Corporate home


Human Resource Summit Speakers

Human Resource Summit - Speakers

The Strategy Group programme is made up of 7 discussion-based seminars and facilitated by leading HR experts. The sessions are an opportunity for delegates to catch up on some of the latest thinking and exchange ideas and best practice with their counterparts in other major organisations.

Two weeks before the event, delegates are asked to choose the groups which interest them most; it will normally be possible to attend 3 groups during the course of the Summit.

2018 HR Summit speakers

Lord Chris Holmes MBE

HR Summit 2018 Opening Keynote

Lord Chris Holmes MBE - HR Summit 2018 Opening Keynote


Chris is a former Paralympic swimmer who won nine gold, five silver and one bronze medal across four Games, including a record haul of six golds at Barcelona 1992.

Chris is also Chair of the Global Disability Innovation Hub, Diversity Adviser to the civil service, non-executive director at Channel 4 and deputy Chancellor at BPP University.

In 2013, Chris became a Conservative Peer in the House of Lords focusing his time on technology and the digital opportunity, employment, education and skills, media and sport.

Chris is co-chair of the Parliamentary Group on Assistive Technology, vice-chair of the Fintech Group and member of the 4th IR Group. He has been a member of House of Lords Select Committees on Digital Skills, Social Mobility and Financial Exclusion and currently Artificial Intelligence.

Before entering the Lords Chris was Director of Paralympic Integration at the London 2012 Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG). From 2013-2017 Chris was Disability Commissioner at the Equality and Human Rights Commission and is a qualified lawyer.

Richard Burdon

Improving organisational effectiveness in large organisations

Richard Burdon - HR Director, Compass Group

Ensuring Organisation Change in any organisation relies on the same key success factors irrespective of the company size.  Richard will share his experience of improving organisational effectiveness across three large and diverse organisations in the media, construction and support services industries and outline what really made a difference.  As well as sharing what worked well, Richard will also highlight what happens when any programme faces challenges and how these were overcome to keep the programmes on track.  Learning from these experiences delegates can plan to improve their approach to leading change in their own organisations.


Richard works for Compass plc (the world’s largest food service provider and a FTSE 100 company) as an HR Director in the UK business supporting the Defence, Offshore & Remote operations.  Previously Richard has held HRD roles in a variety of industries and additionally senior management roles in marketing and IT.  In every role, Richard has led organisation wide change programmes which have delivered real, measurable transformation and has extensive experience of overcoming significant resistance to change.

Nebel Crowhurst

From zero to hero… transforming learning & development

Nebel Crowhurst - Head of Talent, River Island

If Learning & Development in your organisation is looked upon as a reactional transactional provider of training rather than an enabler that adds value to the bottom line of business performance; and you want to shift towards a culture of continuous learning the River Island story may be of interest.

This session will share the transformation that’s taken place over the last two years to put people development firmly at the heart of River Island. With the move away from traditional appraisals and a drive towards employee led career development the L&D team needed to change their focus. Introducing leadership and management development solutions which are closely aligned to a progressive career development and performance approach along with a massive focus on introducing a digital learning strategy the business impact has been evidential.

You will hear about how the L&D team have used an evidence based approach to identifying business needs as well as demonstrating value.

The transformation continues with the introduction of Agile ways of working and a shift from traditional transactional Human Resources towards delivering a world class People Experience to everyone.


Leading the People Experience agenda at River Island an international fashion retailer, Nebel brings together the Recruitment, L&D, Reward, Culture and Engagement strategy spanning 12,000 employees across Head office, Distribution, UK and international retail stores. Leading a team of 22 multi award winning HR professionals in delivering a progressive people strategy which provides great workplace experiences that it turn supports and enables business success.

Claire Douglas

Learning to adapt - The key to mental wellbeing at work

Claire Douglas - Head of Health and Wellbeing, SCS Railways

Mental health is increasingly a concern for employers. The link between mental wellbeing and performance has been long established and more organisations are appreciating that mental health is equally as important as physical health. Yet the incidence of anxiety and depression is rising and each year one in four experience mental health problems. Why is this and what can employers do to help?

