Business Leadership Forum


Forum at BBC Jan 2016


The Business Leadership Forum is organised by the NWBLT, and brings together representatives of large and small businesses, education and research institutions, and the public and voluntary sectors from throughout North West England, to debate issues of strategic importance to the well being of the region and its citizens.

Lancaster Uni Forum - small size

Forum members at Lancaster University – May 2015

Regular meetings take place throughout the year featuring a leading speaker or panel on a topic of broad interest or concern to our members, who are then provided with the opportunity to ask questions or make observations of their own in a relaxed and open environment.

Topics debated at past meetings have included Unilever’s future development plans,  the contribution of MediaCity to the North West’s economy, driving growth in manufacturing through innovation at Siemens and a debate with managers from the five North West LEPs.  Atlantic Gateway and Franchising are other example of the diverse topics that the Forum covers.  Tours have also taken place at Contact Theatre, Fab Labs and the BBC at MediaCityUK.

eaton hall 13-07-2015 1 (lower res)

Forum panelists at Eaton Hall – July 2015

“Feeding the Creative Spark” was the title of the Forum’s panel discussion which took place in the Wolf Room, Eaton Park, by kind permission of Their Graces the Duke and Duchess of Westminster.  Michael Oglesby, NWBLT member and Chairman of Bruntwood, commented “A city without arts at its heart is a dead city. It’s a city no-one wants to live in, invest in or visit. These days, everyone has to be a philanthropist and to give both money and time to support the cultural infrastructure which makes our cities tick.”  He was joined on the panel by Justin Kelly, Director of Strategy for Siemens Industry Sector; Paula Ridley CBE, Chair of Liverpool Biennial; and Julie Platt, Development Manager for Chester Performs (see pic below).

In addition to the highly stimulating “Feeding the Creative Spark” debate, those fortunate enough to attend NWBLT’s July Forum had the opportunity to see a short film entitled “Filaments – Tracing the Thread in the Cumbrian Landscape’. The “Filaments” film is a delightful representation of the creativity behind the art exhibition mounted by Jenny Ryrie RBSA, David Heke and Liz Ellis in Keswick, Cumbria, earlier this year – the official 2015 “Words by the Water” Literature Festival exhibition held at the Theatre by the Lake in Keswick.  The three North West based national and international artists also mounted an exhibition of their work at Eaton Park as part of the NWBLT’s Forum event.  The eight minute film can be seen here.


Forum panelists at Sci-Daresbury – Nov 2015

The last meeting of 2015 took place at Sci-Tech Daresbury in November and was a panel discussion called “Building up a Head of STEAM”.  To read more about the discussion please click through to a blog produced by an attendee at the event representing the Open Awards STEM or STEAM or is it just about skills? 1 - Open Awards Logo with statement hi resForum members the Open Awards’ core mission is to change the lives of learners, in partnership with their partnering education and training centers.  For more information see the Open Awards


Transport panel in July 2016 Trains including Dr Pete Waterman

The 2016 Forum programme has included a panel discussion at the BBC in MediaCityUK.  A focus on science at Alderley Park, Cheshire and Prof Michael IMG_6285Parkinson talking about the way forward for Liverpool at Liverpool Cathedral.  The meeting in July took place at the Virgin Trains Training Academy in Crewe and featured a panel discussion on Transport.

Annual membership of NWBLF is open to any individual or organisation with a bona fide interest in the well-being of the region, and currently costs £300 per annum. This entitles each member to attend all the monthly meetings, together with a colleague or guest if they wish. Summarised minutes of the meetings are published on the downloads page.

If you are interested in becoming a member of Business Leadership Forum please contact Geoffrey Piper or Ann Sollars on 01925 212078 or by e-mail to

Forum meeting dates for 2017 (5 for 5.30pm):-

Monday 15 May, STFC, Warrington (starting at 4pm with a tour)  – click through for more information

Tuesday 11 July, Lancaster University

Wednesday 13 September, Liverpool University

Comments about past Forum meetings:-

“Just to say how much I enjoyed last night’s event.  In our business we spend a lot of time discussing how we respond and get on in a world with the ever increasing pace of change.  Last night’s meeting really reiterated how that pace of change continues to accelerate.  It left me both scared and excited in equal measures!  I could not help but be impressed with what the BBC have done at Media City and the undoubted huge enthusiasm of their people.  It was truly inspiring.”  Kevin Crotty, Chief Financial Officer, Bruntwood

“Fabulous workshop with in the mighty Salford, courtesy of .Some seriously cool stuff heading your way citizens.” Tweeted by Tim Griggs

“Thoroughly enjoyed building up a head of STEAM debate. What next? Thanks  Tweeted by Esme Ward, Head of Learning and Engagement, the Whitworth and Manchester Museum

“Excellent event tonight at the stunning Eaton Park in Cheshire, discussing Arts & Business, and philanthropy. Interesting & inspiring”.  Tweeted by Nina Lockwood, Intuitive Interim & Executive Search 
“Great to hear more about at the @ event last night at United Utilities” .  Tweeted by Penta Hotels, Warrington
“Discovered @fablabmcr thanks to @NWBLT Forum.  Great place where people play with stuff, garner stuff, make things that could be manufactured”.   Tweeted by Jonti Dalal-Small
“Congratulations to the team on setting up the last Forum meeting at AZ. I thought the speakers and debate were excellent and contributed significantly to your emerging ‘thought leadership’ role”. Ian Ruff, Economic Strategy Consultant
“Fascinating to hear about Unilever’s approach to open innovation. True globalisation & leadership.” Tweeted by Steve Bennett, TransitionPlus
“How much I enjoyed yesterday’s Forum at ShopDirect. Mark Newton-Jones and his colleagues were truly inspirational and I was left with the impression of a firm that has strategic innovation at its heart, is totally connected with customers,  staff,  suppliers and the community and all in all is a great example of top class leadership”. Andrew Pal, Beyond Results

Forum Members

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Steve Bennett Managing Director TransitionPlus Ltd
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Rachel Birkbeck The British Council
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Edwin Booth Chairman E H Booth & Co


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Mike Callery Transport Consultant
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Paul Cammaerts Corporate Partnerships Royal National Institute of the Blind
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D Chapman NJSR Architects
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Ian Clowes Photographer


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Bill Derbyshire Environment Agency


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Luna Frank-Riley Director Matrix Management


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Ray Gridley Chief Officer Age Concern Manchester


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Tim Harrison
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Anna Heyes Managing Director Active Profile Ltd
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Mr Ray Howard Chief Executive Hillyer McKeown LLP
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Eric Hudson Senior Consultant Region Plus


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Mr Daniel John Head of New Client Development Marsh Ltd
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Emma Jones Director Redbrick Enterprises Ltd


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Jane Luca Manager, Regional Affairs ITV


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Paul Mawdsley Managing Director The Mawdsley Consultancy Ltd
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Fran McArthur
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G K Medlock OBE Transport Consultant