Judges

Gemma Badu

Gemma Badu

Global Event Operations Manager, Association of Corporate Treasurers

Bio

Leading the logistics team as Global Event Operations Manager, Gemma manages a complex portfolio of 35+ events per year; ranging from high profile sponsored conferences and exhibitions, annual/ awards dinners, breakfast briefings, keynote addresses and digital products – held nationally in the UK, Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

The ACT Annual Conference attracts over 1500 delegates across 2 days and the ACT Annual Dinner 1500+ guests every year – staples in the association’s event calendar.

Prior to joining the ACT, Gemma gained experience working for publishing house Landor LINKS as Conference Manager looking after a diverse portfolio of national events in the planning and transportation fields including the much respected British Parking Awards.

Sally Beck

Sally Beck

General Manager, Royal Lancaster London

Bio

Sally Beck is General Manager of Royal Lancaster London, one of London’s largest independent hotels, with 411 bedrooms, three restaurants and bars and some of the largest banqueting space in Europe.

Sally has led the team through an £83m renovation whilst keeping the hotel open and achieving entry in The Sunday Times Top 100 Best Companies to Work For over the last three years, voted for by her employees.

Sally and her team are passionate about giving back to the community. Now in its fifth year, Royal Lancaster London’s Community Consortium supports five charities within the local community. Sally works with local churches, the police, schools and residents to ensure that the chosen projects are supported fully and bring a meaningful difference to the local area as a whole. Together they help the homeless, work with The Clink Charity as well as Springboard and Hospitality Action.

Michael Berg

Michael Berg

Creative Director, The Hospital Club

Bio

Jackie Boughton

Jackie Boughton

Head of Business Events, Barbican

Bio

Jackie has had over 30 years working in the UK hospitality industry, marketing and selling hotel group and venues, including Hilton, along with 9 years at the new Wembley Stadium, where she was part of the pre-opening and mobilisation team. She has first hand of experience of selling into the MICE, Corporate and Leisure markets, and has been an active member of several industry Associations serving either as a Board member or a founding partner.

Her current role as Head of Business Events for The Barbican involves her working across its vast portfolio of venues, continuing its growth and commercial success in the domestic and international business events market, whilst blending in with the artistic offer to create bespoke and memorable events for business clients, and at the same time connecting with the arts programmes.

A winner in the supplier/venue category of the UK Event Hot 50 Awards 2016 and 2017, Jackie is regularly featured in a variety of meetings and events industry honours lists. These include C&IT’s Venue Heads, where she has been voted 3rd in the UK, along with Event Management’s Event 100 Club where she was placed 18th out of 100. She has also been included in C&IT’s Power 50 – the most 50 most influential people in the UK Meetings and Event industry.

Johanna Byrane

Johanna Byrane

Head of Business Development, Twickenham

Bio

Johanna Byrane is Head of Business Development at Twickenham Stadium, looking after the stadium’s extensive conference and events business. Johanna re-joined the iconic stadium following a 12 year period working within the meetings and events industry in the City, which included a ten-year long tenure at Searcys.

Johanna has gained an admirable reputation within the meetings and events market place, both as a senior leader, a strategic thinker, and an experienced sales and marketing professional. However, her biggest challenge lies ahead as one of the key leadership figures behind the new East Stand, launching at Twickenham in the Autumn.

The new stand will play to many of Johanna’s strengths, her vast experience within the premium end of the meetings and events industry, her creative mind in encouraging new ways to curate conferences, and her extensive corporate contacts in opening-up new markets.

Jason Capper

Jason Capper

Operations Director, Camm & Hooper

Bio

Jason Capper, affectionally know around the Camm & Hooper HQ as ‘The Captain’  he was first lured into the heady world of hospitality from reading Philosophy in the North. Attracted to the bright lights of the big smoke, London at this time was buzzing with the new wave of style bars and cocktail wizards and it was in this environment that JC cut his teeth as bar manger and restaurateur.

Over the next few years, Jason enjoyed heading up a wide range of establishments  in the capital including The Hospital Club and The Charlotte Street & Soho Hotel for Firmdale. All helped to form the his exceptional approach to business and service.

