Welcome to the Leadership Symposium 2021

Unfortunately, our 2020 Leadership Symposium has been postponed due to COVID-19. However, we’re delighted to have rescheduled for 11 November 2021 at the same venue – Rothamsted Research in Harpenden, Hertfordshire.

Our speaker line-up for 2020 was to include Jason Tarry - Tesco UK & ROI, Sian Sutherland – A Plastic Planet, Baroness Dido Harding - Chair of NHS Improvement, Damien Hinds MP and Adam Leyland, Editor, The Grocer. We are confident we will be able confirm all this year’s speakers for 2021 very soon. Anna Botting – Sky News Presenter and Jeremey Thomspon, Former Sky News Presenter will co-host the event.

Hear some of the most well-respected leaders in industry share what they have learned in business, ask questions, network with colleagues, access personal learning and development opportunities and engage with student delegates – our future talent.

Tickets remain £695 + VAT and tickets purchased enable over 100 students from across the UK to attend free.

The Leadership Symposium supports two charities, employability and life skills charity, Working Options in Education and GroceryAid.


A short summary of Leadership Symposium 2019


Media Partner

2020/2019 Supporters


Our annual Leadership Symposium has been running since 2015 with high profile speakers. It is a unique and lively event, traditionally attended by delegates from the food, drink and retail industry but increasingly attracting delegates from other industries. The event has something for everyone. Attendees range from graduates to business owners and across multiple disciplines, typically Sales, Marketing, Operations, HR and CSR. We also welcome 100+ students from across the UK who attend free. Feedback from industry and student delegates is consistently positive.

Join us to:

  • • Hear some of the most well-respected figures in industry share their thoughts on business, leadership, personal development and diversity •
  • • Connect with colleagues and students. Benefit from fantastic networking opportunities •
  • • Experience a highly informative day, perfect for management development, team building and personal learning •

Hear what delegates say about the Leadership Symposium

Supporting future talent

By attending this event you not only allow 100+ students to attend a high profile industry event but you’re also supporting Working Options in Education, an employability and life skills charity that has engaged over 20,000 young people in schools, colleges and online over the last 10 years to help them fufil their potential after education. COVID-19 will particularly impact young people’s employment prospects and opportunities. It has also caused us to postpone 3 major fundraising events. This leaves us with a £200,000 funding gap and puts the survival of the charity in jeopardy. Our programme is needed more than ever, and we need your support to make sure we’re here for young people in the difficult times ahead. Hear what some of our programme alumni say about the lasting positive impact we have on their lives post-education

There are two ways you can help:
Register now for Leadership Symposium 2021
Support our Bridge the Gap 2020 fundraising campaign with an individual or company donation.

Hear what students have to say about the positive impact of attending the Leadership Symposium below.


The Leadership Symposium supports two charities, employability and life skills charity, Working Options in Education and GroceryAid.


Rothamsted Research Centre, Harpenden, Hertfordshire, AL5 2JQ.

BY ROAD From the M1

Take J9 off the M1, follow the signs to Redbourn - Go past the Hertfordshire County Showground on your right - At the roundabout take the first exit (left) and follow the B487 until the next roundabout - At the roundabout take the first exit (left) onto the A1081, Rothamsted Research is signposted on your left


Harpenden is 28 mins by Train from London St Pancras (adjoined with London Kings Cross). Taxis are available on arrival at Harpenden station. Rothamsted Research is Approximately 10 minutes’ walk from the station, please follow directions below

PARKING - There is plenty of free parking at Rothamsted, please follow the signs for visitor’s car parking


We are confident that speakers booked for 2020 will soon be confirmed for 2021.

Jason Tarry
CEO UK & ROI, Tesco

Jason is responsible for all of Tesco’s businesses in the UK and ROI.

Jason joined Tesco in October 1990 on the graduate recruitment programme. He has held a number of positions in the UK and internationally across both food and non-food divisions. Jason became CEO for clothing across the Group in 2012, before being appointed as Chief Product Officer in January 2015. In July 2018, Jason was appointed to his current role of CEO, UK & ROI. Jason joined the Executive Committee on 1 January 2015.

Annette Thomas,
Chief executive, Guardian Media Group

Annette Thomas is chief executive of Guardian Media Group. Prior to joining GMG, she was chief executive of Web of Science Group where she successfully transformed the group and delivered rapid growth, leading it to list on the New York Stock Exchange as part of Clarivate Analytics.

In 2007-2015 Annette was the chief executive of Macmillan Publishers Ltd and then Macmillan Science and education, one of the world’s leading academic and consumer publishers, where she oversaw a significant period of growth and the merger between Macmillan and Springer Science and Business Media. While at Macmillan she also founded Digital Science, a pioneering startup incubator serving the academic research community.

Baroness Dido Harding
Chair of NHS Improvement

Dido became Chair of NHS Improvement on 30 October 2017. She is Deputy Chair of The Court of The Bank of England and Chair of the Bank’s Remuneration Committee.

