Meet the Speakers

Additional speakers to be announced in due course.

Gamal Fahnbulleh

Conference Host
Gamal Fahnbulleh is an experienced anchor with ITV Granada Reports – ITV’s regional award-winning news programme for the North West of England.

Gamal has worked for Sky News where he held both solo and co-anchor positions across the day’s output, including flagship programmes Sky News Breakfast, Sky News Tonight and Sky News at Ten. When Gamal was not conducting interviews with high profile politicians and celebrities or carrying out the morning and evening newspaper review, he was delivering 'Breaking News' in a fast-paced journalistic environment handling rolling news and live updates.

Gamal has also worked for ITV Breakfast as the Northern based Correspondent for Good Morning Britain and worked extensively on the Hillsborough enquiry. He has also worked as a reporter for ITN.

When not working, Gamal has a love of all things history and spends his free time reading fact based novels from the classical and medieval period. He is also a self-confessed film buff and will happily lose an evening to some classic cinema or the latest blockbuster.

A talented sportsman growing up, Gamal represented his school, county and region in Rugby and hockey. He remains a keen fitness fanatic, living by the mantra that a healthy body is a healthy mind.

Clare Bambra

Professor of Public Health, Newcastle University
Clare Bambra (PhD, FAcSS) is Professor of Public Health. She is an interdisciplinary social scientist working at the interface of public health policy, health geography and social epidemiology. She has over 20 years teaching experience and holds a PGCert in Higher Education.

She led the Independent SAGE report on Covid-19 and Health Inequalities, the NHSA report on Covid-19 in the North and co-leads a Health Foundation Grant on Covid-19 and Health Inequalities. She is a Director of the Equal England: Health Inequalities Knowledge Exchange Network and she works regularly with policy and practice organisations including the NHS, Local Authorities, Public Health England, European Union and WHO.

Jake Berry

Minister of State for the Northern Powerhouse
The Right Hon.Jake Berry MP was appointed Minister of State for the Northern Powerhouse and Local Growth in Boris Johnson's first cabinet on 25 July 2019. In his role he represented the Cabinet Office and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

He was Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy from June 2019 to July 2019. This was in addition to his role as a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, to which he was appointed on 8 January 2018.

He was Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government from 14 June 2017 to January 2018.

Jake was elected Conservative MP for Rossendale and Darwen in 2010.

Shruti Bhargava

Chair, Unity Homes and Enterprise
Shruti Bhargava is Chair of Leeds based BME housing association Unity Homes and Enterprise, which has inclusive growth amongst its core objectives. She is currently a commissioner of the Sheffield Race Equality Commission.

Professionally, she is an independent consultant and facilitator with particular interests in strategy, leadership, organisational development, systems, and working with others to tackle ‘impossible’ challenges.

She came to Sheffield 30 years ago to work in the steel industry. Since then, she has had a multi-dimensional career across sectors and roles - working with community groups, in global consultancy programmes, local government and housing, including as lead on transformation projects. She is a former Board Director of Sheffield Homes and Trustee of Ashiana Sheffield.

Shruti describes herself as ‘diversity personified’ – personally, professionally, and in terms of lived experience.

She has two mottoes: ‘Don’t even try and put me in a box,’ and ‘Do the right thing.’

She has a degree in Mathematics from Manchester University, a Masters degree in Operational Research from Birmingham University, and an MBA from Ashridge Business School.

Cedric Boston

Chief Executive, Unity Homes and Enterprise
Cedric Boston is the Chief Executive of Leeds-based BME housing association Unity Homes and Enterprise.
With over 30 years of senior level experience in social housing, he is a former Chief Executive of Arhag, a London BME association dedicated to improving the life chances of migrants and refugees.
Mr Boston also served as Director of Housing Services at Lambeth Living with responsibility for the provision of operational services to 65,000 people.  
He read law and politics at Keele University, was called to the Bar in 1985 and is currently studying part-time for an Open University degree in classical history.

Tracy Brabin

Metro Mayor - West Yorkshire
Tracy Brabin is a British Labour and Co-operative politician who was elected as the first Mayor of West Yorkshire, and the first ever woman Metro Mayor in May 2021. She was the Member of Parliament for Batley and Spen from 2016 until 2021. As MP, she held appointments as Shadow Early Years Minister, Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and Shadow Minister for Cultural Industries. Born in Batley, Tracy was an actor and television writer prior to entering politics.

