Meet the ITV News Business Club panelists

2012 will be the year the economy either fires up, or falls flat. Will businesses create the jobs to replace those being lost in the public sector? Will we see a reversal of the trend that has seen household-name brands disappear forever?

To find out, we’ve invited businessmen and women from across the country to join the ITV News Business Club.

Together, our members will tell us what’s really going on throughout 2012, away from the soundbites and the political spin.

They’ll tell us if the government’s doing enough to help companies get the economy moving. They’ll be honest about what it’s like to run a business in these challenging times.

The ITV National News has 11 panel members, and there is a bit about them below. Around the country our colleagues in Scotland, Wales and the ITV regions have created Business Clubs of their own, so nationally, we are tracking what is actually going on at around 100 firms.

Here’s a bit about our members:

Chris Sullivan – Chief Executive, UK Corporate Banking, Royal Bank of Scotland

Chris Sullivan

The Royal Bank of Scotland Group is the UK’s largest publicly-owned bank. The UK Treasury holds an 84% stake. Chris Sullivan is responsible for the largest amount of business lending to small and medium-sized businesses in the whole country.

Jamal Edwards, Founder, SB.TV

Jamal Edwards

At 21, Jamal has already interviewed the Prime Minister, not to mention hundreds of famous musicians, fronted a TV ad and starred in his own TV show. He’s also the founder and CEO of SB.TV, an online music channel that’s impressed even Simon Cowell. He now has 10 employees specialising in web-based viral content from music events.

Born and raised on a London estate, Jamal urges young people facing unemployment to ‘forget the barriers’ and make opportunities for themselves.

Kavita Oberoi – Founder and Managing Director, Oberoi Consulting

Kavita Oberoi

Kavita Oberoi is an entrepreneur with a multi-million pound IT business. A self-made millionaire, she knows what it’s like to be starting out looking for funding and growing a business. Now she is a wealthy investor as well as a Managing Director.

“The rigmarole of banks to get funding is unreal. And the government is absolutely not doing enough to help.”

Tim Martin – Chairman, JD Wetherspoon

Tim Martin

Tim is the outspoken boss of the popular Wetherspoons chain, which has been doing well during the downturn as its customers seek value for money. Earlier this year he launched a ‘Veto Ale’ to celebrate the PM’s historic EU veto. He opened his first pub in 1979 and there are now over 800 outlets in the UK.

Richard Ward – CEO, Lloyd’s of London

Richard Ward

Richard joined Lloyd’s as Chief Executive Officer in April 2006. Lloyd’s is the world’s leading insurance market providing specialist insurance services to businesses in over 200 countries.

Keith Anderson - Chief Corporate Officer, Scottish Power

Keith Anderson

Based in Glasgow, Scottish Power is one of the largest electricity companies in Europe and the world’s top renewable energy operator. Last June they were the first of the energy companies to announce a price hike in both their gas and electricity services from August 2011. British Gas, SSE, Eon and npower followed suit after.

Michelle ‘Clippy’ McKenna – Founder, Clippy’s Apples

Michelle ‘Clippy’ McKenna

Clippy and her husband started their own business in 2008 during the last recession. Using apples from her own back garden in Cheshire, Clippy started to develop a range of British-apple based conserves, jellies, chutneys and relishes. Their range is now sold nationally in stores such as Asda. Despite having a healthy business that is forecast to grow this year, she says it’s not easy.

“It is so frustrating. We are one of those SMEs [small and medium enterprises] that the government says are the route to growth, yet, despite being a proven concept with national accounts, the banks aren’t lending to us. We are still not paying ourselves a wage… we can’t afford to employ people. It’s a chicken and egg scenario.”

Andy Clarke – CEO/President, Asda

Andy Clarke

From stacking shelves as a teenager, Andy has become the boss of the UK’s second largest supermarket chain based in Leeds. Self-styled as Britain’s Lowest Priced Supermarket, Asda prioritises price driven promotions.

Miles Bullough – Media Consultant

Miles Bullough

Miles has been in the TV business for 25 years, helping to identify suitable projects, finance them, oversee production and sell them around the world. Until June 2012 he was Head of Broadcast at renowned animation studio Aardman where he campaigned for the tax credit announced in the spring 2012 budget.

He is now consulting while raising finance to start his own executive production company in 2013.

Ian Tyler – Chief Executive, Balfour Beatty

Ian Tyler

Balfour Beatty is the 15th largest construction company in the world. Ian became its Chief Executive in 2005.

Balfour is currently working on projects including the Liverpool Street Crossrail station, M25 motorway widening, Blackfriars station and bridge construction works.

Margaret Wood MBE – Managing Director, ICW UK Ltd

Margaret Wood MBE

ICW is an award-winning designer and manufacturer of aluminium windows.

Margaret started up her business 19 years ago. She has 5 employees and is really concerned about the lack of investment in British manufacturing. She competes directly with Chinese companies.