We have a fantastic line-up of speakers for this 2018 conference and here are their biographies. It’s an excellent mix of both new and returning presenters and even includes a humanoid robot!

The line up isn’t quite complete yet, so please check back soon to see who else will be delivering some inspiring and educational sessions.

Dame Vera Baird DBE QC – British politician, barrister, and academic.

She is currently the Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner while serving as a Visiting Professor of Legal Practice at Newcastle University, as an Honorary Doctor of Civil Law at Northumbria University, as a Visiting Law Professor at London South Bank University, and as a Visiting Law Lecturer at Teesside University. She is an Honorary Fellow of St Hilda’s College, Oxford and in November 2017 was appointed Honorary Fellow of Durham University Law School. She is Patron of Respect (which advises male domestic abuse victims and accredits courses for rehabilitating perpetrators of abuse) and Patron of Operation Encompass. She is the only woman honorary member of the Durham Miners Association.

She was the Labour Party Member of Parliament (MP) for Redcar from 2001 to 2010, was a UK Government Minister from 2006 to 2010, and the UK Government’s Solicitor General for England and Wales from 2007 to 2010. Dame Vera became the Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria in November 2012, and was re-elected with an increased majority in May 2016. During her first campaign she featured her intention to champion neighbourhood policing, improve how anti-social behaviour and drug crime are dealt with and prioritise tackling violence against women.
Baird was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2017 New Year Honours for services to women and equality.

Professor Rob Briner – Professor of Organisational Psychology, Queen Mary, University of London Scientific Director, Center for Evidence-Based Management

Rob is Professor of Organizational Psychology at Queen Mary, University of London and also Scientific Director of the Center for Evidence-Based Management (www.cebma.org).  His research has focused on several topics including well-being, emotions, stress, ethnicity, the psychological contract, absence from work, motivation, work-nonwork and everyday work behaviour.  Beyond academic research Rob helps practitioners and organizations make better use of evidence, including research evidence, in decision-making as well as encouraging academics to make research more accessible.  He has written for and presented to practitioners on many aspects of HR and organizational psychology and is now involved in many initiatives aimed at developing and promoting evidence-based practice. He has received several awards for his work in this area including the British Psychological Society Division of Occupational Psychology Academic Contribution to Practice Award in 2014 and topped HR Magazine’s Most Influential Thinker list in 2016.

Mike Burton – Editorial director, Hemming Group, business publishers and event organisers

Mike is former editor of The MJ (Municipal Journal) and now editorial director of The MJ Group along with its other associated local government products and titles such as The MJ Awards, The MJ Future Forum, LocalGov.co.uk, Surveyor, Local Government News and Municipal Year Book, which are all part of the Hemming Group, publishers and event organisers. He is also a board director of Hemming Group Ltd.

He has been writing and reporting about local government and the wider public sector for over 25 years and speak at and chair of numerous public sector conferences. He distilled his experiences into his first book The Politics of Public Sector Reform from Thatcher to the Coalition, published in June 2013 by Palgrave Macmillan and available on Amazon and other sites. The book looks at how UK governments since 1979 have driven through reform, where it has worked and where it has not, and whether the public sector is in a fit state to face the next decades of rising demand and constrained budgets.

His new book The Politics of Austerity: A Recent History (Palgrave Macmillan) looks at how the UK, the USA, the eurozone, the Baltic States, Canada and Sweden managed their public finances during economic downturns in the past 40 years.

Matthew Burrows – HR Support Assistant Serco in partnership with Lincolnshire County Council and Winner of PPMA One to Watch 2018

I have been in my current position for nearly two years. It is mainly an administrative function, overseeing the new starters, changes to contract and leavers processes. I also have a hand in administrating the recruitment process for local authority schools, and do some work on KPI reporting from our HRIS. Recently I have been working on a data cleansing project with regard to organisational structure.  I work for the service provider to Lincolnshire County Council. I decided to make this move as the council wanted to be a forerunner for this business model, and I was excited to be part of a period of change, especially as a new company had won the contract a few months before I joined. It is challenging but rewarding, and allows me to work closely with colleagues for the betterment of public services.