Andy Burnham

Mayor, Greater Manchester
Andy Burnham was first elected as Mayor of Greater Manchester in May 2017 and was re- elected for a second term in May 2021.
Responsible for shaping the future of Greater Manchester, Andy’s priorities include building a London-style integrated transport system, ending rough sleeping, transforming Greater Manchester into one of the greenest city regions in Europe and making Greater Manchester a great place to grow up, get on, and grow old.
Before being elected Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy was MP for Leigh from 2001. In government, Andy has held Ministerial positions at the Home Office, Department of Health and the Treasury. In 2008 he became Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, before returning to Health as Secretary of State in 2009.
In opposition, Andy has served as Shadow Education Secretary, Shadow Health Secretary and Shadow Home Secretary.
Andy lives in Leigh, Greater Manchester, with his wife and three children.

Ken Cooper

Ken Cooper, British Business Bank
Ken Cooper is Managing Director of Venture Solutions at the British Business Bank where he is responsible for the design and delivery of a number of programmes that support the flow of investment into UK businesses including the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund, Midlands Engine Investment Fund and Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Investment Fund as well as the Enterprise Capital Fund programme. Together these represent around £2bn of investment into SMEs. Most recently he has been involved in delivering the Future Fund as a part of the Bank’s additional support during the Coronavirus crisis.
Previously Ken had a similar role in Capital for Enterprise and before that was responsible for the UK Government’s SME finance policy within the Small Business Service.

Sajalu Dahal

Lead Analyst, Humber Industrial Cluster Plan
Sajalu is the Lead Analyst for the Humber Industrial Cluster Plan (HICP) project, which aims to illustrate how the UK’s largest emitting industrial cluster can reach net zero by 2040 - potentially making it the first industrial cluster in the world to do so. She is leading the technical delivery of the HICP project in collaboration with 8 private sector industrial partners. She’s previously served the local authority energy agenda as the Energy Project Manager for HEY LEP.
Sajalu is a degree qualified Chemical Engineer, and an associate member of the IChemE. She is involved in the Yorkshire and Humber Climate Commission, and an active ambassador of STEM subjects.

Hannah Davies

Head of External and Public Affairs for the Northern Health Science Alliance (NHSA)
Hannah Davies is Head of External and Public Affairs for the Northern Health Science Alliance (NHSA), an alliance of 24 northern hospitals, universities and Academic Health Science Networks, and leads their health inequality work. She has been instrumental in developing the NHSA’s health inequality strand which in 2018 launched the Health for Wealth report demonstrating the 1/3 gap in productivity caused by health inequity between North and South England. She helped launch the Northern Universities Public Health Alliance and is a co-author on NHSA’s recent health inequalities COVID report with the NIHR Northern Applied Research Collaboratives (ARCs). As a journalist for 10 years for the Evening Chronicle, Journal and Sunday Sun in Newcastle, she won several awards for her campaigning work.

Natalie Doherty

Director of Quality, Curriculum & Innovation, The Source Skills Academy
Natalie Doherty started her early career as a professional dancer working with various choreographers from around the world she then went on to become an events officer coordinating a number of Arts and Culture Events such as The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, LEAP International Dance Festival and various other high profile sporting events. She has over 20 years of experience of working within the Education Sector with 15 years in Further Education and skills, developing her career from her humble beginnings as a part-time tutor to a member of various Senior Management Team across various organisations up and down the UK. Natalie has worked in multiple large FE colleges, within the prison sector and in training providers which has given her a clear understanding of the range and depth of educational opportunities required by different groups of individuals.

Jamie Driscoll

Mayor of the North of Tyne Combined Authority
After leaving school at 16, Jamie returned to education as a mature student to gain an engineering degree at Northumbria University. He worked as an engineer making breathing apparatus and in the electronics and IT sector, later setting up his own software development firm. Before being elected to the Office of Mayor, North of Tyne, Jamie was a Labour and Cooperative Councillor in the Monument Ward in Newcastle City Centre. A passionate socialist, Jamie is committed to driving forward his manifesto pledges around community wealth building, addressing the climate emergency, revitalising life in local communities, building affordable homes and delivering lifelong learning for the people North of Tyne. Originally born on Teesside, Jamie now lives in Gosforth with his wife and sons.

