Previous Judges

Head judges

Arianne Donoghue | Founder

A veteran of 14 years’ experience in the industry, Arianne has worked for some of the UK best-known agencies and most-loved brands. She's passionate about helping teams and businesses do the best work they can, through driving strategy, integration and inclusion. Arianne now runs her own small consultancy where she helps agencies and brands maximise their potential.

Paul Marks | Founder | Healthy Returns

Paul has 18 years in talent strategy, culture creation and organisational health, working with businesses that invest in wellbeing of their people to build happy, healthy and purpose-led cultures. He is the Founder & CEO of Healthy Returns, working with founders and entrepreneurs to build their mental resilience, and the Co-Founder & Chief Wellbeing Officer of Healthy R Communications, an internal communications agency working with ambitious companies to create workplaces that allow their employees to be comfortable bringing their true selves to work. A TEDx speaker talking about mental and emotional resilience, Paul is active in the mental health community, and is most likely to be found moderating, speaking and sharing his knowledge at conferences, workshops and on podcasts.

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Gellan Watt | Advisor, Creative and Entrepreneur.

Gellan Watt is an agency entrepreneur turned Consultant, Advisor, and Investor. In 2003, he founded his first creative and brand agency, that went on to became UK Top Ten Agency (The Drum + RAR) and Marketing Industry UK Agency of The Year. Merging that business with Emerge Group, Gellan became Group Managing Director and Chief Creative Officer scaling the business with his partners to £60m revenue, before successfully exiting in 2016. Today, Gellan consults and advises startups, brands and agencies on growth, culture, innovation and creative strategy. He has also held a global board roles with agency network AMIN Worldwide and is currently on the Board of the Alliance of Independent Agencies, as Creative Chair. Gellan works as a mentor with a focus on BAME entrepreneurs and early-career marketers. He is an activist for all things Wellness and Mental Health in the workplace. His accolades include: Marketing Industry MD of the Year, Top 100 Growth Marketers, RAR Best in Strategy and Effectiveness, Media’s Top 15 Power Faces, Marketing Power 100, he has been named One of the World’s Top Brand Strategists and has won over 100 Creative Awards.


Jenny Abouobaia | Co-founder and SEO Director | Clever Touch Marketing

Jenny is an experienced and highly accomplished SEO consultant and mentor. Jenny's specialty within search falls in affiliate SEO, with years of expertise in both building and managing six-figure affiliate niche sites for clients worldwide, with a focus in the APAC region. She is also the Co-founder of Clever Touch Marketing a leading agency based in the MENA region that specializes in the development and production of SEO content. Jenny is a strong advocate for women in SEO. Her agency was founded with the goal of offering more opportunities and long-term, steady employment for women. This is still true today, with over 80% of her staff and her entire management team being exclusively female. She is an active member of multiple female-positive SEO communities including Women in Tech SEO and Sisters in SEO. Most recently, while still managing her agency and actively performing client work, Jenny has built a mentoring and consulting program specifically for budding female SEOs, where she looks to support as many women as possible as they start their careers within the industry.

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greg Allum

Samantha Bedford | Digital Innovation Leader

Sam has worked in digital for over 20 years in both the UK and US. She was the first UK Managing Director of growing the business to become the household name we know today. At Vodafone she pioneered the growth of ecommerce and digital self-service. More recently Sam was responsible for innovation and new ways of working at Virgin Money. She developed an in-house accelerator that upskilled colleagues for digital and delivered ground-breaking and award-winning commercial partnerships. Sam is a bold, transformational, and forward thinking leader. She’s a mindfulness teacher, training with the Mindfulness Association and is studying an MSc in Mindfulness and Compassion at the University of Aberdeen where she’s exploring leadership and innovation and is now advocating compassionate leadership. Sam's on the board of Scotland Women in Technology and Close the Gap and advises a Digital Health company on their growth strategy.

Deborah Brown | Director | Grey Dove Limited

Deborah has been working with organizations in the field of business change and its impact on people and culture. Delivering on assignments across a variety of sectors her approach is always commercial with a blend of considered strategy and effective implementation. With a deep understanding of Financial Services, Deborah has worked in Banking, Asset Management and Fintech. Other sectors include Manufacturing, Energy, Social Enterprise and Mining. Her work focuses on three distinct but connected areas, firstly Business Change where she seeks to understand how a client business works, what the definable stages of the change might be and their impact. Secondly, People Change, working with clients to examine current skills, capabilities, knowledge and behaviours and what is needed to ‘move the dial’ for the organisation. Thirdly, Culture Change, partnering with clients to develop a credible model that is built on shared values, underpinned by a strong communications strategy and operational plan. Deborah gained a postgraduate degree from the University of Leicester in Human Resource Management & Training. Grey Dove Limited is a small consultancy set up in 2008, with a track record of successful projects and the capability to flex a network of partners and local contacts in cities around the world.

