The Educate North Awards Academic Advisory panel is led by Professor Sir Cary Cooper CBE, Professor Phil Harris and Nicholas Miller, Director of the Bridge Group. All judges are invited to participate as independent assessors.

The 2018 awards were judged by a number of leading industry experts and professionals. The 2018 judging panel was as follows:

Ruth Ashford

Professor, University of Chester |

Professor Ruth Ashford has more than 25 years’ experience in Higher Education management within post-92 Business Schools – previously as Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of the Faculty of Business and Law at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) and Executive Dean at University of Chester Business and Management Faculty.  She has a wealth of experience in developing UK and international business and management programmes, leading and managing small and large complex business schools.

As the former Chief Examiner of the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM), Professor Ashford was involved with the International launch of the CIM Student Chapter and CIM Professional undergraduate and postgraduate new syllabus in 90 countries, and was also the prime-mover behind the UK National Foundation Degree in Retailing.  Ruth is also the former Chair of the Academy of Marketing, which is the international learned society for Marketing academics. As a Senator with the Chartered Management Institute; as a Board Member of the Association of Business Schools, and working with other stakeholders, she promotes the voice of diversity within business schools nationally.

With research interests in management competencies and the positioning of UK business schools, Ruth was selected to work on the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education review panel for the UK benchmark standards in the teaching of Business and Management for both undergraduate and postgraduate levels in 2015. 

Eleanor Brown

Lecturer, Department of Education at the University of York |

Eleanor is a lecturer in the Department of Education at the University of York, based in the Centre for Research in Education and Social Justice. She is also the Head of Derwent College, leading one of the nine colleges in the University of York's collegiate system. She works on non-formal learning environments, and particularly how college's provide leadership and learning opportunities for students at York, looking at the multifaceted ways that students experience university. Her research also looks at processes of education and international development and she has conducted research in the UK, Spain, Costa Rica and Cambodia, as well as working for a number of non-governmental organisations. 


Keith Burnley

Director, K & M Burnley Associates |

Keith Burnley is a higher education consultant specialising in the entrepreneurial university, third mission activities, governance and organisational change.  Keith was CEO of the National Centre for Entrepreneurship in Education from 2013 to June 2016 with overall responsibility for all of NCEE’s programmes, including those relating to the Entrepreneurial University concept, enterprise education and graduate start-ups.  He led the formation of strategic links with Chinese partners and still supports NCEE as a consultant Special Adviser (China). 

Keith has worked at the interface between higher education and its stakeholders for over twenty years.  He established the City and Regional Office at the University of Leeds and the North West Universities Association.  Before that he worked as a scientist in the Textile and Electricity Supply Industries.  His experience of the sector includes engagement with local and national government at all levels, business and community links, widening participation, validation, links with Further Education and Schools, Knowledge Transfer and European Structural Funds.  Keith also has significant experience of management within and outside of the HE Sector and a keen interest in the role of ‘place’ in the development of the entrepreneurial university, including the link with the ‘Anchor Institution’ concept.


Martin Doel CBE

Professor of Leadership in Further Education and Skills, University College London |

Martin Doel was appointed as the first Further Education Trust for Leadership Professor of Leadership in Further Education and Skills at University College London (Institute of Education) in April 2016 after having previously been the Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges (AoC) from 2008.  Prior to this Martin served for 28 years in the Royal Air Force where his final appointment was as Director of Training and Education for all three Armed Services, working in the Ministry of Defence, the largest employer of apprentices in the UK.

He was appointed OBE in 1998 for his work in support of operations in the Balkans and for his contribution to Anglo-German relations and CBE in the 2016 New Year Honours for his contribution to education. He holds a Masters Degree with Distinction from King's College, London and a First Class Honours Degree in Education from King Alfred's College Winchester.  

Martin is a Trustee of the Royal London Society for the Blind and of The Challenge, a social integration charity delivering the National Citizen Service and a member of the Institute for Apprenticeships’ Audit and Risk Committee. He is also a Life-Vice President of the RAF Football Association and a qualified FA Coach.

