Simon Woodroffe OBE – Inspirational Speaker. www.yo.co.uk 


Simon left school at the age of 16 and spent 30 years in the entertainment business designing and staging concerts for many artists including The Moody Blues, Madness, Rod Stewart, Stevie Wonder and George Michael.

In the 90s, Simon went into television spearheading the development of television deals to show huge international rock concerts worldwide, including Nelson Mandela and Amnesty International concerts and the Prince's Trust concerts.

In 1997, Simon founded YO! Sushi, a conveyor belt sushi bar.  The concept turned eating into a complete entertainment experience featuring call buttons; robot drinks trolleys and Japanese TV.  The first restaurant opened on London's Poland Street and became an overnight phenomenon.  Today, YO! Sushi continues to expand both at home and abroad operating in 70 countries and serving over 5 million customers each year.

In 1999 Simon won the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award.  In 2001 he was awarded the accolade of Best Venue at the Retailer of the Year Awards.  In recognition for his contribution to hospitality, Simon was awarded an OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours list 2006.

Simon was an original “Dragon” on BBC 2’s worldwide hit programme Dragons' Den making (and breaking) the dreams of would-be entrepreneurs pitching business ideas for financing.  Simon has also featured on numerous television shows including: Discovery TV's VIP Weekends with Ian Wright, ITV's Homes Property and ITV's The Millionaire's Club.

As a result of his entrepreneurial success, Simon has developed a strong reputation on the worldwide public speaking circuit.  Simon speaks openly avoiding business cliché and audiences find his story extremely inspiring and a catalyst for their own endeavours, be they in a large corporate setting or working at a start-up level.

Simon continues to develop new YO! Brands.  YOTEL, Simon’s solution to boring and expensive hotels opened in 2007 and in Summer 2011 celebrated the launch of a 669 bedroom site in central New York.  A 600 room YOTEL opens in Singapore in 2018.  YO! Home: Simon’s re-invention of the city apartment launched at London’s 100% Design in 2012 and the first development is likely to launch in Manchester during 2015.  YO! Zone: a spa concept is bubbling away in the future.

David Gibson OBE – Keynote Speaker

David is a highly successful entrepreneur and educator who has run and founded 20 companies and become a world leader in enterprise education helping institutions and students achieve success by developing enterprise skills and seizing opportunities to exploit research and educational innovations on an international basis.

Originally an Accountant and small business owner, he is best known for his outstanding success in enterprise education where he led Queens University Belfast to the Times Higher Award of  “UK Entrepreneurial  University of the Year 2009”.  He has won 15 further awards, 2 two further Times Higher Awards including one for the best support programme for researchers awarded by Vitae.  In 2011 he was awarded the “Most Innovative Educator in the UK” award from the Higher Education Academy and was named the number one enterprise educator in the world.  In 2012 he was awarded the OBE - the first ever for enterprise education.

At present he is Visiting Professor of Entrepreneurship at the University of Sunderland, Visiting Professor of Innovation and Enterprise Education at the University of Derby and works on an international basis with individuals and institutions to exploit their innovative capacity.  He is the best-selling author of “The E-Factor” and “The Streetwise Guide to Starting Your Own Business”.  His new book “Postgraduate Research into Enterprise” is published today!

Olivia Stefanino – Keynote Speaker

Olivia is the creator of the new “Praise” business success system and author of the internationally acclaimed management book, “Be Your Own Guru – personal and business enlightenment in just 3 days!”  As well as running leadership and sales motivation programmes to organisations around the country under the “Be Your Own Guru” umbrella, Olivia has also worked with a wide variety of clients – helping them with the sales, marketing and promotional activities.

A former journalist and editor of two business magazines in the 1990s – during which time she interviewed such visionaries as Sir Richard Branson – Olivia was able to witness first hand why some businesses thrived while others withered.  She has also been interviewed on more than 80 radio programmes, featured in “The Guardian”, the “Financial Times”, “Red”, “Natural Health” and “Yoga Magazine” – and continues to be a regular contributor to a number of on and offline publications around the world.

Alistair Macdonald – the Event Host & Workshop Facilitator

Alistair is unashamedly a poacher turned gamekeeper. For more than 20 years he has passionately promoted better communication skills in business after a first career as a broadcaster. He has trained directors and senior management from 27 countries on five continents. Alistair’s entire working life has been devoted to good communication. He was an award-winning BBC TV reporter and producer with extensive experience in UK and overseas before setting up his specialist training company.

After standing in front of television and conference audiences for more than 25 years he now passes on the secrets of successful presentations to directors in the private, public, charitable and voluntary sectors. Alistair is an informative and entertaining speaker who has enthralled audiences up to 1,000-strong. He was a founder of the Professional Speaking Association in the North West. Alistair’s passion is mountains and exploration. He has taken tea with Tuareg tribesmen beyond Timbuktu, tangled with Tibetan bandits in Nepal and swum in piranha-infested swamps deep in the Amazon jungle. He’s also climbed to over 23,000ft on Mt Everest.

Fiona Christie – Workshop Facilitator

Fiona is a careers consultant and educator with experience of working with thousands of individuals mainly in higher education, but also in secondary and further education. She has wide-ranging expertise of coaching, guidance, writing, teaching and training and has held specialist responsibility for researcher and postgraduate career development.  She is also a PhD student, researching higher education with interests in professionalism, employability, social mobility and career development.