Sue Ferns

Deputy General Secretary at Prospect
Sue is Senior Deputy General Secretary at Prospect, the union for professionals. Her responsibilities in Prospect include leading the union’s work across the energy sector, climate change and gender equality.

Sue is a member of the TUC General Council and Executive Committee, chair of the Women’s Committee and a TUC Aid Trustee. She is the General Council’s lead on energy, environment and sustainability, chair of the Trade Union Sustainable Development Advisory Committee (TUSDAC), and a member of the government’s green jobs taskforce.

She is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, Chair of Unions 21, a member of Onward’s ‘Getting to zero’ steering group, a member of the Nuclear Skills Strategy Group, and a board member of Talent Retention Solutions (TRS).

Cllr Louise Gittins

Leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council
Councillor Louise Gittins was first elected to Cheshire West and Chester Council in 2011, to serve Little Neston and Burton. A year later, she became the Shadow Spokesperson for Culture and Leisure, and was subsequently appointed as the Shadow Deputy Leader in 2014.

Following the 2015 election, which saw Labour take control of Cheshire West and Chester Council, Cllr Gittins was named Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Communities and Wellbeing – and in May 2019, was elected as Leader of the Council. In 2019 Cllr Gittins was elected Vice Chair of Transport for the North and is currently Acting Chair whilst recruitment is carried out for a new chair.

In addition to her portfolio responsibilities as Council Leader - which include Devolution, Communications, the local Health Economy and wider External Partnerships - Cllr Gittins continues to be the Cabinet Member for Wellbeing; incorporating Culture, Leisure, Heritage and Green Spaces. Cllr Gittins is Chair of the west Cheshire Health and Wellbeing Board, sits on the Cheshire and Merseyside Health Care partnership board and represents elected members on the Cheshire and Merseyside’ No More Suicide’ Partnership Board.

Richard Goodfellow

Head of Infrastructure, Projects & Energy Group, Addleshaw Goddard
Richard specialises in large infrastructure projects with a bias towards economic and energy infrastructure. Richard acts for clients, developers, equity, debt and the supply chain. Richard is Head of Infrastructure, Projects & Energy Group and has been listed in Chambers for nearly ten years as an expert in his field.

Bruce Heppenstall

Plant Director, Drax
Bruce is Plant Director at Drax Power Station responsible for all site activities at the world’s largest
biomass power station and Europe’s largest single site renewable generator. Drax Power Station is
located near Selby in North Yorkshire and is rated at 4GW consisting of 4 power units that have been
converted to run on sustainable biomass and 2 coal units that close in September 2022. Since joining
the business in November 2019, Bruce has been focussed on ensuring improving safety and aligning
the cost base of the plant to ensure long term sustainability beyond the closure of the coal units.


Mayor of Sheffield City Region
Dan Jarvis was elected the first Mayor of Sheffield City Region in May 2018.

He also serves as the MP for Barnsley Central having become the first person since World War Two to resign his military commission in order to contest a Parliamentary by-election.

As Mayor of the Sheffield City Region he works with the local authority leaders and business leaders from across the Sheffield City Region to drive prosperity and growth for all. As a sitting MP Dan is also able to represent the Sheffield City Region right at the heart of Government.

Andy Koss

CEO of UK & Middle East, Sembcorp Industries
Andy Koss is head of our UK business where he oversees operations comprising large-scale industrial assets on the Wilton International site owned by Sembcorp and a portfolio of flexible gas engines and battery energy storage systems located across the UK.
Andy has nearly 30 years of experience in the financial and energy sectors. Prior to joining Sembcorp, he spent 15 years at Drax Group. There, he rose to the position of CEO of Generation and was responsible for the group’s UK power generation sites and key functions including trading, fuel procurement, as well as supply chain and logistics. He was deputy group treasurer of Provident Financial, and has held various accounting and investment banking roles including Coopers & Lybrand, UBS and Dresdner Kleinwort Benson.
Andy is a qualified chartered accountant, treasurer and holds a first class honours degree in Mathematics, Operational Research, Statistics and Economics from the University of Warwick in the UK.

Sir Richard Leese

Leader, Manchester City Council
Richard Leese was elected to Manchester City Council in 1984. He became Leader of the Council in 1996.

