Organised by
Movers and Shakers logo
Official Partners
West Midlands Combined Authority logo
UK Trade & investment logo
Midlands Engine
In association with
Bilfinger logo

West Midlands Forum For Growth

*** 2018 CONFERENCE DATE *** - Tuesday 18th September - Theme: The UK's New Growth Capital

  • Be informed; understand the scale and extent of the opportunities in the West Midlands

  • Listen & Learn from Public (Central and Regional Government) and Private Sector Leaders

  • Network with the key players & stakeholders involved in the West Midlands economy


The West Midlands Forum For Growth is organised by Movers & Shakers; in partnership with West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), Midlands Engine and Department for International Trade (DIT), in association with GVA and is the official conference of the West Midlands Combined Authority.

This is an authoritative one-day event, bringing together Public (Central and Regional Government) and Private Sector leaders to engage and debate the key issues in driving the West Midlands economy forward.

Building on the highly rated and well supported inaugural WMFFG event [see feedback] in 2016, the theme for 2017 will be ‘Route Map for Growth’ and will explore the WMCA’s progress over its first year, its strategy for growth and how this fits into the Government’s ‘Industrial Strategy’.

Conference content will cover; growth sectors; infrastructure & connectivity, inward investment, regeneration & placemaking. In addition, there will be opportunities to find out what the LEP’s are planning with plenty of interaction and debate throughout the day.

The West Midlands Combined Authority has an economy worth £85bn of GVA; and in one of the fastest growing economies in the UK outside London. Its plan is to unlock £8bn of investment packages and offers enormous potential as a growth platform for the UK economy and provides a massive opportunity to investors, developers and the construction industry.

“Route Map for Growth

The West Midlands Combined Authority has an economy worth £85bn of GVA; and in one of the fastest growing economies in the UK outside London. Its plan is to unlock £8bn of investment packages and offers enormous potential as a growth platform for the UK economy and provides a massive opportunity to investors, developers and the construction industry.

Building on the highly rated and well supported inaugural WMFFG event [see feedback] in 2016, the theme for 2017 will be ‘Route Map for Growth’ and will explore the WMCA’s progress over its first year, its strategy for growth and how this fits into the Government’s ‘Industrial Strategy’.

Conference content will cover; the region’s key growth sectors; the HS2 corridor; inward investment and meeting the housing challenge setting out the opportunities across the region. In addition, there will be opportunities to find out what the LEP’s are planning with plenty of interaction and debate throughout the day.

Click for more information on conference content

  • Organisations and individuals involved in or interested in the developing West Midlands / Midlands economy
  • Private Sector: Investors, Funds, Banks, Development, Housebuilders, Housing Associations, Property Lawyers, Property Surveyors, Advisors, Consultants and Contractors
  • Public Sector: Government, Local Authorities, Constituent Authorities, Non Constituent Authorities, LEPs. Public Bodies and Associations

A one-day event that will deliver on multiple levels:

  • Be informed; understand the scale and extent of the opportunities in the West Midlands
  • Listen and learn; from Public (Central and Regional Government) and Private Sector Leaders
  • Gain valuable insights into the vision and ambitions of the West Midlands Combined Authority
  • Network with the key players and stakeholders in the West Midlands / Midlands economy

Event Speakers

Waheed Nazir

Corporate Director, Economy Directorate

Birmingham City Council

As Corporate Director Economy, Birmingham City Council, Waheed has worked for the authority in various roles for 20 years.

Waheed provides strategic leadership and direction across a wide portfolio, including the Council’s property portfolio, planning, regeneration, housing development, transportation and connectivity, highways and infrastructure, skills and employment, business development and inward investment.

Waheed led the major transformation of the city centre through the Big City Plan, bringing forward key projects including Birmingham Smithfield, Snowhill, Paradise and New Street redevelopment. He oversees £2.5bn public sector investment through the Enterprise Zone and HS2 Curzon masterplan.

Alongside leading Birmingham Municipal Housing Trust, one of the city’s largest housebuilders, Waheed led the Council to set up a series of commercial vehicles including InReach, the Council’s vehicle for building new homes across the city, and the development of an investment vehicle for commercial property to help deliver growth.

Waheed is a non-executive Director of Birmingham Airport Holdings Limited.

Waheed is a columnist for Estates Gazette, and a visiting Professor at Birmingham City University, he mentors a number of graduates demonstrating commitment to support the development of future professionals in the field.

Waheed was awarded an honorary Doctorate by Aston University in July 2017.

Leigh Natasha Salter

Managing Director

Movers & Shakers

Leigh Natasha Salter is Managing Director of Movers & Shakers, having formerly been the Business and Events Director. Leigh has been responsible for developing the brand over the last 12 years and was responsible for the launch of the Movers & Shakers UK Regional events programme. Previously she worked in marketing, communications and research, and also ran the Windsor & Maidenhead Borough’s Business to Community Partnership, facilitating CSR for businesses. She qualified at Oxford University with a BA Honours in Human Sciences, and a scholarship, and is also a member of the BPF, WPA and UK-GBC.

