OPI is the global business supplies industry's go-to hub for essential resources, news, analysis, information and networking. A trusted name since 1991, OPI delivers business-critical information through OPI and Independent Dealer magazines, apps, website, events and resources such as industry research, marketing, executive search and dealer sales training.
Chris Exner is what you might call an office products veteran, having spent 25 years in the industry. Most recently, he enjoyed a three-year spell in wealth management with St James’s Place.
During his OP career, Chris spent 17 years with Esselte, now part of ACCO Brands, where his most recent position was VP Sales Asia Pacific. Prior to that, he held several senior roles at the manufacturer, including VP Sales Europe, VP Western Europe, Managing Director UK and VP European Accounts.
Chris is an excellent fit for a truly international company like OPI – he is well-travelled and has lived in China, Hong Kong, Germany, France and the UK. He has also been to most of OPI’s events across the globe!
In addition to English, he speaks German and French.
In his spare time, Chris is a keen sportsman. He also actively supports several charities and is hoping to get involved in some of our industry’s charity fundraising.
Andy is News Editor at OPI.
Andy Braithwaite has been writing about the office and business products industry since 2003, first as part of the IS-Guide/Sourcing Days team in Europe and then with OPI, where he has been working since 2008.
His first 5½ years at OPI were as News Editor, before moving into the Editor's role in October 2013, and he has developed a reputation for providing a fair and balanced approach to editorial content.
Married with two grown up children, Andy has been living in France since 2000 and before that lived and worked in the Middle East for almost ten years.
He works from home when he is not attending an OP event in some part of the world or other.
Debbie was OPI’s first ever full time employee back in 1993, working as an assistant and then as PA to the firm’s founders for 10 years before leaving to work closer to home.
Having gained experience in the property, legal and faith related sectors, she returned to OPI in 2017, and now provides flexible administrative support to OPI’s Directors and other members of staff.
Outside of OPI, Debbie acts as chief carer for her husband and son who both have disabilities, and enjoys tree top adventures/zip wiring whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Debbie’s favourite office product is the sit-stand desk “always on the look-out for one small enough to fit my desk at home”.
Heike Dieckmann is the longest-serving editorial member of OPI, having been with the company since 1999. During that time she has developed an extensive knowledge of the industry, understanding and analysing – and hopefully through her writing helping others understand too – what makes it tick.
Before joining OPI, Heike worked on a number of business titles in London, honing her writing, subbing and proofing skills. In addition to a reputation as being the keenest – some might even say most pedantic! – proofreader at OPI, Heike has over the years been involved in many projects within the company, amassing an in-depth knowledge across many subject areas as well as a flair for multitasking. Since her native tongue is German, this has often been a truly bilingual effort as she remains a core point of contact for the German-speaking contingent of the office products industry.
Heike’s favourite business product is the PaperPro because “nothing comes close” – apart from the humble Post-it note, of course.
Michelle Sturman joined OPI as News Editor in 2014 to manage the online and magazine news service ensuring the business products industry is kept up-to-date with the latest news and analysis. The following year, she was made Deputy Editor.
Michelle has over 20 years’ experience in B2B and consumer publishing reporting on topics such as business, IT, marketing and lifestyle.
A self-confessed tech geek, she also has a love for all things ancient – archaeologically speaking, that is.
And Michelle’s favourite office product? “The humble Post-it note in any shape, size and colour. Its versatility knows no bounds and it’s perfect for decorating office walls.”
Chris joined OPI in 2006 as VP North America and UK and for almost 12 years was responsible for the management and development of customer accounts in North America, the United Kingdom and Australasia. In 2018 he was appointed Head of Media Sales and now has full responsibility for all print and digital media sales worldwide
Chris has more than 20 years’ experience in a sales environment, with 15 of those being in media.
Being a germophobe, his favourite office product would have to be hand sanitizer!
Aurora joined OPI in 2015 as Digital Marketing Manager with a mandate to continuously improve the website and a create a better user experience for visitors.
Having worked in digital marketing since 2003, Aurora has a wide knowledge of the industry from website development and SEO, to marketing and advertising. She has worked for online advertising agencies as well as for publishers (B2B and B2C), and she ran her own online marketing agency.
