Senior Leadership

Ensuring we're all pointing in the same direction

We need both good management and leadership in equal measure. Good management is important but good leadership is essential and that’s the bit which is often missing.

In recognising this, we have run leadership development programmes in the past where we brought inspirational leaders in to talk to our people.

Leadership is about people – their culture, relationships, morale, energy and unity of purpose.

Leaders don't create followers, they create more leaders.

Dr Paul Sewell OBE

Chair Read more

Paul joined the then F Sewell & Son Ltd in 1978.

Together with Dennis Sewell, they grew the business to  a construction company operating across the Yorkshire region, then diversifying into development, facilities management and petrol retail to become Sewell Group by the turn of the millennium.

“I still hang around because I love doing what we do and working with our people. I have a tremendous amount of fun and I get paid for it, which is great. I love the business process, particularly when it’s done right, and I believe we do it right.

“We put the customer first by really looking after our people, who in turn look after the customer. We are professional about what we do and we live by those behaviours.

“Our culture is a collective DNA and is the way we treat each other with respect. I believe we are proactive with our culture, probably more than most.

“The main differentiator in business is your culture and I have maybe set the bar with a framework for that over the years, but it’s mainly about how we treat each other.

“It’s respect with a bit of affection and fun at times.

“Being humble has served us well and it’s nice if people say we are special.

“I think the fact we are still a family business is special and the people who are really settled at Sewell have a work family. We are a family business determined to be world class in everything we do and I’m really proud of what we have achieved.

“We were the first and are still the only Hull company to get into the Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For and stayed in it for three years. For two of those years, we were in the Top 10.”

Paul has spoken at conferences in the USA on what Sewell is like as a place to work and it makes him proud “that we do the people thing really well.”

One fact you may not know about Paul: He had a phobia of public speaking well into his thirties!

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Simon Davison

Group Finance Director Read more

I joined the Sewell Group in 2005 as Financial Controller and was promoted to the Board as Group Finance Director in 2007.

I also head up the Professional Services Team and I enjoy the variety of my work within the business, which goes beyond a financial role.

Our culture is our people and the way people behave when the spotlight isn’t on them, as well as how they react.

Whether people deal with internal matters or are client-facing, we always put the customer first.

Positive people equal positive results and that’s so important.

Culture is at the heart of every business and, no matter what service you offer, you need a strong culture because you want team players who are proactive with a ‘can do’ attitude around you.

I believe the aspects that make Sewell different are the relationships we develop and we always take a long term view of things.

We are not in it for a quick win and we want to build trust but deliver on quality and promises.

From a finance perspective, I was really proud to be involved in the restructure of the Group and how it’s going to look for years to come.

From a non-finance perspective, it was a privilege to be one of the key individuals to play a part in Sewell being named as a Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For.

One fact you may not know about me: In 2000, I went to an Army base in Bosnia to count stock in the NAAFI store. I slept in the same bunk bed Nell McAndrew had slept in one week previously.


Rob Cawkwell

Construction Managing Director Read more

I have worked at Sewell for 27 years and every day is different.

Every building project is unique and I have never repeated the same thing twice.

Working at Sewell, culture is key and it’s what binds us together as a team.

It underpins everything we do and the aim is for those behaviours to happen naturally.

The first behaviour I want to see from anybody is professionalism.

It’s about your approach and your attitude and, if you set yourself up to be professional, this will have a knock on effect throughout your career.

The people are what makes Sewell special and how they go about their business to improve our business.

People who don’t buy into our culture and behaviours stand out very quickly.

It’s really difficult to get into the business but really easy to get out if it’s not right.

We want to set our own benchmarks and continue to build on them.

I, like everyone else in the business, take great pride in the relationships we create and build.

There have been so many highlights in my career. But one day which stands out is when we reached financial close on Building Schools for the Future (BSF) phase one – Thomas Ferens, Malet Lambert and Endike all in one day, which was £57 million.

You learn lessons all the time, no matter how long you’ve been here, and you strive to be better with every project.

One fact you may not know about me: I’m the youngest grandfather on the Board.