Dr Colin Clinton

Regional Project Manager Regeneration and Infrastructure, Midlands Engine Investment Hub

Department for International Trade

Colin is DIT’s Midlands Engine Regional Manager for Regeneration and Infrastructure, part of the Midlands Engine Investment Hub team based in Birmingham. He joined UKTI part-time in Sept 2015 during which time he directed production of the ME’s first Investment Pitchbook, launched at MIPIM in March 2016. He helped create the 2017 ME Investment Portfolio with over £8BN’s worth of investment opportunity, and chairs the ME MIPIM steering group which helped deliver create a ME Pavilion at MIPIM Cannes for the first time in March 2017.

As DIT’s ME Regional Manager he is currently accessing many regeneration and infrastructure projects around the West Midlands that are seeking International Investment. Those that are currently investor ready to an increasing number developing within the Midlands Engine project pipeline of opportunities.

After 16 years in West Midlands public sector, Colin joined Arup in 1988 and appointed a Director in 2002. In 2004 he became the youngest President of the Institution of Civil Engineers and in January 2010 was appointed Arup’s Director of BD East Asia.
He delivered a new East Asia five-year BD Strategy for Arup before returning to UK in April 2015 as Director of Infrastructure in Arup’s Liverpool office.

David Jennings


Movers & Shakers

Managing Director - Business Vantage Ltd
Chairman - Movers & Shakers Property Networking Forum

David started his career in Construction and Property. In 1990 he jointly founded and was a Joint Managing Director of the Salisbury Consulting Group; he sold his interest in 1995. In 1996 he formed Business Vantage, a business and research consultancy which specialises in property and construction and advises major UK plc’s.

David is the Founder Director and Chairman of Movers & Shakers formed in 1996 the UK’s most successful and popular networking forum.

He is also a Founder Director and shareholder of Stonemartin plc, an AIM listed serviced office business; founded in 1999.

David is Founder Director and shareholder of ResourceFull Ltd formerly Nice4Work Ltd.

Martin Reeves

Chief Executive

Coventry City Council

Martin has been Chief Executive of Coventry City Council since April 2009. He had previously been with Bedfordshire County Council for three and a half years as Assistant Chief Executive and Chief Executive.

Martin was previously Head of Performance Improvement at Westminster City Council. He was also Programme Director for WorkSmart the City Council’s flagship transformation programme. Martin spent much of his early career as a lecturer and researcher, and has a PhD in applied economics. He was the President of SOLACE in 2013 and now leads their Digital Leadership Network. He is also the Local Government Association (LGA) National Procurement Champion.

In 2015, Martin was invited onto the independent taskforce, which produced the new 5 year national cancer strategy. He co-chairs the national systems leadership board and chairs the national cross system board for sustainable health & social care (taking over from Jonathan Porritt).

He is also a member of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Advisory Board. In November 2015 Martin was included in the top 20 of the Local Government Chronicle’s list of the 100 most influential people in local government.

Sir Edward Lister


Homes and Communities Agency

Sir Edward Lister joined the Homes and Communities Agency as Chairman in June 2016. Sir Edward has considerable experience of the housebuilding industry, in particular infrastructure investment and large-scale developments. From 2011-16, he was London’s Deputy Mayor of Policy and Planning and Chief of Staff at the Greater London Authority, which included serving as Deputy Chairman of the Old Oak & Park Royal Mayoral Development Corporation. He was previously Conservative Leader of Wandsworth Borough Council from 1992-2011. As the longest-serving council leader in the country, Sir Edward made Wandsworth the most successful value-for-money local authority in the country with the lowest council tax charge and top satisfaction ratings from its residents.

In 2016, Sir Edward was appointed as Senior Advisor to the Regeneration and Investment Organisation within UKTI. He is also a consultant for CBRE’s One London team and a Non-Executive Director of Stanhope Ltd.

Tony Pidgley CBE


The Berkeley Group

He left school at 15 to form his own company in haulage and plant hire. At 19, he sold his business to Crest Homes and became a Building Director, before leaving to form Berkeley Homes in 1975. The company enjoyed rapid growth, floated on the Unlisted Securities Market in 1984, and then gained a full listing in 1985 as the Berkeley Group plc.

Tony has gained a national reputation for his pioneering approach to building homes and creating successful places. His judgement of the markets, willingness to put his personal capital at risk, and his drive and commercial flair have made Berkeley one of Britain’s best residential developers. In 2011, Berkeley was ranked Britain’s Most Admired Company across all sectors and is the only housebuilder to win the Queen’s Award for Sustainable Development twice.

His expertise has been used to advise the recent Estate Regeneration Advisory Panel, the Mayor on the Outer London Commission and the Government on the disposal of public sector land. He is also a trustee of Open City London, a charity that champions architecture education, and President of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry. In 2016, he was nominated New Londoner of the Year in recognition of his contribution to housebuilding across the capital.

