Inspiring Leadership
Conference 2017

7 – 9 June ICC, Birmingham


Keynote speakers

Each of our keynote speakers has their own style and story, but all will leave you buzzing with ideas to take back into the workplace.

We work hard to bring together the best of leadership from a diverse range of sectors and are pleased to announce the following keynotes and main session facilitator as part of our programme:

Sir Michael Barber is a leading authority on education systems and education reform. He was recently appointed as Chair of the Office for Students (OfS) - the proposed new regulator for Higher Education in England. Sir ​Michael will leave Pearson at the end of March 2017, where he has been Chief Education Advisor since 2011.

From 2011 to 2015 he was DfID’s Special Representative on Education in Pakistan which he has visited 50 times. With the Chief Minister of Punjab, he has led a radical education and health reform. 

Prior to Pearson, he was a Partner at McKinsey & Company and Head of McKinsey’s global education practice. He co-authored two major McKinsey education reports: How the world’s best-performing schools come out on top (2007) and How the world’s most improved school systems keep getting better (2010). 

He previously served the UK government as Head of the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit (from 2001-2005) and as Chief Adviser to the Secretary of State for Education on School Standards (from 1997-2001). Before joining government he was a professor at the Institute of Education at the University of London and long ago a secondary school teacher. 

In 2013 Sir Michael published The Good News from Pakistan, with Reform, about the major school reform in Punjab, Pakistan. He is also the author, with Katelyn Donnelly and Saad Rizvi of Oceans of Innovation (2012) and An Avalanche is Coming (2013), which explore the future of education in schools and universities respectively.

His most recent book, How to Run a Government (Penguin 2016) described in Standpoint as 'Excellent... there is a lot of common sense and practical wisdom… a breath of fresh air'

He is a visiting scholar at Harvard and an Honorary Doctor of Exeter University.

Sir Michael Barber will be joined by the following panel of guests:

  Roy Hodgson 

  English football manager and former player


 Anne Dickins MBE

 Paralympian, gold medalist, British paracanoeist


 Simon Timson

 Performance Director, British Tennis, Lawn Tennis Association


 Carolyn Roberts  

 Headteacher, Thomas Tallis School Greenwich


Fadumo Dayib has a remarkable story to tell. Her determination, courage and triumph in the face of adversity has inspired thousands. As a teenager with less than 5 years of primary and secondary school education, Fadumo persuaded her way onto one of the last planes leaving Mogadishu, Somalia when civil war erupted in the early 90’s. She led her siblings to settle in Finland and has never looked back.

In September 2014, she declared her ambitions to run for the Presidency of Somalia in the country’s first democratically-held election since 1967. While she calls herself a dreamer, history has show that important political and social change often begins with a dream and a vision for change.

Margaret Heffernan is an entrepreneur, chief executive and author. She writes books and blogs, teaches and mentors senior and chief executives, and has built and led organisations of all sizes. Born in Texas, raised in Holland and educated at Cambridge, Margaret started her career at the BBC working on radio documentaries and dramas and producing films for Timewatch, Arena, and Newsnight. After the BBC, she ran the independent producers’ trade association the IPPA,once described by the Financial Times as "the most formidable lobbying organisation in England."

Margaret returned to the US where she worked on public affairs campaigns and with software companies trying to break into the nascent multimedia area. She developed interactive multimedia products with Peter Lynch, Tom Peters, Standard & Poors and The Learning Company. She then joined software and consulting firm CMGI where she ran, bought and sold various leading internet businesses of the time. She was named one of the internet's Top 100 by Silicon Alley Reporter, and one of the Top 100 Media Executives by The HollywoodReporter.

Now an acclaimed business author, Margaret has published four books largely addressing the nature of effective leadership and challenging many of the assumptions and stereotypes that business has adopted. Her most successful book is Wilful Blindness in which she examines why we ignore the obvious and the implications of choosing to turn a blind eye to potential problems.

Follow Margaret on Twitter: @M_Heffernan

Alistair Smith is one of the UK's best known educational developers and trainers. He has worked with hundreds of Schools and Colleges and done so with energy, originality and insight.

He is less well known for his work in elite sport. Alistair has been the Designated Learning Consultant to the Football Association for seventeen years.In his time with the FA he has helped improve coaching provision from the grass roots to the highest levels of the professional game. Currently he works on the FA Leadership Programme. This has brought him into close contact with some of the FA partners including Sky Cycling, Mercedes Petronas, Les Miserables and Saatchi and Saatchi.

In his presentation on leadership Alistair will draw on his experience of working in and with elite performance.

Follow Alistair on Twitter: @alatalite

Drew Dudley, Founder and Chief Catalyst of Day One Leadership. His Ted talk was voted "one of the 15 most inspirational TED talks of all time" and TIME recently named the talk one of their "seven speeches that will make you a better leader".