Although there can be many causes of anxiety, one of the main reasons for this is change. Change has always been a constant but the pace of change has increased dramatically over the past two decades. This pace of change coincides with the advancement in technology such as the world-wide-web, social media and use of smart phones. Many organisations have had to adapt to these advances in technology. Retailers for example have had to adapt to meet the increased demand for online shopping. At Pitney Bowes the increasing use of digital mail (emails) instead of postal services meant the organisation had to address this and incorporate digital technology. Many companies are going through similar transformations in order to keep ahead and to survive. Subsequent restructuring has meant that many people have to leave organisations that they had hoped would offer a job for life. A job for life however is now a notion from the past. Most people joining the workforce today will change jobs on average every three years.

What therefore can employers do to help their staff to cope with this uncertainty and help them to adapt to change? Adaptation is essential for survival not only of businesses but of the individuals within them. There are in fact many things that can be done to prevent stress and anxiety, to raise awareness and reduce stigma around mental ill health to ensure support is given. Organisations may have great resources available but are employees aware of this and do they know how to access these resources?

In this session I will talk about ways of ensuring that employees have the skills to adapt to change. At Pitney Bowes our Wellbeing Strategy ensures that all areas of wellbeing are addressed and that we have the right culture and environment to support this. This includes having the right policies in place such as a Mental Wellbeing Policy. We have been running resilience workshops for employees for the past 5 years as well as some fun and alternative events to give employees several tools that they can use to help them deal with stress and anxiety. We have introduced some new and interesting ways to ensure that support, such as EAP, is easily accessed by employees. With the right support and the right environment individuals can learn to embrace change and to thrive as a result.


• During the 20 years I have worked in Occupational Health and Wellbeing, promoting Mental Health at work has been my main area of interest.

• I recently completed a PhD in Psychology looking at 'Adapting to Organisational Culture'.

• My interest in Occupational Health began whilst working in the Film Industry in 1991. I set up and managed a medical centre at Shepperton Studios.

• Following completion of a Bsc (Hons) in Occupational Health in 1994 I went on to work in Occupational Health for a number of industries including retail, pharmaceutical, global technology and currently in the construction industry. 

• My roles have been both National and International.

• In 2005 I went to work at UK Retailer John Lewis where I became OH Strategy Manager. Here I gave talks on managing stress and ran workshops regarding building resilience (including one for the senior leadership team). Whilst at John Lewis I was asked by the Health and Safety Executive to write a case study regarding our approach to stress management.

• In 2012 I came to work for Pitney Bowes as Health and Wellbeing Manager for Europe. My role involved setting the strategy for Wellbeing, overseeing the OH Service, (external provider), EAP service and Wellbeing program. My role also involved a considerable amount of international travel.

• The experience of working in Europe has helped me in my current role as Head of OH and Wellbeing for a large construction firm where I am working with a team from many different countries, mainly, UK, Sweden and Germany and Portugal. The role is perhaps my most challenging yet!

• I have spoken at a number of conferences including the Institute of Work Psychology at the University of Sheffield in 2016 and Employee Benefits in London 2017.

• I am Mum to three wonderful teenagers


Rosie Ranganathan

The RISE of female talent within ECB

Rosie Ranganathan - People Director, England & Wales Cricket Board

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is responsible for all aspects of cricket – supporting clubs, schools and disability cricket through to the professional and international game.

As cricket’s national governing body, ECB has developed a new strategic framework to grow the game at every level ‘Cricket Unleashed’. It’s a desire to embrace change and keep our sport relevant and accessible. The strategy is shaping the future as we reach out to new audiences, promote ways to play the game, connect with a broader, diverse fan-base and create a shared vision for the sport. In 2017, cricket evolved in a host of new ways. We secured ground-breaking strategic partnerships with Sky and BBC to drive participation whilst significantly increasing revenue, introduced a major new junior programme All Stars Cricket to more than 37,000 kids aged 5-8, secured support for a new T20 competition, saw England win the ICC Women’s World Cup in front of a sold-out Lord’s and staged this country’s first Day-Night Test.