In early 2013 Jason was lured into a brand new venture with entrepreneur Claire Lawson to shake up the events industry by launching Camm & Hooper. The first site was just a stones throw from the Shard called Tanner & Co, this was the latest edition to the Bermondsey Street dining scene. That was five years ago now and Tanner has grown from strength to strength. It has played host to a variety of events from alternative weddings to social media soirees and of course the awesome bottomless brunch. It has also been rumoured that he is behind the behind the Camm & Hooper alter ego, Cornelius Lushington. True that they are never seen in the same place …

As Operations Director he now oversees five Camm & Hooper sites across London, with the two more on the horizon. The Captain’s ethos is an simple one – don’t default to the mundane, be better, be generous and always be a great host who creates fun.  

Ian Fletcher

Ian Fletcher

General Manager, The Hard Rock Hotel, London

Bio

After studying Hotel Management at Cardiff University, my induction into hotels was via the Trusthouse Forte Graduate Training Programme. I have since held Senior Management roles in both Hilton and IHG and in 2007 joined glh hotels where I have managed The Cumberland, The Tower, The Grosvenor and the 5 star Royal Horseguards Hotel. I am presently the General Manager of the Hard Rock Hotel.
Sal Gowili

Sal Gowili

General Manager, The Ritz, London

Bio

Mr Gowili oversees the hotel’s 136 rooms and suites, The Ritz Restaurant, The Palm Court, The Rivoli Bar and private dining rooms of the adjoining 18th century William Kent House, and is supported in his role by a team of over 300 colleagues. With a passion and broad knowledge of the luxury hotel business, Mr Gowili joined The Ritz London in 2011 as Front of House Manager, before quickly progressing to Rooms Division Manager. He was appointed Hotel Manager in 2013 and under his leadership The Ritz London has achieved outstanding revenue growth, whilst maintaining the very highest levels of guest service. Prior to joining The Ritz London, Mr Gowili held senior management positions within the Red Carnation Hotel Company.  
Natasha Halford

Natasha Halford

Head of Gallery Hosted Events, National Gallery

Bio

Tash Halford heads up the Gallery Hosted Events Team at the National Gallery and is responsible for a wide range of event activities, from high profile exhibition openings and bespoke detail driven donor events to the operations behind complex public ‘Lates.’ Joining the Commercial Events team at Tate in 2002, Tash has 17 years’ experience managing events in unique and internationally iconic venues. From 2006-2008 she was responsible for corporate and museum events, the public catering contract and commercial filming at the Imperial War Museum. Tash joined the National Gallery in 2008, and enjoys the unique mix of public affairs, problem solving and creativity which the role demands.
Tracy Halliwell

Tracy Halliwell

Director of Business Tourism & Major Events, London & Partners

Bio

Tracy Halliwell heads up London’s Convention Bureau, managing the event solutions team and a global sales team focused on attracting discretionary business, cultural & sporting events to the capital. At the same time Tracy works with city stakeholders to develop and build London’s business and major events tourism offering.

 

Prior to joining London & Partners Tracy had over 20 years’ experience in senior sales and marketing positions in the tourism industry. She has worked with Millennium and Copthorne Hotels, Thistle Hotels, Le Meridien Hotels and Resorts and has held numerous property-based Director of Sales & Marketing roles within London and the UK.

Tracy was awarded an MBE for services to business tourism in 2014.

Mo Issa

Mo Issa

Head of Sales, The Mermaid, London

Bio

 His passion for events began at university and has continued throughout his career. Previous roles included Sales Manager at Novus Leisure and Business Development Manager at Church House Conference Centre.

He leads a team with drive and enthusiasm to deliver sales campaigns which result in achieving the ambitious targets set.

He has a wealth of knowledge in a number of event areas and proactively seeks new business routes to bring a wide variety of events to this high profile, City based venue.

Mo is firmly established within the meetings and events sector and loves to exceed client expectations.

Alex Lewis

Alex Lewis

General Manager, The Kia Oval

Bio

Alex is a hospitality specialist with 30 years’ experience in the Food & Beverage sector.   After a background in hotels in Europe and Africa, he co-founded Crixus Recruitment providing skilled waiting and bar staff to major UK and international events before launching Crixus Sport.  Through this venture, Alex consulted on major international events such as America’s Cup, Volvo Ocean Race and A1GP in over 30 countries on 5 continents.

Since returning full-time to the UK, Alex has run the catering operations at Ascot racecourse before becoming General Manager of The Kia Oval in 2018.

His passion for delivering quality catering solutions at major sporting events has led to a diverse and well-travelled career but is delighted to be based back in the UK working for one of London’s most iconic sporting venues. 

