO of the Year, and was selected as a finalist in the 2021 SAAS NORTH PitchFest. Shawn also placed as a 2018 finalist for the Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year