With regards to the One to Watch competition, spending two days in a room with so many exciting, dedicated and talented people was the best professional experience of my life. The great coaching, coupled with the insight of my peers and the judges has completely refreshed my perspective. The growth that occurred over two days in Leeds cannot be understated and I continue to be grateful for the opportunities I have to express myself professionally. The most important thing I learned about myself was that I belong in that arena. Finding the confidence and courage to deliver on that kind of stage was a big deal for me, because I wasn’t sure if I had “it”. Now I know that I do have “it”, and that confidence has already been a springboard to success.

Andrew Collings – Public Sector Lead, Neyber – with specific responsibility for Local Authorities & Education sectors

Andrew has over 20 years’ experience in driving sales of employee benefits and financial services across the private and public sectors.

Andy joined Neyber’s senior management team as the Head of Sales and brings expertise in client acquisition and strategic business development.

Theresa Grant – Chief Executive, Trafford Council

Theresa Grant has been Chief Executive at Trafford Council since 2011 and is the Lead Chief Executive for the Employment & Skills portfolio for the Greater Manchester Combined Authority region, as well as the Lead for GM Procurement Hub. She is a career public servant with 40 years’ experience in Local Government in both Ireland and the UK.  She holds an MBA from Manchester Metropolitan University.

Theresa is a dynamic, forward thinking leader with a passion for delivering strategic change and innovation through creativity and collaboration. She is a Trustee & Director of the Hallé Orchestra, a Trustee if the Irish World Heritage Centre Charity in Manchester, a Non-Executive Director of the John Laing Infrastructure Fund and a Director of Greater Manchester Evergreen Investment Fund.

Karen Grave – PPMA President 2018/2019

Karen has over 25 years working in a range of roles in the HR/OD and Organisation Transformation space.  She has worked for Big 4 Consulting organisations and worked with both private and public sector organisations. Over the last 15 years, she has solely focused on working with Government organisations; include Central, Local and Agency bodies. She has held a range of roles include Head of HR/OD for a number of organisations.
She is to be the new President of the PPMA and represents PPMA in its work with SOLACE and LGA on 21st Century Public Servant.

Leatham Green – Founder at Mindful HR & Executive Director of PPMA

Leatham is the Founder of the The Mindful HR Centre providing bespoke HR/OD consultancy. Leatham’s experience in public service spans over 30 years with roles as Programme Director: Orbis (shared service between East Sussex, Surrey and Brighton and Hove City Council) HR Director, East Sussex County Council and Head of Contracts at Kent County Council. He has received numerous awards for his work in the HR/OD field including HRO’s HR International Influencer 2018; HRO’s European HRD 2016; PPMA HRD 2015 and The Guardian Public Servant Award for the PPMA’s HR Rising Stars programme 2012.

Leatham launched the Mindful HR Centre in 2017 – a unique HR/OD consultancy that offers a blend of HR services to help people and organisations to get ‘unstuck, innovate and transform.’Leatham’s real passion lies in creating opportunities to highlight the breadth and depth of youth talent in organisations and supporting them to gain in confidence and self-belief.

Leatham is a National Policy Board member of PPMA and leads on the Public Sector Apprentice of the Year, The One to Watch and HR Rising Star programmes.

Leatham is a trained coach, mediator and NLP practitioner. www.mindfulhrcentre.com

Chris Grimes  – Matrix SCM

Having spent much of his time working closely with local authorities and NHS Trusts, Chris brings  a vital understanding of the challenges public sector organisations are facing at a time where budget constraints dictate that savings must be made whilst keeping service quality consistent.

“Organisations are faced with the incredibly difficult task of cutting costs without cutting corners – agency labour is no different. Our solution works for our public sector customers, because there is very little risk involved; we take on the contractual liability with suppliers and guarantee to achieve significant savings year on year.”

