Leeds-based Real World Group raises six figure sum from angel investor

Rachel Hannan  Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe
Rachel Hannan Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe
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A YORKSHIRE-based investor is backing a business that aims to improve the quality of corporate leadership around the world.

Rachel Hannan has invested an undisclosed six figure sum in Real World Group, which is based in Leeds

Real World Group is run by Juliette Alban-Metcalfe, a chartered occupational psychologist and adjunct associate professor at the Centre for Sustainable Business and Enterprise at the University of Southern Queensland.

The company spun out of the University of Leeds 15 years ago and works with a organisations such as the NHS, Costain, Shell, TATA and Plexus Inc at executive level. It provides research and advice to improve the performance of business leaders around the world.

A spokesman said: “Real World Group makes a valuable contribution to thought leadership and enables organisations to build an engaging leadership culture from the very top, delivering a clear improvement in performance – measured through the bottom line.

“Their ground-breaking research, diagnostic tools and consultancy programmes have been written about in trade journals, book chapters and

referenced at national conferences.”

Ms Hannan previously co-founded GatenbySanderson, the public sector executive search firm, and successfully exited after the company achieved a turnover of nearly £24m in seven years.

Since then she has become one of the region’s most active angel investors with investments in the education, medical, technology, food, human capital and recruitment sectors.

Ms Hannan, who takes over as the company’s chairman following the investment, said: “I was impressed with the quality, passion and commitment of the founders.

“Their research is second to none and its evidence-based tools have been proven to help businesses and organisations to maximise performance and profit. I’ve been waiting many years to find a business that combines all the areas of work that interest me – not just improving organisational performance, but in the process helping their people realise their potential.”

Ms Alban-Metcalfe, the Real World Group’s CEO, added: “We have been known for the excellent results we enable our clients to achieve, our customer service and our research-based tools for many years.

“However, it’s time to scale up and take it to the next level. We are very excited to have Rachel on board and believe her expertise and passion for what we do will be the key to unlocking our next ambitious growth phase.”

In a recent interview, Ms Hannan told The Yorkshire Post that she moved into angel investing after finding herself at a loss in front of the 2011 census form. She had just sold her share of the executive recruitment firm she co-founded.

She recalled: “You had to tick a box to say whether you were employed, self-employed, unemployed, retired or a student, and I didn’t fit into any of them.

“I remember thinking: Who am I now?’ Going from working 80 hours a week to nothing is a massive mindset change.”

Between 2011 and 2016, she invested more than £500,000 across 12 businesses in sectors ranging from medical devices to food manufacturing and even a music festival.

Ms Hannan now focuses on investing in industries in which she has some knowledge and where she can add value. She estimates that she has mentored about 100 small business owners in the last five years, many for free.

Ms Hannan believes she has often been underestimated. She has used her iron will-power to build a successful business career.

She told The Yorkshire Post in 2016: “I did five A-levels and I remember the teachers saying, ‘You’re not going to have any free periods, are you sure this is a good idea?’

“I just thought, ‘There are extra slots in the timetable, why not?’”

She is also chair of the Leeds Community Foundation, an independent governor on the board of the University of Bolton and dedicates her time and funding to a number of charities and social enterprises.