Conference 2020 Speakers

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

Book your ticket by clicking here – tickets are £60. Ticket sales will close at midday BST on Thursday 8 October 

Return to Main Conference Webpage

Keynote Speakers

Jane Garvey, Presenter, Woman’s Hour and Fortunately Podcast

Jane has presented Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4 since 2007, and has recently announced she will be leaving the programme in December. She has presented the award-winning podcast Fortunately since 2017. 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 later presented the Breakfast Show on BBC Hereford and Worcester. She joined Radio Five Live when it started in 1994, presenting Breakfast and Drive. 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 teenage daughters.

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

Julianne co-founded Women Returners in 2014 as a 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 an advocate for returners in Government forums. She received an MBE for services to business and equality in 2019. Julianne is an empty-nester with two children at university.

Dame Stephanie Shirley CH, Tech Entrepreneur and Philanthropist

Dame Stephanie (Steve) Shirley CH, age 86, is a workplace revolutionary and successful IT entrepreneur turned ardent philanthropist www.steveshirley.comHer life story begins with her 1939 arrival in Britain as an unaccompanied Kindertransport refugee. In 1962, she started a software house, Freelance Programmers, that recruited women who had taken caring-related breaks to work flexibly from home in tech roles. She created a global business and a personal fortune shared with her colleagues, making 70 of her staff millionaires. Since retiring in 1993, her focus has been on philanthropy based on her strong belief in giving back to society.  In 2009/10 she served as the UK’s first ever national Ambassador for Philanthropy. Her charitable Shirley Foundation has initiated and funded a number of pioneering projects, totally £67m to date, focused on IT and her late son’s disorder of autism. Her memoir Let It Go was published in 2012 and has sold 27,000 copies, with a big screen film in the making. In 2013, Dame Stephanie was named by Woman’s Hour as one of the 100 most powerful women in Britain. In 2014, the Science Council listed her as one of the Top 100 practising scientists in the UK and in 2015, she was given the Women of the Year Special Award.  Her TED Talk in 2015 has received 2.1m views. In 2017, Dame Stephanie received a Companion of Honour, one of only 65 people worldwide.

Returner Panel Host

Trish Halpin, Co-Host of Postcards from Midlife Podcast and Ex-Editor-in-Chief Marie Claire

Trish Halpin is an award-winning journalist, broadcaster and coach. She is the founder and co-host of the podcast Postcards From Midlife (, which has achieved more than half a million downloads since it was launched in January 2020. A former editor of women’s glossies Marie Claire, Red and InStyle, she is also a regular contributor to The Daily Mail, Sunday Times Style and The Daily Telegraph. Instagram: @trishoftheday.

Returner Panellists

Tolulope Anifalaje, Housing Lawyer, London Borough of Camden

Tolu joined the London Borough of Camden in June 2019 through their Careers Returner programme after a 7-year career break to focus on her young family. She is a housing lawyer within their Corporate Services Team. Having studied Law at University College of London, she completed the Legal Practice Course at the College of Law, London. Tolu qualified as a solicitor in 2008 and went on to become Group Solicitor in Cambridge with a private firm headquartered in London. In her spare time she supports a number of local charities and enjoys walks in the countryside with her Labrador.

Angela Burke, Senior Customer Services Exec/Office Manager, Sportslab Technology Ltd

Angela joined Sportlabs Technology in 2015 as Office Manager following a 7-year career break to be at home with her two children. Angela has a Bachelor of Arts (Music) from the University of NSW and has worked in various senior admin roles in Sydney and London over a 20-year period. The final 2 years of her career break were spent recovering from breast cancer treatment and were also the catalyst for her return to work. Angela took advantage of her local network to sign up for coaching with a Women Returners coach and found much needed guidance to navigate her return to work with a very different set of goals and requirements. Opting to return to work part-time, Angela divides her time between work, family life and developing her favourite ‘side hustle’, a piano teaching business from home which she built using local networking.

Bridget Clifford, Senior Supervisor, Groups Department, Insurance Division, Bank of England

Bridget started her career in the oil industry and by way of an MBA moved into acquisition related corporate finance for corporates. Prior to returning 2 years ago she had spent 20 years or so working flexibly for herself – 10 years as a consultant and latterly in the internet retailer business she co-founded with her husband. Bridget is now an insurance regulator, one of the first cohort of returners taken on by Prudential Regulation Authority which engaged Women Returners to provide valuable support  and coaching in the first 6 months of employment. Bridget has found returning to mainstream employment rejuvenating, fulfilling and enjoyable. 