Drew embraces the idea that "leadership cannot be taught, it can only be learned" and believes we routinely ignore a huge percentage of the leadership that exists around us. He aims to remedy this by helping individuals and organisations create "cultures of everyday leadership" through daily acts of generosity. His wildly popular TED talk called these everyday acts Lollipop Moments – a concept that has resonated with thousands of people around the world.

Follow Drew on Twitter: @DayOneDrew

Frank Gardner OBE is the BBC’s fulltime security correspondent reporting for TV and radio on issues of both domestic and international security, notably on Al Qaeda related terrorism.

He was awarded an OBE in June 2005 for services to journalism and released his first book ‘Blood and Sand’ in May 2006 which reached number three in the Sunday Times Bestseller List.

Frank’s fascination with the Middle East began as a teenager when he had a chance meeting with Wilfrid Thesiger (who extensively travelled and photographed the Middle East). A fluent Arabist with a degree in Arabic and Islamic studies from Exeter University; Frank spent nine years as an investment banker in New York, London and Bahrain before switching to journalism and becoming the BBC’s Middle East correspondent based in Cairo. He has reported extensively on the so-called ‘War on Terror’ in Guantanamo Bay, Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East.  In 2004 he survived being shot six times at close range by Al Qaeda terrorists in the Riyadh suburb, Saudi Arabia. After many months in hospital he returned to the BBC to resume his job.

Frank draws on his experiences as a security correspondent to offer audiences remarkable accounts of his time in the Middle East.  Having witnessed some truly terrifying situations his determination to return to his full and active life makes his story both fascinating and inspirational.

Follow Frank on Twitter: @FrankRGardner

James Kerr, bestselling author, speaker and business consultant specialising in defining, designing and delivering change for leaders of world-class teams and organisations.

In James’ latest book, Legacy, he reveals 15 leadership lessons from the All Blacks, the world’s most successful sporting team. His key message is that “higher purpose leads to higher performance” and that successful changes begins with a values-based, vision-led purpose driven mindset – and ends without it.

Pasi Sahlberg is a Finnish educator, author and scholar. He has worked as schoolteacher, teacher educator, researcher and policy advisor in Finland and has examined education systems around the world.

His expertise includes school improvement, international education issues, classroom teaching and learning, teacher education, and school leadership. He is the author of best-seller book "Finnish Lessons 2.0: What can the world learn from educational change in Finland" (Teachers College Press, 2015) and numerous professional articles and book chapters. He is former Director General of CIMO (Centre for International Mobility and Cooperation) at the Finland’s Ministry of Education and Culture in Helsinki and a visiting Professor of Practice at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education in Cambridge, MA, USA.

He is currently a visiting scholar at Arizona State University.

Follow Pasi on Twitter: @pasi_sahlberg

Steve Munby is CEO of Education Development Trust, an international organisation that transforms lives by improving education around the world.

Working with governments at national and regional level to improve education systems, and with school clusters to raise standards, Steve manages a workforce across India, the Middle East, South East Asia, Africa, and the UK.  Education Development Trust is a not-for-profit values-driven company, and its commitment is to sustainable, high quality self-improving education systems.

Steve has been a regular speaker at Inspiring Leadership, with his keynote speeches much anticipated. Even though we are part of his organisation, we are still keenly looking forward to this year’s speech. Steve’s speeches are always delivered from a point of view of great practical experience as well as deep thought about the issues that make a difference.

Follow Steve on Twitter: @steve_munby

Will Gompertz is a world expert on Modern Art and was voted one of the World’s Top 50 Creative Thinkers by New York’s Creativity Magazine.

Will's new book "Think Like an Artist: Imaginative Ways to a More Creative and Productive Life" was released by Penguin in July 2015. A witty and inspiring read, it identifies ten lessons to be learned from the greatest artists across history, to give us tools to unlock creativity and thrive at work and in our personal lives.

As a writer he has penned numerous articles for, among others, The Times and The Guardian. His book, “What are you Looking At? 50 Years of Modern Art in the Blink of an Eye”, was published by Penguin in Autumn 2012.

Will was previously a Director of The Tate Gallery and in 2009 he wrote and performed a sell-out one-man comedy show about modern art at the Edinburgh Festival. He is currently BBC Arts Editor.

“Will Gompertz is the best teacher you never had” – The Guardian

Follow Will on Twitter: @WillGompertzBBC

Introducing our keynote facilitator

Jane Creasy brings experience of educational leadership at both the local and national level. She works with leaders across public, private and third sectors on leadership; on innovation and improvement; and on strategic development.

Formerly an Operational Director at the National College for School Leadership for five years and a successful headteacher for ten years, she has led the design and delivery of some major leadership programmes for educational leaders.

Jane is also a senior associate of the Innovation Unit and an associate with the Education Development Trust.

"The conference makes me evaluate and look within myself, challenge my own thinking and often reaffirms my own inner beliefs."

2016 delegate