Danny Denhard | Founder | Focus

Danny has two decades of experience helping to operationalise and grow businesses of all sizes. Danny has led Product, Growth and Marketing Departments. Danny has helped to shape and develop a number of successful companies, taking startups through hyper growth to maturing agencies offerings, through to IPO and working in leadership positions in global listed brands. Danny is now on a mission to fix the broken world of work with his consultancy Focus, bringing back clarity and company focus to the business world through improving Company Culture and aligning the company strategy and business performance. Danny coaches and mentors Directors to C-suite Level execs on operational health, improving company performance and developing the next generation of leaders.

Collette Easton | Founder | EQAI Ltd

20 years agency experience: early employed, co-founder and founder. I have started, grown and developed digital agency businesses both organically and operated within Venture Capital. Commercially experienced in pricing, revenue alignment & management; sales and marketing strategic development, forecasting, goals and objectives and crucially help drive people strategy to fit growth and development plans. The strength and performance within a business, is directly related to engaged, happy people who truly understand their purpose.

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David Ellis | Consultant

David helps organisations with their strategic people issues, particularly during periods of disruption or transformation. He has built and led consulting businesses, latterly as a Big Four partner, for over 25 years. His deep expertise lies in the creation of reward and broader people strategy to support business success. He has a particular interest in the role of wellbeing strategies in a modern employee value proposition and the move away from generic benefits policies to a focus on delivering wellbeing to support an organisation's purpose, culture and values. He is currently building his own (new) consulting business focused on helping his clients with their people agenda relating to reward, performance and wellbeing.

Gemma Ellison | Jackson Lees

Lyndsey Evans | Founder | Collaborative Folks

Lyndsey runs the PR & communications freelance network, Collaborative Folks, which she launched after 20 years working both in house and in agency across public relations and content marketing. Prior to this she was Group Head of PR and Communications at, where she worked with the Group Executive team to redefine the corporate mission, vision and values, defining the company’s global employer brand, putting compelling storytelling at the heart of the business' people story. As a result, AO World CEO, John Roberts, was ranked 9th in Glassdoor’s Highest Rated CEOs 2016 and 7th in Management Today’s Top 100 Entrepreneurs 2014 and AO was named Best Employer at the 2015 Retail Week Awards, Glassdoor’s Best Retailer to Work for 2016, Glassdoor Best Company to Work for 2015 and a Sunday Times No.4 Best Mid-Sized Company to Work For in 2013/2014. More recently, as a freelance PR consultant, Lyndsey has undertaken internal communications and culture exercises for CarFinance 247, who wanted to stand out in a highly competitive recruitment market. She has also consulted for several UK franchise businesses on strategies to keep franchisee stakeholders on brand, on culture and engaged.

Catherine Hayes | Managing Partner | Transition Dynamics

Catherine Hayes is a Managing Partner at Transition Dynamics a consultancy that specialises in culture transformations and supporting organisations to build resilient, sustainable infrastructures and Transition Leadership capabilities. Catherine has over 20 years experience in supporting leaders and their organisations to navigate their change and transformation challenges to deliver tangible results. She combines her business experience with applied research in organisational and clinical psychology, to create diagnostic approaches and practices that support leaders and their organisations to design and navigate complex transformations. Author of Transition Leadership – Navigating the Complexities of Organisational Change, she also runs the Exec MBA Transition Leadership Series at Cass Business School.

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Colleen Horne | Leadership coach, multi award winning culture builder, human side of business consultant

I have been working in the field of people and culture transformation for over 20 years with experience in a diverse set of global industries from retail to utilies, service organisations and the financial industry. From my earlier management career in the service-led world of hospitality and retail through to my later roles in Learning & Development, facilitation and team/leadership consultancy, I gained not only a sound commercial and service background at the sharp end of business, but also a deep understanding of the power of culture and workforce engagement. From 1:1 exec coaching to full organisation culture programme’s my passion for people and change has only grown as I have witnessed what’s possible with and through people.