Richard’s political interests include devolution, place-based budgets and the links between economic development and social policy, developing open democracy and the community leadership role of local authorities; and the role of cities in creating a sustainable future. He has a number of additional responsibilities including Director of Manchester Airport Holdings Ltd, Deputy Mayor and Vice Chair of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Chair of the LGA City Regions Board.

Anne Longfield CBE

Former Children’s Commissioner for England
Anne Longfield has spent the last three decades working to improve the life chances of children, particularly the most vulnerable. From March 2015 to February 2021, she was Children’s Commissioner for England and previously led a national children’s charity.

Anne remains a passionate champion for children, influencing and shaping the national debate and policy agenda for children and their families. She spent many years campaigning for better childcare, often at a time when many saw the issue as obscure or niche.

As Children’s Commissioner, Anne spent six years championing the rights and interests of children with those in power who make decisions about children’s lives, acting as children’s ‘eyes and ears’ in the corridors of power in Whitehall and Westminster.

Mr Ashley Lumsden

Director of Government and Public Affairs, Huawei Technologies (UK) Co., Ltd.
Ashley Lumsden currently serves as Director of Government and Public Affairs, in charge of Huawei's UK strategy for relationship building with the UK Government, Parliament, and Regulators.

Over the past 5 years at Huawei he has worked with colleauges in the UK, Brussels and Shenzhen Headquarters to develop solid strategic relationships with policy-makers, regulators, advisers and legislators, and has worked with international organisations such as the OECD and UNCTAD.

As part of his work at Huawei, Ashley serves as a member of the CBI’s International Advisory Group, is a board member of the Commonwealth Telecoms Organisation and has joined the Business at OECD delegation to the Committee for Digital Economy Policy.

Before joining Huawei, Ashley was Special Adviser to the then Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Sir Vince Cable in the UK Coalition Government and prior to that was an adviser on finance, transport and infrastructure policy at City Hall, London. Ashley studied Mathematics at Imperial College London.

Patrick Melia

Chief Executive, Sunderland City Council
Patrick is driven by a desire to ensure the delivery of high-quality services that enable residents to access opportunities and live healthy, happy and independently economic lives, safely in their communities.
He is committed to leading a significant change programme within the City Council to make Sunderland a great place for residents to live, business to thrive and for visitors to enjoy, and understands that strong partnerships across the public, business and voluntary and community sectors, with everyone working to a common goal, are fundamental to this.

Patrick’s priorities for Sunderland include the major physical regeneration of the City Centre, with plans well underway including the Riverside Sunderland development. To date, over £100m of investment by L&G in new office accommodation has been secured, with the employment zone set to create 10,000 jobs. Plans also include the creation of over 1,000 state of the art homes in new communities and the development of a vibrant, City Centre leisure offer.

Kim McGuinness

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness

Kim McGuinness was elected as Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria in July 2019. Her
successful campaign focused on tackling the root causes of crime, supporting victims and keeping
communities safe.
Prior to this, Kim was a Labour Councillor for Newcastle City Council. She was also a cabinet member
for Culture, Sports and Public Health, which saw her take a lead role in a variety of high-profile
sporting, cultural and community-based events brought to the city.
Professionally, Kim has worked across a range of sectors including private finance and universities.
More recently she held senior posts in educational and environmental charities where she gained
considerable experience helping communities with issues and people with personal struggles.
Kim was born and brought up in Newcastle upon Tyne, where she also attended University and is
passionate about the North East.
Kim is now the driving force behind Northumbria’s Violence Reduction Unit, committed to co-
ordinating efforts between police and partners to find long-term solutions to address inequality and
deprivation. Her priorities centre around fighting crime, preventing crime and improving lives.
Kim is also the workforce lead for the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners – a role in
which she is committed to driving progress on diversity and supporting the needs of emergency

Marnie Millard

Chairman Of The Board at UA92 (University Academy '92)
Armoghan has been with PwC for 18 years. Prior to taking up his existing role as PwC's Regional Chair for the North he was Head of Actuarial, Banking & Intelligent Analytics. With over 30 years’ experience Armoghan has worked across industry and the public sector. He has a wealth of experience in designing and implementing solutions for PwC clients. His areas of expertise include financial services, energy and government and health industries. Prior to joining PwC, Armoghan worked for Babcock Power, Lloyds Bank, Lloyds of London and CNA Financial (Chicago).

