Our Innovative Team

COVVI prides itself on having a team of highly qualified and dedicated individuals with a wealth of experience in prosthetic technology and product development. The brains behind the award-winning Bebionic hand decided to create something new upon the acquisition of Steeper Group Ltd. by Ottobock in 2017. With a reinvigorated vision and an abundance of fresh ideas, the COVVI team were born – in combining their abilities to manifest the vision for COVVI, delivering a world-leading product with users and clinicians at its heart.

Simon Pollard

Simon Pollard

Group Chief Executive Officer

Simon is an enthusiastic entrepreneur with a keen eye for great ideas who didn’t have to blink twice when learning of Ted and his team’s aspirations in bionic technology. He is the overall arbiter at COVVI and is responsible for getting our name out into the big wide world. With decades of business know-how under his belt, Simon is our corporate whizz at resource and operations management.

A Leeds-born and bred businessman, Simon has spent two decades building a highly successful commercial portfolio. Living and breathing business strategy, and with a true passion for valuing customers, he places both these elements as a central ethos in his entrepreneurial endeavors. His mission to develop leading brands is driven by a tenacity to achieve and build upon previous successes – the companies he currently oversees covers a diverse range of industries. A proud moment for Simon came in 2015 when he was chosen by The Insider as a ‘one to watch’ in their annual 42 under 42 list – a program that recognizes Yorkshire’s most dynamic and inspirational entrepreneurs, celebrating their success in helping to grow the regional economy.

Jane Cranley

Jane Cranley

Group CFO

Jane is qualified as a Chartered Accountant with KPMG at their Bradford office in 1991. After that she embarked on an exciting career that has taken her from chemical distribution to insurance broking, pharmaceutical manufacturing to crane logistics, and Yorkshire to Australia. Her roles have included FTSE 100 companies, owner-managed and private equity-backed businesses as both Financial Controller and Finance Director.

This rich variety of experience has been great preparation for joining Simon’s team and leading finance for his portfolio of companies at a very exciting time. As CFO Jane’s role covers all aspects of finance, accounting, compliance and risk management. She has a great finance team supporting her and together live by a continuous improvement ethos in everything they do.

Emily Wilson

Emily Wilson

Executive Assistant To The Board

I graduated some 5 years ago with a 1st Class Honours degree in International Business Management, I speak fluent Spanish with academic exchanges in both Spain and Mexico. Upon graduating from Northumbria University I decided to return to Mexico City in order to take up an opportunity of working as a Senior buyer for the country’s leading department store chain with over 125 stores. The role enabled me to develop organisational and interpersonal skills at a senior level whilst affording me the chance to become fluent in Spanish.

Some four years later I have decided to return to the UK in order to further my career, I have taken a new direction and a role that will enable me to work for a fast moving Group of companies, I am very much looking forward to joining the Group as Executive Assistant to the Board and embracing the diverse range of companies that the businesses has to offer, my main aim is to help the Board facilitate their vision and achieve their accelerated growth plans over the next few years.

Ted Varley

Ted Varley

CTO

Ted is the design lead for the company and so oversees the plans behind COVVI products and their components, in addition to operational side of things, but does a fair bit of designing and tinkering himself. As the instigator of COVVI as a business, Ted ensured he found the right people to work in the right location and equipped with the right tools – all informed by his exemplary understanding coming from over 15 years of product development industry experience.

Over the course of his professional life, Ted has worked for the likes of several blue-chip companies including Nissan, Aston Martin and McLaren in developing electromechanical solutions. In 2009 he joined Steeper Group Ltd. and led the development of the award-winning bebionic hand. In addition, he became the youngest ever board member in production, logistics, procurement, and quality. Describing himself as a creative with commercial grounding, he takes pride in his membership on the External Advisory Board for the University of Leeds Mechatronics and Robotics facility, as well as having been shortlisted for Young Yorkshire Company Director of the Year in 2016.

Wayne Leach

Wayne Leach

Group IT Manager

I have worked in IT industry for the last 26 years, 10 of those years have been working as Group IT Manager, I report into the CEO and manage the IT function across five group companies.

Working as part of the Group has provided me a number of exciting challenges in what is a fast-moving environment which operates a dynamic portfolio of businesses which include telecoms, Nursery, Hotel and Prosthetics, all of which are extremely varied. In turn the last 10 years have helped me further develop and demonstrate my skillset across multiple platforms. It has been a real privilege to work with such a dedicated team of friendly people who all aspire drive growth and service our customers across the portfolio.