Hayley James | Assistant Director – Comms, Engagement and Campaigns

Hayley has spend her career working in a variety of in-house public relations teams across both public and private sector. She’s currently Assistant Director of Communications, Engagement and Campaigns at Greater Manchester Combined Authority where she oversees teams supporting a range of operational and policy areas for the city region. She is a Chartered CIPR practitioner and became a Fellow last year. She is also a Board Director of CIPR.


John leads Beever and Struthers' Corporate Team, having been made a Partner in 1999. Beever and Struthers is an award-winning firm of Chartered Accountants and Business Advisors in Manchester, Blackburn and London, and currently rank in the Top 50 firms nationally and Top 10 firms in the North West. John is a local council member of Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce and has been co-opted to the Partnership Steering Group of the Business Growth Hub. He was Chairman of Pro-Manchester from 2014 - 2015.

Clare Kenny | Employee Wellbeing Coach

Clare Kenny specialises in helping organisations build healthy and productive workplace cultures. As an experienced employee wellbeing specialist, she works with businesses of all sizes, helping them develop and embed wellbeing strategies that lead to happier, healthier and more engaged employees. Clare’s passion for employee wellbeing stems from a background in people management spanning more than a decade. Before becoming an employee wellbeing specialist, she worked in a number of senior management roles, heading up teams within global organisations and priding herself on being a committed and caring manager and leader. In 2017, whilst heading up client operations for a global leadership consultancy, Clare became an AoEC qualified executive coach and from there made the move to wellbeing specialist - helping businesses put their people first so that they feel engaged and supported to do their best work. When she isn’t working, Clare is busy looking after her brood, which includes her young daughter and five pets.

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Dr Amna Khan | Senior Lecturer | Manchester Metropolitan University Business School

Amna is a Senior Lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University Business School. Amna contributes to the academic discipline of consumer behaviour and retailing, and her work is published in leading academic journals. She is an invited public speaker who conveys complex idea with simplicity that engage and inspire audiences. She regularly contributes to international, national and regional media, and has provided comment for BBC, ITV, Channel 5 and The Conversation. She is an invited keynote speaker at international conferences and a panellist for corporate events. Amna has worked on a number of projects that aim to widen participation of ethnic minorities and increase equality, diversity and inclusion. She has worked on projects to inspire and encourage participation of BAME communities and females with Higher Education. She is also a steering committee member of the MMU Faculty of Business and Law Progression and Award gap, a group that aims to increase degree outcomes of students from ethnic backgrounds.

Sarah Knight | Owner | Mind The Gap Academy; Mash Communications

Sarah Knight is a specialist communications trainer, leadership and management coach with a passion for wellbeing. Sarah has spent the best part of the last 25 years working in agencies and businesses building teams, developing staff and helping people reach their potential. Mind The Gap is her training academy providing a range of different training programmes suited to different levels of experience and expertise - all based on up-skilling staff, business owners, freelance consultants and also helping in-house marketing teams develop and learn. Her business consultancy Mash Communications provides strategic business advice for clients throughout the UK. Her C.A.R.E in Comms framework has been designed for businesses, for freelancers and consultants, for individuals to help them look after themselves while managing, running and working in these crazy COVID times. Sarah provides hands on, practical tailored training that empowers individuals and helps them develop their own personal styles. She also works as a wellbeing and life coach for a number of clients helping build and develop a healthier and happier workplace (with some fun and possible swearing thrown in). Her training programmes range from 1:1 coaching and development to group workshops to know how sessions bringing added value to teams. Sarah is also a mentor for Tech Manchester’s business mentor programme for early stage technology companies. Paying it forward to help Manchester’s next generation of tech entrepreneurs, this involves working with start-up companies for 12 months to help support them as they develop their business idea to launch.

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Anastasia Kynighou | Senior Lecturer in Human Resource Management | Department of People and Performance, Manchester Metropolitan University

Anastasia Kynighou is a Senior Lecturer in Human Resource Management at the Department of People and Performance, Manchester Metropolitan University (UK). She is a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (MCIPD) and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA). She is the Academic Lead for Global Online Programmes for the MMU Faculty of Business and Law, the Programme Leader for the Global Online M.Sc. in International HRM and a Certified Online Facilitator by the European Foundation for Management Development. Her PhD, from Alliance Manchester Business School (AMBS), focused on International HRM. She has taught in a number of different countries such as USA, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Brazil, Poland, UAE and Cyprus. She is a co-author on the widely used “HRM at Work: A definitive guide” textbook and has published papers in well-regarded academic journals in HRM, and contributed case studies to internationally-oriented edited books and has presented a number of papers at international academic conferences.

