Thomas Brooke

Team Bios

John W. Birch

Senior Partner

John manages the majority of the firm’s Private Equity and investment relationships and has been part of Thomas Brooke since the inception of the firm in 1993, with a strong emphasis on effectiveness and ongoing process improvement. Prior, John was Managing Partner with Tully and Hobart in Chicago, where he was responsible for all facets of client work including internal resources and relationship development; he has also held the roles of Group Vice President with Roth Young, and Search Director for Robert Half International Chicago. John holds a BS in Management with a dual concentration in Manufacturing Management/Information Systems from Northern Illinois University. Outside work, John is currently restoring a Victorian farm and farmhouse. He also enjoys bicycling, snowshoeing, growing heirloom fruit and vegetables, and working on his World Classic stamp collection.

Nicola James

Managing Partner

Nicola founded the firm with John Birch in 1993 and manages the Firm’s client relationships and projects, including search strategy and resource allocation. Nicola has spearheaded the development of the firm’s emphasis in the paint, coatings, polymers and plastics space leveraging her Cambridge University Chemistry & Materials Science education. Her scientific and analytical training has also been applied in developing the firm’s processes to deliver effective and reliable solutions to sourcing and hiring challenges. Nicola was an artist, cartoonist and winemaker in England prior to moving to the US, and is a national and international award-winning art photographer. She enjoys outdoor activities such as biking, kayaking and growing rare antique tulips.

Dr. Derek Rance

Technical Consulting Executive

Dr. Derek Rance is a retired R&D executive. During his 38 year career with ICI and AkzoNobel , Derek held a number of technical and managerial positions in many of ICI’s polymer and coatings – related businesses. Starting in the UK, he gained functional experience in the Plastics, Films and Fibres businesses before moving to Paints and Coatings in the USA. Based at the ICI Paints North America R&D center in Strongsville, Ohio, Derek initially led a team of scientists focused on the development of novel waterborne and solid resins to provide differentiated performance in various coatings applications. He was then appointed to senior R&D management positions, first as General Manager R&D for the newly formed global ICI Packaging Coatings business, then as Vice President R&D for ICI Decorative Paint in North America and finally as Global R&D Director for AkzoNobel’s Industrial Coatings business. During his final assignment Derek also organized projects to design and build new R&D centers in USA and China and as the Performance Coatings representative to the AkzoNobel Sustainability Leadership Team, he made a significant contribution to the development of the Performance Coatings Sustainability strategy. Derek earned his Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry and Ph.D. in Polymer Colloids at the University of Bristol, UK.

Dr. Deborah Regnaud

Talent Management Consulting Executive

Deborah is a consultant specializing in talent management, human resources, and organizational development. With over twenty years in executive level human resource positions in manufacturing and non-profit, Deborah brings a broad business perspective, strategic outlook, and ability to effectively work with individuals at all levels of the organization.

Deborah began her career in operations where she became co-owner and Vice President of Operations for a small electronics manufacturing firm. After 10 years she decided to devote her energies to the people side of the business and became Vice President of Human Resources and Corporate Services for Carboline Company, a manufacturer of industrial coatings. She then moved on to Chief Human Resources Officer for the Gateway Region YMCA and ended her corporate career as Vice President of Human Resources at idX Corporation, a manufacturer of custom retail fixtures.

Deborah holds a Ph.D. from Walden University in Organizational Psychology along with an MBA and BA in Business Administration from Lindenwood University.

Deborah is an adjunct instructor at Lindenwood University, ECPI University and University of the People. She also conducts corporate training for AAIM Employers Association.

In her spare time, Deborah can be found spending quality time with her husband Angus and their two rescue dogs Yumi and Zoey.

"Great partner on several international searches."David Wolf, Former VP International Sales, Carboline

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