The awards will be judged by a number of leading industry experts and professionals. 

The Academic Chairman of the Conference is Professor Sir Cary Cooper CBE, Professor of Organisational Psychology and Health at Manchester Business School, University of Manchester.  He will be supported by Professor Phil Harris of The University of Chester and Nik Miller a former Executive at The University of York now part of The Bridge Group.

Martin Doel

Further Education Trust for Leadership, Professor of FE and Skills, UCL |



David Alton

Lord Alton of Liverpool |

David Alton (Prof.Lord Alton of Liverpool) was professor of citizenship at Liverpool John Moore's University for twenty years and is  a Fellow of LJMU and a Visiting Fellow at St.Andrews. He is also a professor at Yanbian University, China. He has served in Parliament, in both Houses, since 1979 and is author of twelve books.

Eleanor Brown

Lecturer - Centre for Education and Social Justice |

Eleanor is a lecturer in the Department of Education at the University of York, conducting research within the Centre for Education and Social Justice, and teaching on both undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. In addition, Eleanor is the Head of Derwent College, one of the University's nine colleges, where she takes a strategic lead on the running of the college and student experience, and facilitating non formal student learning.

Prior to moving to York in 2013 she worked at the University of Nottingham, where she also completed her PhD, with a year at the University of Granada. She has worked in Cambodia, Spain and Costa Rica and conducted research on teaching and learning of both adults and young people, in formal and non formal settings. Much of her current research focuses on international volunteering and political engagement in social justice. Eleanor has an MA in International Relations and BSc in Mathematics and Philosophy and worked as an English teacher before moving into academia.

Keith Burnley

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.

Richard Caulfield

AoC Regional Director for the NW |

Richard Caulfield has been Regional Director of Association of Colleges North West since 1 December 2014. 

Prior to taking up this role Richard was Chief Executive of Voluntary Sector North West for 7 years, a regional umbrella body for the voluntary sector.  Prior to that, he has held a number of senior roles in both the voluntary and private sectors, including time at the National Union of Students.

Richard is also  Chair of Governors at Old Trafford Community Academy and a lay member on an South Manchester Clinical Commissioning Group.

Martin Doel OBE

FETL Professor of FE and Skills, UCL |

Martin Doel was appointed as the first Further Education Trust for Leadership Professor of FE 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 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 Master’s Degree with Distinction from King's College, London and a First Class Honours Degree in Education from King Alfred's College Winchester.  

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 FE providers of all kinds.

Deborah Eyre

Professor, DEL Education |

Professor Deborah Eyre is a global educational leader, researcher, writer and influencer focused on helping good schools become world class. A widely published author, she is internationally known for her expertise in how the most able people think and learn. Her new book High Performance Learning: How to Become a World Class School was published in January 2016. Deborah’s career has included a variety of senior education posts 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 Global Education Director for Nord Anglia Education and prior to that served as Director of the UK government’s innovative National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth (NAGTY), based at the University of Warwick. Deborah Vice Chair of the Swan Multi-Academy Trust, a Board member of the Council of British International Schools (COBIS), a Board member of the Centre for Market Reform in Education (CMRE) and a Freeman of the City of London Worshipful Company of Educators. 

Phil Harris

Executive Director of the Business Research Institute at the University of Chester |

Professor Phil Harris is Executive Director of the Business Research Institute at the University of Chester, Previously Dean of University of Chester Business School from 2009 to 2014 and holds the Westminster Chair of Marketing and Public Affairs at the University. 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. He is a Freeman of the City of London and a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Marketors. 


Prior to becoming an academic he held positions in the international chemical, foods and radio industries with ICI, RHM and Radio Luxembourg and has chaired or been a board member of the American Marketing Association, Academy of Marketing, and the Australian and New Zealand Marketing Academy. He has been a candidate for the UK and EU Parliaments and is a past vice chairman of the Liberal Party and advisor to a number of business and governmental organisations.


Phil is regarded internationally as one of the founders of research and theory development in political marketing and strategic public affairs management (lobbying). He has just completed two books the International Handbook of Corporate and Public Affairs with Craig Fleisher for Sage (2017) and Lobbying in Europe: Public Affairs and the Lobbying Industry in 28 EU Countries with Alberto Bitonti for Palgrave (2017). His current activities focus on China, entrepreneurship, family business, business competitiveness and global public affairs and management education. He holds visiting professorships in China in Beijing, Dalian, Guilin, Jiangsu, Wuhan and Xiamen and has taught and researched across Asia, Europe and North America. 