She was Chief Executive of TalkTalk Telecom Group PLC from 2010 to May 2017. Prior to TalkTalk, Dido was Sainsbury's convenience director, having been appointed to Sainsbury's operating board in March 2008. Dido joined Sainsbury's from Tesco PLC where she held a variety of senior roles both in the UK and international businesses. Prior to this, she worked at Kingfisher plc and Thomas Cook Limited where she gained considerable retail experience. She has also served on the boards of The British Land Company PLC and Cheltenham Racecourse. She is a member of the UK National Holocaust Foundation Board, a trustee of MyAgro an African social enterprise and a Steward of the Jockey Club.

In August 2014 Dido was offered a Peerage and sits in the House of Lords as a Conservative Peer. She was appointed to the Economic Affairs Committee of the Lords in July 2017. Dido is married to politician John Penrose, has two children and in what spare time she has left is a jockey and racehorse owner.

Harriet Green OBE

Named one of Fortune's Most Powerful Women International in 2019, three passions have shaped Harriet Green’s journey as a business leader over the last three decades: solving complex business problems; creating environments of deep inclusion and building cultures that embrace lifelong learning and reinvention, including ensuring the new skills the world needs.

Not only has Harriet built new businesses within established global organisations, including IBM and Thomas Cook, she has led significant business and digital transformations across a variety of sectors including technology, logistics, travel and consumer, driving profitable growth and increasing shareholder value. And over her career she has worked in four continents and run companies in hundreds of different countries and unique cultures.

As a leader who believes that people should be able to bring their whole selves to work, for the last three consecutive years, Harriet has ranked Top 10 in the HERoes women role models lists. These recognise and celebrate company leaders who champion diversity and inclusion in business. Supported by the Financial Times in 2017/18 and Yahoo Finance in 2019, Harriet most recently ranked number 5 in the HERoes 100 Female Executives 2019 list for driving change to increase gender diversity in the workplace.

Sian Sutherland
Co-Founder, A Plastic Planet

Igniting social change, creating brands, campaigns and businesses with soul is Sian’s passion. Multi-award winner, including Female Marketer of the Year, CEW Achiever Award, Entrepreneur of the Year and British Inventor of the Year; Sian is a serial entrepreneur with a varied background in advertising, Michelin Star restaurants, film production and brand creation design agencies. Most recently she co-founded and ran Mama Mio, the first international pregnancy skincare brand.

In 2017, Sian and Frederikke Magnussen founded A Plastic Planet; a global social Impact movement with a single goal - to ignite and inspire the world to turn off the plastic tap. As entrepreneurs, they bring a different fresh pro-business approach to environmental issues. A Plastic Planet are highly vocal in representing the public's right for plastic free choice, working collaboratively with industry, retailers, Governments, legislators and the UN; to accelerate the pace of change at all levels.  Recognised in The 2019 Fast Company Awards and winners of International Campaign of the Year, A Plastic Planet also launched the Plastic Free Trust Mark for brands and the 'Working Towards Plastic Free' Commitment Mark for industry.  From hackathons for Unilever and WPP, lobbying for new laws banning plastic waste exports to the Plastic Free Aisle campaign, A Plastic Planet have created global impact in just 2 years.

Andrew Hawes
Managing Director, Newton

Andrew founded Newton in 2001, age 26, and has grown the firm at an average of 30% per year ever since. The business’s only asset is it’s people and all the growth has been achieved without external investment. Newton has achieved growth and success that less than one in 10,000 businesses achieve. He has built Newton on a belief in ‘fun, friendship and high performance’ and a relentless focus on ensuring Newton add value on every engagement. Newton work with organisations in the Grocery sector and beyond to design and implement large scale improvements to the way their operations perform, delivering 10’s or 100’s of million of pounds of savings and improving performance. He doesn’t believe in the traditional consulting model of clients paying for advice, ideas and reports and insists that Newton put 100% of their fees at risk on every programme, guaranteed against the implementation of results. Andrew has a unique perspective on both the leadership of large, complex organisations and growing and leading a professional services firm. Newton were awarded the ‘UK Best SME’ and ‘Enabler of the Year’ at the National Business Awards.

Wayne Hudson
Managing Director UK & Ireland, Birds Eye

Wayne was appointed as an Exec Member of Nomad Foods and Managing Director of Birds Eye UK & Ireland Limited in January 2016. In addition to his role in Nomad, Wayne sits on the Executive Committee of the FDF and is a Board Member of the BFFF.

Starting his career in Spillers Petfoods, he has built up over 35 years’ experience in the FMCG arena holding Senior Management positions in United Biscuits, Kerry Foods and prior to Birds Eye was Managing Director of Young’s Seafood - Frozen.

Hudson was attracted to Nomad by the ambition of its Founders and CEO Stefan Descheemaeker, as well as the opportunity to make his mark on a household brand that had seemingly lost its way (five years of decline with double digit sales decline in 2015).