Faye Loader

Faye Loader

Head of Business Development, The Brewery

Bio

For 6 years Faye has led the proactive sales strategy at The Brewery, London’s leading City venue. Prior to The Brewery Faye headed up the corporate events team for a prestigious science communication charity and Grade I listed building in Mayfair. After graduating from Leeds University with a 1st class degree Faye mastered her skills within media sales, selling sponsorship and advertising solutions to West End advertising agencies and multinational technology companies. Her publishing background means she understands the ins and outs of delivering successful commercial events with an insider’s knowledge.
Carly Mitchell

Carly Mitchell

Managing Director, Ultimate Experience

Bio

John Nugent

John Nugent

Founder and Chief Executive, Green & Fortune

Bio

In 2008 John launched Green & Fortune and Kings Place Events which coincided with the opening of Kings Place, in Kings Cross London.  In this time, Kings Place Events has established itself as one of London’s premium venues for conferencing, hospitality and events.  The company also has a Café brand of its own name within its portfolio as well as the restaurant, bar and private dining business, Rotunda.

In 2017 Green and Fortune launched Sea Containers Events, on London’s South Bank, in the iconic building of the same name.  This premium events venue has panoramic views of London and has had immediate success in its first year.

Prior to launching Green & Fortune John was Chief Executive of Searcys, taking it from a two site focused business to a large and significant operator in the bespoke end of the food service and events sector.  He was also managing director of Richard Corrigan’s restaurant company.

John was a founding director of the Kings Cross Business Partnership.  He is trustee and chairman of Global Generation, a food, training and sustainability charity.  He also works with Sadler’s Wells Theatre on the catering strategy.

Maya Orr

Maya Orr

Senior Consultant - Awards & Campaigns, Lidl

Bio

I began my career in broadcast in 2010. I worked for a radio PR agency and quickly rose to head up all the food and drink promotions, this foray into the industry uncovered a true culinary passion inside of me. Since then I went onto work in more traditional PR agencies, where I learnt more about the power of events. Hosting events for my clients, as well as project managing every aspect became a core part of my role. I have a WSET accreditation and have worked with a number of international food and drink brands/authorities.

In 2017 I was appointed Head of Awards within Lidl’s Marketing team. I initially joined Lidl’s PR team after launching the supermarkets first ever PR campaign for its French wine offering in 2014, since then I have been promoted internally a number of times and now oversee all awards for the business, as well as a number of above the line campaigns including Big On Quality, Lidl on Price. I’m a huge foodie, I am fortunate to have been able to travel far and wide in pursuit of great food, and my travels have seen me venture to amazing places like Noma in Copenhagen and Tokyo’s famous fish market.

Claire Pastore

Claire Pastore

Director of Venues, Venue Lab

Bio

Claire is Director of Venues for Venue Lab, who curate and manage an ever-evolving portfolio of unique spaces. As a full-service agency, Venue Lab gives brands, event agents, corporate bookers, location scouts and filmmakers access to an array of impressive and exclusive spaces. Led by Claire, they are the creators of the award-winning venues Printworks London, Landing Forty Two and The Pumping House, alongside Dock X London, Thirty Eight Grosvenor Square and the brand-new Magazine London, which Venue Lab are proud to have built from the ground up.

Prior to joining Venue Lab, Claire has had a prosperous career in event management, having worked for the award-winning CH & Co Group’s ITA* Venues, where she managed sales and events for high-profile properties including The Law Society, The Royal College of Surgeons, ZSL London Zoo, Old Royal Naval College, The In & Out and The Birmingham Botanical Gardens.

She has also been honoured with several awards throughout her career, including; a gold award for MIMA Best Brochure for Little Black Book and gold for CH & Co’s Excellence Award for Learning and Development. Claire was proud to be a finalist in the Event Awards Event Team of the Year in 2016 for ITA and number 50 of Event Magazine’s Top 100 Influential Event Professionals in the same year.

Jonathan Read

Jonathan Read

Founder / Commercial Director, Tobacco Dock

Bio

Jonathan relaunched Tobacco Dock in 2012 as an events destination and over the past 7 years it is grown to become the most dynamic, iconic events venue in the Capital.

Tobacco Dock hosts in excess of 250 events per year and is the destination of choice for many of the world’s leading brands, organisations and their agencies including Apple, Accenture, Samsung, Google, Deloitte, EY, Barclays, JP Morgan, Cisco and the BBC. Skylight London, the rooftop bar and competitive socialising concept was launched in 2017 – an urban lawn club in the summer and Europe’s only rooftop ice rink in the winter.