With 300 employees, based throughout England, employee engagement scores are in the 90’s. With an employee ratio of 72% male to 28% female (with 2 females on the Senior Management team) now was the right time to focus our energies on diversity and inclusion. If we were to appeal to a broader fan and playing base then we needed to ensure that this was reflected within the organisation and that we work to change the perception of ECB. We started the year celebrating International Women’s Day in the famous Long Room at Lords’, where women have only been allowed in for the first time 18 years ago. This event was just the beginning of our journey to support and empower women working for the ECB.

This session will be of interest to anyone interested in developing people but with a particular lens on female talent. It will cover why this was important to us, what our aspirations were, what we did, what the impact was and the lessons learnt along the way.


Rosie joined ECB in October 2014 as the People Director, after a short stint as the HR Director for Wasps Rugby team. She was lucky enough to encounter a blank canvas and be part of a Senior Management team that is as equally passionate about creating a great culture. Within that time, the ECB has gone from being featured in the Times Top 100 companies to work for with a strong set of people values, launching a Development Academy and an Internal Communications function. In addition, she has worked to adapt the culture with a number of organisational design projects that support the strategic framework ‘Cricket Unleashed’.

Rosie started out her HR career working in music for EMI Records and then moved to BMG, where she worked as part of the team who worked on the merger with Sony Music. Rosie then moved into TV and worked at Channel 5 in the set up of two new channels that expanded their portfolio. Working at Channel 4, saw Rosie run the HR Operations team for almost 6 years. During her time there, Rosie worked on many large scale organisational design projects including the purchase of EMAP TV, the outsourcing of Transmission and the acquisition of the UKTV Advertising Sales team, bringing in significant additional revenue.

As a trained Executive coach, Rosie is passionate about developing people and has introduced a culture of personal development to the ECB including the launch of an internal training centre, high performance programme and RISE, a programme specifically focused on female talent.

Joanna Rayson

The Levy: enabling positive change at Babcock

Joanna Rayson - HR Director, Babcock International

Learn how Babcock International Group (BIG), a global services business with UK heritage, has used the apprenticeship reform as the catalyst for talent management transformation.

In this session, Joanna Rayson, HR Director will share how BIG is re-shaping talent with changes to recruitment; training and workforce planning that are seeing positive results across the group. Her presentation will build around three stages of change:

The strategy: Setting the agenda and preparing for change.

The project: Developing BIG’s corporate culture and HR process to enable greater diversity and deeper skills across our workforce.

Lessons learned and applied: Using data and analysis to continually improve.

She will discuss the BIG’s diversity and skills agenda which covers youth engagement, recruitment, training, apprenticeship and graduate programme initiatives, and she will share candid insight on the challenges that she and her HR team have faced. Explaining how they have engaged with leaders across their highly federated business to gain insight and support for the changes.


Joanna is an an experienced HR leader with over 15 years’ experience working for blue chip organisations such as BT, Leica and Network Rail, and iPSL. During her career, Joanna has led a number of highly successful HR transformation programmes during her career. In her role at BIG, she is responsible for managing a team of 15 HR Business Partners and for setting the strategy for people across the Skills and Learning division.

Kelly Ruffle

Crowd-sourcing company culture: how employee voice shaped our vision and values

Kelly Ruffle - Head of HR, Tarmac

If you heave a sigh when your company announces yet another new strategy, I’ve got news for you - so do your employees, and so do the very leaders you’re expecting to cascade the latest vision.

Cue a lot of intense activity from HR and internal comms to get the strategy out there and move on to the next thing.

But there is another way. What if you crowdsourced the strategy? What if you threw away bland, identikit values and asked your people to replace them? What if you took an unmissable opportunity to update your policies and processes to truly reflect the spirit of the new world?

That’s how we approached the challenge at Tarmac - seeing it as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to align everything we did to ‘the Tarmac Way’.

Coming out of a period of significant restructuring, which itself followed years of uncertainty around the company’s ownership and future, our people needed something to re-connect around. The Tarmac Way gave them an inspiring purpose, clear and relevant values, and ambitious goals, supported by a behaviours framework that helped them celebrate current strengths and prepare for their next steps.

This session will be of interest to anyone who wants to crack the challenge of truly making strategy stick. We’ll explore how we worked from the bottom up, maximising employee engagement to win over hearts and minds and putting the power to build our future in everyone’s hands.


