Meet the Skillnet Team

Lee Acton

Chief Executive
Lee Acton

Graduate, MBA with 20 years experience in work-based learning working with large national employers. Lee sat on the Ministerial Apprenticeship Taskforce during 2008-2010. He is currently a member of:

  • The Association of Employment and Learning Providers
  • The London work-based learning alliance Leadership Group.
  • The Herts and Beds Provider Network

Lee acquired Skillnet in December 2006

Eugene Lowry

Operations Director
Eugene Lowry

Eugene has managed our Operational delivery for eight years and has developed a wide understanding of the business. His experience in managing a diverse range of tutoring, assessment and support staff is invaluable. From the beginning of this academic year Eugene has had specific focus on driving the quality of our delivery in our own sites and through our sub-contract college partners.

Richard Wilman

Finance Director

I studied Accounting Studies at University and qualified as a professional accountant (FCCA) in 1992. As a senior financial professional, my career has covered many industries, from retail at Waitrose, corporate reporting at Invensys, vehicle financing at Hitachi Capital and finally, for a PE backed vocational training company specialising in Accountancy and IT.  The last 11 years my career has been within the vocational training and online tutoring sector as a Finance Director, focusing on developing growth strategies, operational performance and system development.  

Matt Benns

Sales Director
Matt Benns

Matt has 18 years’ experience in major automotive manufacturers.  The latter stages of his career as part of management teams at Director level.  

Matt is Degree educated and has spent a large amount of his working career in the automotive training sector.

Matt has joined to drive sales and business development performance at Skillnet.

Richard Kirkby

Director of I.T
Richard Kirkby

I joined Skillnet in 2016 and have spent the past 17 years within the Education sector.  I am responsible for ensuring the quality of our data and reporting to both internal and external customers.  I am particuarly interested in the impact of insightful business intelligence which the data team will deliver.

Carolann Whitney-Maddocks

Quality Manager
Carolann Whitney-Maddocks

Having worked within the training industry for over 20 years, Carolann has an extensive background in audit, compliance and management of sub-contractor providers.

Carolann has been through numerous audits and Ofsted inspections and in her role of Quality Manager ensures successful management and implementation of quality systems and processes.

The motor industry sector offers a great career opportunity for women, and Skillnet prides itself with the increasing number of female learners we have engaged with on one of our many apprenticeship programmes.  Skillnet has a female mentor scheme in which Carolann is the female mentor lead as well as the Mental Health Awareness Champion for Skillnet.

Helen Carter

Head of Curriculum
Helen Carter

I completed my mechanical apprenticeship in the late 90s and I was fortunate enough to work for a race team.  I spent a number of years working as a race car technician, travelling around the race circuits of the World.  I have also worked for Porsche and was the only female dealership technician in the UK at the time.

I have spent the last 11 years, working in Further Education, teaching on the Apprenticeship programme for Light Vehicle.  I am a fully qualified, experienced teacher and assessor and I am passionate about everything relating to teaching, learning and assessment.  As Head of Curriculum for Skillnet, I will continue to shape the provision and develop the apprenticeship programmes we offer.   


Chris Turner

Regional Skills Manager, The North
Chris Turner

I have worked in the Motor Industry since leaving school and have had the good fortune of running my own garage for over 20 years. I have taught in various schools and colleges across the North West and Yorkshire region.

In my professional career, I have moved with the times, sometimes reluctantly but I have gained a wealth of experience together with a passion to train and develop myself and apprentices to a very high standard.

As regional Skills Manager and with the experience I have and the desire to develop an already successful team, I want to generate outstanding results within the apprenticeship programme across all levels and disciplines.


James Kesterton

Ford Centre Manager
James Kesterton

My name is James Kesterton, I have been the Ford Apprenticeship Centre Manager for the last 36 months.

I have 15 years of experience in Automotive Apprenticeship delivery starting my career as a Tutor.

Martin lake

Centre Manager for Skillnet Independent
Martin lake

I joined the Quality team at Skillnet in May 2016, bringing with me the experience of a broad based career in the automotive industry, with many of these years spent as a trainer, lecturer, assessor, and internal verifier, delivering motor vehicle qualifications across, FE, OLAS, and Apprentice training platforms.

