Meet the Speakers

Take a look at the speakers on board so far, additional speakers to be added in due course.

Mark Casci

Business Editor, The Yorkshire Post
Mark is the Business Editor of The Yorkshire Post

Stephanie Burras

Chief Executive, Ahead Partnership
Stephanie is Chief Executive of Ahead Partnership which she founded in 2004 following a successful career as Partner at international law firm Pinsent Masons. Graduating from Cambridge University, Stephanie practiced as a dual-qualified lawyer in both the UK and Germany, before setting up school mentoring programmes in inner city communities which helped form her vision for Ahead Partnership.

Ahead Partnership brings the private, public and third sectors closer together to maximise the social and economic potential of communities. For the last 15 years Ahead Partnership has been helping businesses of all sizes and sectors to deliver social value projects that overcome inequality, promote opportunity and deliver positive change within society.

Natalie Doherty

Natalie Doherty, Director of Quality, Curriculum and Innovation, the Source Skills Academy
Dynamic, driven and compassionate, Natalie Doherty has inspired young people and adults throughout her life and brings an outstanding record of success to The Source.
She has over 20 years of experience in the education sector, 15 years of which have been in further education and skills. Natalie began her career as a dancer, choreographer and teacher, using the medium to help disconnected young people reshape their lives.
She is passionate about people being offered second chances and believes the key is giving them help to access learning and qualifications. This was particularly evident during the two years she spent as Head of Education at a male prison in the East of England, enabling inmates to study subjects ranging from maths to motor vehicle mechanics and construction skillsShe moved into educational quality control as assistant director of a college in her home city of Liverpool.

Emma Godivala

Founding Director of York Gin Company
An Oxford University-trained scientist, Emma had an early interest in all things digital and spent 20 years working on corporate websites and brands. 
Emma is a founding director of the York Gin Company, which began trading in 2018. She created the York Gin brand and is also the company’s sustainability spokesperson, having become increasingly panicked and concerned about the climate crisis and environmental breakdown. 
Notable achievements have been powering the company’s distillery and shop with 100% green energy, making sure the company adopts emission-free and sustainable modes of transport and using local Yorkshire companies to make bottles, labels and packaging. The company is currently undertaking a carbon neutrality audit, aiming to avoid ‘green washing’ its emissions.

Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe

Leader of Bradford and Chair of Future Ready Skills Commission
Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe was elected Leader of Bradford Council in May 2016. She was also Chair of West Yorkshire Combined Authority from 2017 until 2021 and was instrumental in securing the West Yorkshire Mayoral Devolution Deal, which resulted in West Yorkshire electing its first Metro Mayor in May 2021.

Before politics Susan had a wide ranging career, from running her own business, to working in marketing and spending five years in a management role at a national newspaper. She also worked for Business in the Community for 10 years where she was Head of Regeneration.

David Horne

Managing Director, LNER
David has held senior positions within Virgin, Stagecoach Group, East Midlands Trains and South
West Trains. David leads the Executive team at LNER and works closely with the non-executive Chairman and non-executive directors. In March 2015, he was appointed Managing Director of Virgin Trains East Coast and following the transfer to LNER continues his role as Managing Director. In his time at East Midlands Trains, he was responsible for delivering the UK's most punctual long distance services over a five year period and under his leadership the company won Passenger Operator of the Year in 2014. In 2011, David became Managing Director at East Midlands Trains.

Councillor James Lewis

Leader of Leeds City Council
Cllr James Lewis has been Leader of Leeds City Council since February 2021, having previously been Deputy Leader of the Council since May 2015. In May 2021, the newly elected Mayor of West Yorkshire Tracy Brabin, also appointed Cllr Lewis as the Deputy Mayor of West Yorkshire.
Cllr Lewis has responsibility in Leeds for devolution and local freedoms as well as leading the Council’s budget and strategic planning matched to the needs of the citizens and communities in its area and ensuring the delivery of strategic priorities.

Cllr Lewis was first elected as a Labour Councillor to represent the Barwick and Kippax ward, now the Kippax and Methley ward, in 2003. He has held numerous positions during his time as a Councillor, including being the Chair of Metro (West Yorkshire’s Integrated Transport Authority) between 2011 and 2015.

Mark Lynam

Corporate Director for Regeneration and Economic Growth, Wakefield Council
Mark joined Wakefield Council in 2021 as Corporate Director for Regeneration and Economic Growth. He has responsibility for Economic Growth and Skills, Planning, Transport and Highways and Arts, Culture and Leisure, serving the District’s 340,000 residents. Wakefield is part of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority which is one of the UK’s biggest economic areas outside London.

Prior to joining Wakefield, Mark was Director of Transport, Housing and Infrastructure at Sheffield City Region Mayoral Combined Authority since joining in 2016. He supported the directly elected Mayor in delivering a transport capital programme of over £200m which underpinned the region’s objectives for inclusive economic growth. He was also responsible for leading the development of South Yorkshire’s housing, infrastructure, net zero and transport policy agenda.

James Mason

Chief Executive, Welcome to Yorkshire
James Mason joined Welcome to Yorkshire in January 2020 as chief executive and was very much looking forward to working with the team, building on previous successes, showcasing Yorkshire across the globe and welcoming visitors to exciting world-class events. However, the coronavirus crisis has meant that Welcome to Yorkshire is collaboratively working with the county’s tourism sector on a robust recovery plan, to support and promote businesses and attractions, to enable them to reopen, recover and rebuild, following Government guidelines. The ultimate goal being to Welcome BACK to Yorkshire all visitors.

An experienced business leader, James has worked in the education, sport, public relations, broadcasting, and charitable sectors. Formerly chief operating officer of a global sport scholarships business, he has also held senior leadership roles at Bradford City and Rochdale Football Clubs.

Paul Matthews

Managing Director of First West Yorkshire
Paul graduated from Cambridge and immediately entered the bus industry through a graduate management training scheme. He subsequently held many managerial appointments around the country including 10 years at a large bus company in the North East of England and then an equally sizeable bus operator in London. Following a change of company ownership, he became Chief Executive of the UK activities of French transport company RATP. He joined First in April 2012 in a project role before becoming Managing Director of the Group’s West of England operations in June 2013. He then accepted the challenge of a similar role at the larger West Yorkshire operating company in November 2014.

Jonathan Webb

IPPR North
Jonathan is a senior research fellow at IPPR North where he currently leads a programme of work on net zero. Based initially at IPPR’s London office, Jonathan contributed widely to the work of IPPR’s Environmental Justice Commission. Previously, he was based at the Wales Centre for Public Policy. In this role, he worked closely with Welsh Government ministers and public services to help connect policy makers with evidence and improve their capacity to make evidence informed policy decisions.

Mike Wicks

Relationship Manager, Unity Trust Bank
Mike joined Unity Trust Bank in 2019 and brought with him more than 25 years’ experience in commercial banking, having undertaken a variety of client-facing roles at Barclaycard and Barclays Corporate.

As a Relationship Manager, Mike has a trusted network of finance professionals including valuers, accountants, solicitors and commercial brokers who assist him in delivering the right solutions for Unity’s customers. Mike has a deep client focus and gains a thorough understanding of customers’ needs and banking requirements. This has enabled him to consistently grow his customer base while supporting businesses’ growth aspirations and goals.
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