Jane Kemp

Partner and consultant

Adducere LLP

Until co-founding niche property consultancy Adducere LLP in 2009, Jane was a solicitor and has over 20 years experience in the Property Market. Her career experience has been both client side, as an in-house solicitor with national property companies, and she has also occupied senior positions with law firms – Eversheds, Hammonds and Clarke Willmott. Jane continues to work with DLA Piper as a consultant. Jane’s focus has been typically on funding of property projects. Jane is married, lives in Worcestershire and enjoys country life.

Laura Shoaf, MRTPI

Managing Director

Transport for the West Midlands

Laura Shoaf is Managing Director of Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) – part of the West Midlands Combined Authority. She has more than 20 years’ international experience in delivering integrated economic and spatial regeneration.

Laura was Head of Strategic Planning and Implementation at the Black Country Consortium and was instrumental in the creation of the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). As Black Country Director of Transport, Laura championed and led the area’s transport agenda, directly advising Chief Executives, Leaders and the LEP.

In 2015, Laura became Strategic Director for Transport at the West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority and then in June 2016 took up her current position where she is responsible for key initiatives across the metropolitan area such as Midlands Connect, the HS2 Connectivity Package and the region’s Strategic Transport Plan, liaising with Government departments and regional agencies for the benefit of the West Midlands. She is also responsible for delivering a £4billion transport package over the next 10 years underpinning economic regeneration in the region.

Sarah Middleton

Chief Executive

Black Country Consortium Ltd

Sarah is the Chief Executive of Black Country Consortium Limited (BCC) since its incorporation in 2006. Sarah joined the Consortium Partnership in October 1999 and has been central in developing the Black Country Sub-Regional partnership and its 30 year vision including the Economic Strategy and Spatial Strategy, establishing joint approaches on Planning, Investment, Economic Intelligence and the Black Country Education and Skills Strategy. She has also supported the West Midlands Combined Authority on the development of the Combined Authority Strategic Economic Plan. Sarah qualified as a Chartered Accountant with KPMG and previous roles include Deputy Chief Executive for East Mercia Chamber of Commerce (including responsibilities as General Manager for Business Link Walsall) and Chief Executive of Walsall City Challenge.

Sarah-Jane Marsh

Chief Executive Officer

Birmingham Children's Hospital

Sarah-Jane joined the NHS via the Graduate Management Scheme, holding various roles in primary and secondary care and at the Department of Health, before promotion to Director of Planning and Productivity at Walsall Hospitals NHS Trust.

Appointed Chief Operating Officer at Birmingham Children’s Hospital in December 2007, and Chief Executive Officer in March 2009, the Trust has been under her leadership for over eight years and was named ‘Provider Trust of the Year’ by the Health Service Journal in 2015, and rated Outstanding by the CQC in February 2017.

In 2015, Sarah-Jane took on the additional role of Chief Executive of Birmingham Women’s NHS Foundation Trust, before going on to integrate the two Trusts to create the first Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust in Europe, just 18 months later. She also led the development of an innovative new mental health partnership for 0-25 year olds in the city – Forward Thinking Birmingham, the first of its type in the NHS.

Sarah-Jane is also Chair of the NHS England Maternity Transformation Programme Board, which aims to make maternity care across England safer, and give women greater control and choice. Her passions are exceeding the expectations of patients and families, and making Birmingham Women’s and Children’s the very best place to work and be cared for.

Keith Ireland

Managing Director

City of Wolverhampton Council

Keith has a wealth of experience in local government specialising in transforming local government services into high performing businesses using private sector business models.

From December 2014 until June 2016, he was Programme Director responsible for delivering the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and West Midlands Devolution Deal.

Keith is currently the Clerk to the WMCA Shadow Board and Clerk to the West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority (ITA).

The City of Wolverhampton is a rapidly improving council. In March this year, the council’s Children’s Services were rated good by OFSTED following rigorous assessment. This puts the service in the top 20% nationally and – more importantly - means better outcomes for children and young people.

The council’s transformation, led by Keith, received national endorsement and acclaim at the prestigious MJ Achievement Awards 2017, the council won Local Authority of the Year. It also won a further three awards including Senior Leadership Team, Excellence in Governance and Scrutiny and Most Improved Council.

Transformation and improved outcomes for local people were also recognised in March 2017 by an independent Local Government Association (LGA) Corporate Peer Review. This highlighted that senior leadership was central to the transformation that has taken place.

