About Us

If you’re hiring into your finance team you’ll probably want pragmatic, evidence based advice in straight forward terms. 

The modern job market is tough so if you want the best people or the best roles, this is how we can help to increase your chances.

Maybe your offers keep getting turned down, or you’re finding it difficult to attract the right talent? Or perhaps you’re trying to progress to the next level but can’t seem to get to interview stage?

Our business is run by qualified Finance Directors and experienced recruiters who can offer greater insight into how to overcome your challenges. For us, financial recruitment is not a numbers game.

Our story

1986

FD Yorkshire Limited is incorporated, providing part-time FD services to local businesses

1990s

Steady growth, with lots of businesses starting to appoint part-time FDs

2000s

New century, new branding – “FDYL”. Associate FD model grows

2010s

Finance team recruitment becomes additional service line to support growing clients

2016

FDYL merges with national recruitment consultancy Woodrow Mercer to create Woodrow Mercer Finance. Mixing recruitment expertise with FD advisory.

2020

Headstar is born. The management team of Woodrow Mercer Finance lead an MBO to launch a rebranded, finance-focused business.

Meet the team

James Roach

Managing Director
Executive Search

James initially joined FDYL in 2013 as a portfolio FD, joining the business on a full-time basis in 2014 to help launch the recruitment division. James led the MBO into Headstar in 2020 and combines his FD consultancy work with ongoing recruitment assignments. In his spare time, he enjoys things like cycling down the Death Road in Bolivia.

james.roach@headstar.co.uk

James Roach

Natalie McGregor

Director
Executive Search & Senior Finance

Having spent seven years with a blue-chip recruiter, Natalie has a strong track record in recruitment with experience of working across many sectors. She now specialises in the recruitment of Finance Directors. A keen runner and boxer, she has temporarily put her sporting pursuits to one side as she focuses her energies on her young family.

natalie.mcgregor@headstar.co.uk

Natalie McGregor

David Clark

Director
Interim & Transformation

David joined us in June 2017, having worked for Michael Page for 9 years. For the last 4 he was business manager within their interim finance division in West Yorkshire, where he recruited across all industry sectors. He will now continue to act as an interim specialist for senior finance appointments at qualified level across Yorkshire. David has built his reputation on a strong technical understanding of his clients and candidates needs, resulting in a high level of repeat business. Outside of work David is one of our sportier members of the team as a keen darts and poker player.

david.clark@headstar.co.uk

David Clark

Simon Webster

Director
Advisory & Portfolio

Simon has been a Portfolio FD since 2020 and has assisted the development of numerous clients in that time. He has spent many years at the board table in various other roles, looking after a variety of products along the way, from fish (born and raised in Grimsby – it had to be), to flowers to coffee. The focus for Simon is to drive our Humber region in the coming years. Outside of work, you’ll often see Simon chasing segments on Strava, whether cycling or running.

simon.webster@headstar.co.uk

Simon Webster

Jenny Martin

Associate Director
Executive Search & Senior Finance

Jenny joined with 7 years of experience recruiting senior permanent appointments within both Accountancy & HR. Having spent time in both external agency and internal recruitment environments, she understands what everyone needs out of the recruitment process and makes sure everyone’s kept in the loop. Jenny specialises in placing Financial Controller and Finance Director roles. Jenny is one of those rare recruiters that actually does have a genuine interest in getting to know people. Developing long-lasting relationships comes naturally to her, meaning her candidates and clients come back to her time and time again. Outside of work, Jenny works hard to afford her adventurous and exotic holidays as she has an extremely long bucket list of places she’s still yet to explore!

jenny.martin@headstar.co.uk

Jenny Martin

Sue Moul

Regional Finance Director
Advisory & Portfolio

Sue is a highly experienced Portfolio Finance Director who specialises in supporting owner managed SMEs to develop and manage their business growth and stabilisation. A straight talking, hands-on pragmatist, Sue is equally at home guiding acquisitions and funding as she is developing and mentoring the finance team and being a Board advisor and confidante. In her spare time, Sue likes to keep active and can be found pounding the pavements with her local running club.