Armoghan, who originates from Huddersfield, is passionate about delivering value for clients and is active in the market and the region helping to support PwC's clients with their post-COVID recovery plans. Another passion for Armoghan is people and improving social mobility where he is keen to ensure that the focus is maintained on key projects for the firm in the region such as the continued investment in PwC's Bradford office.

Armoghan Mohammed

PwC's Regional Chair for the North
Armoghan has been with PwC for 18 years. Prior to taking up his existing role as PwC's Regional Chair for the North he was Head of Actuarial, Banking & Intelligent Analytics. With over 30 years’ experience Armoghan has worked across industry and the public sector. He has a wealth of experience in designing and implementing solutions for PwC clients. His areas of expertise include financial services, energy and government and health industries. Prior to joining PwC, Armoghan worked for Babcock Power, Lloyds Bank, Lloyds of London and CNA Financial (Chicago).

Armoghan, who originates from Huddersfield, is passionate about delivering value for clients and is active in the market and the region helping to support PwC's clients with their post-COVID recovery plans. Another passion for Armoghan is people and improving social mobility where he is keen to ensure that the focus is maintained on key projects for the firm in the region such as the continued investment in PwC's Bradford office.

Ben Morgan

Research Director, AMRC
Ben is responsible for setting the research agenda and delivery strategy to ensure that the AMRC remains at the forefront of driving innovation into industry. Having worked at the AMRC for 12 years, Ben previously was Head of the Integrated Manufacturing Group and Factory 2050 the world’s first research facility dedicated to reconfigurable and digitally driven manufacturing, artificial intelligence and digitally assisted assembly.

He works closely with our partners to identify and develop the research themes that are critical to their business. His role also involves close liaison with lower TRL research teams within the University of Sheffield and the wider Higher Education community and with research teams in the other High Value Manufacturing Catapult centres. Ben has won several BAE Systems Chairman’s Business Innovation awards in his time at the AMRC through developing automated solutions for aircraft manufacture. Ben also sits on the executive board for the EPSRC Electrical Machine Manufacturing Hub and the EPSRC Future Metrology Hub. In his spare time he enjoys being with his family and road biking around Yorkshire.

Alison Nicholl

Had of Constructing Excellence
Alison has a background in knowledge transfer, driving innovation and change into the construction sector both in the UK and overseas. Alison is currently Head of Constructing Excellence, where she works with its members and wider movement to drive positive change in the built environment. Alison has a passion for transforming the construction sector into a more innovative, inclusive and sustainable industry.

Malcolm Morley

Chair, Radioactive Waste Management
Professor Morley was appointed RWM Chair in 2018, having previously served as an independent Non-Executive on the Board He oversees RWM’s work to ensure that radioactive waste is managed safely and effectively, alongside development of a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF) for the permanent disposal of higher-activity radioactive waste.
He is the former Chief Executive of Harlow Council, a role he held for 14 years, leading its transformation into an award-winning organisation. He later held a range of national and regional roles supporting public sector improvement and partnership.
Professor Morley, a visiting professor at two university business schools, was awarded an OBE in 2016 for services to local government.


Neil O’Brien was elected as Member of Parliament for Harborough, Oadby & Wigston in June 2017. He was previously Special Adviser to Prime Minister Theresa May on the Economy and Industrial Strategy. Between November 2012 and July 2016 he was Special Adviser to the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne working on the Northern Powerhouse among other projects. He is a former director of the think tanks Open Europe and Policy Exchange. In 2018 he founded the new think tank Onward. August 2018 - July 2019 he was PPS to Ministers at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. August 2019 – Nov 2020 he was PPS to the Lord Chancellor and Justice Minister. From November 2020 to September 2021 he was Co-Chair of the Conservative Party Policy Board. From May 2021 he was the Prime Minister’s Levelling Up Adviser and in September 2021 was appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Levelling Up, the Union and Constitution.

