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The BYPY 2017 Committee

Meet our committee for BYPY 2017!

Mike Colledge – Chair

Mike has worked in marketing and events for over seven years. Cutting his teeth in a city centre agency, he now works in Leamington Spa for digital marketing agency Denfield.

As BYPY Chair 2017, Mike’s vision is to ensure we not only celebrate the vast array of talent currently residing in the city, but to pay homage to the previous successful candidates. Now in its 17th year, previous BYPY winners have gone on to achieve amazing feats and Mike is keen to showcase this throughout his year in tenure.

Still residing in Birmingham, Mike has affinity with the city, having being born and bred here (and unfortunately an Aston Villa fan)!

“I couldn’t be more excited and proud to be BYPY Chair 2017. To have an event that not only brings together 1,000 people in one evening, but spreads such positivity within the region, can only be a good thing and one we need to shout about.”

*Did you know*: Mike and 3 work colleagues managed to hitch-hike to Cyprus within 24 hours for charity, raising over £3,000.00 in the process and not spending a penny on travel or tickets. It included 2 x car journeys, a transfer, 2 x plane journeys, a coach and a selfie with MC Neat – all for a great cause!

Sophie Taylor – Deputy Chair

Sophie Taylor is an Associate Solicitor at Squire Patton Boggs, leading the Planning team in the Birmingham office. She has been a member of the BYPY Committee for three years and is the current Deputy Chair.

Sophie cannot wait to crown our 2017 winner and looks forward to celebrating the Best of Birmingham’s Young Professionals on the 18th May.

*Did you know*: Sophie used to be a keen SCUBA diver and was formally the youngest Club Instructor for SCUBA diving in England.

Sameera Amarasiri

Sam is a Manager within Business Assurance at BDO LLP and is now in his second year on the BYPY committee. He has been with the firm for eight years whilst also completing his professional training during that time.

In addition to working with some great clients, Sam is also involved with training and people development at BDO. He is particularly passionate about the ‘people’ aspect of his job and has thoroughly enjoyed working on BYPY during the past year.

In addition to BYPY being a fantastic event which really showcases the region’s talent and achievements, the opportunity of working with, and learning from, a great group of people has been the most fulfilling part of the experience for him. Sam is also currently a delegate in the BPS Birmingham Future Leadership Development Programme.

*Did you know* Sam’s birthday is on the 29 February, he was born and raised in Sri Lanka before moving to England to attend university in 2004. He has since made Birmingham his second home and never fails to watch Sri Lanka play cricket at Edgbaston. The 2016 experience is something he prefers not to talk about.


Mike Bandar

Mike is a founding Partner of Turn Partners, a start-up studio focused on the acquisition, turnaround and creation of online businesses. The company has developed a small, diverse business portfolio including a dating business, a social media management tool, a marketing agency and an investment arm. Along with his business partner James, Mike led the turn around of the niche-dating agency Toyboy Warehouse, achieving over a 2000% revenue growth in 18 months. Turn Partners is also behind Hopper, the Instagram scheduler with customers in 55 countries as well as Real Tribe the social influencer marketing agency.

Mike is a graduate from Aston Business School and has owned and operated businesses since the age of 15. He has also recently been awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science from Aston University for his contribution to Enterprise and Entrepreneurship, making him one of the youngest ever recipients of a DSc.

*Did you know*: Mike has a secret obsession with kitchen gadgets. Every month he also takes a 30-day challenge, trying something new everyday for 30 days so far including; kayaking to work, learning to sing, meditation, daily vlogging, speaking French and random acts of kindness.


Natalie Barnes

Natalie is a Banking & Finance Associate at Irwin Mitchell. After completing her law degree at Bristol University in 2005 and her legal practice course at the College of Law Birmingham 2006, Nat headed to London. However, it was not long before she saw the error of her ways and returned to her native West Midlands in 2008 and has built her career in Birmingham ever since.

Nat is currently a student of the BPS Birmingham Future Leadership Development Programme.

*Did you know*: Natalie was an extra in an episode of the Australian soap opera Neighbours


Elle Cuthbert-Edkins

As Customer Service and Community Manager at Turn Partners, Elle provides support to customers across all of the company’s businesses – no day is ever the same!

Joining the team during an incredibly exciting year, with the launch of Real Tribe, Elle has developed the art of operating across multiple niche businesses simultaneously and has thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to build strong online communities.

Elle adopted Birmingham as her home 13 years ago, having been born in Dubai and raised in Durban, South Africa, and has lived in the City’s centre for the last two years. This is her second year as part of the BYPY committee and she has loved having the opportunity to learn from some of the City’s most inspiring professionals. After a turbulent 2016, Elle is incredibly excited about BYPY 2017 and embracing the upcoming year.

*Did you know* Elle is a quarter Chinese and her parents are originally from the Midlands, with her father’s family moving to the UK after her năinai (paternal grandmother) gambled her house away in a game of mahjong, leaving her with just two mink coats.


Laura Gallagher

Laura is trained and qualified as a Project Quantity Surveyor and has worked within an array of clients in a variety of sectors, including offices, residential, retail and mixed use schemes. Over the last year she has taken on a project management role and is involved in projects such as the Mailbox Redevelopment and 1 Colmore Row’s Glass Pavilion.

As a previous finalist, Laura has seen first-hand the exceptional BYPY process in motion! It nurtures fresh talent within the City and creates a platform for recognition!

*Did you know* Laura loves to travel and enjoys exploring new places!


Sara-Anne Mills-Bricknell

Recently graduating from Birmingham City University studying Media and Communication (Public Relations) BA Hons, Sara now works across a number of departments for property group: Purple Frog. Having gained work experience from a number of PR firms across Birmingham city centre, Sara also worked part-time throughout her studies as a communications assistant for the Royal Armed Forces.

*Did you know* Whilst inter-railing around Europe, Sara’s friend signed her up to take part in a 15,000ft tandem skydive to support Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice. In just two weeks they raised over £2000.


Pia Pearson

Pia is Sales & Marketing Manager at Innovation Birmingham Campus, home to some of Birmingham’s finest technology firms and start-ups. As well as being responsible for the sales and marketing strategy, she also manages the businesses flagship events and conferences so is well-placed to help deliver BYPY17.

A proud Advertising, Marketing and PR graduate of Birmingham City University, Pia has long been an advocate of the growth and development of businesses and their communities within Birmingham.

Outside of work, she uses her love of people and passion for events to volunteer on projects, helping young people to establish personal identity and build self-esteem. As well as this, Pia is a guest lecturer at Birmingham City University, where she champions the opportunities Birmingham has to offer its graduates.

*Did you know*: Pia was born and lived in South Africa for the first 14 years of her life. She has both British and South African parents, and to this day find the emotional strain of choosing one nation to support in any Rugby or Cricket finals impossible!


Matt Walker

Client Services Manager at Clive Reeves Public Relations, Matt provides communications and digital support to a roster of key clients, as well as leading on business development for the Colmore Row-based agency.

A former radio producer, Matt has worked at local radio stations Free Radio, Capital and, most recently, was a producer on the Heart Breakfast Show.

Looking to utilise his skill set differently, and having attended previous BYPY events, Matt was eager to join the committee to help recognise – and shout about – the city’s young talent.