Katherine Batch

Sewell on the go Sales Director Read more

I started work as a part-time cashier at a small Sewell shop in Swanland in 2002.

It helped to pay for petrol money to get me to college and back. I have been here ever since and never worked anywhere else.

As Sales Development Manager, I am responsible for all profit generated with Sewell on the go and, for me, it’s the people who make this business stand out and make it really special.

The biggest and best project I have worked on at Sewell on the go was the installation of our new CBE till system, as it’s brought so much information and detail to the fore, which enables us to make better business decisions.

It really helps in the day-to-day running of the business and we couldn’t do without it now.

The redevelopment of Maybury and South Cave Sewell on the go sites really stand out as career highlights for me.

It was quite a stressful and tiring time but the odd few weeks like that are definitely good for you.

I worked all day to get the job done, then most of the night doing my day job.

But it was the team spirit and everyone pulling together, even to make cups of tea, which was the recipe for success.

When the going gets tough, people dig in, and we’re all in it together.

One fact you may not know about me: I left college with a childcare diploma but later went to the University of Hull part-time for four-and-a-half years and got a BA degree in Business Management, so I can use letters after my name but don’t.

Jo Barnes

Shared Agenda Managing Director Read more

I joined the Group in 2008 as CEO of Citycare, a public private partnership with the NHS.  This followed a 14 year career in the public sector working on regeneration schemes in Scotland, the North West and Hull.

In 2013, I started Shared Agenda Solutions, another Group public private partnership, that provides estates solutions to a range of public and private sector organisations.

In 2017 I joined the Sewell Investments Board and became involved in developing our wider development and investment portfolio alongside my day job as Managing Director of Shared Agenda.

I work best when I work in partnership with our customers to find the right solution for them. My approach is very pragmatic and I always have an eye on viability and affordability, seeking transformative solutions that really help our customers move their organisations forward and not just tread water.

I love learning about people and trying to understand what motivates them.  As a Group we are very protective of our focus on personal development and I’m proud of the talent I have seen grow from relatively junior to senior posts in my time here.

One thing you might not know about me is, I belong to a running club and we also have our own choir (and I do both, but not necessarily at the same time!).

Mark Boothby

Construction Operations Director Read more

I joined Sewell in July 1996 as a management trainee.

Sewell has an open and supportive approach to working with people, and doing the right thing is greatly valued.

The culture within Sewell means people can develop both professionally and personally and progress to become ambassadors for the company in all roles.

There are a couple of moments which stand out for me throughout my career so far. One is project managing high value, incredibly complex schemes under demanding timescales with a great team of people. But overall my proudest achievement has to be growing with the business throughout the years into the role I’m in today.

One fact you may not know about me: When I was younger, I completed quite a lot of fell and mountain climbing throughout the UK, including the Three Peaks of Yorkshire twice and the Three Peaks of Great Britain.

Patrick Sewell

Sewell on the go Managing Director Read more

After leaving university, I joined the family business, primarily in social and private housing schemes within the Construction team.

After four years, I was keen to gain an external perspective and seek out new experiences, so worked abroad for a year, primarily in Malaysia, before returning to the UK.

I returned as a Retail Manager at one of our stores and am now both a director and a shareholder in the business.

The behaviours and values of our company sum up our culture to me. In essence, it’s how people act naturally without being watched over or micro-managed.

Everyone has a part to play in that and, in turn, it creates a team with the same vision and values.

Our high standards, innovative way of working, great service and focus on our people is what make Sewell special.

When I look back on my career, there are many stand out moments, including gaining external recognition from the Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For, Sewell on the go achieving Forecourt Trader of the Year and personally winning Retail Champion of the Year.

One fact you may not know about me: I have helped the company raise hundreds of thousands of pounds for many charities and organisations over the years, as well as sitting on the boards for the Hull and East Yorkshire (HEY) Smile Foundation charity and the Association of Convenience Stores.

Chris Soper

Construction Commercial Director Read more

I joined Sewell in January 2006, originally as a management trainee, trying my hand in the many different areas of construction.

