The Speakers of Previous Events
GRISELDA TOGOBO – CEO OF FORWARD LADIES
Griselda began her career as an electrical engineer, she then veered into business having been influenced by the challenges and successes that her parents experienced as entrepreneurs. She trained and qualified as a chartered accountant with one of the BIG 4 professional services firms but now runs her own businesses, Forward Ladies included. Griselda is a mother of two beautiful children. She is extremely passionate about positively impacting the future of women and girls in the workforce. Griselda joined Forward Ladies as a member and was hooked.
JOANNA JENSEN – FOUNDER & EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN OF CHILDS FARM
Joanna Jensen is the Founder & Executive Chairman of the UK’s number one baby and children’s toiletry brand, Childs Farm. In July 2020, she also launched an adult brand Farmologie following huge demand from women and parents.
As well as being an entrepreneur, Joanna is a mother of two, Mimi and Bella. They were the inspiration behind the launch of Childs Farm and the products she created, as they both had sensitive skin and nothing on the market worked
Arti Halai specialises in presentation, media and communications having spent fifteen years working in the UK media industry. She was a television presenter, reporter and producer working in news and current affairs for both the BBC and ITV. Moving on to business, Arti co-founded a number of successful companies including PR agency, Fleet Street Communications and creative design agency, Grin Consultancy. Both companies became profitable and grew parallel to reach seven figures and work with some of the world’s largest brands.
Following a successful exit, Arti is currently a board advisor to an EdTech, Auris Tech and an ambassador for Every Child Needs a Mentor. She has also held positions as board director, trustee, governor and NED.
Arti continues to work with clients who need to sharpen their messages and deliver them with confidence, authenticity and with flair. Arti hosts award ceremonies, annual dinners, is a conference facilitator and chairs panel discussions. Her podcast is called Five Star Insights.
Throughout her career, Arti has helped and supported women and young people encouraging them to aspire high and given workshops and talks about her career in television and business.
Catherine Asta is a psychotherapist and an impassioned champion of women and their stories, with an unequivocal specialism in ‘Bringing Sparkle Back’.
Over the last 7 years Catherine has worked with hundreds of women and has spent thousands and thousand of hours inside the minds of women, she has a global client base, and an ever increasing client base of late discovered neurodivergent women, and is a featured expert across the BBC and the media
This is combined with 10+ years’ experience gained in Local Government and the NHS in a variety of local and national strategy, research, policy development and operational delivery roles.
Catherine left her corporate role as Head of Transformation in a large NHS Acute Trust in 2017 and since then has established a successful therapy business, been awarded a Fellow by her professional body for outstanding commitment to her profession, secured a 3 year residency slot on BBC Radio, represented UN Women as an ambassador, created and nurtured communities (girl tribe gang), and has studied for, and gained her Psychology Masters.
Catherine always has a head full of ideas and is a creative strategic thinker, with an associative thinking style, and her USP is people.
Community building and dressing happy is her thing.
Catherine is also a late discovered autistic woman (with a sprinkling of ADHD), mum to an autistic girl and the founder of the Late Discovered Club – a community for late discovered autistic women, whenever they are on their self-discovery journey.
Catherine created the late discovered club because she says “there are lots of late discovered women out there, who have had to figure this out alone, along with a lifetime of struggles whose voices have never been heard. The Late Discovered Club exists for those women and their stories.”
Ally Dowsing-Reynolds is CEO at Leeds-based home décor brand and retailer Dowsing & Reynolds. Having worked in the advertising industry for over two decades, Ally left her senior role to lead the brand and marketing at Dowsing & Reynolds. In 2022, Ally stepped into the role of CEO to lead the 70-strong team and brand through its future growth. Ally was diagnosed with ADHD in her late 30s and she works hard to raise awareness of neurodiversity and how it impacts people in their daily lives. Instagram: @allydowsingreynolds
Hannah Duraid is a Multi-Award-Winning young entrepreneur behind the escape room attraction, The Great Escape Game. A fully immersive experience where customers enter into a themed, Crystal-maze style adventure and must solve a series of puzzles to escape before their time runs out.
Launched in 2015, today the business has developed across three sites, boasting bars and kitchens, 17 escape room experiences, as well as being proud to be home to Yorkshire’s only 18+ escape game, that was featured on channel 4’s “Don’t Tell the Bride”.
As well as this Hannah consults for a femtech company, Hyivy Health.
Georgia Henry has a master’s degree in Children’s Literature and is Head of Publishing at Rocket. One of the early innovators in the world of BookTok, her campaign for They Both Die at the End went viral and has been viewed by 5.1 million people.
