Leeds-headquartered Ahead Partnership has appointed a new chief operating officer to help drive forward its vision to help businesses to make meaningful impact within society through their ESG and social value initiatives.

The organisation, which has been working throughout the last 15 years to deliver projects that help overcome inequality and promote opportunity, with a host of high-profile partners like Avanti West Coast, Northern Powergrid, PwC, Arup and Landsec, has appointed Gareth Osborne to the newly-created role.

Responding to increasing demand from business and building on the success of large-scale regional projects like Growing Talent Digital Leeds and Growing Talent BPFS (Business, Professional and Financial Services) in the West Midlands, as well as the roll-out of a number of national projects with high-profile partners, the appointment is part of the organisation’s investment for future growth.

Gareth brings a wealth of professional experience, having held senior positions at high-profile organisations including Eversheds; Bradford College; Leeds Trinity University; and London Business School. Gareth now joins the Ahead Partnership team following almost eight years as director of Appletrees Associates, a consultancy specialising in supporting professional services firms, educational institutions, charities and social enterprises.

Working alongside chief executive Stephanie Burras CBE and the team, Gareth will help shape Ahead Partnership’s future direction, developing new services and evolving and growing the design and consultancy-led approach that delivers outstanding results for partners and clients.

Gareth Osborne, chief operating officer at Ahead Partnership, said: “As a first-generation graduate, who grew up on a council estate, received free school meals and managed to escape the multi-generational poverty trap that afflicts so many, I’m genuinely excited to be joining a business that makes such a clear and positive difference to countless lives and communities.

“Our society is at a real tipping point and organisations like Ahead Partnership, work tirelessly to ensure that future generations, regardless of background maximise their potential. Ahead Partnership, alongside a growing partner-base is brilliantly placed to make a transformational contribution to society and now is a pivotal time for all businesses to step up and play their part in rebuilding a better society for all.”

Stephanie added: “We are delighted to welcome Gareth to the Ahead Partnership team. Gareth’s experience and knowledge of the sectors in which we work will be extremely valuable in helping us maximise the value and impact that we can make with our partners.

“The pandemic and climate change emergency have only served to emphasise the central part that business must play in creating a better society and a more sustainable world. We’re looking forward to working with our partners and shaping our offer going forward to serve communities and support people in the best way we can.”