The Sewell culture is built on a “can do” attitude – we work together to deliver the best results.

Since I joined Sewell, the company has grown a lot but it has always maintained its family ethos and continues to invest in its people, empowering individuals and providing a platform for career progression.

I’ve had a lot of fun times at Sewell and have learnt a lot so far. My proudest moment was being part of the leadership team that successfully completed the challenging £16 million site consolidation project at BAE Systems from 2012 to 2014.

Having spent a number of years working at BAE, we were awarded the contract to reduce the footprint of the site following large scale redundancies. The project was very sensitive and logistically challenging. But with teamwork, we achieved what at times seemed impossible.

One fact you may not know about me: I once featured on page three of the Sun newspaper. I was in the crowd for the Manchester United celebratory parade when they won the treble in 1999, which was featured in the paper.

Martin Stead

Facilities Management Managing Director Read more

I started at Sewell at the age of 16, fresh from school, and was given an incredible all round education into all things construction.

After several years as a quantity surveyor, I left to go travelling.

When I returned, I furthered my knowledge by working in several other areas of the construction industry such as major contracting, sub-contracting and house building.

When the opportunity to return to Sewell in the Facilities Management division arose, I was delighted to return to my roots and a culture I had not found anywhere else.

Our culture is everything to us and is fiercely protected. Together, we strive to deliver customer service excellence.

Sewell is special because, wherever we work, we employ local people in their local communities and there is a genuine sense of pride in all that we do.

It also means whether we’re creating or maintaining a facility, we can engage with that community on a much more meaningful level.

The flat structure at Sewell means our people are positively encouraged to show their talent by taking responsibility and being accountable for their role.

Hard work and achievements are well rewarded and many of our senior people are testament to that route of progression.

Growing the Facilities Management side of the business is my greatest professional achievement.

We’ve gone from a handful of customers to looking after 150 properties across Yorkshire.

I’m really proud to have been part of this journey.

One fact you may not know about me: I love doing slightly crazy things and once did three bungy jumps in a day.


Dave Leedham

Developments Director Read more

I joined Sewell as the Group Accountant for Construction in 1995, when we also had one petrol station, and joined the Board as Group Finance Director in 2000.

It’s so varied and innovative, so it doesn’t feel like I’ve been here for over 20 years.

There is always something fresh and new, and we are always learning.

As we are always getting involved in new projects, it feels like a new career every month and every year.

When you’ve been in a job for so long, you meet a lot of people along the way.

My nature is to be collaborative and the way we treat people is reflective of our success.

We always try to do the right thing by everybody, including our customers, staff and the community, and I have seen the benefits of that.

If you treat everyone the same, it will pay dividends.

I had a real desire to come and work here, and I like that the perception of Sewell is a place to be.

We can sit proudly on a national stage as a national exemplar but retain all the facets of a smaller, family-owned community business.

That’s hard to do but it’s what makes Sewell special.

My proudest professional achievement was being on the bid team for the Local Improvement Finance Trust (LIFT) programme.

We won it and I financially closed the first two schemes – Marfleet and Newington – which was tough to get over the line.

Since then, I have completed eight financial closes and we have a mature estate of £100 million.

I now sit on the Board overseeing 12 completed health centres and it’s seen as a national exemplar.

It doesn’t get any better than that.

One fact you may not know about me: In my role at Sewell, I am a director of almost 60 companies and I sit on the board for the majority of them.

Alex Mortimer

Sewell on the go Finance Director Read more

I joined Sewell in late 2009 and I’m head of finance in the retail division, as well as playing a major role in people and engagement activities.

One of my main aims is to ensure we make a profit, so we will be in business and employ people for a long time to come.

Culture is the reason people work for a company for many years, like lots of our staff have. You can’t train staff to fit into a culture but you can train someone to do a job.

To me, the openness of all senior members of staff and directors, and the access all staff have to senior people, is what makes Sewell special.

Looking back at my career, installing a new Electronic Point of Sale (EPOS) and back office system within retail has fundamentally changed the way we control, report and monitor the business. I’m really proud of that.

