The Board


John BainesBA (Hons) MIFireE


John brings his skills and experience from one of the UK highest performing public bodies to improve performance and safety for people and places across the globe. Through close collaboration with Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, one of the UK’s pioneering and best performing emergency services, John leads Impeller to deliver outstanding global expertise in business performance, risk management, resilience and emergency response for clients around the world.

As a serving Assistant Chief Fire Officer, John has a wide range of experience, including leading people and organisational development; operations; emergency response and resilience; legislative fire safety; community prevention and education, together with leading business redesign and change programmes. John also undertakes strategic command as a key element of his operational role.

John has contributed to a number of national fire and rescue service strategic policy groups; including co-leading the production of National Operational Guidance for Incident Command for the UK Fire Service.

In addition to his fire service career and business interests, John is a former Chairman of the British American Project, a transatlantic leadership network and think-tank.

Finance Director

Jonathan NealBA (Hons)


Jonathan graduated in Business Studies at Newcastle Polytechnic, now Northumbria University, then joined KPMG to train as a Chartered Accountant.  After qualifying he specialised in business planning, financial forecasting and early stage corporate finance for start-up businesses and early stage SMEs.

Following a period in industry in financial controller and financial director roles Jonathan returned to business planning and corporate finance, again specialising in providing hands on support to embryonic and early stage businesses.

Jonathan has always had a strong interest in economic regeneration and the provision of and access to finance for SMEs and in 2003 worked with ONE North East in the development and implementation of its Strategy for Success programme which established five Centres of Excellence across the North East to drive business creation from the region’s universities and knowledge economy.

As part of the Strategy for Success programme he was instrumental in implementing an Access to Finance programme which saw the re-establishment of venture capital and corporate finance offices in the region to provide finance to the region’s early stage and growth businesses.

Jonathan continues to work with the region’s Universities and Venture Capital Managers to support early stage companies in securing growth and development funding.  He continues to support, as finance director or chief financial officer, a number of the businesses he helped establish.

Jonathan worked with Tyne & Wear Fire and Rescue Service to develop the business plan for Impeller and was one of the founding directors.  He continues to provide hands on support with the financial management of the Company and financial guidance to the Board.


Michael RobinsonB.A. Law


Michael studied law at Oxford University, where he graduated with a first class degree. After working at Linklaters and Paines, London, where he obtained a range of experience in corporate acquisitions, mergers and flotations both in the UK and internationally; Michael returned to the north of England to join Simpson Curtis, where he later became a partner working with private and public companies.

During his time at Simpson Curtis/Pinsent Curtis Michael advised many companies from both the UK and abroad on all aspects of corporate and commercial law and corporate governance. His clients ranged from small private companies and partnerships to multi-national and listed companies; including a number of financial institutions.

In 2002 Michael joined The Sage Group plc as Group Legal Director and Company Secretary. Sage, a FTSE-100 software supplier based in Newcastle, has just under 13,000 employees and operations in 23 countries throughout the world.

Michael currently leads the legal functions across the group; responsible for in-house legal teams in the UK, US, France, Germany and Australia as well as the relations with outside legal counsel. He has led legal teams in a number of major acquisitions in Europe, North and South America and South Africa. While directly responsible for a budget of just over £ 1.5 million, he has also overseen a number of specific, major projects with discrete budgets applied to them.

Michael is responsible for the protection of intellectual property rights across the Group. Michael is also a member of the Executive Committee of the Group, the committee consisting of 9 senior executives (including the CEO, CFO and CEO`s of the three regions of the Group), which is responsible for developing and executing the Group strategy.

Since July 2007 Michael has been a board member of the Board of Trustees of North Music Trust, the charity which operates The Sage Gateshead, the major music venue on the south bank of the Tyne.  He is also a member of the Finance and Organisation Committee of the board of trustees.

In the summer of 2014, he became a non-executive director of ncfe, the registered charity based in Newcastle which is one of the largest awarding organisations in the UK, currently offering over 500 nationally accredited qualifications. He is chairman of the investment committee of its board.

In spring 2015 Michael was appointed to the board of Impeller; bringing his UK and international experience to support the company’s vision of safer people and places across the globe.


Louise Hunter MBE


Louise studied Accounting, Economics and Finance at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, before starting her employment career as a trainee Chartered Accountant with KPMG in the Scottish capital.  Whilst specialising in financial sector audit and pensions investigations, Louise developed a keen interest in community financing and volunteered at a local homelessness support centre, providing financial and benefits advice to homeless people.

This interest led Louise to join Business in the Community as Head of Business Development where she supported FTSE 250 companies to develop their corporate responsibility strategies and community engagement activity.  Following her work on the development of Business in the Community’s Corporate Responsibility Index and her ground breaking work on business-school partnerships, Louise was promoted to North East Regional Director of Business in the Community before leaving to join her current employer, Northumbrian Water Group.

Louise joined Northumbrian Water in 2006 to lead its sustainability strategy as Head of Corporate Responsibility and was appointed to her current role of Director of Corporate Affairs in July 2012.  Louise has driven Northumbrian Water’s approach to sustainability, the success of which has been recognised by Business in the Community’s Corporate Responsibility Index, the Queen’s Award, and as the only water utility on the Ethisphere Global list of most ethical companies.

Louise continues to be support her local community as a Director at Castle View Enterprise Academy, together with steering groups of many regional charities and cultural projects including the Business Durham Education Group, Lumiere Development Group, St Oswald’s Hospice Fundraising Committee, Percy Hedley Fundraising Committee and Chair of the Business Group for the North East Cultural Partnership.
Louise also takes an active interest in regional business affairs as a Director of Newcastle Gateshead Initiative, a council member of North East Chamber of Commerce (also Chairing NECC Partners lunches and supporting the NECC Women’s Forum), and a member of Business in the Community’s North East Leadership group.

In June 2017 Louise received an MBE for services to business and corporate social responsibility in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.


Adrienne McFarlandBA (Hons)


Adrienne McFarland graduated from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne with a degree in Politics and Social Policy. Following graduation Adrienne held a number of HR roles in KPMG, Ford and Accenture.

Adrienne then spent 11 years with The Sage Group PLC in a variety of leadership roles including Global Head of Talent, Regional HR Director for AAMEA (Africa, Asia, Middle East and Australia) and Chief People Officer for the UK. Adrienne then moved to Nestle UK Limited as the Director of Talent, Organisation Ddesign and Leadership Development.

Adrienne joined Utilitywise PLC in January 2016 as HR Director. Utilitywise is a fast growing dynamic business and the role is to lead and develop the function whilst supporting the business in its wider strategic objectives and goals.

Adrienne’s track record is about leading and delivering global change management programmes, on all areas of strategic HR, across global matrix organisations and leading international teams. This is achieved by working with CEOs and senior business leaders to deliver organisational goals through people.

Supporting charities and local communities is something close to Adrienne’s heart and she is currently Executive sponsor of the Percy Hedley Challenge 500 at Utilitywise PLC. This initiative will see colleagues from disparate parts of the organisation working together to find fun, innovative ways to raise as much money as possible for this amazing regional charity.

Adrienne is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and was featured in HR magazine’s list of Most influential Practitioners within the UK Manufacturing Sector in 2014.