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2018 Speakers


Caroline Baldwin, Editor, Essential Retail

Rowena Burns, Chair, Manchester Science Partnerships

Nick Chrissos, Director of Innovation, Cisco Europe

Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Shaun Collings, Regional Sales Director, Public Sector, Pure Storage

John Cridland, Chairman, Transport for the North

Liliana Danila, Economist, British Retail Consortium

Julian David, CEO, techUK

Clara Davies, Policy Adviser, Strategy Unit, Department for Transport

Ben Gardner, Associate, Pinsent Masons LLP

Bryan Glick, Editor, ComputerWeekly

Matthew Hudson, Head of Strategy, Transport for London

Lawrence Jones, MBE, CEO UKFast

Alison Kennedy, Director, Hartree Centre

Jonathan Spruce, Director, Fore Consulting Ltd

Russ Tarr, VP of EMEA and APAC Sales, Artificial Solutions

Elizabeth Vega, Global CEO, Informed Solutions

Damien White, Senior Retail Industry Consultant, Think Big Analytics, A Teradata Company

Daren Wood, Vision Director, Resonate Group


CarolineBaldwin LIpicCaroline Baldwin, Editor, Essential Retail

Caroline Baldwin is the editor of Essential Retail and thanks to her skills as an expert shopper combined with her six years writing about technology is at the forefront of retail technology trends. Also the host of the Retail Ramble podcast, Caroline spends her days interviewing retailers who are deploying cutting edge tech such as virtual reality and voice. She also ensures the wider Essential Retail team is on the pulse with breaking retail technology news, while analysing its impact on the industry more widely.




Rowena Burns - photoRowena Burns, Chair, Manchester Science Partnerships

Rowena has held the position of Chief Executive at Manchester Science Partnerships since 2012, and in 2017 she became Chairman. She describes the MSP role as perfect, a public/private sector partnership focused on driving growth and opportunity in the most vibrant and innovative sectors of the economy.
Rowena has deep roots in the Great Manchester economy, and previous roles as a Group Director of the Manchester Airports Group, and latterly, as Chief Operating Officer of MSP’s parent company, Bruntwood Estates, have all been focused on working in partnership – reflecting her deeply held belief that successful cities are those whose leaders make common cause across functional and organisational boundaries, and together deliver more than the sum of their parts. She remains a director of Bruntwood, whose deep development and place-making skills play a key role in the City’s growth strategy.


Nick photoNick Chrissos, Director of Innovation, Cisco Europe

With more than 20 years in product development, marketing and sales, Nick is currently the Director of Innovation for Europe. Responsible for collaborative Co-Innovation and Co-Creation projects, Innovation centres and more.

His previous roles have included the CTO of Collaboration in UK, Head of Unified Communications Technology in Europe and Head of Innovation Technology for Cisco in UK and Ireland, responsible for collaborative research and leadership of the Cisco CREATE team.

A dynamic thought leader and an ambassador for Cisco, Nick has a particular passion for exploring the way cutting edge technologies can transform the way we work, live and play.


Greg ClarkRt Hon Greg Clark MP, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

The Rt Hon Greg Clark was appointed Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on 14 July 2016. He was elected Conservative MP for Royal Tunbridge Wells in 2005.

Born in Middlesbrough, Greg studied economics at Cambridge before earning his PhD from the London School of Economics.

Greg was Director of Policy for the Conservative Party from March 2001 for 3 successive leaders - William Hague, Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Howard - before being elected as an MP in 2005.

He was appointed Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change in October 2008, having previously been Shadow Minister for Charities, Social Enterprises and Volunteering. He then took up the position of Minister of State at Communities and Local Government, with responsibilities for decentralisation and planning policy.

Greg served as Minister for Cities from July 2011 until September 2012, and as Financial Secretary to the Treasury from September 2012 until October 2013. He was Minister of State at the Cabinet Office from October 2013 until March 2015 and Minister for Universities and Science from July 2014 until May 2015. He served as Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government from May 2015 until July 2016.


J Cridland TfNlogo 4John Cridland, Chairman, Transport for the North

John Cridland led the CBI as Director-General between 2011-2015 and was key spokesman for the business community in the media, on public platforms and with the Government.