After listening extensively to colleagues in the business, Hudson and his team began the turnaround process of addressing the performance of the Iconic Birds Eye Brand. With a new strategy in place and a laser focus on its core business, which drove significant improvements to quality, packaging and product-focussed advertising campaigns (replacing previous master brand advertising strategy), the Brand addressed its decline in 2016, achieved growth in 2017 and accelerated growth in 2018 driving not only positive momentum for the entire frozen category but significant Birds Eye Brand share gains.

In the second phase of the revised strategy, Hudson has set about transforming the business further with two significant acquisitions taking the business into new meal occasions with Goodfella’s Pizza (April 2018) and in Roast Dinners with Aunt Bessie’s (July 2018). These acquisitions, along with growth on the core Birds Eye Brand, have seen the Birds Eye business almost double in size under Hudson’s leadership.

Damian Hinds
Member of Parliament

Damian Hinds was first elected in 2010 as the MP for East Hampshire, and was re-elected in May 2015, June 2017, and again in December 2019. He is committed to working hard to support the many excellent East Hampshire businesses, charities and organisations.

In Parliament, Damian has served on the Education Select Committee, and chaired the All Party Parliamentary Groups for Social Mobility and for Credit Unions. His areas of interest include business, the economy, tackling disadvantage and widening opportunity.

In 2015 he was appointed Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, a role which he held until being appointed Minister for Employment in June 2016. Damian was appointed Secretary of State for Education in January 2018, a position he held for 18 months.

Damian’s degree is in politics, philosophy and economics. Before Parliament, he spent 18 years working in the pubs/brewing and hotel industries, in Britain and abroad.

Adam Leyland
Editor, The Grocer

Adam has been the editor of The Grocer since 2006. He’s an authority on a wide range of issues including product innovation and shopping trends. While Adam is a lifelong 'foodie' and 'winophile', he is also passionate about the social aspect of food and has successfully lobbied the government for funding to subsidise food waste redistribution through The Grocer’s award-winning Waste Not Want Not campaign. He has also championed the merits of a balanced diet and common sense in the ongoing debate about obesity.

Adam has picked up a string of awards including Editor of the Year at the British Society of Magazine Editors Awards in 2015 and 2009, BSME writer of the year (twice); BSME web editor of the year; BSME specialist team of the year and many more.

In a 30+-year career as a journalist and editor Adam has written for the UK’s leading national newspapers and several business publications, and has interviewed a wide variety of politicians, celebrities and senior business leaders, including Sir Paul McCartney, David Cameron and the press secretary to US President Bill Clinton.

Adam is married with a son and lives in London.

Anna Botting
Sky News Presenter

Award winning TV presenter, Anna Botting has covered many major events both from the studio and in the field since joining Sky News.

In 2007 she covered the disappearance of Madeleine McCann from Portugal and anchored Sky News' 'Inside Iraq' coverage live from Baghdad. She also interviewed disgraced actor Chris Langham in his first sit-down interview since his release from prison.

In 2006 she spent two weeks covering the Lebanon war live from Israel and in 2005 covered the death of Pope John Paul II from Poland and Rome.

Anna was on air in the studio for both the 'shock and awe' bombing of Baghdad and the invasion of Iraq by American forces in 2003. After covering the Kosovo conflict, she was broadcasting as Serbian leader Slobodan Milosovic was ousted from office.

Anna joined Sky as a reporter and during the 1997 election she shadowed Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown throughout his six week campaign.

In 2012 Anna was awarded the RTS Presenter of the Year award. She is only the second woman to ever be awarded such an accolade.

Our Host Jeremy Thompson,
Former Sky News presenter

Jeremy Thompson is one of the UK’s most experienced and acclaimed TV newsmen. A journalist for over 50 years, he’s worked for the BBC, ITN and Sky News reporting from every corner of the world. He ran bureaux in Asia, Africa and America, covering many of the most important news stories of our times, including Tiananmen Square, the election of Nelson Mandela, 9/11, two Gulf Wars, the Genocide in Rwanda and the Balkan Conflict.



"A unique event with a stellar list of speakers which appeal to a broad audience of students, to young managers and to leaders of businesses. The atmosphere is one of positivity and energy."

Ash Amirahmadi, MD, Arla Foods

“The presence of the young people made the day for me - it was so great to see how engaged they are and how confident they were in approaching me and other speakers. That’s a true testimony of the power of what you guys are doing at Working Options. I made some great contacts, was inspired by the young people and I would heartily recommend it to any business leader who wants to be on the pace.”

Andrew Thornton, Founder Thornton’s Budgens and Heart in Business

"An excellent day full of inspirational speakers from across sectors. The event was full which speaks for itself. Students, delegates and speakers alike learnt a lot with plenty of time also to network and share stories."

Fiona Ball, Head of Inspirational Business and Sky Ocean Rescue, Sky Group

"With inspirational speakers, entrepreneurs and those at the top of their game, the event prompts you to have a rethink about getting the best out of people, whether you’re in a leadership position or not."

Anna Botting, Sky News (Leadership Symposium Co-Presenter)

Supporting Working Options in Education & GroceryAid