Ian Mulcahey

Managing Director, London


Passionate about solving complex urban problems, with particular expertise in the integration of infrastructure with urban growth and regeneration, Ian has been at the forefront of growing Gensler’s Firmwide Planning and Urban Design Practice. As Managing Director of the London office, Ian oversees projects across the UK and Europe, bringing a deep understanding of the various political, commercial and social drivers that influence planning delivery. Most recently, Ian has been at the forefront of the national debate on the future of aviation in the UK with the London Britannia Airport project. Ian is passionate about game changing design and has led two award-winning concept projects for London. In 2011, the Thames River Park was awarded the ‘Best Conceptual Project’ and the ‘Mayors Award for Planning Excellence’ at the London Planning Awards, and again in 2015, the London Underline won the ‘Best Conceptual Project’. A regular speaker and panelist, both in the UK and internationally, Ian is often called upon to help define the future direction of urban growth and transformation. He studied at the University of Westminster, earning a diploma in Urban Planning Implementation and BA (Hons) in Urban Planning Studies.

Tony Bray

Area Director, WM Cities & Local Growth Unit


Tony Bray is Area Director for Cities and Local Growth Unit (joint BEIS and DCLG team) in the West Midlands, with direct responsibility for helping to drive devolution working with a wide range of partners to unlock economic growth. Previously Tony worked in the Regional Development Agency network for South West RDA and East of England RDA, involved in a range of regeneration and economic development schemes and has been a board member of a number of URCs and other regeneration companies. Tony has also worked for a number of different local authorities on economic development and, prior to that, in the private sector.

Ian Stringer

Regional Senior Director - Midlands


Ian is Regional Senior Director of GVA in the Midlands, overseeing 17 out of the firm’s 24 business units represented out of the Midlands office and a total staff compliment of 385 people. He is a past chairman of the firm’s Advisory Board, currently a member of the firm’s Executive Board and a West Midlands CBI Regional Councillor.

Ian has 30 years’ experience in the office sector in the Midlands, dealing with leasing, disposals and acquisitions, but specialising in office led mixed-use development consultancy and Place Making. Ian is part of a team involved in such exemplar schemes as Brindleyplace, Paradise, Arena Central, Arden Cross, Eastside Locks, Longbridge, Fort Dunlop and Friargate in Coventry, in many cases from inception to successful delivery.

Neil Rami

Chief Executive

West Midlands Growth Company

Neil oversees the West Midlands Growth Company (WMGC), formerly Marketing Birmingham, which was established in April 2017 to create new jobs, expand existing businesses and attract new investment and visitors to the region, aligned to the ambitions set out in the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) Strategic Economic Plan.

Under Neil’s leadership of Marketing Birmingham, the city secured the highest number of foreign direct investment projects on record, attracting significant new investments from companies such as HSBC, Deutsche Bank, Jaguar Land Rover and ASOS. The city’s visitor economy has also grown significantly in recent years, with Birmingham enjoying the largest growth in international visitors of any UK city outside London and the tourism sector now contributing £6.5 billion to the local economy, a 31.5% increase (£1.6bn) since 2011.

Previously, Neil held similar roles in Liverpool and Newcastle upon Tyne. He is a member of the British Tourism Industry Group; Chair of the Midlands Trade and Investment Group a Board Member of Creative England and is a former Governor and Board Member of the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Huw Rhys Lewis

Managing Director

Urban Growth Company

Huw has been Managing Director of the Urban Growth Company (UGC) since it was formed in 2016 and is responsible for spearheading the preparation and delivery of infrastructure and development at the UK Central Hub site in Solihull. The infrastructure investment value in The Hub over the next ten years is expected to be in excess of £1.6bn.

The UGC has published its Hub Growth and Infrastructure Plan which brings together the ambitions of Birmingham Airport, the NEC, Jaguar Land Rover, Birmingham Business Park and Arden Cross – the site for HS2’s Birmingham Interchange Station – with the potential to generate up to £4.1bn GVA per annum.

Huw has 25 years’ senior director experience in the private and public sector working on asset, facilities and estates management, design, construction and procurement.

Huw’s previous roles include Development Director for UCI and Village Roadshow Cinemas, Vice President Stations Metronet, Director at Balfour Beatty overseeing their health and education portfolios and works at Terminal 5 and Terminal 2, Investment and Board Director at Shanks, and Property Director at the City of London Corporation, overseeing capital projects on behalf of the City of London with a property portfolio of over £2 billion.

Richard Cowell

Assistant Director Development

Birmingham City Council

Richard joined Birmingham City Council’s Planning and Regeneration Department in 2008. He currently heads up a number of multi–disciplinary teams leading on a range of development, planning and regeneration initiatives, with a primary focus on the city centre.

One of his first projects was the production of the City’s strategic city centre masterplan, the Big City Plan, launched in September 2010. The Big City Plan is one of the most ambitious and far-reaching city development projects in the UK and is seeing billions of pounds of investment in both infrastructure and major new development schemes. Following the launch of the Big City Plan Richard led the work to secure the city centre Enterprise Zone and the publication of the first Enterprise Zone Investment Plan (2012).