Besides digital marketing, Aurora also has a passion for traditional Chinese medicine and the health sector.
Her favourite office product? “The fountain pen! That’s the only way my handwriting is actually readable.”
Lisa has been with the team for more than 20 years and is well known to delegates at OPI events. Lisa has run conferences, forums and awards dinners in Europe, Asia and the US and was recognised for her efforts and contribution to the industry in 2017 when she was presented with a Special Recognition award at the European Ofice Products Awards.
Lisa combines her OPI work with raising a young family and although now working part-time, she is always available on email.
Being traditional at heart, Lisa’s favourite business products are a spiral bound notebook and a good ballpoint pen.
Kelly Hilleard joined OPI in June 2016 as the company’s finance manager after a very successful career managing a portfolio of schools for a UK firm specialising in catering for the education sector. Her attention to detail and thoroughness, coupled with a passion for delivering excellent customer service, has improved OPI’s cloud-based finance function considerably in a very short space of time.
Of course Kelly is no stranger to OPI. As the long-suffering wife of CEO Steve Hilleard, and a shareholder in the company, she has held that most important of support roles, being a mother to their four wonderful children and patiently managing the home while Steve undertook his many overseas business trips. She is now looking forward to working out of a hotel room herself in some of the nice places that OPI staff occasionally have to visit and hopes to meet many of the industry personalities that Steve has befriended over 25+ years.
Being uber-organised, Kelly’s favourite business product is a plastic wallet.
With over ten years experience in media graphic design, Joel is responsible for making everything OPI as pretty as can be – from the monthly magazine to one off catalogues, logos, marketing materials, event programmes and the Independent Dealer eZine.
Joel is a complete BBQ nut/foodie and provides new recruits with invaluable tips on where to eat affordably close to the office in London's fashionable Clerkenwell district.
His favourite office product has to be either the stapleless stapler, the 3M Wristrest Gel Mouse Mat or Goo Gone tough wipes ("they are so awesome for keeping your footwear clean!")
Steve Hilleard has led OPI for much of its 28 year history, establishing the company as the business products industry’s most trusted media player, providing insight and connectivity to senior executives in more than 100 countries via OPI’s magazines and supplements, online news, ground-breaking industry events and research.
A former independent dealer, Steve has no formal journalism qualification but he does have a wealth of experience and quite possibly the most comprehensive address book in the industry. For those reasons – and because he’s the boss – a succession of Editors over the years have let him contribute articles to OPI (although we don’t tell him just how much sub-editing is required by one of our proper journalists before his work is fit for publication).
Steve is also very involved with a number of industry charities, including co-chairing the personal giving campaign on behalf of the National Business Products Council for City of Hope, fundraising for cancer research via the UK Climb of Life and Ride of Life, and a number of charitable endeavours for the Worshipful Company of Stationers & Newspaper Makers, a City of London livery company founded in 1403.
In 2019, Steve was the recipient of the Outstanding Achievement Award, the highest accolade bestowed by BOSS Federation, the UK office products industry’s trade association.
Steve’s favourite business product is Andrex Toilet Paper: “Makes the best of a bad job!”
Janet Bell has been working in the office products sector since 2000 when she joined OPI to run its international events across Europe, Asia and the US. She became a Director in 2006 following a management buyout and now, in addition to events, oversees OPI‘s operational activities, online presence and lots more besides! There certainly doesn’t seem to be any spare time.
Outside of OPI, Janet is a board member for Office Products Women in Leadership (OPWIL), a non-profit professional organisation connecting women in leadership roles in the office products industry – and it certainly wouldn’t do our sector any harm to have a few more women in it!
Janet is also a liveryman at the Worshipful Company of Stationers & Newspaper Makers, a historic institution that was formed in 1403 and now represents the communications and content industries. She was cloathed in 2012 and currently serves on the Marketing Committee (although she is eyeing up the Wine Committee and the ski team as well!)
Janet is also a dedicated supporter of the Climb Of Life, the UK OP industry’s charity fundraising climb, and helps this endeavour to raise over £100,000 for The Institute of Cancer Research.
When it comes to office supplies Janet’s true love is a propelling pencil. “I have always preferred pencils to pens and propelling ones are always sharp. Happy days!”