John was educated at Boston Grammar School and has an MA in History from Christ’s College Cambridge. He joined the CBI as a policy adviser in 1982 and took up Deputy Director-General from 2000 to 2010 and spent 33 years at the CBI.

He was Vice Chair of the National Learning and Skills Council between 2007-2010. He spent 10 years on the Low Pay Commission and the ACAS Council. He was also a member of the Council of Cranfield University, the Commission on Environmental Markets and Economic Performance. From 2011-2015 he was director of Business in the Community and a UK Commissioner for Employment and Skills.

He is also a Visiting Professor at University College London.


Liliana Danila, Economist, British Retail Consortium

Liliana Danila is an economist with the British Retail Consortium, where she undertakes research and analysis about the retail industry in the context of the wider economy and studies the impact of key policy changes.
Prior to joining the BRC, she was a lecturer in Economics at the American University of Sharjah, UAE, where she taught Macroeconomics and Statistics classes and her research focused on growth and monetary policy.


a42a2aa6c7440291c38ba9adc5892a56 XSJulian David, CEO, techUK

Julian David is the CEO of techUK. He was appointed as the director general of Intellect in March 2012 and led its  transformation to techUK in November 2013. Julian leads techUK's 60 strong team in representing more than 950  member companies, including multi-nationals and more than 500 SMEs to ensure that the digital tech industry is at the   heart of a modern society and economy in Britain. He is a member of the government and industry Cyber Growth   Partnership and Digital Advisory Council.  He is also techUK’s representative on the National Trade Association Council   of Digital Europe.


Clara Davies picClara Davies, Policy Adviser, Strategy Unit, Department for Transport
Clara is a Senior Policy Adviser in the Department for Transport’s Strategy Unit. She is part of a cross-departmental team working on the Future of Mobility Grand Challenge. The Future of Mobility is one of four Grand Challenges announced in the Industrial Strategy with the aim of making the UK the world leader in the movement of goods, services and people. Clara previously worked in the Treasury as part of a spending team and for two years was private secretary to the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser.




Gardner BenBen Gardner, Associate, Pinsent Masons LLP
Ben Gardner is a commercial lawyer who regularly supports clients in the automotive and technology sectors and has extensive experience in advising OEMs, the supply chain and market disputers on a wide range of legal and commercial matters.

Ben has supported start-ups to FTSE listed businesses on strategic collaborations and long-term cross border agreements for the supply of goods and services. Ben regularly speaks at events and in the media on the legal issues relating to the development, testing and future commercialisation of connected and autonomous vehicles.





Matthew Hudson Photo

Matthew Hudson, Head of Strategy, Transport for London

Having qualified as a chartered accountant with Ernst & Young in 1997, Matthew went on to work on several Private Finance Initiatives in the IT environment on both the client and supply side. In 2001 he began a varied career at London Underground and then Transport for London.  This has covered financial and commercial transactions on London Underground’s telecommunications and power networks, line extensions and station redevelopments. In 2010 he joined the Customer Experience team and has led the £1bn procurement of the Fare Collection Services contract, commercially exploited TfL’s fare collection system software in transport markets outside of London and acted as policy lead for fare collection in Europe.  In 2017 he took the role of Head of Strategy within TfL’s new Technology and Data group.  A key focus is driving value for money through TfL’s investment in technology.



Lawrence Jones photoLawrence Jones MBE, CEO UKFast

Lawrence Jones MBE is the CEO of cloud and infrastructure firm UKFast. With more than 30 years’ business experience, Jones is at the helm of a portfolio worth £375m including a cybersecurity firm, a Swiss ski hotel and a construction business.

Jones’s unique approach to employee engagement has earned him plaudits from across the country, whilst his philanthropy has seen him transform the lives of thousands of people by helping to raise millions of pounds, donating his time and that of his team, and investing heavily in education and development.

His commitment to bridging the skills gap and redressing the gender balance in the technology industry has seen UKFast move into the education space, opening a digital-focussed high school and committing to training teachers as well as pupils.