Richard remains focused on the implementation of the strategic vision of the Big City Plan and key initiatives to drive growth across Birmingham. This includes Birmingham Smithfield and the Curzon HS2 Growth Strategy, which has secured an extension of the Enterprise Zone and over £700 million of infrastructure investment targeted at maximising growth around the city centre High Speed 2 (HS2) terminus station.

Richard Kenny

Interim Director of Partnerships (Universities)

West Midlands Combined Authority

Richard has overseen strategy and delivery at regional and local levels for two major cities – Manchester and Birmingham, a new directly elected mayor and combined authority in the West Midlands, a regional assembly in Yorkshire and the Humber, and health and policing working nationally in London. Richard is an experienced policy and economic development strategist, working on major strategic development, business change and strategic partnerships. He has worked for two major research universities, Warwick and Birmingham and was central to the establishment of both the Warwick Institute for the Science of Cities (WISC) and a City Region Economic Development Institute, University of Birmingham (CityREDI). Richard is a member of the Society for Local Authority Chief Executives (SOLACE); the Regional Studies Association; is a senior fellow at the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufacturers and Commerce.

Richard works closely with the Centre for Geographical Economic Research, University of Cambridge and is currently a member of its Advisory Panel for Structural Transformation, Adaptability and City Evolutions having previously sat on the Steering Group for Recession, Resilience and Recovery. Richard has a chapter on ‘Modelling Public Outcomes’ in A Handbook on Complexity and Public Policy (2015), published by Edward Elgar Publishing.

Chris Urwin

Head of Global Research - Real Estate

Aviva Investors

Chris leads the research team, overseeing the production of property forecasts and preparation of key strategy and research reports. His team plays a key role in developing investment views of markets and sectors and identifying strategic opportunities for funds across the globe.

Prior to joining Aviva Investors, Chris worked for CBRE where he was a senior analyst responsible for analysis of market trends in commercial property markets. Before that, he worked as an economist for the Institute of Public Policy Research where he was responsible for economic input for the centre’s research into city centre residential markets, commercial property in deprived areas, city governance and urban competitiveness. He has also worked as an assistant economist with HM Customs and Excise, focusing on the impact of changes to the indirect tax regime.

Chris holds a BA (Econ) in Economics and an MA in Economic History from the University of Manchester. He is also a member of the Society of Property Researchers.

Jonathan Hillcox

Senior Director and Head of Investment

GVA Midlands

Jonathan is a Senior Director and head of Investment for the Midlands, based in Birmingham, where he has advised on deals including the £127 million sale of The Mailbox and the £130 million sale of 7, 8 & 10 Brindleyplace.

Having experience with a leading international property consultancy in London, Brussels and Paris, Jonathan has advised on the sale and acquisition of retail, industrial, office and business park properties, together with sale and leaseback and complex portfolio transactions and development funding, across the UK and in mainland Europe.

Clients include leading UK and overseas institutions and property companies, private equity funds and private investors.

Mark Bourgeois

Managing Director UK and Ireland


Mark began his career at KPMG; he then qualified as a Chartered Surveyor with Donaldsons, where he became partner in charge of the London Shopping Centre Management team. Mark moved to Capital & Regional in 1998 where as Executive Director, he led the management and development of their substantial shopping portfolio. He joined Hammerson in 2017 as Managing Director of UK & Ireland, responsible for the company’s £6.5bn shopping centre and retail parks business.

Chris Perkins

Head of Business Space

M&G Real Estate

Chris manages the Business Space Team and is responsible for the UK Investment Management Community. During the past 10 years, his focus has been primarily offices and industrials with considerable volumes of buying and selling through several economic cycles. Prior to this he has held various roles across fund, investment and asset management teams at M&G Real Estate, including 10 years as a Fund Manager. He is a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and a committee member of the Investment Property Forum (IPF). Chris is also a member of M&G Real Estate’s Property Investment Committee and of the Credit Committee for M&G Fixed Income Real Estate Debt Team.

Andy Street CBE


West Midlands

Andy Street was elected as the first Mayor of the West Midlands on May 4 2017. The primary function of the role is to chair the West Midlands Combined Authority and brings with it significant powers over transport, housing, skills and jobs.

Before becoming Mayor, Andy combined a career with John Lewis, Britain’s most successful workers’ co-operative, with a host of high-profile economic development roles, working with local and national government.

He was the Chair of the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership between 2011 and 2016, helping to build the relationships that have underpinned the economic growth of the region. Additionally, he has been lead non-executive director for the Department for Communities and Local Government as well as a member of the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Group.

In June 2015, Andy was awarded the CBE for services to the national economy. He was named the ‘Most Admired Leader’ of the year by business magazine, Management Today in 2014. He received the ‘President’s award’ from the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce in for his work in the region.

Mike Crone

Purchasing & Property Director - International Projects

Jaguar Land Rover

Mike leads all Purchasing activities related to JLR’s Global Business Expansion program. He has teams based in the UK, China, India, Brazil and Slovakia. He runs the newly formed Trading Division responsible for the export of components to overseas manufacturing plants and the Non Production Purchasing team that procure all indirect categories for the business. Mike also has operational responsibility for Jaguar Land Rover’s global Property function.