ANNA KEELING – MD, BOEING DEFENSE
Anna joined Boeing as Managing Director of Boeing Defence UK in 2019 from GKN Aerospace. She is responsible for Boeing UK’s significant defence programmes, people and sites and the organisation’s growth, alignment and business development. Boeing, across all businesses, operates at 65 sites and employs 2,500 people directly and many more through a significant domestic supply chain.
Anna has two decades of global leadership experience in the aerospace and automotive sectors. Before joining Boeing, she was Senior Vice President Business Transformation, leading GKN’s business improvement plan to drive profit, margin and cash and Senior Vice President Commercial, where she assumed responsibility for all GKN Aerospace’s global commercial governance and ensured an aligned customer strategy across the business.
MARCELLA ALLISON – CEO OF COPY HARVEST LLC & FOUNDER OF THE MENTORESS COLLECTION
Marcella Allison is the CEO of Copy Harvest LLC and the founder of the Mentoress Collective (formerly Titanides Mentoring Collective), an organisation dedicated to promoting female freelancers, entrepreneurs, and copywriters. Learn more at sexistsecret.com.
As a copywriter, she works with some of the top direct-response companies in the industry. She has written for The Motley Fool, BottomLine, Inc., Advanced Bionutritionals, Money Map Press, Metabolic Living, The Bo Eason Group, and more. Her copy has generated over $100 million in sales for financial trading services, alternative health supplements, and information products.
As a mentor and copy chief, she designed and led Money Map Press’s proprietary training program for in-house and freelance copywriters. Today she mentors over 1,200 women in the Mentoress Collective.
In 2018, Marcella was awarded Copywriter of the Year by American Writers and Artists Inc. for her outstanding performance record and impact on the copywriting industry. She’s a featured speaker at industry events including AWAI’s Copywriting Success Bootcamp, Copy Chief LIVE, and The Copywriter Club In Real Life.
Marcella is the co-author of, Why Didn’t Anybody Tell Me This Sh*t Before? A collection of wit and wisdom from women in business. As the founder of the Mentoress Collective she is dedicated to helping women go as fierce and far in business and life as they desire.
ALEX DEPLEDGE – RESI
Alex Depledge is one of the leading female lights in the UK tech scene. An innovative, principled and inspiring businesswoman, she co-founded the pioneering Hassle.com, which sold for £27 million in 2015.
She has now started Resi, a groundbreaking online architectural service that is revolutionising how Britons renovate.
Alex was the FL awards overall business women on the year winner in 2019.
SUSIE CUMMINGS – FOUNDER NUROLE
Susie works on board level appointments across all sectors. After a 30-year career as a traditional headhunter, Susie had one of those lightbulb moments when realising that, in the digital age, there had to be a better way of hiring new board members.
In 2014 Susie founded Nurole, the global platform changing the way organisations bring the best people onto their boards. The approach combines smart technology and industry experts to transform the boards of multinationals, start-ups, charities, government bodies and everything in between. The Financial Times named Nurole one of Europe’s fastest growing companies in both 2019 and 2020.
DR. SUZANNE DOYLE MORRIS – FOUNDER INCLUSIQ
Dr. Suzanne Doyle-Morris, speaker, executive coach and author, has been improving the lives of women working in male-dominated professional services and STEM fields since 1998. She’s known for 2500+ ICF accredited executive coaching hours, 200+ organisational presentations, 110 YouTube ‘how-to’ videos, 3 best-selling career development books, 1 Cambridge PhD… and a partridge in a pear tree.
Raised in the U.S, SDM’s presentations have an international flavour. Now in Scotland, she’s lived and worked in five countries over the last few decades. Her audiences reflect this and are drawn from the UK and USA as well as across Europe and the Middle East.
EMMA-JANE TARABAY – COHORTED COMMUNICATIONS
A 24-year-old lifestyle content creator as well as the Partnerships and Editorial Manager at Cohorted Communications, based in Leeds.
Emma considers herself as a mental health advocate, being completely transparent about her journey with depression and anxiety alongside her studies and the influence this has on her post-graduation journey. As she progresses more into her professional career, she recognises more than ever how necessary it is to discuss mental health on a daily basis.
Since receiving the Forward Ladies award for ‘Most Aspirational Student’ she has been working closely with FL as a Future Generation Brand Ambassador. By helping to build brand awareness to the younger generation of women, we are able to empower and encourage leadership amongst a younger audience. If she’s not writing or working, she will be having a cuddle with her gorgeous pup Rupert.
SARAH HARAN – SARAH’S LUXURY HANDBAGS
Sarah Haran was the Chief Operating Officer & Board Director of iomart Group Plc, a cloud computing IT business where Sarah was part of the founding team and the first employee. Under her stewardship iomart grew from zero revenues to £100 million.
In March 2017 Sarah decided to focus her attention on her hobby handbag business where she had been inspired by her business life to design the perfect handbag for women. Sarah designs handbags & accessories that are the perfect balance of beauty & function. Primarily an ecommerce business, Sarah’s aim is to bring joy to her customers.
