About us

Our People

We are an accredited learning and development agency that specialises in developing leadership and progression skills for young people, early stage founders and professionals. From formal qualifications to informal confidence building, we help people get from A to B without going anywhere near a CV writing workshop or mock interview :)

Meet the Team

Caroline Theobald CBE

Caroline has spent her career connecting North East business people and is passionate about creating commercial and life opportunities. She was awarded a CBE for services to business and entrepreneurship in 2016 and is a lifetime holder of the Queen’s Award for Enterprise. As cofounder of FIRST her work focuses on strategy, leading the advisory board and inspiring and supporting the MD.

Charlotte Windebank

As FIRST’s Managing Director, Charlotte is responsible for business development, direction and quality. She supports the operations team and ensures all company outputs are aligned to objectives, values, and mission. Alongside her role as director, Charlotte is an advocate for social and structural change within entrepreneurship and is regularly invited to speak about research, innovations and positive actions towards increased inclusivity and empowerment for early stage founders, young people and junior staff.

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Sam Gallilee

Sam has 20 years experience working across the education and youth sector for school trusts, local councils and national charities. Sam’s passion and experience ensures all of FIRST’s projects create meaningful outcomes whilst supporting the team to ensure they have the resources they need to deliver their projects to the highest quality standards.

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Louise Debnam

Louise's expertise stems from global event management, marketing and relationship building from a research and development perspective. Louise ensures that our activities are enriched with analytical data that gives our partners, meaningful return on investment and our learners, meaningful outcomes for their careers or enterprise journey.

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Toni Stone

Toni leads on all of FIRST’s engagement, recruiting and supporting young people, early stage founders and professionals through our activities. Toni ensures early stage founders develop their skills, confidence and networking abilities and build relationships with our netowrk of referral partners to see how FIRST can add value and deliver impact.

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Simon Noble

Simon works with 18-29 year olds in North Tyneside to develop enterprise skills and confidence through workshops, mentoring and 121 support. He loves creating unique and engaging learning resources and has a passion for public speaking.

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Sam Clegg

Samuel Clegg is an advocate for entrepreneurship, business and innovation, and is highly passionate about supporting and helping others in their business journeys. He is a business owner, advisor, academic, and published researcher with over 10 years’ experience within the SME and Startup profession. Sam works as a tutor for our enterprise courses and brings energy, passion and first hand knowledge of what it's like to run a business.

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Sharon MacArthur

Sharon is a passionate coach and leadership development professional that has worked with early stage founders through to FTSE 100 companies. Sharon has a commitment to FIRST learners, supporting and signposting them to the relevant support and next steps they need to unlock their potential. Learners love her sense of humour, realism and wealth of experience that she can provide to FIRST's accredited courses.

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A passion for our work

We are experts at engaging with audiences, supporting people and developing business relationships that are based on best practise, process and results.

Our process

FIRST has helped thousands of people get the connections, skills and confidence they need to progress into jobs, self employment or further education.

Our work is developed using state of the art learning software and theory as well as skill frameworks such as EntreComp backed up by years of academic research and practitioner data. 

By basing our work on solid foundations this ensures we are providing meaningful activities that create legacy, opportunities and impact long after learners and partners have worked with us.  To find our more about EntreComp click here.

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