Kelly Ruffle is Head of HR for Tarmac, the UK’s leading sustainable building materials and construction solutions business.

Kelly leads a team of 19 HR specialists supporting two operational business units and our corporate functions, covering around 2,700 of Tarmac’s c8,000 people. She has 18 years generalist HR experience within the Finance and Construction sectors, 10 years of which has been within Tarmac, having joined as an assistant HR advisor and completing her CIPD qualification as part of her career development.

Tarmac, a CRH company, combines the knowledge and expertise of two of the construction industry’s most iconic brands: Tarmac, the pioneers of the modern road and Blue Circle, the company that patented Portland Cement.

Our innovative products and solutions not only safely deliver the infrastructure needed to grow the UK economy today but also help to create a more sustainable built environment for the country’s long term future. We have contributed to some of the UK’s biggest construction projects, including The Sainsbury Laboratory, Wembley Stadium, Heathrow Terminal 5, Blackpool Sea Defences, The Shard and London 2012.

The company has over 150 years of experience and directly employs around 8,000 people across a nationwide network of over 400 sites.

Richard Smelt

25 years leading HR - a view from the bridge

Richard Smelt - HR Director, McCain Foods

Building on 25 years HRD experience in: retail, financial services, manufacturing and private equity, Richard will draw on and share his real-life highs and lows, ups and downs and challenges. In this session Richard will offer his unique insight on where and how HR has developed over the last two decades and, most importantly, share his views on where it is going in the future.

Never has HR been so much at the forefront of business, of public policy and in the media. Richard sees tremendous opportunities for the profession but also threats. This will be a "no holds barred session" so expect straight talk and challenge.


Richard is the HR Director for McCain Foods - the world leader in Fries and other potato products.

Richard has a career at the sharp end of change management. A psychology graduate (Leeds), Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, and an MBA from London Business School, together with over 25 years experience of real change in business.

His career journey has led from the Prudential, involved in a programme to change the “man from the Pru”, to the repositioning of HFC, a consumer finance company, to Kingfisher working in the Electrical Retailing division both in the UK and France, to the downsizing and turnaround at Signet and three years working for Guy Hands at Normura’s Principal Finance Group - now Terra firma, working on the people and organisational implications of some of the biggest Private Equity deals in the UK and Europe.

Richard also worked at The Carphone Warehouse as Group HR Director where the key challenge was growing the business in Europe and across new business streams including the creation of Talk Talk. Richard was also appointed as CEO of OneTel acquired by CPW at the end of 2005 prior to its integration into Talk Talk.

Richard Smelt joined Northern Rock as part of the turnaround team as HR Director in 2008 and after splitting Northern Rock into 2 separate entities, each with a future, left in 2010.

Richard is also a Non Executive Director of Hays Plc, the global specialist recruitment business, and Boxington Corporate Finance.

Honesty, openness and pragmatism are core values - commercial organisations exist to make money – this is best done in an environment where people are empowered to do the impossible.

Karen Terry Weymouth

From Business Partner to trusted advisor

Karen Terry Weymouth - Change Director, BT Group

BT is one of the world's leading communications services companies. Our purpose is to use the power of communication to make a better world.

We serve the needs of customers in the UK and in 180 countries worldwide and have a workforce of 106,000 people. Our main activities are the provision of fixed-line services, broadband, mobile and TV products and services as well as networked IT services.

In the UK, we are a leading communications services provider selling products and services to consumers, small and medium sized enterprises and the public sector. Globally, we supply managed networked IT services to multinational corporations, domestic businesses and national and local government organisations.

As a global organisation in a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) environment, we have a massive transformation agenda. Internal Communications plays a vital role in enabling our senior leadership to successfully deliver this transformation agenda and build the advocacy of our people. To achieve this we’ve had to re-invent BT’s IC function and build the capability needed to enable our business partners to shift from being writers to Trusted Advisors.

This session will be of interest to anyone interested in the shift from traditional business partnering to becoming trusted advisors, or those interested in the role of Internal Communications in delivering transformational change. It will cover why we needed to change, the approach we’ve taken, what the impact was and what we learned along the way.


