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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.

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.


Growing a career in Learning & Talent Development, Nebel joined River Island in 2015 and leads people development initiatives across the entire business including; Head office, Retail, Distribution Centres and International Retail. Having spent the previous 7 years building a multi award winning Learning & Development function at Virgin Holidays Nebel has experience of people development at all levels from apprenticeships through to leadership development and talent identification. Nurturing a highly credible L&D team that aims to educate everyone uniquely is an ongoing priority; Nebel is focused on delivering development solutions which have a demonstrable business impact as well as improving overall employee engagement.

Claire Douglas

Manager, Health and Wellbeing Europe, Pitney Bowes

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.


• Developing Wellbeing Strategy and addressing Mental Health at work have been the two key areas of focus during my 20+ years of experience in Health and Wellbeing.

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

• In 1994 I attended Brunel University where I gained a BSc (Hons) 2:1 in Occupational Health

• In my first role as a qualified OHA for Sainsbury’s, (1995) I led a team looking at Stress Management and I continued this interest whilst working in a number of roles in Occupational Health such as at Glaxo SmithKline.

• In 2005 I went to work at John Lewis and remained there for 7 years, becoming OH Strategy Manager before moving to Corporate. 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 invited to join a discussion group at the HSE looking at the Management Standards and considering the appropriateness of the term ‘assessing risk’ for stress. I was also asked to write a case study regarding our approach to stress management for the HSE website.

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

• I have spoken at a number of conferences including the Institute of Work Psychology at the University of Sheffield in 2016.

• Recently I completed my PhD in Psychology, (regarding Adapting to Organisational Culture).

• I am Mum to three wonderful teenagers

Kevin Green

‘Title & session outline coming soon!’

Kevin Green -  Chief Executive, Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC)

‘Title & session outline coming soon!’


‘Biography coming soon!’

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.

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.

Stephen Robson

Myers Briggs is dead, long live Myers Briggs: How to read minds and influence the bottom line

Stephen Robson - HR Director, Global Offer & Supply Chain, Kingfisher Plc

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve completed a Myers Briggs survey, how many copies of that report went to the bottom of my desk drawer and how little impact it actually had on me or my organisation. Then at Virgin I stumbled upon a new lens to see its worth through, and suddenly there was life in the hundreds of years old theory of personality type. With the help of Harvard Business School I was able to demonstrate just how much impact it could have on the bottom line. But it’s a topic that divides opinion, there are as many debunking articles online as there are theories on who shot JFK. So join me to debate this, share experiences and maybe conclude once and for all if there is life in the old MBTI dog yet.

It’s time to put relationships at the top of the business agenda

Poor relationships at work are now in the top three of reasons 'not to work here' in colleague engagement surveys. What's more poor relationships are in the top three causes of stress in the workplace. It should be no surprise then that it also features in the top three reasons why people choose to leave organisations. If you do the maths on how much absence and attrition costs you, you’ll start to see why I got interested.

Simply put, when we consider personality type we are given keys to self-awareness, relationship building, communication and triggers of stress. In understanding ourselves, and being able to read others we can start to build trust, influence and maximise the potential of ourselves and others. Unsurprisingly, similar techniques are now being used in sports teams, in schools, in medicine and on dating websites. Even law firms in the US are using these techniques to pick Jury members. The potential uses of type work to not just impact performance, but to actually drive better results are solid & significant. Surely it’s time for more businesses to follow suit?


From a very early age I’ve been a retailer, and despite a couple of diversions to stretch my thinking I’ve stuck to it. But half my career has not been in HR. I started as a store manager for Woolworths, worked my way up to manage a supply chain team, became a project manager and then went commercial as a buyer of movies – it’s quite a lot of fun attending movie premiers for a living. My first diversion was to the Royal Mail where I ran the junk mail operation (yep, sorry about that), before being persuaded to leave operations for HR where I took on a Business Partner role overseeing 6000 employees in East Anglia. When retail called again I joined TK Maxx and spent 6 great years helping to set up their European buying offices and supply chain, first as Head of HR and then into my first HRD role. Then the call from Virgin came, to help them grow their healthcare business as its Group People Director, and while the NHS proved a tough environment it was certainly an opportunity to make a lasting contribution to a pillar of UK history. Now I find myself a year into Kingfisher (DIY not beer) as the HRD for their international buying company, with teams across 10 countries and 14 locations it’s a fascinating role on so many levels, and my air miles aren’t bad either.

Martyn Wright

Setting up an in-house search strategy

Martyn Wright - Head of Recruitment EMEIA FS, EY

EY is a professional services firm working with clients through our four services lines (Advisory/Management Consultancy, Assurance/Audit, Tax, Transactions). With close to 250,000 employees and growing and a clear vision to be a $50 billion turnover organisation by 2020 recruitment is key to our business growth and future success.

I have worked in two in-house roles with JP Morgan Inc. (setting up European recruitment for the Asset Management practice) and EY and in between I spent 20 years in external search. Over the past three years I have built and developed an in-house search team and strategy for EY EMEIA Financial Services Practice whilst running the Recruitment for EMEIA for FS.

The session will look at the rationale for setting up an in-house search function as well as the intangible benefits for having search in-house. As an accountancy firm the business case and measurement of the size of the potential market is key and I will provide methodology of how this can be calculated alongside the current models available in the market and the process I adopted in our function.

We will look at what we delivered, measured by a variety of factors including costs savings, diversity and offers made/rejected and how to future proof the function. I will share some of the Headhunting techniques we employ and how I will develop the function going forward.  

This will benefit any senior HR or recruitment professional who manage a recruitment/talent Acquisition team and is looking to develop an in-house strategy and make cost savings!


Martyn studied Chemistry at Bristol University graduates 1995 and originally started in recruitment as a graduate trainee with Michael Page. After 2.5 years learning his craft he left to go in-house with J P Morgan Inc. where he joined to establish the European Recruitment Function for the Asset Management business. Martyn then moved into a reward role for 18 months were he worked in a cost neutral consultancy team but wanted to return to recruitment. Martyn then worked at a variety of HR recruitment firms specialising in senior level search and reward especially with varieties of team size (from 5 to 30) – headed Frazer Jones (5 years), Co founded Oakleaf (5 years), headed HR recruitment for Robert Walters (1.5 years) and headed HR recruitment for Career Legal (1.5 years) Since April 2014 Martyn has worked at EY and currently leads recruitment for EMEIA Financial Services with a particular specialism in Direct/Exec Recruitment and Recruitment Operations (headcount 12,500; FY16 hires 4,300).

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

Adrian Blair

Creating a place where people thrive to maximise organisational performance

World Vision is the largest international children’s charity with over 44,000 staff and 27,000 volunteers worldwide, with a mission to transform the lives of children in the world’s hardest places. Through the recent recession, UK charities have found it tough to maintain their income levels to fund their work, and many have fought for their space in the UK market with low pledge campaigns.

World Vision UK have maintained their market share through a high value strategy, offering a richer, deeper experience for their supporters. It hasn’t been an easy journey, as tough decisions for the good of the organisation’s performance have impacted staff and their working environment.

Hear how World Vision UK’s OD strategy for Organisational Health has been instrumental not just in successfully navigating this time, but also in achieving the highest ever income levels (increasing by 52% in the last 5 years), highest staff engagement and lowest attrition levels (from 34% to 8% per annum) in the history of the organisation. The simplicity of this OD strategy can be applied to any organisation in any sector to help manage the tension between organisational performance and creating a place where people thrive.

Adrian Blair - Director of Organisational Effectiveness, World Vision UK

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

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