In my spare time I have spent the last 13 years being heavily involved in coaching junior football, for which I have achieved my level 1 FA Coaching award. I tend to spend a lot of my spare time following my two sons in their sporting activities. My youngest plays for the junior team I am currently coaching and my eldest has achieved many accolades throughout his athletics career; he hopes to go on to compete for the Irish National Team in the future.

Graham Eadie

Graham Eadie

Customer Service & Dist. Manager

Graham joins the team to establish and embed a best in class customer service strategy. Graham’s vision is that every customer will feel valued at all touch points and will make a lifetime commitment to COVVI. He will take a partnership approach with our clinical colleagues and truly understand what is important to them and their patients. Graham will listen to and harness feedback to understand our customer and partner expectations.

“We’ll adapt and improve enabling us to put the customer at the heart of everything we do. My ambition is for COVVI to be the market leader when it comes to delighting customers. Doing the right thing will be in our DNA.”

Graham has 20 years’ experience in delivering excellent customer service. His varied operational background in healthcare, criminal justice and local government brings a different dynamic to the COVVI team. He’s an individual driven by values, who ranks integrity at the top of that list.

“I see COVVI as a new and exciting adventure for me. I have a passion for delivering results and at COVVI, this also means changing people’s lives.”

Martin Wallace

Martin Wallace

Design Manager

Martin is the mechanical engineering helmsman at COVVI and works to keep the other mechanical engineers all moving in a unified direction. He can often be found assembling 3D printed models of components designed by the team and making informed decisions about what needs to be altered before commissioning prototype manufacture. Martin brings a true appreciation for engineering into his leadership, demonstrating the art of being smart with materials within size, weight and cost restrictions.

Martin has more than ten years of experience in prosthetics, acute healthcare products, and space satellite technology. In 2006, he attained a master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Leeds, and later earned chartered status at the Institute of Mechanical Engineers. Martin began his career in the space industry, working for EADS Astrium in various areas, and then moved into the healthcare sector in 2011 to develop intelligent patient beds for Sidhil Ltd.

In 2014, he became involved in prosthetics and went on to lead the mechanical design of the bebionic Small hand which was launched the following year to critical and commercial acclaim, being awarded New Mechanical Product of the Year in the British Engineering Excellence Awards. Martin was also a finalist that year for Design Engineer of the Year. He joined COVVI in 2017 for a chance to further develop the possibilities of bionic technologies.

Simon Taylor

Simon Taylor

Project and Compliance Manager

In addition to designing components and supporting his fellow mechanical engineers, Simon is concerned in making sure all parts and assembly methods comply with health and safety standards, taking our international client base into consideration. This involves a whole lot of research and dynamism, as product recalls and new technological advances occur at a rapid rate. However, COVVI is determined to keep its titanium fingers on the pulse and so Simon’s contribution allows us to feel confident that user safety and comfort takes precedence alongside material and technology innovation.

Simon has a decades-worth of post-graduate experience working in a variety of engineering disciplines, including projects for Jaguar and Land Rover, HVAC-design temperature control units for Vodafone and the London Data Exchange, and designing intelligent mechatronic systems that tackle gas supply issues within the Energy sector. He obtained his master’s degree in Medical Engineering in 2008 and went on to study a PhD in prosthetics in 2012. From then, in 2016 he achieved chartered status from IMechE then and went on to become a member of the External Advisory Board for the University of Sheffield’s Bioengineering department. He has worked in bionics since 2014, after becoming a member of the design team that launched bebionic Small.

Rob Spares

Rob Spares

Mechanical Design Engineer

Rob works alongside his mechanical engineers in figuring how components will fit together within a compact design. Coming from a science background, he is very much the meticulous inquisitor of the team and holds great value in precision and favors refining simplicity from initial complex and elaborate component plans. Joining the team at a similar time to his colleagues, Rob has benefited from COVVI starting from the ground-up as this has allowed him to implement processes that tests components at every stage of their development.