Prior to this Jonathan spent over 20 years in live events and brand communications both agency and client-side, producing product launches, leading brand experience programmes and activating sponsorship globally for brands including AMD, General Motors, SanDisk, Johnson & Johnson, LG, Guinness and Grey Goose. He is a member of EVCOM and the Marketing Society.

Michael	Shepherd

Michael Shepherd

General Manager, Hilton Park Lane

Bio

Having worked across three continents and over ten countries, Michael can truly be referred to as an International hotelier and has been responsible for being a real ambassador in growing Hilton’s reputation around the world.

 

After graduating from university, Michael joined Hilton over 40 years ago. More recently, he has been General Manager of the Langham Hilton and thereafter Managing Director at The Savoy before rejoining Hilton on Park Lane some 13 years ago.

He has overseen extensive refurbishment works and has launched a number of new restaurants and bar operations, working with celebrity chefs, including Gordon Ramsey, Marcus Wareing, Chris Galvin to name just a few. Michael played a pivotal role within the bid Committee in seeing London’s nomination to host the Olympic Games in 2012 and was awarded host headquarter hotel for the IOC throughout the games period. He has received several awards, including; General Manager of the Year; Recipient of a Catey; Best Business Hotel in the UK, for five consecutive years in Business Traveller Magazine, and the list goes on.

Michael is also a Fellow of the Institute of Hospitality and a Master Innholder and has an honorary doctorate from Thames Valley University. Most importantly, Michael received Surrey University’s Vice Chancellor Alumni Award in 2012 in recognition of his exceptional contribution to Society and the role of hospitality in the UK.

In writing Michael’s legacy, he has seen many dozens of colleagues work alongside him and he has supported their development to senior leaders and General Manager’s in our company all over the world. They consider him an ideal example of the consummate hotelier and a fine leader. In addition he continues to mentor many aspiring hoteliers and also supports the Master Innholders Mentorship Programme.

Tim Stevens

Tim Stevens

Managing Director, Eventist Group

Bio

Tim started the Eventist Group over 20 years ago with the Best Parties Ever brand, offering innovative Christmas party packages.  The brand has gone on to be the UK’s leading Christmas party provider entertaining over 200,000 guests annually at 23 venues around the UK and Ireland, offering the full mix of award winning food and drink, spectacular scenery and stunning entertainment.  The group has since evolved to an impressive collection of seven brands, including multi award winning catering brands Food by Dish, Zafferano, Tobacco Dock Food and Tapenade, creative drinks brand Arribar as well as AV and production through ie live.  Together they create an all-encompassing group which offers an end to end service, led by our group of super-enthusiastic Eventists.   

The success of the company has led to many exciting projects, such as bars at Glastonbury and Henley Regatta, corporate and chalet catering at Farnborough, Paris and RIAT airshows, magnificent events at London’s most historic palaces and museums, venue partnerships with Grade 1 listed venues Syon House and Tobacco Dock and elegant dining on board some of London’s finest vessels.  Clients continue to include some of the world’s greatest brands for gala dinners, conferences and events as well as private clients for festivals, parties and weddings.

Alastair Stewart

Alastair Stewart

Managing Director, Etc venues

Bio

Alastair Stewart is the Managing Director of etc.venues. His ambition of running his own business can be traced back to his entrepreneurial grandmother who set up a hotel in South Africa which drew the young Alastair into the hospitality world.

2006 was a pivotal year for Alastair when he left Rentokil Initial, where he had been MD of the conference venue business, Initial Style Conferences. With initial private equity backing from Dunedin Capital Partners and secondary buyout backing from Capital Growth Partners he has grown etc.venues, the specialist city centre venue company, into one of the UK’s leading conference brands.

The business has quadrupled in size since 2006, hosting over 17,000 events in 2017 across 15 venues in London and a further 1 each in Birmingham and Manchester – with the most recent opening at County Hall attracting significant attention for its bold scale.

Alastair was an  Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of Year finalist in 2009 and again in 2013  and has recently featured in The Daily Telegraph, Conference News, FGP Meets, Start Up Grind, Future in 15 and The Sunday Times.

etc.venues was named as the London Stock Exchange as one of the 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain, included in the Leap 100list and as the UK’s favourite venue host in Eventbrite’s Pulse Report.

