Advisory Board

The Birmingham Business School Advisory Board advises on our strategic objectives and seeks to enhance the Business School's links with the corporate world.

The Board consists of high-level executives selected for their exceptional stature and their commitment to Birmingham Business School. The contribution they make is crucial to our continued success and future development. The Board is chaired by Steve Hollis and Jane Lodge, former Chairs of KPMG and Deloitte in the Midlands respectively. 

Birmingham Business School Advisory Board

Advisory Board Guest Lecture

The prestigious Annual Advisory Board Guest Lecture takes place at the end of each calendar year, and is always given in response to a key issue in business that has come to the fore during the year. In keeping with the School’s own responsible business drive, the 2018 lecture, given by Mike Barry – Head of Sustainable Business at Marks and Spencer, did just that by tackling the need for new sustainable business models head-on in the wake of consumer recognition of the need for change brought about by the finale of David Attenborough’s BBC documentary Blue Planet, which took an unflinching look at the impact of disposable waste on the world. 

Mike gesturing

Board members

All the Board members are global ambassadors of the School and actively engage individually throughout the year.

Chair: Steve Hollis

Chair HS2 Growth Delivery Board
Deputy Lieutenant of The West Midlands Lieutenancy

Steve has a wealth of experience within the professional and financial sector having had an illustrious career at KPMG spanning 30 years. Serving on KPMG’s Boards for the UK, Europe and EMA, as well as Chairman of KPMG’s Midlands practice, Steve was one of the firm’s senior partners, working with local and global companies. Steve advises and serves on the Boards of a number of private companies in the UK and USA and has extensive experience in cross-border transactions. Following retirement from KPMG, Steve currently holds, The Chairmanship of Birmingham Metropolitan College, Chairman of the Board of Scottish American Capital LLP and PFHD Limited, Deputy Lieutenant of The West Midlands Lieutenancy, Chairman of SORBUS and has recently relinquished his role as Chairman of Aston Villa Football Club and the Chairmanship of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership. He regularly appears on lists of the most influential businessmen in the Midlands. In 2018 Steve was made Chair of the HS2 Growth Delivery Board, for which he will oversee the £4.4bn budget as the project reaches a crucial stage of development, which includes construction of two new stations, Curzon Street and Interchange, and the rolling stock depot at Washwood Heath, along with the vast amount of civil engineering work required to create the new railway.

Vice Chair: Jane Lodge

Non Executive Director – Costain Group plc, DCC plc, Devro plc and Sirius Minerals plc

A graduate of the University of Birmingham, Jane was a partner in Deloitte (formerly Touche Ross) from 1986 to 2011. She now has a portfolio of non-exec positions including Non Executive Director and Chair of the Audit Committee for leading UK international manufacturing plc’s: Costain Group and Devro, the international sales, marketing, distribution and business support services group DCC plc, and for and for the UK-based a UK based fertilizer development company Sirius Minerals plc. She has extensive experience in advising global businesses in a variety of sectors including manufacturing, financial services, construction and house building. As a partner at Deloitte, Jane held various senior roles at Deloitte. She was head of the Deloitte Manufacturing Group in the UK, leading the firm’s development of business with manufacturing clients and representing the UK on the Deloitte Global Manufacturing Executive Group, and she also held the position of Practice Senior Partner in the Midlands.  She was the partner responsible for the firm's UK assurance and advisory training and development, and also spearheaded a global learning taskforce which is now used as the de facto standard for development and implementation of global learning programmes which have been rolled out to offices around the world.  She was a member of the Deloitte UK Board of Partners for a 2 year term. In October 2001 Jane was awarded the prestigious title of Midlands Business Woman of the Year and three years later Jane received a Lifetime Achievement award from the Birmingham and West Midlands Society of Chartered Accountants for her services to the profession.  In 2006 she was nominated to the Manufacturing Power 50 by The Manufacturer magazine sponsored by Barclays. Jane chaired the Audit Committee of the University of Birmingham for 7 years and was a member of its Council for 9 years.  A former council member of the West Midlands CBI, she is currently member of the CBI Manufacturing Council.  Jane is a Board member of the Black Country Living Museum. 