Mike joined the Coventry & Warwickshire LEP in January 2017 as a Non-Executive Director.

As well as an extensive Purchasing career, Mike has previously managed in the fields of Property, Operations and Service Management. He started his career at Rover Group, worked with BMW in Munich before joining Deloitte Consulting concentrating upon Procurement and Supply Chain projects across multiple clients and industries. He has also worked for eight years in Global Telecoms.

Victoria Smith

Joint Managing Director

Opus Land

Victoria Smith is the Joint Managing Director of Opus Land, a leading Property Development and Investment company with offices in the West Midlands and London. Founded in 1999 and part owned and funded by Palmer Capital, the company has an established track record in delivering added-value solutions for real estate. The company has extensive experience of working in partnership with landowners, investors and occupiers with assets under management approaching 3 million sq ft.

Previously Victoria was based in London where she worked as an Associate Director for Palmer Capital, a Real Estate Fund Manager and Venture Capital backer of companies with a focus on opportunistic real estate investment. Before that, she was a Senior Surveyor at King Sturge (now Jones Lang La Salle) in London where she specialised in commercial investment and business recovery.

Victoria holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Real Estate Management from The University of Reading and is a chartered member of RICS and CFA. She has a breadth of experience with nearly 15 years in the property industry dealing with direct and indirect property investment, development and asset management. She has an appreciation of the challenges and opportunities facing the Midlands and is uniquely placed to view these alongside her experience in the London market.

Professor John Latham


Coventry University & Innovate UK

John leads delivery of the University’s strategic objectives, as agreed by the Board of Governors. John is a double graduate of the University and has a background in information technology and telecommunications. He has held high-profile roles at regional, national and European levels promoting innovation, technology and economic development. He previously worked for private sector organisations including JHP Group, Jaguar Cars and BT. He chairs the University Alliance mission group and is a board member of Innovate UK and the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership. John is a committee member of HEFCE, and an advisory board member of the National Growth Board, the Design Council and Universities UK. He is Extraordinary Professor in the area of enterprise and entrepreneurship at Stellenbosch University, South Africa.

Jackie Dunne

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Access & Lifelong Learning)

University of Wolverhampton

Jackie is responsible for leading the University of Wolverhampton’s widening participation and outreach work, including engagement with schools and colleges and the University’s work with Academy Schools and University Technical College (UTCs). She is also responsible for online and technology enhanced learning and for the University’s approach to distributed learning centres.

Jackie graduated in Hispanic Studies from Liverpool University in 1987 and in 1995 completed an MA in Education and Industry from Warwick University. She has 25 years experience in higher education, and has held a number of senior management positions.
Jackie began her career at Coventry University as a Lecturer in Spanish, working her way up to Principal Lecturer. She moved to the University of Leicester in 2001, as Director of Continuing Professional Development, and later went on to become Director of Lifelong Learning. While at Leicester, she was responsible for a number of university wide initiatives, including part-time higher education, community and regional engagement, FE partnerships (including Colleges-University of Leicester Network and the Skills for Sustainable Development regional Lifelong Learning Network) and Employer Engagement. She was also Academic Director in the College of Social Science. From 2013 she was Dean of Distance Education at the University of Leicester, with institution-wide responsibility for distance and online learning, including the development of FutureLearn MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses).

At national level, Jackie has been active in the field of lifelong learning and part-time higher education and is Honorary Secretary of the Universities Association for Lifelong Learning (UALL). She has been involved in a number of national initiatives in part–time higher education and lifelong learning. She was a Board member of the Universities Vocational Awards Council (UVAC) between 2008 and 2010. She has also held a number of regional roles in the East Midlands and has been active in the local economic development and skills arena. Her research interests include higher education and lifelong learning policy and practice, and distance and online learning, and she has written and published in these areas.

Sir John Peace


Midlands Engine

Sir John has a distinguished business career at the highest levels covering the technology, financial services and retail sectors. Formerly Chief Executive and Founder of Experian plc, Chief Executive of GUS plc, Chairman of Standard Chartered plc and is currently Chairman of Burberry plc - all FTSE 100 companies operating globally. He was also Chairman of the Work Foundation a visionary think-tank.

He is committed to supporting the Midlands region. He is the Lord-Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire and former East Midlands Ambassador for Business in the Community. He also has a long standing interest in education, for 10 years he was Chairman of the Board of Governors of Nottingham Trent University and is a Trustee of the Djanogly City Academy in Nottingham.

Sir John was knighted in 2011 for services to business and the voluntary sector. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Nottingham and is an Honorary Doctor of Business Administration from Nottingham Trent University.

