CLB members January 2021 Voice Box

Each month Reena Dayal, acting Chair Central London will feature members in her monthly email to circa 3000 members. A random selection will be invited to showcase their business/ role and share views on a topical theme. It is our initiative to spotlight the diverse talent and experience of Central London. If you would like us to spotlight you and your business please apply here, and we will invite you to contribute.

Vanessa Austin
Founder, Manna Eating

Founded in 2016 by Vanessa Austin, Manna Eating provides snackers with nutrient-dense snacks, made with natural plant-based ingredients. As the founder, Vanessa re-invents the concept of snacking, creating snacks that blend high nutritional value with extraordinary flavours. Inspiring a healthy way to satisfy food cravings.

Covid-19 has put health to the fore of any consumer’s agenda. Food choices, diet and lifestyle play an even more important role, than ever before. Manna Eating’s mission has never been more relevant: create tasty, nutritious and healthy snacks that inspire and satisfy the daily grazer.  Prior to the lockdown in March, Manna Eating provided offices with freshly handmade breakfast bundles – which became an integral part of the day. Yet, like others in the industry, Covid-19 meant Manna had to pivot away from B2B and focus instead on B2C, using the online website to extend the availability of her snacks.

While online has proven to be successful, Manna Eating, in 2021, intends to commit more resources to marketing e-commerce, invest in scaling up production of the snack range and at the same time, increase engagement with her current client base in inspiring and educational ways, through social media and direct customer research.

Our current direct to consumer business model has given us invaluable insight to consumer behaviour, it allows us to gage certain trends within our small scale offering and anticipate their confidence levels. Gaining customers’ confidence is key to our sustainable growth.

  • Customers want to support small businesses
  • Customers want to understand the healthy trending jargon
  • Customers are hungry for change in their lifestyles. They are bored with ubiquitous food chains dominating their communities.

With these insights we feel confident that we are relevant and offer something exciting, re-inventing concepts and making customers feel good about themselves.

Mark de Rijk
Founder, Cybersecurity Expert on Tap

We provide cybersecurity services for SME’s.

We help clients reduce cybersecurity risk with fractional advisory services. We provide expert advice, guidance and support on all cybersecurity matters.


As an entrepreneur, I look at 2021 as an opportunity to return to economic growth overall. Businesses may have struggled initially, but many have found ways to recover their revenue. I can see UK entrepreneurs using the opportunity of Brexit to sign deals for products and services in new territories as inevitably new trade deals are signed.


Some business used the lockdowns as means to branch out into new products and markets altogether.


With cyber risk increasing each day, I see many company leaders seeing reducing cyber risks as a business enabler instead of a cost centre. Regulators are now more in tune with the real risks with recent attacks such as on Solarwinds highlighting how the supply chain is intrinsically linked to one another on a global basis.


My goal is to empower SME’s to become more confident when dealing with cybersecurity risks by using the tools provided by our virtual leadership services. Currently, our virtual lunch and learn sessions are proving to be very popular. I enjoy being part of the IoD supportive community. I wish to pay it forward by continuing to volunteer with the IoD Central London Branch. I will focus on mentoring entrepreneurs from disadvantaged backgrounds by working closely with schools, colleges, and universities around the UK.


The future is bright, and we must never lose hope during this difficult time. With the support of the government, IoD and other trade organisations, I can see the UK making major gains in restoring economic activity in the second half of the year.

Rodo h Orellana

Rodo is in charge of leading digital projects using creative technology, involving both design and development teams.

Specialised in creating digital prototypes and MVPs, he helps companies solve their challenges using tech and creativity.

2020 has been a challenging year for all of us in all aspects of our lives. As entrepreneurs, we must typically face risk on all its possible forms, but today we have been pushed to accelerate our resilience.

2021 should be the year that boosts all our skillsets on those areas that we know lack. On the other hand, establishing strong partnerships inside and outside of our sector will help complete those missing skills.

Whether we will work in presential, hybrid or remote manner, we have to acknowledge that our world changed already. We should embrace this change and see the opportunities expanding overseas. Today, tech allows it and we have seen the mood change on people’s to hold video conferences with naturality (even if their cats are participating on the calls too!)

Some sectors have been pushed out of their comfort zone and accelerating their digital transformation dramatically.

I’m in touch with businesses daily that are “surfing” the Tsunami caused by the pandemic by seeing opportunities while others are just waiting.

Things will turn to “normal” again certainly, but we must do our “homework” to anticipate it.

Alex Rocha
CEO, IT Partnership

Alex Rocha is the CEO of the IT Partnership (ITP).  ITP stands for Ideas and Technology for People.

ITP delivers all the Technology Solutions for SME’s across the board for the best part of 30 years. With Businesses clients ranging from single user to 1000+ organisations across a wide spectrum of sectors we have been in a position to help businesses by transfer of ideas and solutions.

2021 personal/ business plans/ insights/ outlook:

2020 was the year of discovery both of our own as well as clients Business and people changing needs. Introspection and reflection ensued not only on the effects of the pandemic on business and people therein, but also on inevitable future Black Swan events to come as the rate of change in most aspects of Human existence increases.

The experience triggered a deeper round of internal and external collaboration to understand the solutions not only to ongoing disruption caused by the Pandemic but also future waves of disruption.

After spending the year attending and presenting at multiple events, speaking with Government, Business Organisation and Business leaders, we see the need for moving onto the next generation of Business. Actions to build back better can be effected by transcending short term , transactional and incremental activities in favour of Transformational ones. One way to do this is to enable the so called “soft” skills involving culture, psychological safety, and other people aspects to take precedence over the traditional “hard” Technology and legacy template driven process.

Another insight is that what got us here is insufficient to get us further. Long-term sustainable Business is only possible by intelligently managing increased risk caused by change with an optimistic Growth mindset and to promote that across to the client and supplier ecosystem.

Plans for 2021 are to Pivot and to help clients pivot to thrive in the post pandemic/Brexit/ Trump/Automation driven Sustainability focused World. We believe Pivoting will involve making proactive Transformational changes to Culture, process, Technology, and other Environments in Business to go Upstream rather than remain reactively working Downstream.

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The IoD supports directors and business leaders across the UK and beyond to learn, network and build successful, responsible businesses.
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