Chi Onwurah

Labour MP for Newcastle upon Tyne Central
Shadow Minister Digital, Science & Technology
Chi Onwurah is a British Member of Parliament representing Newcastle upon Tyne Central and is also Shadow Minister Digital, Science & Technology. Over the last 10 years, Chi has held various Shadow Minister positions for Strategy, Science and Innovation, Culture and Digital Economy, and Digital Infrastructure. Chi continues to encourage women in STEM. Prior to Chi’s election to Parliament in May 2010 she worked as Head of Telecoms Technology at the UK regulator Ofcom and was a Partner in Hammatan Ventures, a US technology consultancy, developing the GSM markets in Nigeria and South Africa. Chi is a Chartered Engineer with a BEng in Electrical Engineering from Imperial College London and an MBA from Manchester Business School.

Thara Raj

Director of Public Health, Warrington Borough Council
Thara Raj was appointed as the Director of Public Health for Warrington Borough Council in August 2020. She has held positions in local public health for Derbyshire, Sheffield, and the London Borough of Newham, covering the period of the 2012 London Olympics, when she was a drummer in the opening ceremony! Her last position before joining Warrington was as Consultant in Public Health in Bristol, with responsibility for the covid health protection response. She also held a joint position as Consultant in Health Protection for Public Health England, South West, and was involved in the Novichok incidents.

Thara has held national roles for the Health Education Authority, Health Development Agency and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) developing methods and partnerships to tackle health inequalities and a regional role ensuring immunisation services across London were secured and effective when responsibility shifted from local NHS to national NHS England.

Dr Helen Rafferty

Interim CEO, SHINE
Oldham-born Helen is interim CEO of Leeds-based North of England education charity SHINE. Helen began working for SHINE in 2017, when her passion for giving disadvantaged children the best opportunities in life saw her return to her Northern roots. She spent four years leading the charity’s grant programmes in the North of England, before taking up her current role. Previously, Helen has had a varied career in commercial consulting, engineering, and science. Her educational background is in science education, particularly physics, and this has included setting up and supporting national teacher and student networks for the Institute of Physics, and leading evaluation and research for the British Science Association. She has also taught maths and science to school and university students and gained a PhD in Computational Quantum Electronics.

Jamie Reed

Head of Corporate Affairs, Sellafield Ltd
Jamie Reed is Sellafield Ltd’s Head of Corporate Affairs, and former Member of Parliament for Copeland. As a Member of Parliament Jamie served as both Shadow Environment and Shadow Health Minister in addition to being a UK representative on the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.

Jamie re-joined Sellafield Ltd in 2017, having previously worked for the company prior to becoming MP for Copeland in 2005.

Born and raised in west Cumbria, his role with Sellafield Ltd enables him to work to develop the business whilst ensuring its activities have the most beneficial impact upon the local community.

David Richards

CEO, WANdisco plc
David Richards is the founder, CEO and chairman of WANdisco plc, a publicly quoted data software company jointly headquartered in Sheffield and Silicon Valley, and a serial entrepreneur with a strong track record of success in global technology markets.
In 2021, David founded a new Yorkshire venture called EyUp to create software developers, generate jobs and invest in start-ups across the North of England. For more information, see
In 2020, David co-founded the Laptops for Kids campaign to increase access to learning for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds across the North of England. For more information, see
In 2018, David and Jane Richards launched their family foundation to educate, improve and empower the lives of children. For more information, see

Steve Rotheram

Metro Mayor, Liverpool City Region
Steve began his political career when he was elected to serve as a councillor in 2002, representing Fazakerley ward on Liverpool City Council and held the ceremonial title of Lord Mayor of Liverpool through the city’s European Capital of Culture year in 2008.

In 2017, Steve was elected as the first ever Liverpool City Region Mayor, representing 1.6m people across the boroughs of Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, Sefton, St Helens and the Wirral. In his first term, he helped deliver 9,000 new jobs and 5,500 apprenticeships, set out plans for an integrated London-style transport system and set a target for the region to become net zero carbon by 2040.  On 6 May 2021, Steve was re-elected to serve a second term as Mayor with an increased majority of over 132,000 – winning almost 60% of the vote across the region. 

Professor Andy Schofield

Vice-Chancellor of Lancaster University
Professor Andy Schofield is the Vice-Chancellor of Lancaster University.
He took up the role on 1st May 2020. He leads a university with more than 15000 students and 3000 staff which is consistently top in the North West in the UK university league tables and is 122nd in the Times world rankings. Lancaster University has numerous partnerships with industry, has four overseas teaching partnerships and is a founder of UA92. Professor Schofield is on the Board of UA92 and on the Board of the N8 Research Partnership – which involves the leading research universities in the North of England. He is a member of the Council of UKRI-STFC (the Science and Technology Facilities Council). He is an Honorary Fellow of the Manufacturing Technology Centre.

