Who Are We

We believe in a new kind of leadership. Leaders who look different. Act differently. Are different.

Our mission is to build a world where anyone, regardless of their background, can learn to lead. We believe the way to get there is through real world coaching experience alongside the next generation of diverse leaders.

The Circl story

Circl co-founder Charlie started his career working with young adults from underrepresented groups. He quickly learnt that there were many aspects blocking their access to professional careers, including a lack of communication, leadership and people skills. This was mainly owing to the fact that time in education is entirely focused on exams - teachers recognise the importance of people skills, but have little time to teach them.

Meanwhile Adrian Blair, Circl’s other co-founder, was leading teams at Just Eat, Spotify and Google.  During 20 years of leadership at high growth tech businesses he constantly found that professionals need leadership development and meaning in their work. He also found that traditional leadership training was theory-based and offered practice only in artificial situations (e.g. trying out skills on colleagues).

When they met in late 2018 , the idea for Circl was born.

Meet the team

Our team includes talent development specialists, leadership coaches and learning & development experts. We have come from different backgrounds with different professional experience but we all believe strongly that business can be a force for good and can make a positive contribution to society.

Charlie Stainforth

Co-Founder & CEO

Charlie started his career at a London Pupil Referral Unit working with young adults from underrepresented groups. As a founding member of the skill development company, Elevate Education UK, he played a major role in their growth across the UK & SA. Following this he worked as Head of Partnerships at career coaching organisation, Future Frontiers, where he started exploring the mutual benefits in connecting professionals with young people.

Adrian Blair

Co-Founder & Chair

Over 7 years as Just Eat Global COO Adrian managed a team of 2,000 across 4 continents and played an instrumental role in propelling the company from a startup to the FTSE 100. Before this he led teams at Spotify and Google in California and London. As Global CEO of FinTech company Receipt Bank , Adrian oversees Circl’s development as Chair of the Board.

Sarah Haville

Head of Programmes

Sarah has a background as a Talent Development specialist in the financial sector at UBS and Bank of America Merrill Lynch, where she worked to support and motivate individuals, teams, businesses. With a particular interest in social mobility and connecting more businesses with schools, Sarah has spent the last two years using her consultancy skills to promote positive social change throughout the education sector. Along the way, she has co-founded Bloom Six which works in alternative provision schools to promote different career routes to some of our most vulnerable young people.

Luxsiya Sivakumar

Programme Manager

Luxsiya began her career in logistics and sales operations before making the leap into the third sector two years ago. Prior to joining Circl, she was the programme coordinator for The Girls' Network where she supported the team nationally in their work recruiting mentors, organising events, and safeguarding their mentees, alongside managing the operations of the charity. Luxsiya joins Circl as our programme officer, where she will support the delivery of our programme.

Ingrid Leake

Programme Manager

Ingrid has dedicated her career to organisations who achieve social impact. Prior to joining Circl she worked at Police Now, a leadership development programme aimed at recruiting, training and inspiring a representative police force in the UK. Ingrid brings passion and experience about social mobility and demonstrating social impact to her role at Circl, where she will support the delivery of the programme.

Lewis Prunty

Programme Officer

Lewis joins Circl as a Programme Officer after graduating from the BenevolentAI ~ Circl Be A Leader, Build A Leader programme in 2020 . The first future leader to join the Circl team, Lewis brings a fresh new perspective to our Programmes team. Alongside his work at Circl, Lewis studies Modern History and Politics at the University of Southampton and has a keen interest in imperial history, and the legacy which imperialism has left upon our modern political climate.

James Dixon

Partnerships Manager

James began his career alongside Charlie at skills development company, Elevate Education, where he ran workshops with 1000s of students across the UK and Singapore. As their Head of Recruitment, he was responsible for hiring and training workshop facilitators across the country. From here he joined Venquis, an award winning recruitment agency, where he went on to become their Learning & Development Lead. Alongside his role, he led the company’s Stewardship Programme with the aim of making the organisation more socially responsible and a force for good. James joins Circl as our Partnerships Manager, where he will look to build lasting relationships between businesses and schools.

