SME Leaders Forum

SME Leaders Cover photo

Leeds University Business School is delighted to welcome small business owners and senior leaders to join us at our SME Leaders Forum, which runs three times a year, late afternoon/early evening. 

Who should attend?

The forum is free to attend and open to all small business leaders meeting the following criteria:

  • Owner/leader/shareholder of a growing SME
  • Operating from their own business premises
  • Operating at least two years and have employees

Why should I attend?

If you are running a small business then you are likely to be in a fast-moving and changing business environment. As your team and business grow you will find you face new challenges, and that advice from people who have been there before can be invaluable.

You are the expert when it comes to your business, but let us help with developing you as a leader, building your business strategy or identifying the capabilities you require to grow. At Leeds University Business School you can access an exceptional range of business expertise to ensure you get exactly what you need to build your business for success.

This Forum has been created to enable small business leaders to: 

  • Hear from inspiring speakers on topics relevant to their fast-paced organisations 
  • Carve out time to work on their business, thinking about key changes and innovations
  • Work with other like-minded leaders to tackle issues and learn from their experiences 
  • Share their own stories of success

Each forum event will have a speaker to introduce a particular topic or share their key learnings, followed by a short workshop session during which leaders will be able to apply new ideas to their business and discuss challenges with their peer-group. The events include networking opportunities. 

Upcoming forum dates

Jne Slimming SME Leaders






Our next SME Leaders Forum will be held on Tuesday 9th July 2024, 3.45-6pm and will be hosted by Jane Slimming, CEO of Zeal.

Location: Nexus – University of Leeds, Discover Way, Leeds, LS2 3AA

Register here


Jane Slimming is the CEO and founder of Zeal, a full service creative, tech and marketing agency based in Leeds and London. Zeal has been working with SMEs for over 14 years and has an impressive record of supporting growing businesses to scale. Working with household brands such as Disney, Epson, and Yorkshire Water they also offer earlier stage businesses impressive support through their start-up network Zeal Connect.

"Getting the most out your agency and your marketing"

In this hour long session, Jane will talk about finding the right partner, what you should expect from them and what you need to give them to get the best out of the relationship. She will also discuss when you should look to hire an agency and how much you can do internally. The session also touches on KPI's, measurement and reporting and will be useful for businesses of all sizes and verticals.

Previous SME Leaders Forum Events:

- Dr Helen Hughes, Chartered Psychologist, Associate Professor, and the Behaviour Lab Director at LUBS, covered ‘Workplace networks: What are they, and why should you care?’. Read about Helen’s session here.

- Nicky Chance-Thompson MBE DL, Chief Executive of The Piece Hall Trust spoke about ‘Building Effective Relationships and Partnerships’. Read the full article here.

- James Mason, CEO of the West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, spoke about how to ‘Make Failure Your Friend’. Read the full article on the event here.

- Chris Allen, Managing Partner of Blacks Solicitors, discussed how SMEs can avoid general legal pitfalls and about the benefits and challenges of flexible/hybrid working.

- Rebecca Padgett, Senior Teaching Fellow in Employability and Professional Development at Leeds University Business School discussed SME Leaders need to be aware of the current labour market challenges, and the potential impact on their business if they are not proactive in addressing them.


Contact the SME Hub Team on to find out more about future events and the SME forum.