Board Members

Lord Bilimoria CBE, DL
Founder of Cobra and Chairman of The Cobra Beer Partnership Ltd
Chancellor of The University of Birmingham

Born in India, Lord Karan Bilimoria graduated in Law from Cambridge University and qualified as a Chartered Accountant with Ernst and Young. Karan is famed for developing Cobra Beer – a less gassy, premium lager brewed to specifically appeal to both ale drinkers and lager drinkers alike and to complement food. Karan spent twenty years building the Cobra Brand name and grew his reputation as a major UK entrepreneur on the speaker circuit. Karan’s family have enjoyed a long association with the University; his grandfather, mother and uncle all studied here, and we were delighted when he agreed to become Chancellor of the University of Birmingham in 2014.

In 2009 Karan went into partnership with Molson Coors who bought 50.1% of Cobra Beer. Karan is the Representative Deputy Lieutenant of the London Borough of Hounslow. Additionally, Karan serves as UK Chairman of the Indo British Partnership, and lectures extensively in the UK and abroad on entrepreneurship, business, education, and the Indo-British relationship. In June 2006, Karan was appointed Lord Bilimoria, of Chelsea. Karan still spends a great deal of his time back in India, where his family and other business interests remain, and has been pivotal in helping advise on the Business School’s marketing effort in India.

Ghaleb Cachalia
Managing Director – Interbrand Sampson, South Africa

Based in South Africa, Ghaleb’s experience in business management spans over twenty years. He is Managing Director of Interbrand Sampson, South Africa – the African associate of the Interbrand group which is listed via Omincom on the NYSE. Immediately prior to this he was Executive Director of Baird's - one of the largest full-service public relations and public affairs consultancies in Southern Africa. From 2004 – 2007 Ghaleb was Group Executive & Head of De Beers Group Corporate and External Affairs. He also spent three years as a partner in the international strategy firm Monitor, where he was Global Account Manager. He has consulted on infrastructure projects in Africa and on strategy for leading global firms.

He has founded and managed manufacturing operations in South Africa, Malawi and Mozambique, and managed consulting projects at Board level in the UK, Europe and South Africa. As a Fund Manager at the private equity firm Cycad Fund Managers, he was responsible for raising the Women's Private Equity Fund. Ghaleb has served on the Boards of a number of diamond mining companies across the SADC region and boards of numerous business and educational bodies internationally. He is also chairman of a strategy and investment advisory company focusing on Indo-African businesses. 

Charlotte Conlan
Head of Loan & High Yield Bond Syndicate, EMEA, BNP Paribas

Charlotte Conlan joined the banking industry upon graduating from the University of Birmingham. She started her career with NatWest and held a number of positions in specific financing areas as well as Advisory & Equity Coverage. Charlotte joined BNP Paribas in 2000 to run the leverage syndications business for the Bank in EMEA. She grew this business into a multi-billion euro distribution activity as the private equity sector developed. Charlotte was appointed Head of Loan Origination & Sales, EMEA for the Bank in 2011 and is responsible for the underwriting and distribution of all loan product across the EMEA region.

She works with clients at all stage of their development, and across all lending sectors and the team is consistently ranked at the top of the EMEA league tables. She is a founding member of the Bank’s London diversity group. Charlotte is a member of the Loan Market Association Board, which seeks to improve liquidity and transparency in the primary and secondary loan markets and is a regular contributor to industry magazines and speaker at conferences.

Andraea Dawson-Shepherd
Senior Vice President for Group Corporate Affairs, Coty Inc.

Based in New York, Andraea joined Coty in 2015 at a time when they were going through the process of acquiring the P&G beauty business, doubling their size and transforming them into one of the world's largest pure play beauty businesses. Her accountabilities include all external communication and internal leadership, culture and change communication. She leads on corporate and financial PR, crisis communication and governmental affairs, and the company’s corporate presence online. She is also accountable for the company's sustainability strategy. Andraea was previously based in Copenhagen Denmark, where she was SVP Group Corporate Affairs for Carlsberg.

Prior to that she was SVP Global Corporate Communication and Affairs of RB PLC, a world leader in home, health and personal products. She joined RB having been Global Communication Director of Cadbury Schweppes PLC for seven years, with global responsibility for Cadbury’s internal and external corporate communications, supporting the business’s mission of being a values-led and performance-driven business passionate about both performance and stewardship.  And prior to joining Cadbury Schweppes, Andraea co-founded Hedron: one of Europe’s leading internal and change communication consultancies. She has worked in and with a wide range of global corporations including Diageo, Aon, Shell, HSBC, Avon, De la Rue and Lloyds TSB.