One fact you may not know about me: I am now a mum of two, which any other parent will know takes up all of my time when I’m not at work!

David Craven-Jones

Sewell on the go Operations Director Read more

I first got involved with Sewell Retail in 1996 as a consultant, helping with the Sutton and Maybury stores. My father, Bob, was also involved.

That continued until 2000 when I had to make a decision. I gave up my sole trader role and joined Sewell Retail full time in January 2000 before I got a directorship in 2001.

The reason I stay here is because hard work is rewarded as we have a free reign to do what we do best as retailers.

I like the no nonsense attitude and, if you work hard and play the game, you are a good fit.

We are a well known local company and our brand is our people.

We have more than 200 people working in retail and, if you’re not a team player, it makes your job harder. As a manager, if you can get 10% more out of all sites, it makes things easier.

Our business is also 24/7, so you have to be flexible.

Although it is growing, the business is still small enough to know everybody and be intimate because of the size and locality. But it’s the people who make Sewell special.

Winning Forecourt Trader of the Year in 2009 was a great accolade. We won eight categories, as well as the main overall award for our Chanterlands Avenue site.

The development of Sewell on the go South Cave is also a highlight in my career.

One fact you may not know about me: I sailed the North Atlantic from the Canaries to the Caribbean in 2003, which was 3,000 nautical miles in 19 days and six hours. Three hundred boats took part in the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) and it was all about teamwork – four hours on, four hours off, for almost 20 days.




Sean Henderson

Estates Director Read more

I joined Sewell in 2008, starting as a Construction Manager before becoming a Project Manager and then moving into Facilities Management.

Now, I work between the two, so there is plenty of variety, and the knowledge I have gained in Construction and Facilities Management means I’m multi-disciplined.

You have to be very flexible to work here and you are left to do your job, which is great.

There isn’t a hierarchy of management, so you do everything to the best of your ability and your expertise and knowledge is trusted.

Our culture is about being a team player, professional and doing the right thing by our customers. There is a huge customer focus and we live by these values both internally and externally.

We stand by them and we don’t deviate. We hold our nerve and we pride ourselves on working with clients who have a mutual alignment with us. I think clients appreciate that openness.

As a Project Manager in Construction, delivering Bransholme Health Centre from start to finish is a standout career highlight for me.

Logistically, it started in one of the busiest shopping areas in the city and the building was the footprint of the site. It was right in the middle of the community and we worked with great people, so it was a pleasure to do.

To achieve zero defects at handover in a building of that size was fantastic.

One fact you may not know about me: I’m a serial house builder in my spare time and always looking to create that perfect home. I have built three houses and remodelled one over the last 10 years.

Neil Jenneson

Non-Executive Director Read more

I act as a sounding board to all of the major strategic things going on in the business and as a third party counsel to the rest of the board.

As a Non-Executive Director, it’s down to me to help the rest of the board make their decisions, like an internal consultant.

The company wants that resource, I enjoy doing it and I enjoy working with the Board of Directors and the rest of the leadership team.

I try and bring a bit of experience outside of Sewell. All of my professional life before retiring, I worked as a partner in an accountancy firm, and a senior partner in Hull in the last part of my career.

I have drawn on all these experiences in trying to give wise counsel to the rest of the board and senior management group.

Sewell Culture is about doing the right thing. The company looks at all the stakeholder groups, whether they be managers, customers, suppliers, or other, and treats them all in a fair and reasonable manner.

That’s doing the right thing. Sewell is special in the context that it is different.

I must have come into contact with a couple of hundred businesses in my career and I can honestly say no others have that special relationship with their stakeholder groups like Sewell does.

I have worked on two big projects with Sewell. One was giving advice to the stakeholder group in dealing with Dennis Sewell’s retirement and arrangements for that and the second was when I advised the whole Board on arrangements for the Board of Directors to buy into equity of the Group.

They have become part of the business and I was the architect of that.

One fact you may not know about me: I played in a rock band when I was a teenager, on guitar and vocals, in the mid-1960s.