our people

Our team of Associate Directors have a track record of success at the highest level in their areas of expertise and, calling on the credentials of several hundred associates, Flash Forward Consulting can provide truly high-class support to your organisation in any shape or form.

Energy, dynamism, zest and vitality, as well as a vigour around planning, process and astute analysis and of course a relentless focus on driving value for customers, is at the bedrock of everything we do. We're determined to help you capitalise on our attributes to bring tomorrow's results to you today - delivering success in a flash!

John Nelson chairman

John has been active at the heart of the rail industry for nearly 50 years, both at British Rail where his senior jobs included Managing Director, Network South East, and the private sector where he is best known for having set up First Class Partnerships, a renowned management consultancy business operating in UK and overseas. John has also been a Non-Executive Director of Laing Railways, South Eastern Trains and Renaissance Trains and co-founded the highly regarded, award winning Hull Trains company in 2001.

A non-executive director of Tracsis plc from 2007 to 2018, when he left to join Flash Forward Consulting, John has advised private companies and governments alike, including as a member of the Advisory Board chaired by Sir Roy McNulty in 2010/12, established by the Government to review value for money issues in the industry. In 2014 John received a national award for his “outstanding personal contribution to the rail industry”

Alex Warner chief executive

Alex has over 25 years' experience in the transport sector. From rail to tube, bus, coach and aviation as well a regulatory stint, Alex has seen and done it all! He has held director level posts at several train operating companies, including heading up the Stansted Express rail business, then becoming South Eastern Trains Retail Director and Midland Mainline's Customer Services Director where he led the franchise to its best ever National Passenger Survey score and achieved the highest ever rise in key attributes anywhere in the history of the Survey.

From 2008 to 2011, Alex was First Group's Business Director, UK Bus, during which time he also conceived and ran Greyhound UK as its Managing Director. In 2010, Alex was featured on a list of 40 of the most talented transport professionals under the age of 40 in a leading travel magazine.

Early in his career, Alex became British Airways' youngest manager at the time and was a member of its marketing management team as UK and Ireland Customer Relations Manager and he has also crossed over into logistics, spending 8 years at Royal Mail, initially running its operations in Wales and Border regions, leading nearly 9,000 employees and then as Managing Director, Royal Mail Specialist Services.

Alex has had non-executive director experience in both the leisure and railway industries and has spent the last 15 years as a columnist for transport and sporting publications. At Flash Forward Consulting he has presided over a range of consultancy programmes covering customer service, commercial, marketing, recruitment, strategy, policy, safety and much more!

In April 2020, Alex took over from Andy Street, West Midlands Mayor, as Chair of the Grand Rail Collaboration which also constitutes Network Rail's West Midlands Supervisory Board.

Douglas Downie commercial director

Douglas, a chartered accountant and experienced Finance Director joins Flash Forward Consulting having enjoyed a diverse and lengthy career in the transport and retail sectors, latterly as Finance Director for Hackney Community Transport Group, during a period of expansion and growth for this widely respected organisation.

Douglas was previously at First Group, where he was a member of the UK Bus Board initially as Finance Director and then as IT Services Director. As Finance Director, he radically improved reporting and financial controls. As IT Services Director, he led a material improvement in service levels for the operating units and brought a major ticketing system back on track.

He was Finance Director of Freightliner at privatisation from British Railways and then, after the business had achieved material growth in sales and profitability, he led the sales process that resulted in the successful sale of the business and an excellent financial return for the investors.

Douglas has worked in Private Equity and has wide experience of fundraising, but his main passion is to work in businesses that are customer led, to give them the tools to succeed in meeting their customers' needs.

Andrea Higginbottom head of business development

Andrea has enjoyed extensive experience in the rail industry, predominantly in customer service and commercial management roles, including at Virgin Trains and in a consultancy capacity.

She spent 12 years as Head of Consultancy and Systems at the Universal Improvement Company and also undertook key business development roles at customer contact company, Prolog; at Yorkshire Business Solutions and as Partner at Prospect Consultancy.