Andraea started her career working in the Houses of Parliament and then in Government Affairs in UK and Europe. After this she moved into financial PR and then into marketing and corporate PR and advertising. She was educated at CASS Business School, where she did her MBA, and Oxford and Exeter Universities where she was an undergraduate in Chemistry.  She has been a visiting lecturer on Services Marketing at CASS Business School. Andraea has authored several articles on communication and change management, and co-edited ‘Understanding Organisational Dynamics’ (Routledge).

Yogi Dewan
CEO - Hassium Asset Management LLP 
Yogi is the Founder of Hassium Asset Management, an independent investment boutique providing investment management services to a select group of private families. Prior to founding Hassium, Yogi spent ten years as an Executive Director in the Private Wealth Management division at Goldman Sachs in London. At Goldman Yogi was responsible for building a pan-European business covering over 40 private families with discretionary assets in excess of $1.5 billion. Yogi comments regularly on the financial markets in the media; Bloomberg TV, CNBC and the FT, and has an MBA from the London Business School and a BSC from the University of Birmingham. In Philanthropy Yogi is a Trustee for the Amy Winehouse Foundation.

Baroness Rita Donaghy CBE, OBE
Former Chair – Advisory, Conciliation & Arbitration Service – ACAS 2000 - 2007

Lady Donaghy began her career as a university administrator and trade unionist who went on to hold significant industrial positions in public life before being created a Labour Life Peer in the 2010 Dissolution Honours List, when she became Baroness Donaghy of Peckham. Prior to becoming a Baroness, Rita was awarded the OBE for services to industrial relations in 1998, then created CBE in 2005 for services to employment relations.

Lady Donaghy was chair of ACAS for seven years where she drove the ACAS mission to improve organisations and working life through better employment relations. Prior to this appointment, Lady Donaghy was President of the TUC 1999 to 2000. She served on the National Executive Council of NALGO/UNISON from 1973 to 2000, including a spell as President.

From 1987 to 2000, Lady Donaghy was a member of the TUC’s General Council and has also served on the executive of the European TUC. She was a member of the Low Pay Commission and the Equal Opportunities Commission Task Group on Equal Pay. She was appointed a member of the Committee on Standards in Public Life (The Graham Committee) in February 2001. Lady Donaghy holds a Fellowship of the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development, and a Fellowship of the RSA, and honorary degrees from the Open University, Keele University and Greenwich University. 

Kate Ellis
Commercial Director at the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority

Following degrees in Production Engineering and Economics here at the University of Birmingham, Kate began her professional life as a manufacturing engineer at Jaguar Cars, in charge of the XJS sports car assembly line. She stayed with Jaguar for three and a half years in engineering roles. After a year at INSEAD business school doing an MBA, Kate joined BP in 1992 in a strategy team in the refining and marketing business. Over the following 22 years, Kate held a series of roles across all parts of the BP Group, focused on commercial and operational leadership and strategic transformation. These included running and restructuring a chemicals business and, latterly, leading the commercial side of BP’s shipping company. In 2015 Kate joined the Ministry of Justice as Commercial Director of Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service. In November 2017 Kate was appointed Commercial Director at the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, where she oversees the procurement and revenue generation associated with the safe and efficient clean-up of the UK’s nuclear legacy. Outside work and alongside her role on the Advisory Board of Birmingham Business School, Kate is the Vice Chair of the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond and a Trustee of the Richmond Parish Lands Charity, where she chairs the Grants Committee which manages annual grant giving of over £1 million to local charities and disadvantaged individuals.  

Simon Freakley
Chief Executive Officer – Alix Partners 

Simon is the chief executive officer of Alix Partners. He is based in New York and, with his team, provides transformative leadership to businesses and stakeholders, responding quickly and decisively to their most complex and critical challenges. Simon became CEO of Alix Partners in 2015. In his more than 30 years of experience, Simon has combined his skills in business turnaround, strategic consulting, and stakeholder management in the development of performance improvement and accelerated transformation projects for many large and high-profile businesses. Before joining Alix Partners, Simon was CEO of Zolfo Cooper Europe from 2008 to 2015. Prior to this, he was CEO of Kroll Inc., a corporate investigations and risk consulting firm based in New York. Long involved in philanthropic causes, Simon is the chairman of the American Friends of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as chairman of Grange Park Opera and London Music Masters.