Nick Hecksher  – Operations Director at Manpower UK

Nick is an Operations Director at Manpower UK, and leads in the design, deployment and delivery of recruitment and workforce solutions into some of the largest clients in the UK.

During Nick’s 20 year career at Manpower, he has supported major organisations with bespoke and dedicated temporary and permanent staffing requirements – including managed service MSP (MV, NV and Hybrid) and RPO solutions.

Neil Keeler – Group Manager People & OD – Southend-on-Sea Borough Council

Neil has broad experience in local government in curious areas and innovative ways, across a range of service areas. Working first in the youth service, then in residential childcare he then became deputy manager of a mental health rehabilitation workshop – a social enterprise manufacturing leather goods.
Managing a community equipment service bringing barcodes, bricklaying and forklift trucks into social healthcare naturally followed! In 2006 he was recruited into an innovative new team (eventually) leading the Organisational Development programme.

As part of the transformation journey at Southend on Sea Borough Council he moved from a failing Council in 2005 to ‘Council of the Year 2012’. Challenging and enabling people to be the best they can be ‘in the nicest ways’ apparently! Working at an executive/strategic, operational and personal level he brings energy, enthusiasm, challenge and positivity.

Winner of four PPMA innovation awards for culture change work, coaching and innovation 2017 (x 2), 2012 & 2008, Training Journal (TJ) Gold Award 2016 – Best OD Programme, TJ Silver award 2016 – Coaching & Mentoring Programme. Delivering our Investors in People Gold aspiration. Supporting MJ Senior Leadership Team of the Year Award 2016; LGC Council of the Year award 2012; Stonewall top 100 Employer and RoSPA Level 5 Platinum status are all critical corporate projects we are delighted to have supported or enabled.

Irene Lucas CBE  – Chief Executive Sunderland City Council

Irene has had a wide and varied career spanning 42 years in local and national government and the private sector. She has worked within and on behalf of 105 different councils including being Chief Executive Officer of two Metropolitan Authorities in the North East of England. In 2008 Irene was appointed to the role of Director General for Local Government and Regeneration with DCLG. She spent the last months of her Central Government career as Permanent Secretary.

Irene has either led or been a member of teams working on:

⦁ Whitehall Capability Reviews

⦁ The UK’s Preparedness for the Olympic Games

⦁ Falkland Islands Government Review

⦁ English Heritage Review

⦁ Several unitary authority inspections and peer reviews

In addition to her public sector career, Irene chairs the Group Board of Hays Travel Limited – the UK’s largest independent travel agency. Irene was awarded a CBE for services to Local Government in the 2008 New Year’s Honours List.

Dr Catherine Mangan – Director of the Public Services Academy

Catherine is the Director of the Public Services Academy and leads the consultancy work for INLOGOV at the University of Birmingham. She has a particular research interest in delivering change within the public sector and her areas of interest include the integration of health and social care and developing the future workforce and leadership (she is a facilitator on the LGA’s National Graduate Development Programme). Catherine is a qualified executive leadership coach and is an experienced facilitator and developer of leadership programmes. She joined INLOGOV from OPM, a not for profit research and consultancy organisation, where she managed the organisational development and change work; specialising in local government. Previously Catherine was Deputy Director of the County Councils Network (CCN), which supports and advises chief executives and elected members in multi-tier areas. Catherine managed the policy work for the network; specialising in performance, adult social care, children’s services and partnership and governance. Catherine worked for the Local Government Association for five years, developing and supporting the implementation of national policy.

Catherine teaches on the Department’s Masters programmes in Public Management and Public Administration and writes regularly for academic journals and the professional press.