Martin’s particular research interests at UCL (IOE) are concerned with the distinctive contribution that further education can make to national prosperity and individual well-being, and the leadership challenges facing further education providers of all kinds.

Emma Degg

Chief Executive, North West Business Leadership Team |

Emma Degg is the Chief Executive of the North West Business Leadership Team (NWBLT). The NWBLT brings together leaders of national and international businesses with substantial commitments and interests in the North West of England.  The Team works to exert its collective influence for the long-term good of the region, economically, environmentally, culturally and socially.

A graduate of the University of Chester, she has spent her career focussed upon bringing together business leaders and policy makers to make a tangible difference, nationally, across the North West and in local government.  Emma regards the promotion of responsible business leadership as essential to the future of the UK economy, in particular the importance of inspiring and encouraging young people to achieve their full potential.


Professor Janine Dermody

Professor in Marketing & Consumer Psychology, Oxford Brookes University |

Deborah Eyre


Deborah is a global educational leader, academic researcher, writer and influencer. Her specialist area is advanced cognitive performance – how to move school academic standards from good to great and at the same time provide an engaging experience for the student and prepare them for effective post school careers.

Deborah has held a variety of senior executive roles both globally and in UK as well as advising governments and educational foundations in UK, Hong Kong, South Africa, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, USA and Singapore. From 2010-2014 she was Education Director for Nord Anglia Education developing and implementing the educational approach underpinning the Company’s activities in its 31 premium international schools and running its central Education function. Prior to that she served as Director of the UK government’s innovative National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth (NAGTY), based at the University of Warwick.

Professor Eyre is a Freeman of the Guild of Educators and has served on a number of national and international boards including the UK TDA (Training and Development Agency for teachers), NCSL (National College for School Leadership), WCGTC (World Council for Gifted and Talented Children), Council for British International Schools (COBIS) and Centre for Talented Youth Ireland (CTYI). A widely published author, Able Children in Ordinary Schools (1997) is a seminal text still in publication. Her most recent policy publication was Room at the Top (Policy Exchange, 2010) and a new book for teachers on High Performance Learning: How to Build World School schools was published in January 2016.

Phil Hodari

Founder & Chairman |

Phil is the founder and chairman of a group of U.K.-based, privately-owned companies. He left school early, spending his late teens and early twenties working in restaurants and on building sites. Further roles in the financial services sector followed. His first business, which he set up in 1992, specialises in providing IT software and hardware solutions for the education, corporate, and commercial sectors. Since then, he's also set up an electronics distribution business, an energy and heating management business, and two lighting businesses. A medical technology firm, a bridging finance arm, and an investment fund for the biomedical, media, and retail spaces complete the list of Phil's companies. Motivated by ideas and enthusiasm, Phil wants to work with upbeat, ambitious, and talented people. Outside the office, he lives in South Manchester with his wife. Together, they have two sons and a daughter.  Phil works with various charities, sits on a number of boards, and until recently, was the Chair of Governors at a school in Manchester U.K. He enjoys travelling the world, sport, and collecting art. 

Jim Keaton MBE

Professor, University of Liverpool |

Professor Jim Keaton spent 22 years with ICI in the UK, Brasil, Hong Kong, China and Japanese was on the Organics Group Board and 14 Subsidiary Board. His 'retirement' has included non-executive Chairmanships and he continues as Pro Chancellor of Liverpool University, Regent of Liverpool Hope University and Regional Chair of the National Trust.

Peter Starbuck FCMI, FRICS, FCIOB, PhD,


Peter Starbuck FCMI, FRICS, FCIOB, PhD, has been a manager for fifty years. He is a scholar of Peter F Drucker and was awarded a PhD from the Open University in 2007 for his thesis on the European Influences of Peter F Drucker. Founding Visiting Professor University Centre Shrewsbury. Visiting Professor University of Chester. Visiting Research Fellow to The Open University Business School. Researcher and Contributor on Management to the British Library, a joint venture with the Chartered Management Institute. Alma Mater: The Open University Business School. Peter has written extensively on Drucker in his own right as well as making contributions to other leading management books His thesis is the only one lodged with the British Library. He has collaborated with The Open University Business School to produce an interactive placing the spotlight on 60 management thinkers.


