Women Returners Conference 2023 Speakers, Panellists and Facilitators

Find our more about our fantastic line-up of speakers, panellists and workshop facilitators below

Find out more about the Conference here 


Julianne Miles MBE, CEO and Co-Founder, Women Returners

Julianne co-founded Women Returners in 2014 as a purpose-led social business to create supported routes back to work. Partnering with leading employers, she has pioneered the development of the returner programme market in Europe. Julianne retrained as a Chartered Psychologist after a 4-year maternal career break and a first career in corporate strategy and marketing. She has an INSEAD MBA and an MSc in Organisational Psychology. Julianne is a frequent media commentator on returning to work in the media and a strong advocate for returners. She received an MBE for services to business and equality in 2019. Julianne is an empty-nester with two adult children.

Hazel Little, Deputy CEO 

Hazel is Deputy CEO at Women Returners. Since 2016, Hazel has partnered with leading employers across all sectors to design, manage, deliver and support returner programmes both on an individual and cross-company basis. She has extensive experience in executing government-funded returner projects and regularly hosts returner events. Prior to joining Women Returners, Hazel had a 16-year career in HR within financial services and left her role as HR Director to enjoy a 3-year parental career break. During her career break she retrained and qualified as a career coach focusing on supporting women back into work.

Returner Panel Host

Jane Garvey, Broadcaster and Journalist 

Jane is a presenter on Times Radio, the co-host of the podcast Off-Air with Fi Glover and co-author of “Did I Say That Out Loud”. Jane presented Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4 from 2007 to 2020. Born in Liverpool, she studied English at Birmingham University before being sacked from an embryonic career in advertising in 1987. She joined Radio Wyvern in Worcester and was the first voice on Radio Five Live when it started in 1994. On Woman’s Hour, she once interviewed David Cameron and Mary J Blige on the same day and interviewed Hillary Clinton in a surgical boot. Jane has 2 daughters.

Returner Panellists

Salaha Ahmad, Project Co-ordinator, Scottish Government

Sal secured a role as a Project Co-ordinator with the Scottish Government at the beginning of 2023 after a 17-year break from her professional career. Prior to this, she worked with RBS as a Business Consultant, and Scottish Water as a Customer Intelligence Manager. In 2004, Sal found herself supporting her (now ex) husband to run the family chain of Post Offices. Whilst she harnessed a new skill set in this retail environment, she believed her project management skills had eroded significantly and her employability was severely hindered as she looked to return to her professional career as a 50+ year old, single mother of 5. With the support of Women Returners’ Career Boost Scotland Programme, Sal’s motivation was reignited and she returned to a role that far better utilises her professional skills, experience, and qualifications which include an Executive MBA. 

Michele Anderson, Deputy Director HR, Ministry of Defence 

Michele joined the Ministry of Defence as the Deputy Director HR, UK Strategic Command in 2022. Prior to joining the MoD, Michele joined the Home Office in 2017 on a Returner’s Programme following a career break to raise her young family.  Within the Home Office, she held a number of positions in HR including leading on gender, as Head of Early Talent and latterly as Head of People for a major government transformation programme. Michele previously worked in the private sector in sales and marketing roles and also had entrepreneurial success in running her own business. Outside of work, she has volunteered as a School Governor and is involved in a number of charities championing social mobility. Michele is passionate about striving for diversity and equality of opportunity.

Antona Davy, Senior Consultant, Deloitte Ireland

Antona worked in Professional Services for 16 years as a Risk Manager for an Insurance company. In 2014, when voluntary redundancy was offered, Antona decided to take the opportunity and raise her 2 children. When ready to return to work, she found it extremely difficult to re-enter the work force, and in late 2020 Antona started working in her local petrol station as a Sales Assistant. She worked there for 2 years, and within months was quickly promoted to Sales Supervisor. In 2022, Antona applied for the Return to Work Programme with Deloitte. In her new role, Antona’s confidence grew, her professional skills flourished and her soft skills had a major revamp as she navigated hybrid working. She secured a full time permanent position at Deloitte in 2023.