sue.moul@headstar.co.uk

Sue Moul

Katy Ashdown

Manager
Interim & Transformation

Katy joined Headstar in Spring 2023 with over 14 years’ experience of the finance recruitment market. Specialising in senior interim finance roles, she works with clients across West and North Yorkshire. Katy believes in open and honest recruitment and prides herself on developing strong and lasting relationships with both her clients and candidates. Outside of work, Katy is a keen walker and can often be found hiking in the Dales. She is also a big foodie and loves to cook!

katy.ashdown@headstar.co.uk

Katy Ashdown

Nichola Davies

Manager
Qualified & Senior Finance

Nichola joined Headstar in late 2023 with a wealth of experience, having worked in recruitment since 2009 in both agencies and internal recruitment roles across a variety of industries.
Throughout her career she has recruited across specialisms, from HR, to finance, technology and sales (and everything in-between). She is a firm believer in recruiting for behaviours and values, ensuring that it is a mutual fit for the candidate and company alike. Outside of work, she is married to Stuart and has two young children, which keeps her busy with kids activities such as gymnastic classes, junior parkrun and park trips. Nichola also chairs the PTA and enjoys keeping fit with boxercise and the Couch to 5K challenge.

nichola.davies@headstar.co.uk

Nichola Davies

Alex Law

Senior Consultant
Qualified & Senior Finance

Alex joined us in January 2021 with four years’ finance recruitment experience across all sectors. With an easy to like personality and a reputation for being a professional, diligent and honest recruiter, he has grown a great network of clients and candidates. Building on his experience across the transactional market, Alex now specialises in senior finance roles. Outside of work, Alex can usually be found hard at work in his vegetable garden or at Valley Parade cheering on Bradford City.

alex.law@headstar.co.uk

Alex Law

Olivia Egan

Senior Consultant
Senior Finance

Olivia joined us in 2018 initially to support purely on the candidate side. She quickly demonstrated her versatility though and became a firm favourite with clients, prompting a promotion to Consultant in 2020. Olivia specialises in placing the best talent into businesses and in her spare time is busy being a new Mum!

olivia.egan@headstar.co.uk

Olivia Egan

Jade Goodman

Senior Consultant
Executive Search

Jade joined Headstar in 2023 with over 10 years’ experience as a successful delivery consultant, working across multiple sectors and industries. Using market mapping to identify the best finance talent available, Jade’s focus is on expanding and strengthening the Headstar talent pool, developing strong relationships with candidates and clients along the way. Away from work, Jade loves spending time with family and friends, is a devoted cat mum to Orange, otherwise known as O and loves travelling, naming India as her favourite place so far.

jade.goodman@headstar.co.uk

Jade Goodman

Sophie Ripton

Senior Consultant
Part & Newly Qualified

Sophie joined us in December 2023 with six years’ recruitment experience previously specialising in the Business Support & Tech industries. She confidently engages with clients and candidates, fostering strong relationships. Her forte lies in Business Development; she understands client and candidate needs and loves delving into the motivations of the people she supports. When Sophie isn’t working, she loves spending time outdoors with her cavapoo, Rolli, and socialising with friends and family, as well as indulging into the pleasures of dining out!

sophie.ripton@headstar.co.uk

Sophie Ripton

Rachel Porteous

Senior Consultant
Transactional & Part Qualified

Rachel began her recruitment career as a resourcer within the Security sector. She progressed into a 360, end-to-end recruitment role, sourcing and placing contact centre, sales and service industry candidates. Known for her positivity and great people skills, Rachel now specialises in part and qualified finance roles across the Yorkshire region. Outside of work, Rachel enjoys spending time with friends, eating out and is a devoted cat mum.