Michael Thompson MA, FRSA

Education Advisor |

A mathematician by training, Michael has spent over 40 years working in state school secondary education.  His teaching and management experience spans across the comprehensive and the selective sector, with a brief period spent in Local Authority advisory service. For fifteen years Michael was headteacher of one of the country’s top performing schools.  In later years, he masterminded the design and build of a Pathfinder school.

With  a particular Interest in school environment and school improvement, Michael currently works as an independent adviser to schools and health service organisations.



Professor Phil Harris

Professor Phil Harris is Executive Director of the Business Research Institute at the University of Chester, was Dean of the Faculty of Business Entrepreneurship and Lifelong Learning, 2009-2014 and holds the Westminster Chair in Marketing and Public Affairs. Past Chairman of the Marketing Council (UK) PLC, Board member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, Professor of Marketing at the University of Otago, New Zealand and Founding Director of the Centre for Corporate and Public Affairs at Manchester Metropolitan University. Prior to becoming an academic he held positions in the international chemical, and foods industries with ICI and RHM and has chaired or been a board member of the American Marketing Association, Academy of Marketing, and the Australian and New Zealand Marketing Academy.

Phil is regarded internationally as one of the founders of research and theory development in strategic public affairs management (lobbying), political marketing and economic and governmental communication. He has just completed two edited books the International Handbook of Corporate and Public Affairs with Craig Fleisher, Sage and Public Affairs and Lobbying in the EU Member States with Alberto Bitonti for Palgrave. His current focus is on China, entrepreneurship, family business, competitiveness, international trade and investment and doctoral student development. He is joint founding editor of the Journal of Public Affairs and a member of a number of international editorial and advisory boards and has written or published over 180 articles and papers and 20 books and is a regular media commentator. 

Sir Cary Cooper, CBE

Cary L. Cooper is the author and editor of more than 125 books and is one of Britain's most quoted business gurus.  He is The 50th Anniversary Professor of Organizational Psychology and Health at Alliance Manchester Business School, University of Manchester, UK.  He is the President of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, a founding President of the British Academy of Management, a Companion of the Chartered Management Institute and one of only a few UK Fellows of the (American) Academy of Management, President of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy and recently past President of RELATE.  He was the Founding Editor of the Journal of Organizational Behavior, former Editor of the scholarly journal Stress and Health and is the Editor-in-Chief   of the Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Management; now in its 3rd Edition.  He has been an advisor to the World Health Organisation, ILO, and EU in the field of occupational health research and wellbeing, was Chair of the Global Agenda Council on Chronic Disease of the World Economic Forum (2009-2010, and currently a member of the Global Agenda Council on mental health of the WEF) and is Immediate Past Chair of the Academy of Social Sciences (comprising 47 learned societies in the social sciences and 90,000members). He was awarded the CBE by the Queen in 2001 for his contributions to organizational health and safety; and in 2014 he was awarded a Knighthood for his contribution to the social sciences. 


Nicholas Miller

Nik is Chief Executive of the Bridge Group and a Partner at More Partnership. Prior to these appointments he worked in the USA, at the University of Warwick, and was most recently Head of Corporate and Alumni Relations at the University of York.

He has collaborated with multinational organisations to promote fairer access to the professions, including Google and Goldman Sachs. He has also recently been commissioned to lead significant programmes of research by the Cabinet Office, KPMG, the University of Oxford, the Wellcome Trust, the BBC, and Facebook.

Nik is an experienced fundraiser, and has secured millions of pounds from charities, businesses, and major philanthropists to support social mobility; he has spoken at international conferences and is regularly commissioned to write for leading publications.

He is a member of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) Research Committee, a trustee of the Unite Foundation, and a Research Associate and Fellow at the University of York. He achieved a First Class degree in English Literature at the University of York, completed his MBA (UCL) with distinction, and continued his research at the Cranfield School of Management as a full scholarship recipient.