Alastair is an enthusiastic golfer, tennis player and skier. He is married with 2 children and lives in Berkshire.

Diane Waldron

Diane Waldron

Director of Sales & Marketing, QEII Centre

Bio

Diane joined the senior team at QEII Centre in January 2015 to help drive forward a £15 million rebranding and renovation of this iconic events venue, to position it as a go-to destination for conferences, exhibitions, product launches, fashion shows, award dinners and other F&B led events.

Since the centre rebranded, Diane has been responsible for changing perceptions of QEII by hosting spectacular showcase events to demonstrate the venue’s creativity and flexibility, including transforming the venue into a pop-up circus tent complete with Victorian strongmen and ringmaster, a secret garden and a 1950s drive-thru cinema featuring classic Mustangs, going back to the 80s for QEII’s 30th birthday immersive event and creating an underground warren leading into a blossoming daffodil for the centre’s most recent showcase, Bloom.

Diane has a career portfolio including senior roles at the Honourable Artillery Company (HAC), Natural History Museum, Searcy’s at the Barbican and the Tower Thistle Hotel. She currently sits on the board of venue marketing consortium Westminster Venue Collection, is the chair of the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) UK & Ireland and is the former chair of London City Selection.

Jeremy Warrillow

Jeremy Warrillow

Head of Hospitality, Institute of Directors, 116 Pall Mall

Bio

Jeremy Warrillow has been involved in the hospitality industry for over twenty years. He has been head of Hospitality at the IoD’s London base – 116 Pall Mall since September 2017, his first role on the client side of the fence.

Jeremy started his career with The Admirable Crichton, planning events for clients across the UK and Europe. After 10 years, he was tempted by a job offer in the Caribbean where he worked for a year on the Island of St Barth’s, reopening the luxury Eden Rock hotel.

Returning to the UK, he joined Searcys and spent four years at the Barbican as GM running the events, restaurant and public bars. He then moved to the British Museum with European caterers Do&Co before going onto Benugo and running the caterer’s hospitality arm for four years, including the fledgling event catering business Clerkenwell Green.

At 116 Pall Mall he has overseen a refresh of the sales department, including a redesign of the brand and new website to promote the commercial operation of the building. He is also a board member of the Westminster Venue Collection.

Outside of Events he is chair of governors at the local nursery, coach at mini rugby club, father of three and husband to one, amateur gardener and lover all of things food and drink related.

Murray Wilson

Murray Wilson

General Manager, De Vere Grand Connaught Rooms

Bio

With more than 22 years’ experience in the industry Murray made a u- turn in his career when he changed his focus from Mechanical Engineering to the world of hospitality. He has never looked back. Murray began his career with the Marriott brand and progressed through various roles before venturing south of the Scotland/England border. Murray has now been the General Manager of De Vere Grand Connaught Rooms for 5 years. He has a passion for success and works incredibly hard developing his team. In turn the De Vere Grand Connaught Rooms continues to be an extraordinary and iconic events venue in central London. 
Liz Young

Liz Young

Head of Events & Commercial Services, Historic Royal Palaces

Bio

Liz has worked within the entertainment and events industry for 18 years.  Her career started in the theatre world, moving from London drama festivals to managing West End theatres with Live Nation. She then moved into event and venue management roles at Wembley Arena and the O2 Arena as well as supporting on-site delivery of outdoor commercial festivals such as Wireless Festival, Hyde Park Calling and Download Festival.

Liz now works within the heritage sector and, as Head of Events for Historic Royal Palaces, has strategic responsibility for the commercial events business across 6 royal palaces, working to find ways of maximising opportunities within these unique and sensitive buildings.

Hesham Zakai

Hesham Zakai

Managing Director, TXF

Bio

Hesham Zakai is the Managing Director of TXF, a leading media and events company specialising in trade, commodity and export finance, with a global portfolio of 20 conferences. He has previously worked at the Special Reports team of the Financial Times and in the Press department at the European Parliament. He is also the former editor-in-chief of London Student, and has published essays on topics ranging from the history of the Middle East to the impact of technology on local British communities.

Also Confirmed

Ania Faluta, Head of Events, The Hurlingham Club

Samantha GunstonHead of Events, Newtrade 

Carla Jones, Head of Event Strategy, Operations & Client Services, Haymarket Media Group

Harsh Joshi, General Manager, The Cinnamon Club

Globy Ouseph, General Manager, InterContinental London – The O2

Steve Sayer, Vice President and General Manager, The O2