Tamsin Morris, Solicitor, Mills & Reeve

Tamsin returned to the legal profession in 2022 after a 13-year career break. She trained as a solicitor at Mills & Reeve and worked as a Regulatory lawyer on qualification.  In 2008, she left law to stay at home with her two sons until they started school. She then followed her passion for social justice and female empowerment and worked in the charity sector in a women’s prison and then as an advocate for high risk domestic violence victims.  She also took a sabbatical to travel the world with her family, world schooling her sons along the way! Once her children were older and a little more independent, Tamsin decided to return to the legal profession and secured a role as a solicitor with Mills & Reeve. She is based in the Manchester office, specialising in Environmental and Regulatory law.

Rabiya Rizwan, QA  Engineer, The Very Group

Rabiya started working as a Siebel Consultant in KPMG in 2007 after completing her Computer & Information Systems bachelor’s degree. Early on in her career, she worked for Vodafone as a Configuration Analyst and then again in 2016 as a QA Lead. Rabiya took a number of career breaks during her career for child care, health, and relocation reasons. Her latest career break from 2018-2022 was longer than planned due to Covid, but during her break, she enrolled in AWS Associate Solution Architect Course to develop her knowledge in Cloud Technology. After more than 100 unsuccessful applications, she was successful in securing her current role as a QA Engineer at The Very Group via their first Return to Work Programme in February 2022.

Employer Panel Host

Upasna Bhadhal, Diversity Recruitment Champion

Upasna has over 15 years of experience in advising organisations on diversifying talent pools and creating more inclusive workplaces. She is the founder of people and culture consultancy Kaleido and has led Diversity, Inclusion, and Talent initiatives sponsored by Google, the Government Equalities Office and Facebook; and for global organisations such as Comic Relief, Diageo, HSBC, Barclays and Credit Suisse. She helps organisations in the Investment Industry engage with overlooked and underrepresented talent, builds cultures of Conscious Inclusion, and works with businesses around the globe on their Talent, Leadership & DEI agendas to positively impact workplace dynamics.  Upasna is a public speaker, Forbes contributor, as well as a NED in HRtech and Board Advisor for DiversityQ. 

Employer Panellists

Esme Heaps,  Senior Director Talent Acquisition EMEA, Workday

Esme leads the EMEA Talent Acquisition team at Workday, supporting high growth across the EMEA region and working closely with the wider Global TA Leadership team. Alongside her EMEA role, Esme is also heavily involved in Workday’s Global TA Diversity strategy which is an area of significant focus as Workday looks for new ways and opportunities to increase the diversity of their workforce, putting DEI  at the heart of everything that they do. Prior to joining Workday, Esme lead the EMEA Talent Acquisition team at Equinix, as well as having a global overlay role driving the Talent Strategy across their Data Centre Operations teams. During her time here she launched their successful Career Transition Partnership, focused on increasing the diversity of their Data Centre teams and supporting women to transition into the DC space. Esme is a mother to two young girls under 6, and is passionate about supporting working parents re-enter the workplace and excel in their chosen paths.

Claire Hodson, Talent Development Manager, J.P.Morgan

Claire grew up in Wales and was educated in Cardiff. After three years spent working for the UK Ministry of Defense in Germany, she has worked at JPMorgan for 27 years located in Bournemouth, on the English south coast. During her tenure with the firm, after initially working in Securities Service, she has spent 22 years as a Learning & Development specialist in HR. Her current role specializes in talent development, supporting employees and leaders grow their career with the firm, through development programs, performance management and promotions. She has had a ReEntry program leadership role for the last five years. Claire holds qualifications in training and management with the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development and a Diploma in Executive Coaching with the Academy of Executive Coaching. In her free time, she enjoys weekly lessons at a local ceramic’s studio, wild swimming and walking her two dogs.

