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Centre for SME Development Staff


Director of the Centre for SME Development

Contact: 01772 894321

Sue has an extensive track record of university business engagement. Sue began her career in the private sector in the area of marketing and research consultancy. This led to a hybrid role at Lancaster University whereby people with a business and commercial background acted as bridge between the university and businesses. Passionate about leadership in businesses, Sue ran many leadership development programmes and trained other institutions across the United Kingdom on how to develop leadership capabilities in small and medium sized businesses (SMEs). Along the way Sue embraced the academic world and completed a part-time PhD in Management looking at how owner-managers of SMEs learnt leadership. Sue is a contributing author to LEADing Small Business - Business Growth through Leadership Development, a published study into business growth through development.

Sue is passionate about how people learn to lead and manage and the real impact this can have on a business. Underpinning university-business engagement with robust academic pedagogical approaches, Sue has enacted this philosophy in all her roles in Academia. In 2012, Sue took a role at Teesside University as Assistant Dean for Business Engagement and joined UCLan in 2015 taking up her current role as Director for the Centre for SME Development.

The Centre for SME Development is a focal point for business engagement, business research and business education. The centres objectives are:

  • To stimulate opportunities for applied research into SME specific issues;
  • To increase SME engagement with UCLan;
  • To create student opportunities for enterprise activities and employability;
  • To create economic and business impact though the activities of the Centre, for both UCLan and the SME community.

Sue's academic research focuses on two areas. The first is using social theories of learning to look at the impact of SME peer learning. The second is the relationship between universities, business and government and the impact this can have on the regional economy. She is on the editorial board for the Journal, Action Learning, Research and Practice; the Journal of Workbased Learning, Journal of Higher Education Skills and the Journal of Work Applied Management.


Centre Manager

Contact: 01772 894321

Alison joined UCLan in 2003 after a 10-year career within the TV Advertising/Local TV department at Virgin Media. Since joining UCLan Alison has remained focused on business engagement, developing strong links with the private sector and supporting the region's customer management agenda as Manager of CallNorthWest (the leading support network for customer management in the North West) until 2015 when she joined the Centre for SME Development.

Alison is passionate about all things customer experience and has a customer centric approach to everything she does. Adopting an outside-in approach, she walks the customer journey and believes that ‘what is best for the customer is what is best for the organisation’.

This passion has led her to project manage a series of European funded projects involving up-skilling customer service leaders, auditing the customer experience at every touch point and setting up Training Exchange Academies with European partners in Bulgaria, Germany and Lithuania.

Alison’s role within the Centre for SME Development is to engage the business community and; support their growth, develop their workforce and to provide access to our academic expertise and student community. Alison also has a master's in Event Management which often comes in handy!