Speakers

Speakers

9 November (morning session)

 

Lee Corless

Vice President, JP Morgan Chase & Co

Lee Corless is a Vice President at JP Morgan Chase & Co. where he is Head of the Autism at Work program for the EMEA (Europe, Middle East & Africa) and APAC (Asia-Pacific) regions. As an autistic self-advocate diagnosed in adulthood, Lee supports the advancement of adapting the workplace to embrace neurodiversity and encourage autistic individuals to seek employment.

Current holder of the Outstanding Achievement by an Individual on the Autism Spectrum awarded by the National Autistic Society in the UK and recognised as a leader in the field of Autism employment.

 

 


Diane Lightfoot

Chief Executive Officer, Business Disability Forum

Diane Lightfoot is CEO of Business Disability Forum, a not-for-profit membership organisation that supports businesses to recruit and retain disabled employees and to serve disabled customers. Business Disability Forum’s c.400 members now employ around 20% of the UK workforce and 8 million people worldwide. They range from FTSE 100 companies and central Government departments to technology, transport and construction companies, retailers, higher education providers and public services bodies. 

Diane is Co-Chair of the Disability Charities Consortium, Chair of the Disabled Students’ Stakeholder Group and a Commissioner for the Disability Commission, chaired by Lord Shinkwin and hosted by the Centre for Social Justice. She is also Chair of the Challenging Behaviour Foundation. Diane joined Business Disability Forum as in February 2017 after moving from her former role as Director of Policy and Communications for United Response, a leading national disability charity. She is passionate about the role of good work in transforming people’s lives.

 


Steve Mills

Director of IT, DPD Group

Steve Mills is the Director of IT for DPD UK and has held this position for over twenty years.  Originally, he joined the company in 1992 as an Analyst/Programmer, he has performed a number of roles within IT becoming Director of IT at 38.  Originally a ‘brummie’ he now lives in Stourbridge (West Midlands) and has enjoyed a successful career, exceeding everyone's expectations from those who knew him when he left school at 16.  There is hope for everyone!

Steve’s core responsibility is the Management and Strategic direction of all IT Services.  He is part of the UK Senior Management Team reporting to the CEO and the DPDgroup IT Committee. In 2018 he became the company’s Ambassador for Inclusion, specifically for people with SEND.  He founded the highly thought of DPD ‘Inspire’ programme and has helped DPD to become a Disability Confident Employer and member of the Valuable 500. 

DPD Inspire connects schools, colleges, charities and SEND based organisations.  Its principal objective is to offer those with SEND opportunities through Work Experience, Internship and Apprenticeships through to substantive employment. It’s also about putting DPD at the centre of the community to support those institutions in a variety of different ways. Steve’s ambition is to help other companies develop similar programmes.  


Matthew Wood

CEO & Owner, Millwood Servicing Ltd

Matt is the owner and Chief Executive of Millwood Servicing Ltd - his 26 year-established  award winning Fire safety Engineering company based in Wallington near Croydon. As a small to medium-sized enterprise (SME) Millwood, Matt and his 44 staff face many daily challenges as do their clients and suppliers alike and one of them is effective, cost-efficient and reliable recruitment of staff.

An ex Royal Navy fire-fighter, Matt discovered by accident the reality and rewards that came by employing and engaging with people with disabilities and, over the last two years, both Millwood & Matt have travelled on an extensive and thoroughly enjoyable journey of discovery in disability employability and now Matt spends half of his time sharing and showcasing  the benefits of tapping into the untapped pool of talent out there in the disabled community.

Matt is a serial fundraiser, Adventure Racer, mental health ambassador and professional fire safety consultant with over 30 years of experience. He keeps honey bees (lots of them) and is a professional and seasoned public speaker.