Tim Johnson

Strategic Director for Place

City of Wolverhampton Council

Tim is the Strategic Director for Place and his portfolio of responsibilities include City Development, City Transport, City Environment and Corporate Landlord. Tim is responsible for raising the profile of the city and driving the city’s economic growth and regeneration agenda.

He works extensively with partners across the Black Country and wider region on developing investment propositions and driving innovative new approaches to public services.

Tim has over 20 years’ experience in local government having worked at Liverpool City Council, the London Borough of Hillingdon, Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council and Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council before joining the City of Wolverhampton Council in May 2013.

Tim represents the council on a number of key partnership forums across the city and region including undertaking the role of Governor at the City of Wolverhampton College and chairing the city council’s new commercial housing company, WV Living.

Fabienne Viala


Bouygues UK

Fabienne is Chairman of Bouygues UK and is also Bouygues Construction’s UK Country Director, which involves strengthening cooperation and collaboration between its businesses: Linkcity (property development) Bouygues UK (construction), Bouygues Travaux Publics (civil works) and Bouygues Energies & Services (energy, services and infrastructure).

Since joining the group in 1987 and with diverse experience of complex projects including design and build contracts, public-private partnerships and concessions, Fabienne has held a range of leadership positions within Bouygues Construction both in the UK and in France.

As a responsible and committed leader in sustainable construction, Bouygues Construction sees innovation as its primary source of added value: this is “shared innovation” that benefits its clients and the communities in which it works, at the same time as improving its productivity and the working conditions of its employees.

Stella Manzie CBE

Interim Chief Executive

Birmingham City Council

Stella has held a number of senior positions in public service, ranging from Chief Executive of local authorities like Coventry, Barking and Dagenham, Redditch and West Berkshire to Director – General in the UK Civil Service (Scottish Government) and worked at Birmingham City Council earlier in her career. She was Government appointed Commissioner Managing Director at Rotherham Council 2015/16. Stella has worked on improving frontline public services in a democratic environment as well as on regeneration, neighbourhood and community issues. Stella is a graduate of Cambridge University, post - graduate of University of Birmingham and Visiting Fellow of the Open University. She was awarded a CBE in 2007 for services to local government.

Faraz Baber


Terence O'Rourke

Faraz recently joined the specialist planning and design consultancy Terence O’Rourke as a Director. He was previously an Executive Director for Policy at London First. There he led on all activity relating to property, planning and development policy and was directly responsible for managing the real estate accounts and related commercial activity. Prior to joining London First in 2011, Faraz was Policy Director at London Councils where he managed a large multi-disciplinary team focused on housing, planning, transport, environment, culture and London 2012 implementation. His previous experience also includes senior management policy and public affairs roles at Surrey County Council, British Property Federation (BPF) and the Royal Institution of Chartered surveyors (RICS). A highly experienced and multi-skilled professional with extensive knowledge within the property sector, Faraz has successfully delivered on a number of high profile policy led campaigns. He is a Bartlett School graduate, with dual qualifications: chartered surveyor (FRICS) and chartered town planner (MRTPI). He is a member of the Department of Communities and Local Government Planning Sounding Board which provides industry advice to Government. Faraz is a Board member of the RICS P&D Professional Group and also serves on the RICS Planning Policy Panel.

Chris Gubbey


London Electric Vehicle Company

Chris Gubbey has held senior positions in automotive firms since the early nineties, and has worked at Director level or above for Ford, Toyota, GKN and General Motors. Over the past 15 years, Chris has built up considerable experience of international markets – and has worked in the EU, Russia & the CIS, Asia and Australia. He has a particular specialism in developing rapidly expanding markets.

Over the past 18 months, Chris has been working Geely – first in the businesses’ Commercial Vehicle division in Hangzhou, China, and now for LEVC (London EV Company) in Ansty, UK. At LEVC, Chris is applying this past experience at delivering ambitious corporate plans with a rigorous focus on quality and delivering world class standards.

Before working with Geely, Chris spent three years work ing as a Chief Executive for a Chinese state owned firm (Brilliance Auto). For his work in China he has been made an honorary citizen of Shanghai and was the first ever foreign honorary citizen of Yantai.

Ruth Cooke


Midland Heart

Ruth has been CEO of Midland Heart since 2012 and was previously Finance Director. Ruth is passionate about Midland Heart’s work to deliver a range of homes and services across the Midlands that enable people to live independently. Midland Heart owns and manages 33,000 homes and is dedicated to providing quality, affordable homes combined with excellent services to over 70,000 customers including support services for homeless people and older people, anchored within our accommodation. Midland Heart works in some of the most challenging areas of the Midlands and, as a founder member of the West Midland Housing Association Partnership, is committed to working with the West Midlands Combined Authority to drive the housing, support and public services agendas for our region. A qualified accountant and corporate treasurer, Ruth is also Chair of Connexus Housing and is the Vice Chair of the Social Housing Pension Scheme Committee.

Stephen Reynolds



Following a 12-year career with Richard Ellis in London, Stephen established Propertyskills Limited in 1996, an independent consultancy specialising in strategic management of development projects.