Keeley Metcalfe – Senior HR Adviser, Resourcing Solutions Team, North Yorkshire County Council

Keeley joined the NYCC Resourcing Solutions Team in 2009, having previously worked for Hartlepool Council in Environmental Standards.  Keeley has also has a short spell of self-employment delivering Community Development Projects, including a Heritage Lottery initiative. Her role in NYCC initially saw her leading on apprenticeship and graduate recruitment before moving to a project to support staff at risk of redundancy throughout 2008/2009. She is currently using her resourcing expertise to deliver a range of professional recruitment projects for Schools, assisting them to attract and source talented teachers on either a permanent or temporary basis.  Keeley’s secret skill is her ability to drive the commercial agenda, building partnerships with external organisations and successfully gaining traded recruitment based work for the team.  When not doing the ‘day job’ Keeley teachers part-time adult education classes in gardening and mosaic and when not working enjoys horse riding and carriage driving and watching sports including snooker, horse racing and football.

Jo Miller – Chief Executive of Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council

Jo has been Chief Executive of Doncaster Council since 2012. Born in Liverpool, and the first from her family and estate to attend University, Jo studied Law at the University of Southampton. Jo began her career as a lawyer, working predominantly in the public sector, although she spent some time as a partner in private practice.

After starting her career as a trainee solicitor in Nottingham, and progressing to different roles there, Jo moved on to a number of legal posts in Merseyside majoring in housing, regeneration and capital investment schemes.  After Heads of Legal Service roles, Jo took a wider brief at Knowsley Council as Executive Director to lead on corporate resources and service transformation. This was followed by a stint as Deputy Chief Executive at Bradford with a strong focus on partnerships and cohesion. Jo has undertaken a number of roles in the voluntary sector and was chair of a large Registered Social Landlord in the North West.
Prior to joining Doncaster, Jo was Deputy Chief Executive at The Local Government Association, responsible for policy, communications and sector led improvement, which included a four month secondment to Doncaster at the Government’s request.

Since arriving in Doncaster Jo has worked alongside Mayor Jones to lead the council out of government intervention ahead of schedule and has led major financial / cultural / economic change programmes which have significantly improved Doncaster’s position. Jo is lead for Skills and Devolution Governance and is a Governor of the National College for High Speed Rail which has campuses in both Doncaster and Birmingham.

Jo is also the current President of Solace, (Society of Local Authority Chief Executives). A role to which Jo was elected by her peers and is very honoured to hold. Being Solace President allows Jo the opportunity to champion at a National Level the role and leadership of Council Chief Executives and senior managers. Jo has put leadership, diversity and inclusion at the heart of her Presidential role.

Pepper the Robot – Humanoid Robot

Pepper is a humanoid robot manufactured by SoftBank Robotics (formerly Aldebaran Robotics), which is owned by SoftBank, designed with the ability to read emotions. Pepper is not a functional robot for domestic use. Instead, Pepper is intended “to make people happy”, enhance people’s lives, facilitate relationships, have fun with people and connect people with the outside world. Pepper’s creators hope that independent developers will create new content and uses for Pepper.

Pepper is currently being used as a receptionist at several offices in the UK and is able to identify visitors with the use of facial recognition, send alerts for meeting organisers and arrange for drinks to be made. Pepper is said to be able to chat to prospective clients.

The robot has also been employed at banks and medical facilities in Japan, using applications created by Seikatsu Kakumei and is also employed at all Hamazushi restaurants in Japan.

Pepper is available as a research robot for schools, colleges and universities to teach programming and conduct research into human-robot interactions. In the United Kingdom, it is available through Rapid Electronics Limited for this purpose.

Lisa Rathbone – Learning and Development Consultant at Swindon Borough Council and Winner of PPMA Rising Star 2018

I’m Lisa Rathbone – a Learning and Development Consultant at Swindon Borough Council.  I love my role because we get involved in so many diverse projects and there are always new challenges! For me, it’s all about working together to improve outcomes for our residents, particularly supporting those who are the most vulnerable.  Through enabling and empowering our employees, I feel I have a tiny part to play in the amazing work of all our staff who strive every day to transform people’s lives – that’s incredibly special.

Participating in Rising Stars was a fantastic experience!  It was really inspiring to work with so many talented professionals and share ideas.  I was a bit nervous before, but everyone was supportive and cheering each other on, which made it great fun!