PhotoAlison Kennedy, Director, Hartree Centre

Alison Kennedy is the Director of the Hartree Centre, based at the UK’s Science and Facilities Council’s National Laboratory at Daresbury.  The Hartree Centre receives funding from BEIS with a remit to improve the global competitiveness of UK industry by facilitating the adoption of High Performance Computing, High Performance Data Analytics and Cognitive Computing techniques by companies of all sizes. Prior to joining the Hartree Centre, she was the Executive Director of EPCC, the national HPC centre based at the University of Edinburgh and has recently completed a term of office as theManaging Director and Chair of the Board of Directors of PRACE (Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe). She began her working life as a real time systems programmer in industry and has now worked in HPC for more almost 25years, managing large collaborative projects in HPC, Data and AI.


js pictureJonathan Spruce, Director, Fore Consulting Ltd

Jonathan is a civil and transportation engineer with over 25 years’ worth of wide ranging experience working for the public and private sectors. He is an experienced advisor to the public and private sector, and regularly provides advice at a senior level to local authorities and partnerships in the UK, aimed at the development of integrated transportation and regeneration solutions aimed at supporting economic growth in towns and cities. He is a Director of Fore Consulting and is currently acting as Interim Strategy Director for Transport for the North, leading the team developing the first pan-Northern Strategic Transport Plan and associated 30 year Investment Programme. He is also  a  Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers and Immediate Past Chair of ICE National Transport Expert Panel.


IMG 3118 2Russ Tarr, VP of EMEA and APAC Sales, Artificial Solutions

Russ Tarr is VP of EMEA and APAC Sales at Artificial Solutions, a leading specialist in enterprise-strength Conversational AI, a form of Artificial Intelligence that allows people to communicate with applications, websites and devices in everyday, humanlike natural language via voice, text, touch or gesture input.

Artificial Solutions’ conversational AI technology simplifies the process of implementing a wide range of natural language applications such as virtual assistants, chatbots, speech-based conversational UIs for smart devices and more. Solutions developed on Teneo, Artificial Solutions award winning platform, help large enterprise organisations across multiple industries to transform their customer experience across digital channels and platforms, gain competitive differentiation, drive additional sales and reduce customer care costs.

Russ is a successful and highly entrepreneurial strategic partnerships/business development leader with 20 years’ experience of building global teams and new revenue streams in disruptive and innovation led start-ups and large enterprise organisations.


Informed-Solutions-Liz-Vega-2 2Elizabeth Vega, Global CEO, Informed Solutions

Elizabeth Vega is the Global CEO of Informed Solutions, a member of the UK’s Cabinet Office SME Advisory Panel and the Scale-Up Institute and a contributor to the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy’s consultation on new strategies for UK industry. More recently, she contributed to the Department of International Trade’s Export Strategy review and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s Digital Strategy. In 2018 she was presented with the prestigious Digital Leaders Founder Award.

Having founded Informed Solutions in 1992, Elizabeth has over 25 years’ experience working at board and executive leadership level, leading and advising on complex change and digital transformation.

Elizabeth has built a company that is dedicated to supporting and contributing to its local communities. Informed Solutions has actively supported the ambitious regeneration and transformation of Altrincham town centre through a voluntary rates levy and leadership of a number of the organising committees.


Damien WhiteDamien White, Senior Retail Industry Consultant, Teradata

Dr Damien White is a retail specialist at Teradata, one of the world’s leading data and analytics companies.

Teradata empowers companies to achieve high-impact business outcomes through data and analytics. With a portfolio of business analytics solutions, architecture consulting, and industry-leading big data and analytics technology, Teradata unleashes the potential of great companies.

Damien is an analytics thought leader with 18+ years’ experience of using customer data to deliver commercially impactful insights and analytic solutions. He has worked with many of the leading retailers in the UK and internationally.



Daren Wood headshotDaren Wood, Vision Director, Resonate

Resonate, where Daren is the Vision Director, is a British SME that uses technology, data and innovative commercial models to enable rail operators deliver improved performance. Resonate knows first-hand about the challenges and successes of delivering innovative approaches in a safety-first, highly regulated operational environment.

Daren has worked across many areas of planning and delivery in rail transport, from demand forecasting and timetable planning to operational management and signalling control. In his current role, Daren is looking at how technology and data can be used to enable the environments in which public transport services can increase their appeal to customers, cooperate alongside other modes of transport and integrate more easily into people’s lives.




For further information, please contact:

  • Noreen Aldworth

    Noreen Aldworth

    Head of Events
    T 020 7331 2052

Please note: a refund will be given on cancellations received in writing 6 weeks prior to the event. Regrettably no refunds can be given after this date.


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