South West Business Council appoints two leading South West business women to Board

By South West Business Council - 21st March 2023

The South West Business Council (SWBC) has announced two of the region’s leading business figures will be joining their Statutory Board.

Catherine Mathews and Paula Hewitt bring a combined experience of nearly 60 years in the infrastructure and legal sectors to the SWBC’s board.

The SWBC’s core aims are to convene, inform and connect businesses across the South West. Its Board, which prioritises diversity and inclusion, works at a strategic level to deliver sustainable economic prosperity for the South West. Part of its focus is to encourage more women into high level strategic roles.

Catherine Mathews, Partner at Stephens Scown LLP, and Paula Hewitt, who is part of the Executive team at Somerset County Council, will join the Council’s other board members, which includes business leaders from sectors across the South West, leading UK academic experts, members of the Houses of Parliament, Members of the Order of the British Empire and delegates honoured by the Queen.

Paul Coles, CEO of the South West Business Council, said: “We are thrilled to welcome Catherine and Paula to the Board, whose legal and infrastructure expertise will continue to serve the South West through our network of members, partners and stakeholders.

“The SWBC is committed to encouraging more women into senior business roles and influential boards such as our own. I have no doubt that Catherine and Paula’s knowledge and perspective will bring a fresh outlook to our diverse board of regional leaders, who open up opportunities for our members by using their multi-sectoral skills to accelerate business growth and projects.”

Paula Hewitt is the Deputy Chief Executive, Lead Director for Economic and Community Infrastructure and Director of Commissioning for Somerset County Council, with expertise in economic development, highways and transport, waste, planning, property and environment projects.

She has led on a number of high-profile projects, including accommodating and securing the largest construction project in Western Europe, the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in Somerset. Paula is currently co-leading the work on service alignment and improvement as the five councils in Somerset transition to a single council. Additionally, she acts as current Chair of the South West Infrastructure Partnership and the immediate Past President of ADEPT.

Paula Hewitt commented: “I am delighted to be joining the Board at SWBC and for many years I have been impressed by the work they do supporting businesses across the South West.

“Having lived and worked in Somerset for over 30 years, I know the South West is filled with fantastic people and places, but that it also faces challenges in terms of connectivity and resilience. I am committed to helping outstanding regional businesses grow.”

Catherine Mathews is a Partner and Board Member at employee-owned law firm, Stephens Scown LLP, which recently became the first law firm in the South West to reach certified B-Corp status. With over 20 years’ experience as a lawyer, specialising in commercial litigation, Catherine has acted for clients operating in the renewable energy, food and drink, technology, and leisure and tourism sectors. In 2022, the dispute resolution team, led by Catherine, was ranked Band 1 in the West Country in the Legal 500 directory.

Catherine Mathews said: “SWBC plays a significant part in unlocking opportunities and driving business success in the South West. I am thrilled to be at the forefront of development in the region by acting on the Board, where I plan to guide members with strategic and legal support to enable flourishing business activity and continued growth.”

Paul continues: "By working alongside our members, we can enhance local supply chains and meet strategic objectives that position the South West as a major player in the UK and global marketplace. What Catherine, Paula and the rest of the Board have to offer is an integral part of this journey.”

For further information on SWBC and the Statutory Board, please visit:

We are thrilled to welcome Catherine and Paula to the Board, whose legal and infrastructure expertise will continue to serve the South West through our network of members, partners and stakeholders.

- Paul Coles, CEO of the South West Business Council
News on a mobile illustration