Karen joined BT Group HR in 2010 as Change Director, having spent three years building an internal change consultancy within Openreach.

Karen has led a pan-BT organisation design and culture change initiative -‘Space to Lead’- building clear leadership accountabilities and empowerment by implementing a simplified organisation; a programme to develop a 10-year understanding of strategic workforce demand and supply challenges based on technological and social trends and future skills availability; and transformed BT’s Internal Communications to build a pan-BT IC function and the communications capability required to support BT’s transformation and growth agenda.

Prior to joining BT, Karen was a management consultant with EY and Capgemini Consulting, leading transformational change with large, complex organisations including Kellogg’s, Motorola, DWP and HMRC. At BT and as a consultant, she’s built strong relationships, working with senior leaders as a trusted advisor and coach on all aspects of organisational change.

Karen is motivated by making a difference and passionate about developing capability, delivering a great employee experience and building high performance teams.

Mike Williams

Diversity – less talk & hot air, more action!

Much has been written recently about there being a problem with diversity in the media and specifically the publishing industry, and that talk is neither hot air nor speculation.

Spread The Word’s 2015 report found that 84% of publishers and 97% of agents think that publishing is only ‘a little diverse’ or ‘not diverse at all’, and if we’re really honest with ourselves, our places of work aren’t thriving hubs of social, cultural and ethnic diversity – at least not yet.

As Business In The Community’s 2015 ‘Race at Work’ report said, ‘it’s clear employees need to have more confidence to address the issue of race at work and aim to understand how it has an impact on the individual and their opportunity to reach their full potential’.

John Athanasiou, DOP at Harper Collins UK, recognised that BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) individuals were unrepresented within the business, and below the 40% ethnic population of London (where much of the publishing industry is based), so he is taking action by launching applications for a traineeship targeted specifically at BAME graduates. This isn’t about filling quotas or tokenism, it’s about attracting the very best talent, widening our reach and extending our existing network to encompass the widest pool of talent.

It’s ultimately about cultural shift in the business with the CEO, exec team and every single employee in the company playing their part in that change. ‘This is the beginning of a journey, and there is definitely still a way to go, but I am confident that HCUK is on its way to reflecting our local communities, readership and society at large.’

Join John’s session to find out some simple steps you can take to make your business diverse and attract the best talent to your organisation.

John Athanasiou - Director of People, Harper Collins

Darren Cross

What is it like having a commercially thinking HR team?

Bridge International Academies, head quartered in London, is the world’s largest education innovation company serving the 700 million families who live on less than $2 USD per day. We strive to provide the highest quality education product to the 100,000+ students attending our more than 400+ nursery and primary schools across emerging markets in Africa and Asia. Currently Bridge employs 6,000 people internationally and growing by the day.

A commercially thinking HR team: is this a new philosophy? My view is probably not, but do we all really fully benefit from maximising the benefits of this thinking. Since the recession being a commercially driven HR professional has only become more valuable to organisations. As a group of HR professionals it would be great to share how this has worked for us over the last few years and share the successes. This session will start off with some context setting followed by some open discussions.

Over the last few years I have been lucky to work in different businesses which were going through substantial change where HR was critical in being part of the journey. Recognising the benefits of a commercially thinking HR team that has genuine credibility within the business has been the secret of mine and my team’s successes. I would like to share how this has been done, how the HR teams have got behind this and how the business has genuinely benefited.

The session will describe how developing a HR team in to being a commercially thinking HR team with a close alignment to the business, to deliver results and build credibility really benefits the organisation. I will share how building a credible team ethos, where the HR team work as one gives maximum impact. But to do this it takes some commitment to change ways of working from a stereotypical office based HR function to a function that is fully visible.

As a group we will discuss how to genuinely business partner the operational stakeholders and overcome the challenges and hurdles which appear when putting this in place.

Finally, we will look at how this gives us a positive return on investment and how this benefits key HR KPIs including engagement, employee turnover and business KPIs such as sales, wages and operational efficiency.

This would benefit any senior HR professional who manages a HR team especially within the Ulrich model.

Darren Cross - Vice President – Human Resources, Bridge International Academies

Gill Hill

The next chapter

Gill Hill, Head of People Development at Nationwide Building Society, tells the story of leadership at Nationwide and how it has impacted the culture and performance of the organisation before, during and after the crisis years in the financial services sector.

