Generation Next chair and vice-chair revealed for 2024

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Posted by: JasmineThompson
Posted on: 13/12/2023

The chair of East Midlands Chamber’s network for young professionals will remain in the role for 2024.

Daniel Nikolla, marketing manager at Hardy Signs, will continue to lead Generation Next, which supports professionals aged between 18 and 35 to build their soft skills and connections among the East Midlands business community.

Scarlett Canavan, business and marketing manager at ER Recruitment, was promoted to vice-chair and is set to take over Daniel’s duties in 2025.

They sit on the Generation Next board, which features a group of “champions” who take an active role in developing activities and profile for the network.

Daniel, a chartered marketer recognised by the Chartered Institute of Marketing, said: “I have loved being part of the Generation Next team ever since the early days of the network and believe we have done a brilliant job together in shaping our offer for the fantastic young talent that exists in our region’s businesses.

“It has been a great honour to be chair over the past 12 months and I am delighted to have the opportunity to remain in the role for another year, during which time we have some very exciting plans – beginning with the inaugural Generation Next Conference on 12 January.”

Members from the network’s ambassador programme, which support the champions’ ambitions, will also transition to the board in the new year. They include:

  • Ella Sheppard, senior associate at Freeths
  • Benjamin Wileman, leasing consultant at Select Car Leasing Burton-on-Trent
  • Joshua Leach-Aslam, general manager at Ocean King
  • Nicole Perkins, procurement officer at Futures Housing Group
  • Preethi Kang, commercial manager at Qinesis
  • Ruby Birks, project manager at Purpose Media.

Returning to the board are:

  • Amber Siddall, student and graduate engagement manager at the University of Derby
  • Byron Burghart, investment manager and assistant director at Brewin Dolphin
  • Beth Bearder, legal director at Halborns
  • Harsh Shah, data analytics manager at East Midlands Chamber
  • Rikan Patel, director at Business 2 Business.

East Midlands Chamber’s director of resources and Generation Next lead Lucy Robinson said: “We are delighted to have Daniel and Scarlett leading the Generation Next board into the new year.

“Daniel has been a wonderful support to our members and ambassadors over the past year, helping to raise their profile among the business community and building Generation Next’s presence throughout the East Midlands.

“Scarlett has also been with us from the very beginning, and is a fantastic supporter of the network, so I am delighted to be working with both of them, as well as the rest of the board closely next year to further develop Generation Next.”

Generation Next Conference to take place in January

The inaugural Generation Next Conference will take place on Friday 12 January at Nottingham Forest FC’s City Ground stadium.

The half-day event, which is held in partnership with ITS Group, features a series of guest speakers who are all within the network’s 18 to 25 age bracket and linked to thriving businesses.

They will share their own inspirational stories, explain how they have overcome adversity in their own lives and give their own take on what entrepreneurial thinking means to them.

Speakers include Jon Watts, an ex-offender who turned his life around to become a renowned chef, and Stephen Fern, managing director of Nottingham-based 200 Degrees Coffee.

Dave Ferry, head of enterprise at ITS Group, and Callum Griffiths, a wealth management consultant at Mattioli Woods, will also lead a Q&A panel that explored adversity and entrepreneurial thinking.

The Generation Next Conference is free to both members and non-members of the network and Chamber, and includes a stadium tour. To register, visit


Meet the new Generation Next champions

Ella Sheppard

Ella is a senior associate at law firm Freeths, specialising in employment law and HR support. She offers contentious and non-contentious advice on all employment-related matters to employers and employees across the East Midlands and beyond. Ella prides herself on being personable and reliable, drawing a sense of satisfaction from empowering clients in resolving complex and longstanding issues.

Benjamin Wileman

Benjamin is a senior leasing consultant at Select Car Leasing Burton-on-Trent, working in the automotive industry for more than five years since graduating from the University of the West of England. His role is to provide a five-star customer service by helping clients identify and choose the right vehicle and contract dependent upon their needs and requirements.

Joshua Leach-Aslam

Joshua is the general manager at Ocean King, where he translates the vision of its directors to develop and implement strategies for success. He joined the food sector in 2016 after a successful career in the British Army. After joining the sector as a novice, he has grown into a respected member of the industry.

Nicole Perkins

Nicole has more than 10 years’ experience working in multiple sectors including aerospace, utilities, manufacturing, before landing her current role as a procurement officer at Futures Housing Group. She is passionate about her personal development, but also supporting other young professionals in helping build their own personal and professional platforms

Preethi Kang

Preethi is a business, marketing and sales professional with 13 years’ experience working in engineering, manufacturing, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics markets with multinationals and SMEs. Currently the commercial manager at Qinesis, a business growth company, Preethi has started the transition towards becoming the MD.

Ruby Birks

Ruby is project manager at a full-service agency Purpose Media, where she manages the schedules, scope, cost and resources for projects and retainers. She began her career as a digital project apprentice in 2021, and in 2022, on completing her apprenticeship with distinction, she transitioned into her current role.

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