Andrea is a coach to accountants and a member of the Learning and Qualifications Advisory Group and is an experienced trainer and mentor across various sectors, as well as supporter of SMEs.

Shane Walton director, personal development

Starting her career on Christian Salvesen’s Graduate Training Scheme she moved to SEMTA then joined Skills for Logistics in 2008 as Head of Skills and was then Head of Professional Development for the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) a role she undertook for just under 6 years before becoming Professional Development and Membership Director for the Institute of Asset Management. Most recently, she has been an education consultant and auditor in the logistics sector.

Keith Purdom director, aviation products & services

Keith has consulted for over 15 years in the Aviation sector since leaving Servisair (now Swissport) in 2002 where he was CEO Europe - previously Sales Director and Managing Director, cargo. His personal focus is supporting business focused on bringing their services to Ground Handling Agents and Airlines and with colleagues, he manages acquisitions, ramp re-organisations and cost cutting exercises where his negotiating skills play a major role.

He is currently representing Rsmart (amongst other clients ) who provide automated rostering solutions, a PRM management solution and contract management for airlines and GSP and a boutique Aviation Liability broker.

Nick Pendleton managing director, logistics

Nick was Strategy Director of Royal Mail and sat on the Board of Royal Mail Innovations during the 500 year old organisations most dynamic period of change from 2009-2015. He was part of the core team that led a turnaround from a £-200m pa free cash flow to positive £200m pa over 5 years. This involved effectively deploying £25m in capital, driving ecommerce growth, changing regulator, negotiating with the Unions, Post Office, EU and Government and leading an IPO that valued the business at £3.3bn.

Nick now sits on the Boards of a number of fast growth companies, offers tailored strategy, innovation, growth support, advice and is an active angel investor. He also Chairs Entec Sound & Light, is a board member of the research company IORMA and a judge for the Katerva Global Sustainability Awards. Nick mentors in several UK accelerator programmes and belongs to expert networks that offer due diligence and sector advice to institutional investors and advisors in the logistics sector. Nick brings 26 years of practical “blue chip” experience having held senior roles pre. Royal Mail at BT, EY, Cap Gemini, Santander and Aviva. He has studied at Oxford, Cambridge, LBS, Henley, Cranfield and Nottingham and holds an MBA, a Masters in Strategic Marketing, a BSc in Economics and additional postgraduate qualifications in Finance and Marketing. He is a Chartered Marketer and Fellow of the Strategic Planning Society.

Jo Barrett customer research manager

Jo has undertaken a number of senior customer experience, product development and account management roles in the rail industry, initially for British Rail International / Rail Europe and then as Franchise Manager for Viacom Outdoor where she was responsible for the account with London Underground and Docklands Light Railway. She has also had 5 years management experience in the retail and hospitality sector.

Luke Bodin customer and market engagement specialist

Luke is a young entrepreneur, having started a business at the age of 18. He has experience working in transport to drive collaboration as well as complete surveys to get to the root of exactly what customers expect. Luke is able to really engage with customers, particularly young people, to ensure that companies are doing everything possible to exceed customers’ expectations.

He started his career from 2014 to 2015 working at Mott MacDonald in Transport Planning, then worked as a Consultant on a range of rail projects in the West Midlands.

Luke combines his role at Flash Forward with that of Managing Director of one of our partner organisations, Business Adapts, which specialises in enabling collaboration in transport through team away days, workshop facilitation and events

Roger Morris director of logistics

Roger heads up Flash Forward's consultancy service in the logistics sector where he helps businesses improve the quality and efficiency of services for their own customers. Our clients that he is working with include publicly-quoted and venture capital backed businesses across logistics and technology sectors.

Roger has 20 years' in market-leading UK and Global Logistics businesses. He has played leading roles in DHL, CEMEX and Royal Mail in Sales and Marketing (4Ps) with UK, EMEA and Asian regional responsibilities.  He has led teams in International Marketing, Product Development, Marketing, Channel Development and responsibility for Royal Mail’s £2.6Bn Parcels business at a key point in their transformation.