Experienced in working on masterplans and multi-phase projects, Stephen has been engaged on several major schemes including Spinningfields in Manchester from 1998 to 2003 and Masshouse in Birmingham, from 2005 to 2010. He has been involved in managing the Friargate project at Coventry since 2009, but has maintained a presence in other markets including Mayfair.

Other engagements of note include while at Richard Eliis, working on Paddington Basin, Victoria Street HQ for BIS (then DTI) and Portcullis House, Westminster. Stephen has worked on site assembly, project appraisal and funding and advising on team selection while working with land owners, development companies and public bodies across commercial, residential, retail and mixed use schemes.

Deborah Cadman

Chief Executive

West Midlands Combined Authority

Deborah began her career in 1984 with the London Borough of Newham followed by a move to Birmingham City Council where she worked on major regeneration projects. In 1996 she joined Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council in 1996 as Head of Policy, followed by a two year secondment with the Department of Environment Transport and the Regions.

In 2003, after being appointed the Audit Commission’s Best Value Service Lead Inspector for the London region, she became Chief Executive at St Edmundsbury Borough Council, before becoming Chief Executive of the East of England Development Agency.

Deborah was the Chief Executive of Suffolk County Council from 2011 to 2017 and has also been interim Chief Executive of Waveney District Council, Babergh District Council and Mid Suffolk District Council.

Deborah is a trustee of the Joseph Rowntree Trust and Joseph Rowntree Housing Foundation and was awarded an OBE in 2006 for her services to Local Government. As a dedicated and passionate female at the forefront of the public service industry Deborah was recently nominated and won the First Women Award for Public Service.

Thomas Edgecumbe

Managing Director NW

Balfour Beatty

Thomas Edgecumbe is Managing Director for Balfour Beatty’s North and Midlands division, a chartered management accountant with over 18 years’ experience in the construction industry he has worked across the UK and held numerous leadership roles for regional and national contractors including ROK and Collins Plc.

Thomas joined Balfour Beatty’s Rail business in 2012, subsequently made head of the Regional Rail Projects business in 2014, and becoming North & Midlands Managing Director for Regional business in 2017.

A real passion for people and a strong customer focus along with an exceptional commercial and financial background, Thomas has been able to develop high performing business units that deliver on Safety, Customer, People and Financial targets and add real value to the markets and regions they serve.

Louise Brooke-Smith

UK Head of Town Planning and Head of Social Value

Arcadis LLP

Louise is a Chartered Surveyor and Chartered Town Planner. She is an Equity Partner and UK Head of Development and Strategic Planning and Head of Social Value at Arcadis LLP. Prior to this, she was the CEO of Brooke Smith Planning, a UK based Planning & Development Consultancy, established in 1994, serving a wide range of international clients. Louise was the first female Global President of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (2014-15). Inter alia, she championed diversity & inclusivity and led a series of ground breaking initiatives including the RICS Inclusive Employers Quality Mark and the Property Strategy for Sub Saharan Africa. Her various accolades include; Outstanding Woman in Construction (2015), National Achiever in Construction (2015) and was shortlisted for the First Woman Awards in 2014 and 2015. She has been awarded Honorary Doctorates from the Universities of Wolverhampton, Sheffield Hallam and Birmingham City. Louise is retained as a UKGov adviser.

Peter Plisner

Business and Transport Correspondent

BBC Midlands

Peter Plisner has been in journalism almost thirty and has been specialising in business and transport since 1992. His broadcasting career started in local radio and later move to Independent Radio News where he was appointed to the role of Financial Correspondent. He is currently the Business and Transport Correspondent for BBC Midlands and works across all BBC outlets including radio, tv and the corporation’s online services. Peter says one of the most exciting parts of his job is that it’s so unpredictable. “You never know what you are going to be doing from one day to the next.” He’s always been interested in business and transport, although says he has never fancied standing on platforms noting down train numbers! In his current post, Peter has been followed some major West Midlands stories including the collapse of MG Rover, the redevelopment of Birmingham’s New Street station and, more recently, the formation of the West Midlands Combined Authority. He is a regular contributor to Local Transport Today magazine and other trade publications.

Kate Hall

Design Director


Kate is the Design Director for HS2, the programme’s Technical Design Authority, assurer, guardian of design quality, creating and embedding a vibrant design culture to fully realise the potential of HS2. Kate’s career in the last 21 years has encompassed some very significant and high profile infrastructure projects in the UK and internationally, including five years in Hong Kong on design and site supervision for Hong Kong Airport International Station, and further key infrastructure projects in Australia, New York and Ireland. She led Arup’s 400 strong Olympic Park Infrastructure Design Team for the London 2012 Olympic Park. 2010 she was awarded “Professional of the Year” by Women in Construction, 2011 Winner for Lloyds First Women Awards. Kate is a Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers.


Event Sponsors