Renate Hornung–Draus
Managing Director – Confederation of German Employers (BDA)

Based in Germany, Renate Hornung–Draus is Managing Director and Director of European and International Affairs of the Confederation of German Employers (BDA). This is the top business organisation representing the interests of private employers in the field of employment, labour and social affairs in Germany covering all sectors of the German economy. Via its sectoral and regional member organisations it represents the interests of 2 million companies employing 80% of the work force in the private sector. 

Renate directs BDA’s activities worldwide. This includes representing the employers’ views through the European institutions (European Commission, EP, Council) and the international organisations (ILO, OECD, UN-organisations), providing advice and services to member organisations and companies on European and international issues, such as European works councils, international framework agreements, corporate social responsibility, labour law and industrial relations issues.

She is chair of the BUSINESSEUROPE (Voice of European Business) Social Affairs Committee, member of the European Social Dialogue Committee, Vice-President of the International Organisation of Employers (IOE), member of the Governing Body of the International Labour Organisation (ILO). Previously she was Director of social affairs at BUSINESSEUROPE (1992–1994) and Director of the BDA’s EU representation, which she established in Brussels (1990–1992).

Anji Hunter
Senior Adviser, Edelman

Anji was born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and was educated at St. Leonard’s school, St. Andrews and St. Clare’s Hall, Oxford. After gaining a First in History (BA Hons) at the University of Brighton she worked in a London law firm and taught English in Spain and London. In 1987, she joined Tony Blair as a Political Researcher, rising to be Head of the Private Office in 1994. She ran the Prime Minister’s election campaign in 1997 and entered Downing Street as Director of Government Relations, playing a critical role in implementing the Government’s communications strategy, where she was famously described as “the most influential non-elected person in Downing Street”.

In 2001, she became Director of Government Relations, where she had particular responsibility for links with media, business and foreign governments. She joined BP as Director of Communications in February 2002 where she was responsible for the co-ordination and direction of a range of communications activities that included pro-active communications planning and execution, both internal and external, group reputation measurement, sponsorship, electronic media and events management. Anji left BP in 2008 and became Group Head of Government and Social Affairs for Anglo American, one of the world's largest mining corporations.

She left to join The Royal Academy of Engineering as Director, where she successfully established the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering, awarded in 2013, and helped to promote engineering to the next generation, especially women. She is now a Senior Adviser with Edelman, the world’s largest PR group. Anji Hunter is married to Adam Boulton, Political Editor of Sky News.

Dr Charles Li
Independent Non-Executive Director, House of Fraser Group; Independent Business Advisor
Formerly CEO, Australia & New Zealand Bank (China) Ltd
Formerly Country Executive, The Royal Bank of Scotland (China) Ltd 

Dr Charles Li is an Independent Non-Executive Director on the House of Fraser Group Board, a leading department store chain in the UK and Ireland. He chairs the Group’s Remuneration Committee and serves as a member of the Audit Committee. He is also an Independent Non-Executive Director of Hong King listed life-style electronics company, IDT International. Before that, Dr Li served as Chief Executive Officer of Australia & New Zealand Bank (China) Ltd (ANZ) from 2011 – 2014 where he managed all ANZ business activities in China across Retail Banking, Corporate Banking, Global Markets, Transactional Banking and support functions. From 1998 to 2011, as Country Executive and Head of Global Banking & Markets China, he was responsible for establishing and managing all NatWest and subsequently RBS and ABN AMRO businesses in China. Over his time in China, Dr Li also served as Non-executive Directors on the Boards of Suzhou Trust Ltd and Galaxy Futures Brokerage Ltd, Chairman of RBS Leasing (China) Ltd, a member of Advisory Board of China European International Business School (CEIBS) – one of China’s top business schools, and Treasurer of British Chamber of Commerce in China. Charles started his career as a Producer at the BBC World Service London before starting his banking career at NatWest London, and he remains an active participant in various senior level discussion panels/forum on China and Asian affairs. Dr Li was educated in both China and the UK. After graduating from Beijing Institute of Technology in Mechanical Engineering in 1985, he came to University of Birmingham as one of the earliest group of Chinese students attending postgraduate studies in the UK. Having completed his MSc in Engineering Production and Management at the University of Birmingham, Charles proceeded to obtain his PhD in Strategic Management at Aston Business School.