Promoted to Centre Manager for Skillnet Independent in July 2017 my ongoing strategy is to grow, develop and promote Skillnet Independent College as a centre of excellence for Light and Heavy Vehicle Technical Apprentices, whilst encompassing the new and ever increasing technological developments within the automotive world.


Lisa Davies

Account Director

As the Account Director, I am responsible for developing Skillnet’s relationship with the Ford Dealer network across the UK ensuring that we deliver outstanding customer satisfaction, maximise on growth opportunities and demonstrate value add and return on investment for Ford. I join Skillnet with over 20 years commercial business development and strategic account management experience in both the public and private sectors including over 10 years within Further Education, specifically Apprenticeships.

Paul Burdett

Project Manager

I grew up around Vintage cars, my Dad owned several over a number of years which were worked on and restored at home. This led me into a Citroen apprenticeship from school and through to technician, foreman, service manager and then aftersales manager with large Ford dealer group over the years. In 2006 I moved into work based learning with Remit working out of the York office, then transferred over to the Rugby office and onto Fmap apprenticeship programme. I joined Skillnet 2008 working as Fmap assessor, team leader and programme manager until November 2016. In December 2017 I was offered the chance to rejoin Skillnet as a Project Manager.

Danielle Das Neves

HR Manager

I have pursued a career in HR and Recruitment, gaining experience within the Automotive, IT and  Financial Services industry. For the last two years I have looked after HR and Recruitment departments gaining invaluable experience and exposure, with which I am looking forward to bringing new and exciting ideas to Skillnet.

Dean Hamilton

Regional Manager, London South East

Returning to Skillnet as the London and South East Regional Skills Manager after a period teaching in FE.

Having spent many years within the MV industry Dean has moved into education and obtained his DTLLS and TAQA level 3 within 3 years.

Dean is looking forward to the challenges ahead!

Leanne Sanneh

Head of Sales
Leanne Sanneh Head of Sales

As the Head of Sales, I am responsible for Managing and Leading Skillnet’s recruitment team and ensuring we deliver outstanding customer satisfaction, maximise on growth opportunities and deliver growth within the business. I have worked with Skillnet for over 3 years and have developed my knowledge within the industry and look forward to delivering a high quality service to all our customers.

Rob Bloom

Programme Support Manager

I come from a project management background deploying and managing IT programmes of work, big data telematics analysis and resource management.

In my role as Programme Support Manager I am responsible for aligning the businesses goals with the management of and quality control of the Programme Support department, its core operational administrative processes, business procurement activities and data management/analysis.


Chris Kenny

Head of Delivery

After serving an Engineering Apprenticeship, Chris moved into the B2B services industry holding a number of commercial, technical and managerial positions before becoming a Director of a Pan-European technical recruitment business.  Chris is a Chartered Manager, an Economics and Politics graduate and holds a Masters in Company Direction.  As part of his latter personal development, he has recently gained a teaching qualification, become a qualified Assessor and Internal Quality Assurer.  He is finding the education and training sector an incredibly rewarding and satisfying role and relishes his involvement in helping young people lay the foundations for their future careers. As Head of Delivery, Chris leads Skillnet‘s technical training teams across the 4 teaching centres nationwide and is responsible for ensuring the quality, effectiveness and operational performance of these educational programmes.  He is also responsible for the Ford Motor Company Engineering Apprenticeship Programme across a number of sites in Essex.


Dean Kidd

DAF Programme Manager

Dean has 24 years of automotive experience from an apprenticeship with Honda cars to master technician for Volkswagen, completing all relevant Imi technical courses along the way. After leaving the workshop floor four years ago I moved on to adult technical training with the Volkswagen group. After leaving Volkswagen I moved on to DAF Trucks where I carried out adult technical training to heavy vehicle technicians. The learning side of the automotive industry is an area that interests me and it is great to see technicians move up and progress. I am very excited to join Skillnet as Programme Manager and look forward to continued work with DAF Trucks and Skillnet.