rachel.porteous@headstar.co.uk

Rachel Porteous

Ross Wallace

Senior Consultant
Accountancy Practice

With over 10 years’ experience in recruitment, Ross has earned himself a reputation for being mature, honest and pragmatic in his approach. Having spent the lion’s share of his career in the legal arena, he knows the value of being thorough. This – combined with his personable character – has made him a favourite with candidates and clients. Ross specialises in placing finance professionals at all levels into accountancy and advisory practices. Outside of work, Ross can often be found at the gym, cycling or getting out into the wild.

ross.wallace@headstar.co.uk

Ross Wallace

Michael Barnes

Portfolio Finance Director
Advisory & Portfolio
Manchester

Michael is a Portfolio FD and CFO with a breadth of experience spanning 30 years in both corporate and SME environments. That experience has encompassed sectors such as media, leisure, FMCG, home improvements, apparel and others with a blend of B2B and B2C both in the UK and US.

Whether the need relates to start-up, growth, turnaround, sale or acquisition, Michael’s range of operational and financial expertise can add value to a successful outcome.

Outside of work he is passionate about football, rugby and cricket and loves nothing more that heading for the hills with his inexhaustible schnauzer.

michael.barnes@headstar.co.uk

Michael Barnes

Darren Bellwood

Consultant Finance Director

Darren is a commercially astute Finance Director who moved into the world of Portfolio FD in 2022 bringing with him over 35 years of experience across a diverse number of industry sectors, working closely with business owners to achieve their goals. He has a proven track record in M&A, setting and delivering strategy, turnaround / restructure, re-financing, commercial contract negotiations, mentoring and HR.

Leeds-born he has gained experience working with a number of entrepreneurs and in the corporate world, including private healthcare, waste management, property, leisure, drinks industry, managed services, print, manufacturing and recruitment to name a few. Darren is an individual who is very approachable and easy to talk to and is able to quickly understand what his clients’ and their business requires. Away from the desk you will find Darren either in the garden, carrying out something in DIY or at a music gig which is his passion.

darren.bellwood@headstar.co.uk

Darren Bellwood

Lee Bowers

Consultant Finance Director

After 20 year’s board experience in the SME environment, Lee became a Portfolio Finance Director in early 2019. Over those times he has worked across most sectors with a leisure, retail, and business service bias, whilst helping various companies through high growth, fundraising,  flotations , sale exits and, when necessary, restructuring and crisis management      

Lee has recently joined the Headstar team to help the drive into the East Midlands region. When not working with his clients, Lee strives to be an active sort, and will spend as much time as possible walking his (slightly demented) spaniels around Sherwood Forest, cycling or in the gym.

lee.bowers@headstar.co.uk

Lee Bowers

Kevin Cooke

Consultant Finance Director

Kevin is a highly experienced, commercially focused, Portfolio Finance Director and CFO with over 30 years experience in a number of industries including retail, large scale investment property, Information Technology and professional football. More recently, Kevin has worked with a variety of SMEs in a diverse range of sectors including social housing, international consultancy, charities, rail industry, commercial kitchens and a number of others.

Kevin’s diverse range of experience in fundraising, treasury management, financial management, plus his all-round business background, have gained him the valuable insight needed to advise and help SME business owners to understand and grow their businesses sustainably. Outside of work Kevin is kept busy by his hyper-active dalmatian dog and watching football and F1.

kevin.cooke@headstar.co.uk

Kevin Cooke

Mark Woodward

Consultant Finance Director

Mark has been a Portfolio FD since 2010. He specialises in working with entrepreneurs and families who want to get more out of their businesses. Succession planning, fund raising, exit strategies or simply aligning businesses with personal goals are Mark’s bread and butter. His expertise covers manufacturing, FMCG, distribution and retail, including a busy stint with a high growth e-commerce giant. In his spare time, you will find Mark playing the Double Bass or supporting and mentoring young musicians.