Anna Lin
Chief Executive – GS1 Hong Kong

Based in Hong Kong, Anna Lin and her husband graduated from the Birmingham MBA in 1988. In 1989 Anna joined the Hong Kong Article Numbering Association, rising to Chief Executive. She is now Chief Executive of both GS1 Hong Kong and EPCGlobal Hong Kong. EPC is Electronic  Product Code and it is anticipated that in the next 15 years RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) will be the universal method of tagging consignments.

Anna and her organisations are concerned with the development, adoption and dissemination of universal technological and management platforms and standards in international supply chains. The overall aim is, broadly, to link virtual supply chains enabling companies across the world to communicate through a common business language.

Billie Major
Corporate Vice President, Capgemini

Billie Major is a member of the Capgemini People Board. She graduated from the University of Birmingham in 1980 and now leads a team of over 2,000 IT professionals delivering and supporting systems across a wide range of solutions for Capgemini's biggest account: HM Revenue & Customs. Her team has been commended for meeting time, cost and quality targets across some 200 projects. Billie also acts as a mentor on Capgemini's Leadership Academy programme – a fast-track training Programme for future executives. Billie was previously named "Everywoman Technology Team Leader of the Year" in recognition of her achievements and received her award from the Princess Royal. Capgemini is a world-leading business solutions consultancy based in over 40 countries around the globe. Billie was University of Birmingham Alumna of the Year 2015, and Champions the unique and exclusive University of Birmingham Capgemini Community Challenge, now entering its seventh year. Billie has been closely supporting all areas of student experience at the University the last six years, spreading her time across disciplines. Her time, commitment and dedication has increased accordingly. She has worked exclusively with UoB to create the University of Birmingham Capgemini Community Challenge whereby, UoB students get to spend a week at Aspire HQ as Consultants working for a charity client.

Dr Sarindar Singh Sahota OBE BSc, Hon DEng, Hon DSc.
Trustee Acorns Children’s Hospice 

Born in Nairobi, Kenya, Sarindar came to UK to study and graduated from University of Birmingham in 1971, after which he returned home to join the family business: Nairobi Terrazzo Contractors Limited in Kenya. He came back to UK in 1989 and joined Nanak Electricals in Birmingham. He was unanimously elected to lead the regional business community as the Vice Chair of West Midlands Regional Assembly, the post he held for 5 years. Sarindar is a long standing Trustee of Acorns Children’s Hospice and a Trustee of Nishkam Schools Trust. He chairs Birmingham City Council’s Citizen Led Quality Board for Adult Social Care. He chaired a £40 million Single Regeneration Budget Round 6 N.W. Birmingham to a successful conclusion. He has previously held the following positions: Deputy Chair of West Midlands Business Council, Deputy Chair of Business Voice West Midlands, non-executive director of Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust, non-executive director of Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Prime Focus Regeneration Group and Chair of Asian Business Forum and Institute of Asian Businesses. He also chaired the Charitable Funds of Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust. As well as sitting on the Birmingham Business School Advisory Board, he has also sat on the Governing Council of University of Birmingham. Sarindar Chaired the Strategic Review of Advantage West Midlands Regeneration Zones and sat on the Regional Planning Partnership, Regional Housing Board and the Regional Advisory Council of ITV. The Heart of Birmingham Primary Care Trust awarded him the Above and Beyond the Call of Duty (ABCD) Award. He was given an Honorary Doctorate of Engineering by University of Birmingham in December 2004. He was awarded an OBE in the 2005 New Years Honours List for his work in regeneration. Sarindar was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science by Aston University and Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry honoured Sarindar for his work for the Business Community in 2006.