Maria Mander | Health & Wellbeing Advisor | The Growth Company

Maria Mander is Health & Wellbeing Advisor at The Growth Company. She provides specialist advice on the Skills For Growth Programme supporting SME’s across Greater Manchester to develop a thriving workforce with healthy, productive, engaged and happy employees. For the last 3 years, Maria ran her own company providing Wellbeing Consultancy to SME’s and corporate companies (both private and public sectors) across the UK. She was an award winner on the NatWest Entrepreneur Accelerator Programme in recognition of her outstanding commitment. Maria’s corporate background has given a valuable insight into the impact the working environment can have on our health and wellbeing, and ultimately on professional performance. Maria has extensive knowledge of many established approaches to wellbeing and brings a fresh holistic approach. She is a renowned expert on managing stress, mental health and the performance of teams using wellbeing, and applies techniques gained from being a Health Coach, an accredited Mindfulness & Meditation Tutor and Reiki Master Practitioner. Maria is passionate about inspiring others to make positive changes in their lives, both personally and professionally. Her insights are regularly seen through her writing, podcasts and speaking engagements at events. She develops strong partnerships with her clients who like her down-to-earth, friendly and supportive approach.

Sam McVaigh | Assistant Director of HR & OD | Manchester Metropolitan University

Sam is Assistant Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development at Manchester Metropolitan University with responsibility for a range of specialist functions supporting the University’s 5,000 staff. This includes learning and organisational development, employee engagement, equality and diversity, workforce analytics and academic development. Prior to this, Sam spent 12 years at Manchester City Council, the latter part of which as Head of Workforce Strategy, having previously held operational delivery and leadership roles in a range of areas of the Council including Performance Management and Civil Contingencies. Helping to shape organisational culture and drive strengthened approaches to employee engagement and inclusion have been core areas of focus for Sam across his career. Sam has a First Class degree in History and Politics from Manchester University and a Masters in Public Administration from Manchester Business School, is an Associate Member of the CIPD and a graduate of the Public Sector People Managers' Association Peer into the Future programme.

Alexandra Morris | Managing Director | Makeurmove

Alexandra is 36-years old and has led her national PropTech company, MakeUrMove, through a series of innovative changes by adopting and embracing advances in technology. She started as the first employee of MakeUrMove in 2008, initially as customer service advisor before progressing to Operations Director and finally, Managing Director in June 2017. Alex joined the board of MakeUrMove aged just 24 and has risen through the ranks to shape the future direction of the technology platform, with only basic computer skills in the beginning she set her mind to understanding software and web development and how it can be utilised to build award winning solutions and deliver outstanding service. In February 2020 she was announced as the Tech Entrepreneur of the Year 2020 in recognition of her work at MakeUrMove and the wider industry. Alex’s experience as a woman in business, and in particular in the property and tech industries, shape her ethos today. She’s proud to have grown a business organically and to have led the growth and development on a digital first basis, something which is paying off as MakeUrMove is able to adapt quickly by offering a leading in-house built software and removing dependency on outside parties, unlike their competitors. Alex is a Member of the ARLA Propertymark (MARLA). She is passionate about giving back and mentors a number of local businesses and students in Manchester with a strong focus on promoting the industry to more women, paving the way for a stronger and more diverse future. Spare time is spent with family, embracing a life-work balance raising three children is a key priority and she enjoys long walks with them and the family dogs at the weekend. She is also studying part time with the Open University for a law degree with just one year to go and is aiming for an ambitious first class honours.

Yulia O'Mahony | Health, Wellbeing, Inclusion Leader, Speaker & Panelist

Yulia O’Mahony believes that individuals’ wellbeing and open, trusting culture are crucial for sustainable high performance of any team. She partners with organisations who share this belief to help them foster teams’ cohesion and connection, improve people’s wellbeing and thus achieve better business results and higher engagement. Previously, she become the John Lewis Partnership’s first ever Head of Wellbeing and D&I in 2017. In this role, she crafted a new aspirational vision for culture of wellbeing and inclusion and developed a strategy to realise it, collaborating with JLP’s senior leaders. She piloted and rolled out several innovative solutions, working with Samaritans, Unmind, Wellcome Trust and others. Yulia has a wealth of experience in strategy, operations, and finance, having worked for leading consulting firms in UK, USA, Europe and Russia, as well as holding commercial leadership roles in John Lewis Partnership. She holds an MBA from Harvard Business School, PG Certificate in Psychology and Neuroscience of Mental Health from King’s College London, and MA in computer science from Moscow State Academy of Management.