Mike Jones

Professor Mike Jones |

Mike’s career spans both corporate management and business school academia.

Initially qualified as a HR professional ,Mike had a twenty plus year career in the Personnel function starting off at the then De-Havilland Aircraft Company which has now become  Airbus Plc.His industrial appointments included  periods as  Personnel Manager/Director in the Food products, Engineering and Paper industries before joining the St Helen’s based Pilkington Group, as Group Management Development Manager  and Managing Director of its subsidiary leadership business, Lakeside Training and Development. This role led Mike into the University Business School world when he was appointed to a Visiting Fellowship at Manchester Business School to be followed by another similar appointment at the Lancaster University School of Management.

In more recent years he was Director General of the Association of MBAs, the professional organisation for holders of the MBA degree.  During his tenure he masterminded the global MBA degree accreditation service, which assesses the quality of this degree at leading International Business Schools.

Latterly, Mike was the Director and Professor of the Foundation for Management Education, which instigated and funded many initiatives for furthering the development of postgraduate management education specifically connecting Business with University Business Schools.Additionally, he also worked for a time as Dean of the Business School at the University of East London and on various Government committees concerned with linking Business and Business School academia.

In his semi-retirement role Mike continues to work in a consultancy role within the International Business School community.He is a Visiting Professor at the University of Chster.  His views on Management and Business Education are widely sought and he has held Advisory Board appointments at a number of the UK leading Business Schools

Professor James Keaton MBE

Pro-Chancellor of the University of Liverpool |

Education: St Edward’s College, Liverpool, Liverpool University BSc 1955. Advanced Management Certificate, Harvard University, 1978; FRSA, 1996; FCMI, 1998. 

Publications: Numerous research articles on professional journals with particular reference to Anthraquinone dyes for textiles. 

Honours: Honorary Professor School Of Management University of Liverpool,2004-; University of Manchester, Honorary Doctor of Laws 1999; Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Dyers 1996-; Freeman of the City of London 1996-; Society of Dyers and Colourists, President 1986-87; Gold, Silver Research Medallist, , Honorary Life Member, 2012-; Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice, 2009; MBE, 2009, Honorary Doctor of Laws, University of Liverpool, 2014; Honorary Fellow of Liverpool Hope Univ Business School, 2015. 


Mike Leavy

Strategic Business Development, Jam Pan |

With over 20 years experience within the learning industry, Mike brings a wealth of knowledge and experience around all aspects of adult learning and performance support - with a particular focus and specialism of the effective use of learning technology to drive people and businesses forward.

 In previous roles heading up Learning Technologies for Virgin Media, Mike has a proven track record of delivering key Learning, Performance and Talent change programmes. Recognised by the elearning industry in 2012, the Virgin Media Learning Technology team scooped the Gold award for the ‘best use of synchronous elearning’ at the prestigious Elearning Age awards.

Innovative and strategic in his thinking – Mike is currently working alongside the business founder of Jam Pan eLearning Services to drive the continued growth and strategic development of one of Europe’s most innovative, creative and pioneering learning businesses.

Nik Miller

Director, The Bridge Group |

Nik Miller is director of the Bridge Group, a national policy associated that researches and promotes social mobility. In this role, he has led large research teams to undertake commissions from a wide range of organisations, including the Cabinet Office, the Wellcome Trust and the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Alongside his directorship, he is also an independent consultant, specialising in corporate engagement, fundraising and government relations; recent clients include the University of Oxford, KPMG, and Newcastle University. Nik is a research associate and fellow at the University of York, a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and a trustee of the Unite Foundation.   

Dr Peter Starbuck


Dr Peter Starbuck is a serial entrepreneur, who is professionally qualified as a quantity surveyor and building manager. He holds a PhD for his work on Peter Drucker, the father of modern management, on whom he has published extensively. He is a Visiting Professor at the University of Chester, and a Founding Visiting Professor at the University Centre Shrewsbury.

Richard Young

Director, BVCA Manchester |

Richard Young is Manchester’s longest-surviving venture capitalist.  In a 30-year career he has invested in over 100 companies.  His early career was with 3i.  He then set up and ran The Manchester Technology Fund.  Most recently he managed the North West Fund for Venture, an ERDF fund.  He is currently Director for the North of the BVCA, the trade association for private equity and venture capital in the UK, as well as a director of two technology companies and a private investor.