Steve Wright head of customer & market insight

Steve has enjoyed over 20 years in senior customer experience and insight roles within the transport sector. The majority of his time in the industry has been spent at London Underground where he held several key posts, such as Head of Marketing Strategy, Head of Customer Service Development as well as leading the company's employee engagement strategy and activity.

Since leaving London Underground, Steve has undertaken many customer experience and marketing consultancy assignments, ranging from rail franchise bidding, to developing sales, marketing and brand propositions in the taxi sector. Between 2017/18, he was also Head of Customer Experience for Great Western Railway.

Chris Cheek associate director

Chris is one of the most experienced and renowned commercial consultants in the transport sector. His career has spanned 47 years, starting with the National Bus Company and including over two decades as a director of The TAS Partnership Limited and Managing Director of Passenger Transport Intelligence Services. He was the creator of the UK Bus and Coach Awards and also the Passenger Transport Monitor of which Flash Forward Consulting is its partner organisation and is the definitive analytical tool in relation to the finances behind all parts of the UK bus, rail and coach sectors.

Chris will be focusing on developing our socio-economic and demographic research programmes to support transport companies and he will also head up our external communications programmes.

Keith Winder associate director

Keith has enjoyed over 35 years experience in Britain 's rail industry in a range of senior positions. Rising to the ranks of Production Director for North West Trains, Keith set up Winder Phillips Associates one of the leading railway consultancy practices and has spent the last 15 years undertaking a range of assignments that have covered almost every area of the privatised railway and encompassed the majority of train operating companies and owning groups.

As an accredited EFQM assessor; a Fellow of the Institute of Rail Operators, hugely experienced contract bid specialist, safety expert and a doyen of railway operations, Keith is an extremely well regarded individual not only in the UK rail sector, but also overseas where he has operated at a senior level.

Michael Holden associate director

Michael Holden is one of the most highly regarded transport professionals of his generation, with almost 40 years experience in the rail industry and a track record of success.

Having risen rapidly through the ranks at British Rail, Michael became Divisional Operations Manager for the South West Division of Network South East before joining the newly created Railtrack as Production Manager for the South West Zone in 1994. He subsequently became Zone Director for East Anglia and then Regional Director Southern, transferring to Network Rail in 2002.

In 2003, Michael was appointed Managing Director of Connex South Eastern, one of the UK’s largest and most complex train companies, and immediately found himself negotiating the transition from that franchise into a period of public sector ownership. He created South Eastern Trains and ran it successfully for a lengthy period until it was re-franchised in 2006, earning great plaudits for the manner in which he achieved significant improvements in operational and financial performance, as well as in customer satisfaction, whilst also successfully introducing new fleets of trains into service in difficult circumstances.

With his stellar reputation, it was unsurprising that after South Eastern Trains, Michael was in great demand and having set up Coledale Consulting, he provided strategic advice to clients on commercial and operational matters, and led bid teams for franchise, concession and PFI competitions. He has also had involvement in mobilising two UK franchises and a Swedish concession. His recent work has taken him to Scandinavia, Spain and Ireland as well as in the UK.

Michael was involved from the start in running East Coast Trains, firstly during mobilisation prior to transfer of the business and then as a non executive director. In January 2012 he became Chairman of East Coast Trains and Chief Executive Officer of Directly Operated Railways, the UK rail operator of last resort should an existing franchise be unable to complete its full term. Michael is a member of the Association of Train Operating Companies board and a member of the British Transport Police Authority. He is a trustee and director of Railway Children, the international charity which acts as the voice for street children worldwide.

Richard Thomas associate director

Richard is one of the most experienced revenue protection and Smartcard ticketing experts in the passenger transport. He programme managed the design and implementation of London Underground's Oyster Card as a founder member of the team, before graduating to Marketing Director (Oyster). He has also provided advice and support for similar schemes globally.

Richard was also accountable for London Underground's revenue protection function and also managed the District line's stations. More recently, he has been Cubic's Relationships Manager and interim Head of Revenue Protection for London Midland on behalf of Flash Forward Consulting and also carried out key training assignments for MTR Crossrail and bus companies