Mark Sellers

Managing Director, TalkTalk Business
Mark Sellers is the Managing Director of TalkTalk Business (Direct) and his role is focused on delivering the best possible connectivity solutions to businesses across the UK and supporting them to achieve their ambitions.
He has held a number of roles at TalkTalk, including Commercial & Finance Director for TalkTalk Business (Direct), Finance Director of the Core Finance Team as well as Head of FP&A for TalkTalk group.
Before joining TalkTalk, Mark qualified with KPMG as an Audit Senior and held a number of commercial finance positions such as Head of Planning & Strategy for Shop Direct, Group Strategy & Financial Planning Manager for Findel PLC, and Head of Commercial Finance for SSL International PLC.
Mark is passionate about and experienced in operations and business transformation, having previously held the role as Supply Chain Director at Kawneer UK.
As a proud Mancunian, Mark has a keen interest in helping Northern-based businesses thrive. He wants to see a fairer distribution of government investment, to enhance the North’s connectivity infrastructure and end the North-South digital divide.

Katy shaw

Director of Cultural Partnerships,  Northumbria University
Prof Katy Shaw is Director of Cultural Partnerships and leads research into twenty-first century writings at Northumbria University. She is currently authoring the All Party Parliamentary Group for Northern Culture Inquiry report into leveling up the North post-Covid and is researcher in residence for A Writing Chance: a writing development programme to increase the number of working class voices in UK media writing, working with Michael Sheen, New Statesman, Daily Mirror & Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Her research interests include contemporary literature, diversity and publishing and regional writing. She is a public intellectual, literary festival host, media presenter and Twitterer @profkatyshaw

Dan Smith

Director of Energy Services, Northern Gas & Power
Dan Smith, Director of Energy Services, is responsible for a wide-ranging energy management portfolio helping Northern Gas and Power’s customers improve their energy efficiency and reduce their bills.

He is a successful Head of Energy and Chartered Energy Engineer with a depth of experience working for and with a variety of clients, including major blue-chip corporations such as IKEA, Rolls Royce Aerospace and Siemens. He has operated internationally (Europe, Africa and Asia) in FMCG and manufacturing sectors, and has a proven track record of delivering and managing projects, developing and delivering operational strategies, and managing energy and influencing large corporates with respect to energy and sustainability. He is responsible for annual energy budgets up to £20 million, and single-value projects up to £3 million.

His depth of experience brings to Northern Gas and Power an extensive specialist knowledge gained from nearly 30 years in energy engineering, energy services and energy management, in many different sectors all over the world, from China to Zambia.

Louise Smith

Director, Aura, University of Hull
Louise is the Director of Aura and the University of Hull’s brand new centre for, Net Zero in the region – the Aura Innovation Centre. Set in the heart of the Humber it is an asset for the region to build low-carbon capacity and clean growth – with particular focus on SMEs, the backbone of the UK’s economy. Aura is an innovation centre like no other, bringing the power of the University’s researchers together with the business acumen of SMEs to collaborate for innovation. A linguist by training, Louise has spent most of her 30-year career in industry as a consultant on large multi-million pound innovative energy projects. She joined the University of Hull in 2016, working to build the Aura brand and reputation in the renewables in the low-carbon innovation space, consolidating the Centre’s position in the region, nationally and internationally.

Sarah Taylor-Jones

International Marketing, Hermes
Hermes is one of the UK’s largest parcel delivery companies and is now one of the leading online delivery solutions for individuals and businesses. Sarah is an international marketing professional with a history of driving dramatic increases in global business, sales and market shares for multi-national corporations in diverse industries. With a wealth of experience in creating new marketing teams as well as transforming existing teams, Sarah’s specialties include Marketing Strategy, Customer Experience Improvement, Data Analysis, Marketing Communications, Brand and PR, Retention and Acquisition Programmes.