Muniba Khan, Senior Talent and Resourcing Consultant , Edinburgh Napier University 

Muniba oversees the university’s external recruitment operations. Her role is focused on consistency across the boards in talent attraction while enhancing the hiring process and making it inclusive and effective. This process includes all stakeholders, both applicants and hiring managers, in line with university’s strategic goals: encompassing diversity and inclusion commitments. With her own experience and background, re-joining the workforce after 8 years of self-employment as a new UK entrant, whilst taking care of a child with special needs, Muniba is determined to support the underrepresented and reaching out to communities at large. Before relocation to the UK, Muniba was employed as an in-house recruitment supervisor at a private university in Saudi Arabia sourcing local talent as, previously, their primary focus was hiring mainly foreign nationals. The university’s initiative was aimed to empower the local community with respect to inclusivity laws such as women empowerment, recruitment of under privileged and individuals with special needs. 

Alexander Trusty, Global Diversity Sourcing Specialist, Moody’s Corporation

Alexander is a member of the Talent Acquisition team working very closely with the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) group to develop strategies and processes for recruiting exceptional diverse talent across all of Moody’s business groups, including Re-Ignite, Moody’s return to work programme in the UK and the US. In addition to this, Alexander works closely with the firms’ Business Resource Groups and external DEI partners to foster an inclusive working environment where all employees are represented through support and diversity programmes.
Prior to Moody’s, Alexander had an illustrious career as an executive search consultant before shifting his focus toward DEI, working for a global D&I consulting firm called Equality Group. As a consultant, Alexander was responsible for advising Private Equity and Venture Capital firms, focusing on assessing biases within recruitment processes, promotion cycles and leadership structures and addressing key internal imbalances by creating tailored solutions for inclusion.

Workshop Facilitators

Rachel Halsall, Executive Coach

Rachel is an Executive Coach, Facilitator & Public Speaker who has gained a unique understanding of corporate life across a range of cultures and sectors. After gaining a Masters Degree in International Relations, she started her career at the Japanese Embassy and has extensive experience in the financial and legal sectors. Since launching her own business in 2012, Rachel designs and delivers training, coaching and leadership programmes and speaks on a range of topics including networking, confidence and self-promotion.

Victoria McLean, Founder and CEO, City CV 

As Founder and CEO of award-winning, international career consultancy City CV, Victoria has devoted her career to guiding organisations and professionals through career transition, development and management. Following a career as a headhunter and roles at Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch, where she oversaw recruitment, she established City CV in 2009. City CV is now part of the Hanover Group, where Victoria sits on the global group board. Featured in leading media, Victoria is an international keynote speaker on D&I and all things career related. With a particular passion for supporting women in their careers, she has been a key partner of Women Returners for several years. She now works with boards and HR leaders, advising on talent, redundancy, retention, engagement, DEI, and employer branding, while supporting individuals via bespoke programmes and City CV’s Career Refinery Portal & App.

Liz Mearns, Lead Coach, Women Returners 

Liz is an experienced executive and leadership coach for women. She spent 15 years in Financial Services working with clients across a variety of sectors including Sainsbury’s Bank, The AA, Mercedes-Benz, Manchester City FC and the NHS. She is a fully qualified Corporate & Executive Coach, Personal Development Coach and Master NLP Practitioner. Liz took a career break to have her family and realised first-hand how confidence and self-belief can falter during this special but testing time. During this time, she worked with a female focused charity to help mums with their wellbeing and mental health and also set up her own coaching business to help women to get back into work and utilise their talents and power to best effect.

Stephanie Rix, Lead Coach, Women Returners 

Stephanie is a registered professional career coach with an MA in Career Development and Coaching from Warwick  University, and  a  Board  Director for the Career Development Institute. She combines over 15 years’ commercial marketing experience with L’Oréal and Avon with a creative and results-orientated approach to coaching and career development. During her own career break following the arrival of her second child, Stephanie started a career coaching qualification and then returned to work to lead the marketing training programme, and coach senior leaders across UK, Europe and Latin America. She later left the corporate world to specialise in leadership and career development and enjoys working with a diverse mix of individuals and organisations. She has many years of experience of supporting returners, both on returner programmes and on their journey back to work. She has many years of experience of supporting returners, both on returner programmes and on their journey back to work.