Radwah Orabi

Partnerships Manager

Radwah has experience in partnerships and business development, building relationships with corporate clients to invest in education and charitable causes as part of their CSR objectives. She also has experience in the education sector, working closely with the DofE to help improve performance of academies across the country and engaging with senior business leaders to be chairs and NED’s on academy trusts boards. Her passion for education and young people has seen her volunteer for more than 10 years as an English teacher at a weekend school. Radwah is our Partnerships Manager, building relationships with universities, schools, charities and social enterprises in order to grow our Future Leaders pool so that more young people have access to the Circl Leadership Development Programme.

Rupinder Sembhi

Partnerships Officer

Rupinder began her career in the events industry, organising car shows and cohesion events, whilst working at a small organisation helping international schools with their social programming within the UK. Rupinder joins the Circl Team as a Partnerships Officer, helping with Business Development, Marketing and the Future Leader Partnerships Team.

Toby Sylvester

Business Partnerships Lead

Toby is our Business Partnerships Lead, tasked with building relationships with innovative, forward thinking organisations and growing the business partnerships team. Toby started his professional career in the Business Intelligence space providing solutions to businesses within the FMCG sector. He also has experience with Trustpilot offering solutions to SME's in E-Commerce. Toby has an Economics and Supply Chain Management degree from the University of Hull. He is extremely passionate about Circl's mission and wants to make a difference for the next generation of Future Leaders.

Natasha Harvey

Future Leader and Partnerships Officer

Natasha started her career in recruitment, initially at a recruitment agency where she interviewed and sourced candidates for a variety of roles. From this, Natasha worked as a People and Talent Associate at a high-growth AI start-up, where she recruited for technical as well as commercial roles and built the companies HR policies from scratch. As Future Leader and Partnerships officer, she will be responsible for rowing Circl's community of ambitious young people from under-represented backgrounds to take part in the Circl Leadership programme.

Rashida Namakambo

Future Leaders Officer

Rashida started her professional career as an Event Planner at the Royal Albert Hall where she oversaw a number of events. She also has previous volunteering experience with the National Citizen Service where she helped several cohorts navigate through the programme, gain confidence with public speaking and gain vital skills for the working world.

Natalie Tucker

Impact Lead (Consultant)

Natalie brings over 10 years’ experience of working across business, charities and social enterprise to drive social impact. She believes in business as a force for good, and works with organisations of all kinds to support entrepreneurial approaches to social impact. Natalie leads on Circl’s approach to measuring and maximising the difference we make to the business participants and young people we work with. Natalie is a Churchill Fellow, having been awarded a Fellowship in 2017 to visit the USA and Colombia and explore how corporates can benefit from working with charities and social enterprises. She also works at the Social Tech Trust, where she supports technology start-ups to embed impact management into their operations.

Charlotte Hickmore

Marketing Manager

Charlotte has been working in Marketing since graduating 13 years ago. During that time, she has worked for large brands such as Sky and the British Heart Foundation as well as youth brands such as NCS.  Charlotte joins Circl as Marketing Manager, and will be putting her skills to use spreading awareness of Circl’s mission so we can create more empathetic, inclusive leaders and reach more young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Richard Swindells

Chief Finance Officer

Richard has over 20 years’ experience of corporate finance and works with a number of growth and technology companies as part-time CFO, most typically at the Seed to Series A/B stage, helping them get to grips with the challenges of rapid scaling and preparing for the next stage of expansion. Richard has worked with a broad range of companies, including iProov, Speechmatics, Aframe and FromCounsel. Prior to this, he spent 15 years working in the energy sector and in investment banking. Richard has an Economics degree from the University of Birmingham and holds the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment Diploma. 

Caroline Evanson

Coach & Facilitator

Caroline has been working independently for 6 years as a coach and facilitator following an earlier career of around 12 years in various HR management and business partner roles within 3 blue-chip multinationals.
She is accredited as an Associate Certified Coach with the ICF and continues to build on CPD via supervision,webinars and coaching circles. She has coached clients from small consultancies and from within large organisations including EY, Business in theCommunity, Microsoft, and COS.
Caroline has facilitated many face to face and virtual management development programmes for a variety of clients including Brown Brothers Harriman, Foreign &Commonwealth Office, Thomson Reuters, Social Finance and Genesis.   She has been facilitating for Circl throughout 2020 and is much looking forward to continuing with them on their journey.  

