Economic partnership for the South West appoints new Chief Executive

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We are pleased to announce the appointment of Paul Coles as our new Chief Executive.

Paul has worked in the digital, tech and ICT sector for more than 30 years, having joined SWBC from BT where he was the English Regions Director. He brings with him extensive experience in developing strategic relationships that focus on the success and growth of the UK’s regional and local economies.

Paul said: “I am delighted to be taking on the role of Chief Executive at SWBC. It is a hugely challenging time for the region – in terms of both Brexit and the current pandemic – and our support for businesses across the region has never been more vital.

“However, I do believe that the South West is well placed to take advantage of opportunities for growth. COVID-19 has forced us to live and work differently – to be more resilient and agile. It has shown that you can have your talent located anywhere, so why not here? Our distance from London was once perceived as an impediment. I believe it is an asset.

“I am proud to be from the South West and I look forward to working with our members and welcoming new ones. We are keen to see how we can support their ambitions through our network.”

For the last three years, Paul has been on the SWBC Board, taking the role of vice-chair in 2018. He also sits on the Tech South West Advisory board, is an advisory member of the South West Cyber Resilience Centre and sits on the Court of Bristol University.

Paul’s interest in the digital, communications and technology sectors will be a strong focus for him in his new role, and he is keen to see digital skills provision keep track with the growing requirements of the industry.

Paul continued: “The South West has a strong and growing tech sector, so as an organisation we need to play a role in ensuring we can maintain and grow digital skills, and provide inspiration for young people as they build their careers.”

Paul replaces Dr Robin Daniels, who has been SWBC’s interim Chief Executive since 2018.

SWBC Chairman, Tim Jones, said: “As well as welcoming Paul, I want to thank Robin for being an exceptional source of inspiration, support and insight. He has ably steered SWBC through a significant period of growth when we transitioned from a Devon and Cornwall to South West-wide focus. And, in the future, the aim is to work very closely with Robin on new opportunities as they arise.

“The South West is outward-looking and with Paul at the helm, we will continue to build opportunities for global enterprise as we navigate our way through the post-Brexit and post-pandemic landscapes. We must be able to take full advantage of funding generated through the Government’s leveling up and shared prosperity agendas, and we will continue to make sure the region’s voice is heard.”