Professor Vanessa Toulmin

Director of City & Culture, Partnerships and Regional Engagement - University of Sheffield
Professor Vanessa Toulmin is Director of City and Culture, Partnerships and Regional Engagement at the University of Sheffield. Her work on cultural vibrancy and the importance of heritage in regeneration is demonstrated in both Morecambe Winter Gardens a Grade II* Theatre in the Lancashire seaside resort and the partnership with Sheffield City Council on the Future High Street Fund for Fargate in Sheffield. With colleagues in the Urban Space Development and Dept of Music, Vanessa is tracking the impact of Covid-19 on the cultural industries in South Yorkshire and how they can recover. As Professor of Early Film and Popular Entertainment, she is the author of 11 books including four on Blackpool where she worked for 7 years as consultant on heritage regeneration for Blackpool Council.

Martin Tugwell

Chief Executive, Transport for the North
Martin Tugwell is responsible for transforming pan-Northern connectivity in order to improve productivity and drive economic growth. He leads Transport for the North as England’s first Sub-national Transport Body, giving the North a strong, unified and determined voice on transport investment to benefit the region.

Martin has more than 20 years of experience in strategic transport and infrastructure planning at national, regional and local levels, with previous roles at England’s Economic Heartland, the South East England Regional Assembly, the Transport Systems Catapult, and Oxfordshire and Devon County Councils. His leadership on strategic planning at the regional level created the first Regional Transport Strategy for the South East and contributed to the South East Plan. While working for Oxfordshire County Council he helped lay the foundations for the ambitious plans set out in Oxfordshire’s Strategic Economic Plan, having previously helped establish the Local Enterprise Partnership.

Sara Walker

Director of the EPSRC National Centre for Energy Systems Integration
Sara L. Walker received her BSc (Hons) Physics from Leicester University (1991), her PGCE from Leicester University (1992), her MSc Environmental Science from Nottingham University (1994) and her PhD in energy policy from De Montfort University (2003). She taught physics for a short period, and joined academia in 1996 when she joined De Montfort University, working on renewable energy technology and policy. In 2003 she left academia for industry and joined IT Power as a Senior Energy Specialist, and in 2004 she moved to Econnect Ltd as their Research and Development Manager. In 2007 she moved back to academia, at Northumbria University, as Subject Director. In 2015 she joined Newcastle University as a Senior Lecturer in the School of Engineering, where she has been working on whole energy systems research. Dr Walker is now Director of the Centre for Energy Systems Integration (CESI), Deputy Director of the Supergen Energy Networks Hub and Academic Deputy Director of the Active Building Centre. She is a Reader in Energy with a portfolio of research projects of total value £68m, and Director of the new Centre for Energy at Newcastle University. She has authored or co-authored numerous journal and conference papers covering topics of renewables, building energy performance, impact of buildings/renewables on energy networks and energy policy.

Sharon Watson

CEO and principal, Northern School of Contemporary Dance
May 2020 appointed CEO and Principal of the Northern School of Contemporary Dance. Prior to, Sharon Watson was the 7th and longest-standing Artistic Director of Phoenix Dance Theatre. Trained at the London School of Contemporary Dance, she was one of the first female Principal Dancers invited to join the all-male award winning Phoenix Dance Company, touring with the company from 1989 to 1997 where she choreographed Never Still and Shaded Limits. Having left Phoenix to pursue a number of other ventures including setting up her own company ABCD, Sharon returned in 2009 as the new Artistic Director. Since then Sharon has choreographed Fast Lane, Melt, Never 2 Still, Repetition of Change, TearFall and Windrush: Movement of the People. November 2020, Appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of West Yorkshire. In 2021 awarded an MBE in the Queens New Year’s Honours list Sharon is a trustee of Leeds Playhouse and Leeds 2023. She is committed to improving diversity within the arts by supporting the creative voices of women and Black, Asian and ethnic minority artists.

Jonathan Webb

Senior Research Fellow, IPPR
Jonathan is a senior research fellow at IPPR North where he currently leads a programme of work on net zero. Jonathan has a background in housing and homelessness policy. He continues to undertake research and provide comment on a wide range of housing and homelessness issues. Based initially at IPPR’s London office, Jonathan contributed widely to the work of IPPR’s Environmental Justice Commission. Previously, he was based at the Wales Centre for Public Policy. In this role, he worked closely with Welsh Government ministers and public services to help connect policy makers with evidence and improve their capacity to make evidence informed policy decisions.


© JPIMedia Ltd 2021 All Rights Reserved
Facebook Twitter Google+ LinkedIn