mark.woodward@headstar.co.uk

Mark Woodward

Sam Goodwin

Marketing Manager

With over 15 years’ experience in marketing for industry-leading companies, Sam is responsible for implementing our marketing strategy. A jack-of-all-trades, she is equally comfortable organising our events, coordinating PR and developing our website, as she is designing our marketing collateral and ensuring everything stays ‘on brand.’ Outside of work, Sam enjoys spending time with her friends, watching movies and singing along to musical theatre shows. She is also a keen writer and recently published her debut novel.

sam.goodwin@headstar.co.uk

Sam Goodwin

Sharon McCutcheon

Events Manager

Having first joined in 2022 as Sam’s maternity cover, Chartered Marketer Sharon returned to Headstar in January 2024 to help with the planning and coordination of our busy schedule of upcoming events. When not arranging networking forums, VIP dinners and conferences, Sharon enjoys hiking, watercolour painting and being a tour guide for the National Trust.         

sharon.mccutcheon@headstar.co.uk

Sharon McCutcheon

Georgia Dutton

Operations Manager

Georgia makes things happen across the Headstar office! Since joining the business as an apprentice in early 2019, Georgia has developed into her role as Operations Manager, while gaining varied knowledge and experience within different areas of the business. Charged with maintaining the integrity of our systems, she also looks after our onboarding and supports our consultants with their various day to day activity. During her spare time Georgia likes hiking, painting and when not at work she can also be found on a dancefloor!

georgia.dutton@headstar.co.uk

Georgia Dutton

Samantha Dobney

Finance Manager

Sam joined us in 2015, and after a short break to raise her family, returned in 2020 to head up our finance department. An outstanding finance professional and a stickler for detail, Sam keeps us all on track. Sam’s understanding of the business and great rapport with candidates and clients means that our financial systems run like clockwork. It’s no wonder that we keep Sam under wraps!

sam.dobney@headstar.co.uk

Samantha Dobney

Katrina Wells

Finance Assistant

Working alongside Sam, Kat handles the contractual side of the business and supports clients and contractor candidates. Practicing what we preach, we only hire the best finance people and Kat is living proof of this! A keen walker, Kat can be seen most mornings out with her 3 dogs.

kat.wells@headstar.co.uk

Ruby Feather

Operations Assistant

Having just left school, Ruby joined Headstar in 2023 and is excited to start working and build up her skills in business admin and everything else she will be exposed to in her varied role. Outside of work, Ruby is a loving dog mum to her puppy Bonnie and loves spending quality time with her friends and family.

ruby.feather@headstar.co.uk

Ruby Feather

Neil Muffitt

Board Advisor

With more than 25 years experience around board room tables, Neil believes that objectivity and an ability to challenge the status quo are essential for effective FDs. Since retiring as Chairman in Spring 2023, Neil continues to provide sound advice and guidance as a Headstar Board Advisor.

neil.muffitt@headstar.co.uk

Neil Muffitt

Rob Walker

Board Advisor

With a career spanning over 25 years in the recruitment sector, Rob brings a wealth of experience in building, leading and scaling recruitment businesses. Rob’s advisory role is to assist the Board in optimising the business structure and explore opportunities to drive further growth.

rob.walker@headstar.co.uk

Rob Walker

Clare McDowell

HR Advisor

With 12 years HR experience and a legal career before that, Clare joined us with a wealth of experience to support all our people needs. Clare supports Headstar with any operational HR issues but has also helped with key projects, such as our commitment to Equality & Diversity.  She delivers training to our staff on a broad variety of topics and her real passion project is wellbeing, which suits the Headstar way nicely! She believes that HR isn’t ‘just’ policies and procedures – it’s about bringing out the best in people so they can flourish.

Outside of work, Clare juggles her 3 crazy kids and during any down time, likes to get out and hike up a mountain!

clare.mcdowell@headstar.co.uk

Clare McDowell