Tony Sealey OBE,
Managing Director – Canefield Limited

Tony splits his year between his businesses in the UK and the Caribbean. In the UK, he is Managing Director of Canefield Limited a company operating multi-restaurant units under a business franchise partner agreement with McDonald’s Restaurants. In the Caribbean, he is the Managing Director of UHURU Global Trading Limited, the parent company for UHURU (Barbados) Limited that  currently operates the “UK branded” Attiva Health & Fitness Clubs across the Caribbean region. Tony started his career in Local Government in 1974 where he held various positions in administration before leaving the service in 1984 to pursue self-employment as a Management Consultant and Managing Director of his own company.

For the period 2003 – 2007 he served as a director with NCB Remittances Services Limited, the UK subsidiary of the National Commercial Bank of Jamaica. He is a board member of Advantage West Midlands (AWM), the Government’s Regional Development Agency (RDA) for the West Midlands. He has chaired the Local Enterprise Agency Black Business in Birmingham (3b) since 1989 and was previously a member of the National Ethnic Minority Business Forum (EMBF), the advisory body to UK Government on ethnic minority business issues. He chaired the West Midlands Ethnic Minority Business Forum 2000 – 2002 and he was awarded the 1999 Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Travelling Fellowship to visit the United States to study the work of the Minority Business Development Agency located in the U.S Government’s Department of Commence, resulting in his publication “Good Practice in Supporting Black and Minority Ethnic Entrepreneurs”. Tony was named the Carlton Television “Midlander of the Year 2002 for Business Leadership” in recognition of his contribution to the development of sustainable businesses in disadvantaged communities.

Marc Stone
Chief Finance Officer, Energy Systems Catapult

Mark is CFO of Energy Systems Catapult, the government enterprise designed to stimulate innovation in the whole energy system. Marc graduated from the University of Birmingham in 1994 in accounting and finance. His passion for engineering, technology and Midland’s regional development inspired him to pursue his graduate training within the aerospace industry and Lucas Aerospace at the Shaftmoor Lane factory, becoming one of the earliest lean six sigma trained practitioners in the region. At 26, Marc moved to GEC Marconi becoming the Finance and Programmes Director for the Global Property division. He worked in close partnership with public bodies in the UK, US and Italy successfully securing funding for significant capital projects in addition to significantly rationalising its portfolio.

In 2002, he joined DHL to lead M&A and network integration activity, before receiving an Innovation Award in 2006 for successfully driving its transformation programme. In 2008, Marc set up Stone Consulting to provide board level interim management and transformation consultancy. Key clients include National Express, Swissport, Menzies Aviation, and Norbert Dentressangle. Marc found engaging with the University once again in 2008 to be an absolute joy and in 2011 Marc was invited to become a member of the Birmingham Business School Advisory Board. During this time, he has linked the University with regional businesses, provided Executive Insight Lectures, sourced MBA placements, coached students and supported the School in gaining its ‘triple-crown’ accreditation from the AACSB, AMBA and EQUIS. Marc is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and member of the Institute of Directors.

Rt Hon Gisela Stuart LLB
Chair, Wilton Park

Born in Germany, Gisela Stuart later relocated to the UK and has since become one of the country’s most respected Labour politicians, winning five consecutive General Elections to represent Birmingham Edgbaston since 1997 which, unlike any other UK constituency, has had a woman Member of Parliament since 1953. Gisela left parliament in 2017 and now chairs Change Britain, a cross party organisation, working on getting the best Brexit deal for the UK and the EU. She also chairs the Effective Government Commission for the Legatum Institute. The first report “All Politics is Local”, outlining principles of devolution and subsidiarity was published in July 2018. She was appointed by the Foreign Secretary to Chair the Board of Wilton Park, international forum for strategic discussion, in October 2018.

From 2015 – 2017, she served on the Intelligence and security committee which oversees GCHQ, M15 and M16. During the 2010 General Election Gisela was named in The Times as one of Britain's best MPs who should be voted in on merit regardless of party. Gisela was a Health Minister from 1999 – 2001. She has been a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee since 2001 and has represented UK Parliament at the Convention on the Future of Europe. Gisela wrote the Fabian Pamphlet “Writing Europe’s Constitution”. Before becoming an MP Gisela was Deputy Director of the London Book Fair and a Law Lecturer and Researcher. For more than 10 years she edited the weekly political magazine “The House”. 