Durham Grigg – Workshop Facilitator

Consulting Intellectual Property Specialist.  Post-graduate specialist Negotiator and Mediator.  30 plus years’ experience in practice, in Australia and the UK.  Extensive international IP and technology law transactional and contentious work with clients ranging from micro-start- ups to major global corporations across a broad range of industry sectors including, defence, banking, insurance, media and broadcasting, creative and performing arts, water, waste and environment, energy, biotechnology/pharma and transport.

Legal practice admission and rights in both Australia and the UK/EU and active provision of business IP Asset management.  Current focus on IP Management & Exploitation support including, Negotiation of IP elements in national and international legal commercial transactions, Mediation of IP disputes, and the evaluation and Valuation of corporate and public sector body Intellectual Property assets.

Maggie Ford – Workshop Facilitator  

Maggie was trained at RADA and spent many years as an actor working in theatre and television. She then concentrated on directing and did several episodes of East Enders, Doctors as well as writing and directing her own film and theatre productions.  She has also taught and directed in several major drama schools.  Her Speaking and Presentation Skills has led her to working with a wide variety of clients including Lincolnshire County Council Tourism, major firms of solicitors and in the last 2 years, extensive work with PhD graduates at the University of Manchester.

Nickala Torkington – Workshop Facilitator

Nickala has over 12 years experience of Social Enterprise having designed, resourced and operationally delivered social enterprises including cafes, an incubation hub and community facility, plus a health spa and a wellbeing centre. 

Working with UnLtd she has coached, trained and supported over 500 social entrepreneurs and change makers across a broad range of sectors from concept design through to resourcing start up, as well as developing established social enterprises to scale up and replicate.  Her current role at UnLtd involves engaging with the HE sector to capacity build institutions, to become hubs where social entrepreneurs can thrive.

She has several years experience working in a consultancy capacity, providing specialist support to established social enterprises, as well as enabling Health Authorities, Mental Health Trusts and educational institutions and has sat on the board of a range of organisations supporting and empowering people to develop themselves.

Simon Brown – Q&A Panel & Competition Judge

For 15 years Simon worked to establish Sheffield Hallam University as the leading institution in the country, with an international reputation in graduate employability. In 2005 Simon established their prestigious Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) for Embedding, Integrating and Enhancing Employability.

In 2005 Simon was elected to the board of UKSEC and has been central to the transformation to Enterprise Educators UK - the national network for enterprise educators which he was the Chair of in 2009/10. In this role Simon has represented the UKs Enterprise Educators on National committees and internationally and advised on enterprise and entrepreneurship education.

In February 2009 Simon joined Southampton Solent University as the Director of the reformed Southampton Business School where he applied his energy to enhancing graduate employability and developing enterprise and entrepreneurship. He has recently established himself as an independent consultant, is an Entrepreneur in Residence and Visiting Professor at Plymouth University and is Head of Enterprise Development at NCEE, where he works to transform the teaching of enterprise and entrepreneurship within Universities in the UK and internationally.

Martin Henery – Q&A Panel

For the last 12 years Martin has worked in the Manchester Enterprise Centre (MEC) based in MBS at the University of Manchester.   He is currently a lecturer responsible for a range of UG and PG units mixing the theoretical with the practical aimed at preparing students ‘for enterprise and entrepreneurship’.  Martin is also the Venture Competition Director which comprises an ideas competition and a business start-up competition, runs the business validation component of the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur scheme, and is one of the University of Manchester’s Social Enterprise Champions. He is also a judge/evaluator on both Poly U’s Global Innovation competition and on the Sirius Programme.

Madeleine Jarvis – Q&A Panel

Madeleine is a Principal Lecturer in Management and Senior Teaching & Learning Fellow at Manchester Metropolitan University’s Faculty of Business & Law.   Madeleine has a commercial background having worked in marketing, projects management and recruitment prior to starting university.  She graduated from MMU with a First in BA (Hons) Business Enterprise in Summer 2007.  Madeleine then became one of the first tenants of Innospace and established herself as a freelance marketer.  After a number of months, she combined forces with a fellow Innospace tenant and launched an organisational development consultancy.  Whilst working with many businesses in this context, Madeleine’s interest in small business growth and employment relationships grew.  In 2009, she returned to academia in order to research this further.  She successful gained a Distinction in her Masters of Research and is now close to completion of her PhD.

Madeleine has trained and taught enterprise in various guises over the past five years - from delivering on undergraduate courses to mentoring individual entrepreneurs and conducting action research projects in growing businesses.  

Fiona Godsman – Q&A Panel

Fiona is CEO of the Scottish Institute for Enterprise (SIE), the national organisation for promoting and supporting enterprise and entrepreneurship in Scotland's universities and colleges. She serves on a number of committees related to enterprise and entrepreneurship education, including Enterprise Educators UK.

Prior to her role at SIE, Fiona founded a life sciences marketing consultancy, utilising her sales, marketing and business development experience in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. Fiona has held senior global positions in both small and large organisations, including Roche, Q-One Biotech, BioReliance and Invitrogen. She also has several years of research and laboratory experience, in both the NHS and in academia. Fiona was a founding member of Nexxus, the Scottish bioscience network, headed up the organisation during its expansion, and served as vice chair on the steering committee. She also served on the Bioindustry Association steering group in Scotland for eight years.

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