I’ve never shared before what personally drives me, so presenting my legacy statement to a room full of people was quite emotional.  Through that experience, I’m learning the power of owning your own story and harnessing that passion to create positive change – and I’m discovering that I’m ready now to take that step, which feels so liberating.  This is just the beginning of that journey!

Jasvinder Sanghera CBE – Founder of Karma Nirvana

Jasvinder Sanghera was born and brought up in Derby. A survivor of a forced marriage, she is the founder of Karma Nirvana, a national award winning charity that supports both men and women affected by honour based abuse and forced marriages. She is a highly acclaimed international speaker and an expert advisor to the courts in matters of child, civil and criminal proceedings, is a chair of domestic homicide reviews and was instrumental in ensuring that all UK police forces are required to improve their understanding of honour based abuse and forced marriage by inspections conducted by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary. Her memoir ‘Shame’ was a Times Top 10 Bestseller. Jasvinder is recognised as bringing the issue of forced marriage into the public domain and Prime Minister David Cameron stated that her work ‘turned my head on the issue of forced marriage’. Her work is recognised as being pivotal to the creation of a specific UK forced marriage criminal offence in 2014.

She has received numerous awards including the prestigious Woman of the Year 2007. She was made an Honorary Doctor of the University of Derby in 2008. She was awarded The Pride of Britain Award in 2009 and was named Cosmopolitan Ultimate Woman of the Year in 2010. In 2011 she was listed in the Guardian’s top 100 Most Inspirational Women in the World and in 2012 received the Global Punjabi Award. She was awarded Commander of the British Empire in 2013 in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the victims of forced marriage and honour based abuse and also featured in the British institution ‘Desert Island Discs’. In 2014 was awarded Legal Campaigner of the Year. Jasvinder is also listed as an entry in the 2016 edition of the book Who’s Who and in the same year received the International Woman Award for human rights from the Italian media For more information please visit: jasvindersanghera.com karmanirvana.org

Paul Taylor-Pitt – Organisation Development specialist NHS Employers

Paul Taylor-Pitt created Do OD, the expert Organisational Development resource for the NHS that helps OD professionals to connect, share, learn and grow. Do OD is a vibrant and thriving community that is advancing the practice of OD, enabling people to transform systems. Do OD is delivered by NHS Employers in partnership with the NHS Leadership Academy.
Paul joined NHS Employers in 2013 following a decade of successful roles in the NHS where he specialised in organisational development. Paul’s career covers the NHS, social services and the voluntary sector in a range of workforce development, L&D and HR roles. Paul has a Degree in Psychology, a Masters in HR Leadership and is working on a Doctorate in organisational development. He is an associate member of CIPD and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Maddy Thimont Jack – Researcher, Institute for Government

Maddy first joined the Institute in April 2017 working on devolution. As part of the Brexit team, she has continued to work on the implications of Brexit for devolution as well as the role of Parliament in the Brexit process. In 2016 she worked as a research assistant at Britain Thinks on a range of projects for clients across the private and public sector and completed an internship with the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations in New York, working with the West Africa Team on the Missions in Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia.

Louise Tibbert – Director of Workforce an OD at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust

Louise joined Leicester’s Hospitals as Director of Workforce and Organisational Development in August 2015. She was previously Head of HR and OD at Hertfordshire County Council, a position she held since April 2010. In this role Louise reported to the Deputy Chief Executive and was the Council’s lead HR and OD Professional and has successfully developed and delivered an overarching Workforce Strategy aligned to the Council’s Corporate Plan 2013-2017. Louise has led on regional and national work programmes and held a number of roles in Cambridge, both City and County councils, prior to working in Hertfordshire, so is used to working in large and complex public organisations (Hertfordshire County Council employs around 32,000 people). Louise is also a Past President of the PPMA and in her tenure introduced Memorandum of Co-operation (MoC) across the country amongst HR & OD professionals in an attempt to work more collaboratively in order to manage the demand and supply of children’s social workers.

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