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Erin Portsmouth | Director of Corporate Affairs | Oldham Cares

Erin is a Chartered public relations practitioner who started her career in private sector marketing and communications consultancies, but for the past eleven years has worked in the National Health Service. She is currently Director of Corporate Affairs at NHS Oldham Clinical Commissioning Group where she oversees a portfolio including communications, engagement, public affairs, equality and diversity, organisational development and governance. She has a Masters degree in public relations, and served on the Chartered Institute of Public Relations North West Group Committee as a volunteer for ten years, also holding a three year term as Chair. She was appointed to the Board of Trustees of homelessness charity Emmaus Salford in 2017.

John Quinton-Barber | Founder and Group CEO, | Social

John is a versatile communicator and has had over 25 years’ experience of working with some of the biggest names in the UK. He set up Social eight years ago with intention of transforming communications in the housing, place-making, regeneration and infrastructure by adopting a creative, intelligent approach. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a graduate of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses programme, John is focused on running a successful business that has good governance in place and that has a positive impact on society. John has managed the media for a range of organisations including central government, major retailers; private developers and housing associations. His proven track record in winning hearts and minds includes devising and delivering sensitive, sometimes controversial communications plans for clients.

Phil Rogerson | Culture and brand expert

Phil has worked with some of the world’s iconic brands helping to shape their future. He’s passionate about helping people and businesses to embrace change, develop a positive mindset, and create inclusive environments that enable individuals to thrive and flourish. A pioneer in the field of helping people to optimise their potential and bounce back stronger and more confidently from setbacks and adversity, he’s created wellbeing apps and development programmes that combine the most effective insights from the worlds of behavioural psychology, personal development, business analysis, and sports psychology. Phil recognises a rare opportunity that can be seized as we endure the pandemic: “Creating the right workplace culture has never been more important than it is now, as we increasingly work remotely and change our practices to cope with the evolving commercial landscape. There has never been a more meaningful opportunity to address workplace inequalities and align our values. To redesign our wellbeing programs and create new HR practices. Through the challenges we face now, we have a profound opportunity to redesign not just workplace culture, but define a new, vibrant culture overall.”

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Griff Round | Course Director for Marketing programmes | Keele Business School

Griff is Course Director for Marketing programmes at Keele Business School. He holds a doctorate in Branding from Manchester Business School and has published in leading academic journals, together with publications such as The Conversation, Manchester Evening News and Metro. Prior to joining academia he held senior management roles in retailing and financial services. He is probably the only member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing who is also a qualified accountant!

Stephen Seymour

Gemma Shambler | Head Of People | The Happiness Index

As Head of People at The Happiness Index, Gemma is responsible for the happiness and wellbeing of the businesses most valuable assets-it's people! Her passion for developing and growing people led her into the weird and wonderful world of HR, and she hasn't looked back since. Gemma started her HR journey almost 10 years ago in the marketing & technology industry and in her previous role saw her aid the growth and scale the business from 30 UK based firm to a headcount of 120+ across Europe. Gemma is an advocate for flexible working and being a working mum herself, has the first-hand experience of its benefits.

Carolyn Shelby | Director of Search Engine Optimisation | Tribune Publishing

Dr Jane Tonge | Founder | BOOST Communications & Training Ltd |

Dr Jane Tonge is the founder of BOOST Communications & Training Ltd., a marketing communications consultancy aimed at small businesses in the healthcare, outdoor and fitness sectors, as well as professional services. Jane has a PhD in Business and Management, focusing on business networks and networking, and a Master’s Degree in Public Relations. She also gained a History Degree at Cambridge University. Before founding BOOST, Jane was a Senior Lecturer in Marketing Communications at Manchester Metropolitan University Business School, a Lecturer for the Chartered Institute of Public Relations Diploma, and a Senior Examiner for the Chartered Institute of Marketing. Jane combines academic expertise with hands-on experience as a communications practitioner, having worked in public relations and marketing roles in private organisations, the public sector and PR agencies. Through BOOST, Jane provides business development, marketing communications, network training, and research to inform action. She has published in academic journals and books, and presented her research at UK and international conferences.

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