Paul Szumilewicz
Global Head of Digital Operations – HSBC Group Management Services Ltd

Paul has spent 15 years in Financial Services running big businesses and leading large scale transformational change. He has diverse senior level experience through front line large scale distribution leadership; head office strategic, customer and regulatory change programmes; and back office technology and digital transformation projects within Retail Banking and Wealth Management. Culturally agile with global experience across emerging and mature markets having lived and worked in the UK, Channel Islands, Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore, New York and Lebanon for Lloyds Banking Group and over the last 8 years with HSBC. Currently the Global Head of Digital Operations at HSBC he previously led the successful delivery of the high profile Ring-fencing regulatory programme and related UK HQ move to Birmingham for the HSBC Retail and Wealth business. Paul has held numerous external non-executive directorships most recently with the Bank Workers charity and Sport England. He is an active board member of the University of Birmingham Business Advisory Board and a member of the United Nations Junior International Chamber. Fluent in Italian and Polish, he is also a keen runner and sports enthusiast, recently completing the Polar Ice Marathon and a Desert Marathon in Jordan. Paul is married to Caroline and they have 2 young boys; Luca who is 8 and Jack who is 6.

Rebecca Warren 
Planning Director, Crest Nicholson Strategic Projects

Rebecca spent 20 years in the UK legal industry working across the UK on major development and regeneration projects, before moving into the housebuilding industry. In her time in the legal profession she helped to set up and establish a new Birmingham office for a national legal firm and more latterly, as a partner of International law firm Pinsent Masons, headed up both a specialist team of planning and environmental lawyers in the firm’s Birmingham office and the firm’s National Development Planning Team. In 2017 she was awarded Partner of the Year 2017 in the Birmingham Law Society Awards and has been consistently ranked nationally for a number of years in the Top 20 Planning Lawyers in an industry publication. Since November 2017 Rebecca has moved into industry to focus on strategic housebuilding at Crest Nicholson as a Divisional Planning Director. She also chairs Crest Nicholson’s Women’s Network, leading change to improve diversity across the company. Outside of Crest Nicholson, Rebecca chairs the Midlands Home Builders Federation (HBF) Planning Forum and sits on the HBF National Planning Committee which seeks to shape and influence Government policy and guidance on matters relating to the development industry.

Howard Wheeldon FRAeS
Independent Defence, Aerospace and Industry Analyst

Following an earlier career in business internationally, 28 years as an equity analyst covering defence and aerospace industries and later as Senior Strategist of two major international broking operations Howard left the ‘City’ in 2012 to work in an independent capacity providing strategic influence support primarily for the UK military and defence industrial base. As a passionate believer in strong defence, Howard is well known by senior members of the UK armed forces, by industry and across Government and Westminster for the strategic influence support and engagement role that he conducts and for pushing forward the importance that air and maritime power plays within defence. He is a regular speaker at major conference events and is well known as a guest broadcaster on aerospace and defence matters. His daily ‘Commentary’ piece covering views on a wide range of macro-economic, geo-political, military, defence, aerospace, industry and export views have been a regular feature for well over 20 years. Together with Members and Fellows of the Royal Aeronautical Society, these are now received privately by over 10,000 subscribers.

As a long-time specialist in defence and aerospace he is a regular contributor to media particularly the BBC and Sky News and is known by domestic and international press as a respected commentator on military and defence, aerospace industrial, defence political, geo-political and macro-economic related matters. He works to raise the mantra and importance of maintaining strong UK defence capability and in arguing that UK defence exports should be better prioritised by government. Howard continues to work closely with UKTI DSO on specific export related programme support and to defend industry against those who would hamper UK defence export policy. Being well travelled internationally particularly in North America, Europe and Far and Middle East area Howard has worked in support of UKTI DSO sponsored defence industry export programme campaigns in the USA, Saudi Arabia and other Middle East states. Well known in Brussels with both the EU and NATO, he spent a period in Bosnia in 1991 and in Basra, Iraq during 2005, the latter looking at equipment deployment and UK military rotary capability in relation to export potential.    

Hear from our members

2015 - Andy Street

2014 - Lord Michael Heseltine CH

2012- Anji Hunter and Adam Boulton

2011- Jane Lodge

2010 - Sir Dominic Cadbury