ANDREA REYNOLDS – SWOOP
SCARLETT ALLEN-HORTON – FOUNDER OF HARPER FOX PARTNERS
Scarlett Allen-Horton is a top performing international executive search recruiter; equality, diversity and inclusion specialist and founder of Harper Fox Search Partners, a top executive search firm with a passion for placing senior female and ethnic minority talent across the engineering and energy sectors.
In addition, Scarlett is a finalist of the acclaimed BBC Apprentice Television Show, business partner to British business magnate Lord Sugar, Diversity and Inclusion Ambassador for the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) and proud ambassador for WE:ARE domestic abuse freedom empowerment charity.
MATT TURNER – TASTE CARD
Matt founded tastecard (originally tastelondon) in 2006 with just £20,000 – fifteen years later it is now the UK’s largest dining club with over 3 million members.
Of course, the last twelve months have proved challenging for tastecard as most of its partner restaurants have been closed and members asked to stay at home, but with challenges come opportunities and Matt talks about how the business has pivoted, giving an insight in to some of the other projects they’re working on including a new fitness app.
Matt also talks about hospitality reopening, and how hard the industry has worked to ensure that it reopens safely. He himself had COVID at the beginning of the year and understands how nervous some people are about being in a social setting again. However, he is hugely optimistic about the future of the industry with many people longing for real human interaction in restaurant settings.
HEATHER BAKER – BAKER THOMPSON ASSOCIATES
Following over 20 years as a secretary and then PA, Heather established Baker Thompson Associates in January 2000 to fulfil the need for specialised PA/EA/admin training; training for Assistants by Assistants. She now (pandemic excepted) travels with world working with small and large organisations enabling Assistants to find ways to excel in their roles, for their success and the success of their companies. During lockdown, all her training is available online.
Baker Thompson Associates has won several awards. She is the author of 4 Amazon top ten selling books and the creator of the BakerWrite speedwriting system, which is now offered by UK Pitman Group franchises and other approved training companies around the world. Heather is proud to be a Prince’s Trust business mentor and a supporter and mentor for Isipho Admin in South Africa.
GINA MILLER – POLITICAL ACTIVIST
Gina Miller is a prominent businesswoman, a passionate philanthropist and responsible capitalist who has campaigned in the areas of investment and pension reform, political transparency and scrutiny, modern day slavery, social justice and the charity sector. In 2016, Gina successfully challenged the Government over its authority to implement Brexit, winning in both the High Court and Supreme Court. In 2018 Gina continues a ‘democracy and legality’ watching brief of the UK Government’s activities, including challenging the legality of the £1 billion payment to Northern Ireland for the 10 DUP votes, and the power grab within the EU Withdrawal Bill.As an ambassador for the Desmond Tutu foundation, Gina was a featured speaker at the third annual ‘Desmond Tutu International Peace Summit’ in London in April, 2018. The summit explored topics including international peace and security, South Africa in this year of Nelson Mandela’s Centenary, rebuilding Syria and the Oslo Agreement, 25 years on.
KAVITA OBEROI – FOUNDER OF OBEROI CONSULTING
Kavita Oberoi is one of the UK’s most highly regarded successful entrepreneurs and social philanthropists, with a multi-million pound business portfolio.
In 2009 she was named in a Bank of Scotland report as one of Britain’s 100 most entrepreneurial women and in 2014 awarded in OBE for services to entrepreneurship and start-up businesses. In 2012 Kavita also established the Oberoi Business Hub, based in Derby’s Pride Park, which is a shared business hub designed to assist and encourage business start-ups and growing businesses.
The Hub offers a range of front-of-house and back office support services for start-up and growing businesses including, serviced offices, virtual offices, virtual PAs, call answering, fulfilment, and mail handling.
Kavita has acquired and sold selling companies during her career along with a growing commercial property portfolio
Kavita has appeared in many TV programmes, including The Secret Millionaire, The Apprentice You’re Fired, BBC Breakfast, Sky News, The Working Lunch, Richard & Judy, The TV Show, as a panellist on the national ITV Business Club, Hotel GB and Make Me A Millionaire Inventor.
Today, Kavita combines her position as MD of Oberoi Consulting & Oberoi Business Hub with many other business interests, as well as media work and roles as a public speaker and philanthropist.
Her most recent charity project is the Derby Breakfast Club which she instigated with the local council to ensure no child in Derby goes hungry to school.
SAHAR HASHEMI – CO-FOUNDER OF COFFEE REPUBLIC
A former lawyer, Sahar Hashemi founded Coffee Republic, the UK’s first US style coffee bar chain with her brother and built it into one of the UK’s most recognised high street brands with 110 bars and a turnover of £30m.