9 November (afternoon session)

 

Huw Davies

Chief Executive, BASE

Huw Davies has been the chief executive of the British Association for Supported Employment (BASE) since 2008. He previously chaired the association from its formation in 2006 and chaired one of its predecessor associations, AfSE, from 2002 to 2006. Huw is one of the Vice-Presidents of the European Union of Supported Employment.

Huw was previously the Regional Employment Team Coordinator for North West Care Services Improvement Partnership (CSIP). This strategic role supported the regional implementation of Government policy on mental health and employment. 

From 1993 to 2008, he was manager of Bury EST, a local authority supported employment agency that provided employment support for disabled jobseekers, care leavers, recovering drug misusers, minority ethnic communities and job retention projects. The service had extensive involvement in transnational projects and had strong links with local employers through an Employer Forum. 


Tom Pollard

Independent Policy Expert

Tom is an independent policy expert with over ten years' experience working on social policy related to mental health. He spent six years in the Policy and Campaigns team at the charity Mind, where he covered issues including debt, access to justice and employment, but had a particular focus on benefits and back-to-work support. In 2016 he was asked to join the Department for Work and Pensions on secondment as their Senior Mental Health Policy Adviser, with a roving brief to work on relevant policy and delivery issues, including the Supported Employment proof of concept.

After 18 months in this role, Tom left DWP and spent two years training and practising as a Mental Health Social Worker. Alongside frontline work, he has continued to write extensively about benefits and employment support for people with mental health problems, and disabled people more widely. As an associate of the think tanks Demos and New Local, he has authored reports on the institutional problems he witnessed at DWP (2019) and the case for localising employment support for people facing complex disadvantage (2020).

 


Bex Spencer

Associate Director, Social Finance

Photo of Bex SpencerBex is an Associate Director within Social Finance’s Health and Employment Team, passionate about increasing access to paid, fulfilling work for people with disabilities and health conditions.  She recently led a review of supported employment delivery across Scotland and oversees Social Finance’s portfolio of social investment into supported employment services.  Prior to this, she was the National Programme Lead for IPS Grow, a programme providing operational support to double the number of individuals in the UK with severe mental health illness who have access to tailored employment support.  

Bex was previously the National Project Manager to the Drive project, a pilot intervention designed to challenge the behaviour of perpetrators of domestic abuse, and is currently a trustee for SafeLives, a charity dedicated to ending domestic abuse for everyone and for good.

 


10 November (afternoon session)

 

Dr Stephen Beyer

Senior Research Fellow, Cardiff University

Photo of Dr Stephen BeyerSteve is the Senior Research Fellow and Hon. Lead for Learning Disability Employment for NCMH at Cardiff University. He has been the foremost Uk researcher in the area of learning disability and employment for 30 years and has been involved in a number of policy and practice advisory groups for the Welsh and UK governments over this period. 

Steve has had a long involvement in researching and developing supported employment to help people with learning disabilities to secure jobs. He is also very interested in helping young people with a learning disability to have better options when they leave school, including better co-ordination of physical and mental health and social care services.

 

 


Kate Nicholls

Chief Executive Officer, UKHospitality

Photo of Kate NichollsKate Nicholls OBE has been CEO of UKHospitality, the powerful voice representing the broad hospitality sector, since its inception in 2018, having previously worked as CEO and Strategic Affairs Director of the ALMR. In July 2021, she was appointed as the first Government Disability Ambassador for hospitality, promoting inclusivity. 

Kate is Chair of the Tourism Alliance and co-Chair of the London Tourism Recovery Board, representing the needs of the wider tourism sector in discussions with Government and the Mayor of London. She sits on the Government’s Tourism Industry Council and Events Industry Board, the London Food Board and has previously Chaired the London Night-time Commission. She is a Board member of London & Partners, Best Bar None, PASS and is a trustee at Hospitality Action. 

Kate initially worked as a researcher in the House of Commons and European Parliament on food, employment and environmental policy before joining Whitbread to work in Strategic Affairs. She has extensive experience as a political and strategic communications consultant and is a graduate of Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge and Kings College London.