Speaker abstracts


Adi Latif, Accessibility and Usability Consultant, AbilityNet
Bad design disables 

The move to digital holds a promise to remove many of the traditional barriers which would get in the way of disabled students learning and participating in education. However if Accessibility is not front and centre in IT strategy from process and system design, to procurement, new ‘digital’ barriers are created in their place, impacting the student experience.

Inclusive design creates a richer learning environment for everyone. With student expectations on the rise in terms of anticipatory approach to inclusion for them personally but also for their peers, Universities need to ensure they are living up to these expectations and the legal requirements associated with them. Adi Latif, Accessibility and Usability Consultant at AbilityNet will talk about his own experiences as a screenreader user and demonstrate some examples of good and bad design and the real life impact this has for users.  

Sarah Christen, Director of IT Infrastructure, Cornell University
Building Cloud Communities: A people centric view on a technological journey.

Since 2014, New York’s Cornell University has developed a highly effective cloud-first policy and retired 60% of on-premises systems. Now in 2020, Cornell University is upskilling its workforce in cloud operations, while learning to accommodate those preferring a legacy approach.  Sarah Christen, director of IT infrastructure at Cornell University explains their ambitious and disruptive cloud journey, including the many people-centric challenges around pace of change, recruitment, mixed skillsets and communicating up.

Rohit Talwar, Global Futurist Advisor
A very human future - enriching humanity in a digitised world

Exploring and explaining how individuals, organisations, and nations can take practical steps to survive and thrive in the face of accelerating technology penetration across every aspect of society.

The keynote sets out to provide positive ideas on how to address the issues we’ve been hearing about from politicians, businesses leaders, and individuals around the world. They share common concerns about humanity’s future in the face of artificial intelligence (AI) and digitisation. To address those concerns head on, we focus on five key themes in the book and keynote:

  • Exponential technologies - How might exponential technologies such as AI evolve over the next two decade and impact society, business, industry sectors, and government?
  • Future of work – What are the implications for the way work will be organised and executed and the outlook for jobs in the future?
  • People first - With powerful technological shifts reshaping our world and straining the old social fabric, how can we keep humanity at the centre of the story?
  • Policy priorities - What societal, political, and economic priorities are required, so that we avoid dehumanizing ourselves and future generations?
  • Enriching humanity - How can we harness intense technological bursts of possibility to bring about a better world for all its inhabitants?
The keynote presentation tackles these issues head on - exploring the driving forces of change and laying out a progress-oriented manifesto designed to steer us onto a sustainable path for all humanity. We set out practical ideas of how individuals, businesses, and governments can start preparing for the future today with a range of actions and experiments. These cut across every aspect of society from raising digital literacy and transforming education, through to investing in tomorrow’s sectors, enabling new businesses, supporting job creation, and revamping the tax system to fund the transition to a brighter future.



Nicky Moffat
Leadership is everyone's business

A company’s success is defined by its leaders. Whilst the executive team set the agenda, it’s the collective leadership capability of individuals at every level of the business, that can improve output, profitability and employee engagement, to give the company its competitive edge.
Whilst leadership styles should always be authentic and personal, individuals can hone impact and effectiveness by developing greater insight into the techniques and tools which can enable them to lead intuitively, with assurance - and by example - across a range of different scenarios. 
Good leadership involves inspiring and motivating others to achieve clear and realisable goals. Using her coaching and mentoring skills, alongside experience, knowledge and practical insight as a senior military leader, Nicky will share planning techniques and tools which defined her leadership as the most senior woman in the British Army.
Come prepared to engage, to reflect and to challenge yourself - to think about your personal style of leadership and that of others, and to reflect on how, by leading differently or better, you might more adeptly achieve your outputs.   
Expect to leave armed with practical techniques and tools that you can apply directly within your institution…better equipped to direct, motivate, inspire, empower and develop the teams and individuals for whom you’re responsible.


Student voice

New for 2020 and based on your feedback we have decided to bring the student voice to our leadership conference. In this session three students will share their very personal journeys and experiences of higher education and provide insight into the challenges they have faced and the obstacles they have overcome, demonstrating first- hand the transformational impact of higher education.

Abdi Hassan
Abdi's talk will focus on his journey to IT industry through education. Failing at school and college level, he secured university place in UCAS clearing at 2013. HE graduated with a BSc Honours Degree in Business Information Technology with Sandwich year from Leeds Beckett University and currently completing a master’s degree in IT Management at Sheffield Hallam University. However, the journey was difficult along the way from going through clearing to failing numerous times in undergraduate studies to finding placement year, whilst dealing and overcoming their studies with multiple disabilities during his time in higher education.

Penny Hindle
After studying Maths and Computing at A-Level, Penny went on to study Computer Science with Industrial Placement at the University of Leeds in 2015. Having taken a traditional route into tech, she has dedicated a lot of free time to encouraging those who may not have taken the same route to pursue a career in tech, through organisations such as Code First: Girls and STEM ambassadors. Her talk will be on her experiences as woman in a male dominated degree subject, and the importance of relatable role models. 

Terri-Anne Hamer
BA HONS in Young People, Communities and society at Leeds Beckett University As a care leaver with over 15 years’ experience volunteering in the third sector and fostering her younger brother as a kinship carer, she decided to apply for a degree and put all her lived and volunteering experience to some use. After taking a non-traditional route into higher education, using her experience to build her UCAS points, as a mature student and single mother of three, Terri-Anne has faced multiple systemic failures and contradictions in the systems in place that are implemented to support individuals to achieve their goals and become productive members of society. Despite all these odds Terri is now in her final few months of her degree and today will speak of the multiple challenges herself and many others in similar circumstances face on their journey through higher education.



Avril Chester, Founder & CEO, Cancer Central

Alex Denley, Director of Innovation & Transformation, London South Bank University
Bringing the Rollercoaster to the Classroom

Alex will discuss his transition from the visitor attraction industry to higher education, and how two what would seem very different industries, share more commonalities than you would expect. As he strives to deliver transformation via Innovative technologies, he will share his insight on gaining executive buy in and real time value add for students in his organisation.

John Doe
Bouncing back

We are living in uncertain times with increasing pressures to perform. Out guest speaker is no stranger to uncertainty and adversity. He was brought up in poverty, on the at-risk register before spending time with fosters families. At the age of 5 tragedy struck which sent him on a downward spiral. Growing up he experienced violence, substance abuse and domestic violence. He had thoughts of suicide as young as ten years old, left school with no qualification and ended up on a psychiatric ward aged 20. Soon after he was involved in criminality and the future looked bleak. But after a failed suicide pact he decided there had to be another way. He decided to turn his life around. He then wrote a No1 Bestselling book about his journey which sold close to 1/2 million copies. He’s now shared his story of transformation around the globe as far and wide as Iran, Germany, Canada, South Africa and few more in between. In this presentation he will share how we can all deal with the challenges we get in life but also how instrumental certain leaders have been in that process. We guarantee you will remember this presentation for years to come.