She left the day-to-day management of Coffee Republic in 2001 and published a bestselling book, Anyone Can Do It, Building Coffee Republic From Our Kitchen Table, which has been translated into 6 languages and is 2nd-highest selling book on entrepreneurship after Richard Branson.
In 2005 she founded Skinny Candy, a brand of sugar free sweets, labeled hip by Vogue magazine. Skinny Candy was sold to confectionery conglomerate Glisten PLC in 2007.
In 2011 Sahar was nominated by Director magazine as one of its Top 10 Original Thinkers, alongside Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Sir Jonathan Ive.
In June 2012 Sahar was awarded an OBE for services to the UK economy and to charity. and was listed in the Maseratti 100, definitive list of 100 of Britain’s most successful philanthropists, investors, mentors and advisors, who are supporting the next generation of up and coming business talent.
She is currently co- chair of the Government Scale Up Taskforce and is actively involved in the roll-out of Change Please, a social enterprise that trains and hires homeless people to run coffee carts. She sits on the board of the Scale Up Institute and British Fashion Council Fashion Trust.
Her latest book “Start Up Forever, HOW TO BUILD A START UP CULTURE IN A BIG COMPANY” based on her experiences of working with large organisations was published in 2019 and became The Financial Times Business Book of The Month.
IAN STUART – CEO HSBC UK
Ian has over 35 years’ experience in the banking industry across a number of financial institutions and holding a number of senior leadership roles, most recently HSBC.
In his current role, Ian leads HSBC in the UK with over 38,000 people, covering Corporate and Business Banking, Retail Banking & Private Bank including all associated product lines. Ian is also a member of the Europe Executive Committee.
Ian is also a Business Ambassador for Meningitis Now and supports Speakers 4 Schools.
He is a Board member of UK Finance.
LINDA PLANT – THE APPRENTICE JUDGE
Linda built her career from humble beginnings to become one of Britain’s most successful entrepreneurs. After leaving school at sixteen she sold fashion from a Leeds market stall, before launching her international fashion brand, Honeysuckle. Later becoming one of the first women to head a fashion company flotation on the London Stock Market.
Known as ‘The Queen of Mean’ for her no-nonsense interviews of BBC One The Apprentice’s final five candidates over 5 seasons. Linda continues her lifelong passion for business and entrepreneurship, recognised with a number of business awards, now running property development and interior design businesses.
She launched her Business Mentoring course in Autumn 2020, helping to shape the next generation of business leaders. Linda is also on the FL National Awards & Summit judging panel.
RICHARD CARTER – MD BASF UK & IRELAND
Richard John Carter was born in Wakefield, United Kingdom, in 1962.He studied Economics and Business Administration at the Manchester Business School, United Kingdom, Stockholm School of Economics, Sweden, Fachhochschule Reutlingen, Germany and Middlesex University, United Kingdom. Richard began his career at Bayer in Germany and then moved to Taiwan. He then moved to BASF where has as worked all over Asia,USA and Europe and sine 2016 held the role of MD for UK and Ireland.
JO FAIRLEY – CO-FOUNDER OF GREEN & BLACKS
Despite only having 6 ‘O’ Levels to my name, I have edited two magazines (I was the UK’s youngest-ever magazine editor), and gone on to found the UK’s ‘coolest food brand’, Green & Black’s Chocolate (as recognised in the Coolbrands Survey for the 11 consecutive years).
Today I travel the world, passionately sharing the rollercoaster story of how Green & Black’s went from an idea in a Portobello bedroom to a global ethical brand, speaking to an incredibly wide range of businesses and organisations, from Legal & General to Vodafone via Barclays, HSBC, universities and business schools, entrepreneurs groups, conferences and awards ceremonies. (Taking a Covid-related pause in 2020, but looking forward to picking up again when large gatherings are permitted.)
I am now a serial entrepreneur having opened an award-winning organic bakery and one-stop organic food shop, Judges Bakery, in Hastings, and The Wellington Centre, a world-class wellbeing destination. My most recent venture is The Perfume Society, a huge informational website and actual networking organisation for people who are interested in fragrance and the sense of smell. What links all my ventures is that they focus around the senses: taste, touch, smell.
DALE MURRAY – ANGEL INVESTOR
LARA OYESANYA – GENERAL COUNSEL CONTIS
Currently UK Counsel and Director, Legal at Klarna Bank AB. A law graduate, she has worked for a number of organisations including senior legal counsel at Barclays, BAE Systems and legal director at HBOS. She is an executive director of Plan International UK and Aspiring Solicitors ambassador.
JACQUI MILLER – BOARD DIRECTOR OF MILLER CONSTRUCTION
HELEN BUTTERS – AUTHOR OF 4 MUMS IN A BOAT