In particular, she will share the key insights from recent external and internal research into the challenges for the organisation's top 30 leaders in the future and how this has led it to write the next chapter of the leadership story and re-define its development proposition for the top leadership community. Furthermore, it is informing the need to change the design of the organisation and the environment in which the leaders operate in order to change the nature of their contribution. These are interesting times for Nationwide with the succession of a new CEO creating a turning point in the story.

Demographic change, digital lifestyles and technology convergence are just some of the external drivers for a different leadership response. The landscape is getting more complex and ambiguous, the navigation of paradoxes takes over from binary decision-making and innovation requires the stimulus provided by collaboration, empowerment and divergent thinking. It’s tempting to say “I’m a leader, get me out of here!”

In sharing Nationwide’s story as a case study, Gill looks forward to debating how other organisations are experiencing the leadership challenges and preparing their leaders for the future.

Gill Hill - Head of People Development, Nationwide Building Society

Bonnie Hopkins

The Apprenticeship Levy – Use it or lose it

What is the apprenticeship levy?
• An overview
• What are the drivers for this new levy?
• Timeline
• Additional funding

Will your organisation be affected?

What qualifies for levy funding?
• Who must provide qualifying training?
• Identifying good providers – what to look for
• Building your own programmes

What will this mean for early careers and graduate recruitment?

This session will answer all these questions and more. It will be delivered by Bonnie, who has been there and made it happen in her organisation, and she will be happy to share her experiences with you.

Bonnie Hopkins - Senior HR Manager, IG Group

City & Guilds

Simon Shaw

Spotlight on Apprenticeships

The lost world – a ‘remarkable and intriguing mystery’

Stella McCartney, Sir Ian McKellen, Gordon Ramsey – three of the many high achievers who happen to be very well-known and were once apprentices

£20 billion – the combined net worth of the top 40 wealthiest former apprentices in the UK

4.3 – the number of people starting an apprenticeship in England every minute of every working day

For many of us, apprenticeships are a kind of lost world. Not as lost as the plateau in the Amazon basin where Arthur Conan Doyle’s hero got into a fight with a gang of dinosaurs …

But still, what kind of a picture do we have of this world?

This session will start to unlock what for many is still a mystery. It examines the maps and charts of the apprenticeship world. Two of the explorers who have been there and returned will tell their tales.  And we come face to face with a real-life specimen.

Our guide is Simon Shaw, who has spent 30 years navigating the territory – from the launch of a handful of ‘Modern Apprenticeships’ on an unsuspecting public in 1985 to the current 3 million target.

Where are we now? What of the future? And most important of all, how can we make the most of the time, effort and money invested in this world we’re about to discover?

Facilitated by:

Simon Shaw - Independent consultant and apprenticeships expert

Guest speakers:

Mike Thompson - Director Early Careers, Barclays Bank plc

Callum Rowe - East of England Higher Apprentice of the Year 2015, International Co-operation & Offset Manager MBDA

Kirstie Donnelly MBE - Managing Director, City & Guilds

City & Guilds

Apprenticeship session - Watch our video to discover more on the Apprenticeship spotlight session

Mike Thomson

The Apprenticeship Levy – Turning a tax into an investment

The Government’s announcement of an Apprenticeship Levy has been seen by many as simply another tax on big business, raising as it does nearly £1.6 billion for the Exchequer.  As details of how the levy will work become clearer, this session will help you look at how your organisation can ensure it maximises the opportunity the levy presents to invest in your current and future workforce.

We will look at a case study of how Barclays Bank has created an award winning Early Careers Programme and how it plans to leverage the levy to develop its offering further to invest in key skills across its business.  We will look at how it has forged long term partnerships to deliver the skills it needs for the future as well as building a highly diverse pipeline of talent for the future.  The session will look at how Barclays has fundamentally re-engineered its recruitment practices and embedded a culture of continuous development of talent through its programmes.

Mike Thompson - Director Early Careers, Barclays Bank plc

City & Guilds

© Copyright Summit Events Ltd, 2017. All rights reserved.