Rob started his career in more traditional heavy-engineering roles, but an interest in modeling and simulation led to further study and employment with AEA Technology where he developed fluid dynamics software. He was subsequently offered a research position at the University of Bradford, modeling the flow of polymers within the extrusion process. After completing his PhD, Rob conducted further research into material characterization and optimization which drew him away from simulation, and into a more hands-on engineering role. His continued interest in process imagining combined with commercial projects in developing medical devices, requiring novel injection molding toolsets, steered him towards a design-based position. Now a Research Fellow, and with 20 years of industry experience, Rob moved away from academia and joined began working on prosthetics in 2014 where he can apply his background in materials, testing and design to a worthwhile product.

Chris Hew

Chris Hew

Mechanical Design Engineer

Chris is a mechanical engineer with a passion for concept development and bringing new ideas to fruition. He can be found sketching ideas on scraps of paper and then working through the maths to ensure things all work correctly. With a background in high performance actuation design and project management, Chris uses his experience to choose when to try something untested and when to utilize proven methods to get the project completed on time.

Chris graduated from the University of Warwick in 2011 with a master’s degree in mechanical engineering, and later became a chartered engineer and a member of the IMechE. Chris started his career with Reliance Precision Ltd which provided a wealth of experience across many sectors. During this time, he was responsible for developing new products for the life-science, scientific and aerospace sectors; running a research project to develop a new alloy for the aerospace sector and leading the development of the mechanical systems of an electron-beam 3D printer. Chris was a finalist for the Design Engineer of the Year Award in 2016. He joined COVVI in 2019 for a chance to work in a new environment and further hone his creative development skills and experience with exciting new products.

Zayd Ally

Zayd Ally

Mechanical Design Engineer

Zayd is a mechanical design engineer alongside Martin, Simon and Rob, and as part of his role produces drawings that describe component parts accurately in their size and material for the benefit of COVVI suppliers. His creative skills have proven an invaluable contribution when presented with the challenges of ensuring parts assemble in a way that is cohesive with overall product design.

In 2017, Zayd graduated from the University of Liverpool with an MEng in Mechanical Engineering, and has a keen interest in innovative product development, embracing challenge and change. A self-described creative individual who loves to learn with a proactive attitude, Zayd has a passion for design which grew in school from attending workshops in design and technology. University taught him various aspects of engineering which developed a technical understanding that supported his creative ideas – he is eager to enhance his skills and strengths amongst a team of experts in the field of prosthetic design.

Paul Smithson

Paul Smithson

Electronics Design Engineer

With the freedom to be creative and flexible at COVVI, along with his ‘make things work’ attitude Paul is a valuable asset to the electrical engineering team. He designs circuit boards and firmware alongside his colleagues, which brings to life the motor control of the fingers along with various background functions. Paul sees the team at COVVI being uniquely positioned to be highly responsive to patients, and personally endeavors to listen to user feedback and experience, constantly adapting and developing according to their needs.

Paul is an engineer with more than two decades of electronics-industry experience within the biomedical, instrumentation and surveillance sectors, he has designed electronic circuits and writing firmware for quadrupole mass spectrometers, thermal imaging cameras and infrastructure CCTV systems. He was also instrumental in designing the surveillance system used by Network Rail to monitor unmanned crossings. Paul, who considers himself to be creative with a strong practical approach to design, development and testing, first established a position within the prosthetics industry in 2014 to work on the bebionic hand, and other assistive technology products.

David McCrickard

David McCrickard

Electrical and Software Engineer

David is one of our electrical whizzes at COVVI and so spends a lot of his time designing circuit boards, coding firmware (microprocessor-level software), and developing electrical accessories that enables COVVI products to be compatible with smartphones, tablets and their corresponding software. He has been instrumental in developing top-tier electrical components that improves upon the limited functionality of prosthetic predecessors and applying updatable, multi-purpose technology that invests in our product’s future.

David is an experienced engineer with over ten years’ experience, having graduated in 2003 from studying Electronic Engineering at the University of Bradford. He has worked with companies of various sizes on a variety of unique products, from iPod accessories, image scalers, tensile testers, electronic looms, vibration white finger monitoring equipment, and most recently upper-limb prosthetics for the medical sector.

David believes completing the full life-cycle of development has been both challenging and rewarding, having not envisioned working with the healthcare industry on such ground-breaking products – looking back on his career he feels privileged to have experienced working with such technological variety, and is certain the best is yet to come as COVVI now looks to the future.