Richard Strudwick

Coach & Facilitator

Richard is a Circl Facilitator and an Executive Coach.He has a love of education, philosophy, wilderness journeys and has a long history of working in the fertile space between corporate development and social impact. He has worked in Kuwait,Bangladesh, Bahrain, Norway, Hungary, the Caribbean, Kenyaand Australia; and has supported the development of organisations from local start-ups and grass routes social enterprises to multinationals like Sky, Vodafone, Maersk and the Bank of England, he also co-curates TEDxCardiff.Richard has coaching qualifications in Coaching and Mentoring, Action Learning Coaching, Transactional Analysis, Systemic Coaching and Gestalt Coaching. He brings a wealth of experience from18 years of designing and running leadership and Learning & Development programmes across the private sector, public sector,education and not-for-profits.

Lucy Dennis

Coach & Facilitator

Lucy is a professional executive and team coach who loves the Circl mission! As well as being a facilitator for Cirl, she specialises in building the leadership capability of founders and their teams within start-ups, before they are acquired or go public. She started her working life in HR in an investment bank, and has since worked with leaders in retail, financial services, PR and Communications. As a volunteer, she has worked in Uganda supporting the development of a disaster management training centre, as a mentor for teenage girls in South East London and latterly as the Chair of her local Pre-school. She loves waterproof clothes, running, raspberries, salmon and the colour blue.

Melanie Lansbury

Coach and Facilitator

Melanie has worked as an independent Executive Coach and facilitator for the past 5 years. Melanie has worked across various industries, facilitating extensively in the Civil Service but also working with clients in organisations such as DHL, The Salvation Army and Citibank. She carries a wealth of experience but loves nothing more than to keep developing herself and is currently completing her MSc in Coaching and Behavioural Change.

Lau Viggo Ploug Albjerg

Coach and Facilitator

Lau brings in 15 years of experience from an international career in marketing and brand management across northern Europe, where he has delivered growth to some of the world’s most well-known brands. Since leaving corporate, Lau has spent his time working as a consultant and as a career management coach, helping clients to unlock their full potential. He speaks both English and Danish, and is an engaged advocate for diversity and inclusion.

Claire Brown

Coach and Facilitator

Claire is driven by an interest in people and understanding their behaviours, which has woven her story together through marketing, training, talent management and executive coaching. She feels proud to have played her part in the growth and success of Colgate-Palmolive and SC Johnson and a global learning and development consultancy, Brand Learning (now part of Accenture). Claire currently spends her time coaching and facilitating across a range of industry sectors and loves the variety of this work and getting to ‘meet’ so many people (as well running around after her two sports mad teenagers).

Keshav Bhatt

Coach and Facilitator

Keshav has been working for the last 10 years as a coach, facilitator and social entrepreneur. He is an accredited NLP practitioner, and Certified master protege coach through The Coaching Academy, with 5 diplomas in all areas of coaching - from corporate, small business, education, and personal. He has grown a following of over 66,000 subscribers on YouTube, as well as launching his own non-profit youth organisation for teaching life skills to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Rupa Budha

Future Leader Intern

Rupa, going into the final year of her Chemistry degree at UCL, continues her Circl journey from being a Future Leader to currently working as a Future Leader intern. While new to the role, she is working alongside her fellow intern, Rhianna, and the rest of the Future Leader team to ensure that the Circl experience for the future leaders remains enjoyable and valuable. During her free time, Rupa likes going to art galleries and museums, making beaded jewellery pieces and finding ways to up-thrift her old clothes. 

Rhianna Prewett

Future Leader Intern

Rhianna is joining Circl as a Future Leader Intern. As a Future Leader herself, she looks forward to working to maintain and improve the Future Leader experience. Outside of her work at Circl, she is currently studying Politics and International Relations at the University of Bristol and takes a keen interest in local community projects alongside her degree.