Team

Meet the Freshwalks team. We are a collective team of individuals who share a passion for the great outdoors and the wonderful North, not only for its impressive history and natural beauty, but the resilient beehive that forms its business community. Together we are on a mission to get the business people of the North – and beyond – walking and talking more.

Michael Di Paola

Founder

Michael Di PaolaFounder
Michael Di Paola -  Founder

Michael is a co-founder of award-winning brand agency, Studio North, having started the business over 15 years ago in Manchester city centre.

Today, Michael is well known in the local business community for connecting people and ideas through a myriad of branded networks and regular events such as TwitFaced, Betworking and more recently Freshwalks. Always leading from the front with the purpose of bringing together like-minded souls for their commercial benefit and personal enjoyment.

In addition to these ventures, Michael is an ambassador for the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital charity, an alumni of Forever Manchester and provides brand consultancy to Prevent Breast Cancer.

He was a member of Insider’s prestigious 42 Under 42 list in 2012 and was recognised as the inaugural Man of the Year in 2013 by Downtown Manchester in Business. Peer Index ranked Michael as the most influential Manchester businessperson on Twitter in 2014.

Michael leads out on Freshwalks routes knowing how to both welcome and connect people, putting first-timers or nervous networkers at immediate ease and playing corporate cupid whenever necessary.

Michael Di PaolaFounder
Michael Di Paola -  Founder

Daniella Russo

Marketing Executive

Daniella RussoMarketing Executive
Daniella Russo -  Marketing Executive

Daniella is a freelance marketing consultant and event planner based in Manchester and Cheshire.

Whilst studying for a BA Marketing (Hons) at Nottingham Trent University, Daniella obtained diplomas in ‘Digital Marketing’ and ‘Innovation and Creativity in Marketing,’ CIM qualifications and a plethora of experience: supporting commerce on a small, localised scale and working with businesses internationally.

A fast-becoming regular to the Manchester networking scene, Daniella is always keen to grow her networks and is well-known for juggling an eclectic range of jobs: from social media and events to teaching dance, managing gyms and everything in between!

Having worked in the health and fitness sector for over eight years, Daniella has a deepened appreciation for both the physical and mental benefits of Freshwalks and is a beaming advocate of all that we stand for: seeking inspiration from her ever-changing surroundings and networking on the move wherever she goes.

Daniella RussoMarketing Executive
Daniella Russo -  Marketing Executive

Florence Brun

Marketing and Content Executive

Florence BrunMarketing and Content Executive
Florence Brun -  Marketing and Content Executive

The latest recruit to the Freshwalks marketing team, Florence is responsible for our website content in a part-time capacity. A graduate from the University of Sheffield, with a MSc in Marketing Management Practice and an award from the Chartered Institute of Marketing for being the top performer on her course. Fluent in French and with a BA in English Language and Linguistics, Florence is passionate about language and excited about forging a successful career in marketing.

Recent experience has included supporting South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive on a market research project and working as a marketing assistant at a small ethical clothing company, The Level Collective.

And we haven’t failed to notice that Flo was also a pro-active member of the u=University’s Mountaineering Society – so some of you might get to meet her sooner rather than later!

Florence BrunMarketing and Content Executive
Florence Brun -  Marketing and Content Executive

John Shinnick

Partner - Freshwalks Private

John ShinnickPartner - Freshwalks Private
John Shinnick -  Partner - Freshwalks Private

John is a portfolio Non-Exec Director, currently with five appointments helping organisations to solve problems and identify opportunities. Separately, John also coaches and mentors four or five CEOs or Managing Partners at any one time. Current assignments range from FTSE100 to professional services firms.

A Grant Thornton Partner for just short of 21 years; all spent working with dynamic people to make their businesses great; 12 years of which also involved leading Grant Thornton locations.

John has the technical capabilities and expertise that comes with this professional services background, but his focus has increasingly been on commercial negotiation and strategy, getting the very best out of people and teams. To support this, John is an NLP Practitioner and European Mentoring and Coaching Council qualified.

John is also a Trustee of MAG, (Mines Advisory Group), a non-governmental organisation that assists people affected by landmines, unexploded ordnance, and small arms and light weapons.

Recently reigniting his love of the great outdoors through Freshwalks, John is also a highly-skilled, commercial photographer who regularly captures the essence of Freshwalks through images of both people and landscapes. He also holds a National Navigation Award accreditation. 

John ShinnickPartner - Freshwalks Private
John Shinnick -  Partner - Freshwalks Private

Sue McCarthy

Partner - Freshwalks City

Sue McCarthyPartner - Freshwalks City
Sue McCarthy -  Partner - Freshwalks City

Sue McCarthy has been an official Manchester tour guide since 2008, but has worked in the tourism industry for much longer. Her experience includes tour management, tour operations and teaching.

An adopted Manc; she is an ambassador for the city and proud to show it off to visitors from all over the world. Sue regularly works with travel journalists, conference guests, student groups, sports fans, families and tour operators.

Every guest and every tour is different, which makes the job so fascinating. The skill is trying to make sure that each visitor (or local) gets the most out of their time in Manchester.

Sue is registered with the Institute of Tourist Guiding (ITG) and a member of Marketing Manchester. She is qualified to guide in French.

Sue McCarthyPartner - Freshwalks City
Sue McCarthy -  Partner - Freshwalks City

Philippa Vishnyakov

Partner – Freshwalks City

Philippa VishnyakovPartner – Freshwalks City
Philippa Vishnyakov -  Partner – Freshwalks City

Philippa Vishnyakov is a qualified Green Badge Tour Guide for Manchester and an Associate of the Institute of Tourist Guiding. She has been taking groups of Mancunians, Greater Mancunians and guests from further afield, on tours around the city since 2009.

Philippa has featured on TV (BBC2 Great British Railway Journeys) and radio (BBC World Service, Manchester Radio Online, BBC Radio Manchester) talking about Manchester, a city of pioneer, protest and performance.

Philippa VishnyakovPartner – Freshwalks City
Philippa Vishnyakov -  Partner – Freshwalks City

Katya Willems

Partner - Freshwalks Classic

Katya WillemsPartner - Freshwalks Classic
Katya Willems -  Partner - Freshwalks Classic

Katya Willems of Easyinstamcr has been a familiar face to Freshwalks for quite some time now. Her career is jam-packed full of #moments: enlightening her clients as an Instagram trainer, capturing stunning photos on the move, gaining inspiration from her surroundings and even running her own networking event: Instacake*.

Having consistently placed on our leaderboard in recent years and acted as an advocate of Freshwalks to her friends and colleagues, it was no surprise that Katya agreed to come on board to help us lead a VERY EASY series of Freshwalks Classic events. Katya is the perfect, welcoming face that will make you feel at ease on your first walk. Expect an easy pace and plenty of photo stops to catch up with your thoughts or enjoy the view… after all, she is a photography fanatic!

One thing Katya has always adored is watching the magic that happens when you brings strangers together. So, come check it out for yourself by joining her on her next easy route as Walk Leader.

*Yes, it really is a networking event made in heaven: Instagram with Cake!

Katya WillemsPartner - Freshwalks Classic
Katya Willems -  Partner - Freshwalks Classic