Clare Lysaght, Rapid Innovation Team, Accenture Ireland

Clare joined Accenture’s Rapid Innovation team in The Dock in February 2019 as part of the Resume program. Clare took a career break in 2009 when her son was diagnosed with congenital heart disease. Before Clare’s break she spent 15 years working in the Localization industry working in international Project Management and Business development roles. When Clare decided it was a good time to get back to work, she struggled to find the opportunity to re-enter the corporate world.  She is so grateful for the opportunity afforded to her by Accenture’s Resume program and support of Women Returners’ team.

Dr Sarah McKelvie, Clinical Fellow in Geriatric Medicine, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust

Sarah qualified as a doctor from the University of Cambridge and St Mary’s Hospital, London in 2001. She initially pursued a career in hospital medicine, working in London, New Zealand and rural Malawi, gaining the postgraduate diploma MRCP and then switched track to complete postgraduate qualifications in General Practice. She always intended to go back after her first child but this somehow turned into a 12 year break with another two children. Sarah became immersed in various charity projects from fundraising to setting up football teams for disabled children. She was totally inspired after attending the Women Returners Conference last year and began to think returning to her previous career was possible.  When Covid-19 hit she contacted local hospitals about some informal retraining and is now working in a full time post on a busy acute medical ward.

Alison Mann, Strategic Customer Engagements EMEA, AWS

Alison has 25 years of experience in software solution selling, strategic account management and helping global customers to transform their businesses. She took a 2.5 year career break in 2017 to adopt two children. Faced with a completely different personal life but a desire to get back to work she needed a more flexible career. Alison joined Amazon Web Services (AWS) in 2019 as a manager in Strategic Customer Engagements. She was introduced to the pilot AWS Returners Programme shortly after joining and benefitted from it in her first six months back in the workplace.


Sonal Pal, Technical Assurance Engineer, SCS Railways

After her Master’s in Computer Applications, Sonal started her career working as a software consultant for Tata Consultancy Service. She decided to take a career break to look after her children, during which she taught an IT skills course as part of a charity’s adult education program. After this, she qualified to be a Teaching Assistant in a primary school and volunteered as a TA. She decided to shift her career even further by starting a very successful catering business. Keen to return to the office, she accepted the opportunity to join Skanska via their Returners program, which she started last November.

Wilma Purser, Marketing Manager, Equity Gap

Wilma has worked in PR and marketing for over 30 years within high profile agencies and a number of global professional services firms in-house. With a passion for learning she returned to university six years ago to complete a Masters in Computing but struggled to effect the career change she hoped for and instead undertook a number of successful property developments. On realising she wished to return to the workplace, she found Women Returners, attended a meeting in Edinburgh and found the confidence to apply for the digital marketing role she currently enjoys at Equity Gap.

Employer Panel Hosts

Isabel Berwick, Work and Careers Editor, Financial Times

Isabel Berwick is the Work & Careers Editor at the Financial Times, overseeing its coverage of working life, the future of work, leadership and management. She joined the paper at the height of the dotcom boom in 1999 from the Independent on Sunday, where she was personal finance editor and business editor. She held senior writing and editing positions on FT Money, FT Weekend and the paper’s opinion and analysis desk before taking on her current role in 2018. She lives in London with her family and to relax she swims in a freezing pond.

Claire Cohen, Women’s Editor and Associate Features Editor, The Telegraph

Claire Cohen is an editor and columnist on the Daily Telegraph – heading up Telegraph Women, a daily online section filled with intelligent, insightful and irreverent articles, on everything from politics to parenting, business to relationships. She writes comment, features and interviews across the channel and is Women’s Editor and Associate Features Editor on the daily newspaper. Claire is also a commentator and newspaper reviewer for the BBC, Sky News, Talk Radio and LBC.  

Employer Panellists

Zoe Copley, EMEA Head of Employee Compliance, Credit Suisse

Zoe qualified as a Barrister in Australia before moving to the UK to pursue a LLM at Cambridge. She specialised in tax structured finance advisory roles before retraining as an executive coach. Zoe joined Credit Suisse as a Real Returner in 2015, initially in Internal Audit, before moving to Compliance. She now heads up the Employee Compliance team for EMEA, focussed on a range of conduct and culture related issues and processes falling under the Senior Manager and Certification Regime umbrella, as well as overseeing the bank’s Speak Up arrangements for UK staff. 

Gee Foottit, Academy Engagement Manager, St. James’s Place Academy

Gee is from and lives in London with her husband and 3 year old daughter. She has 20 years’ experience in Financial Services, Wealth Management and Banking sectors. She obtained her Diploma in Financial Planning in 2012 and has worked in roles across the industry including investment strategies, fintech, business development, mentoring and has a passion for helping others succeed. As an Academy Engagement Manager, she has an eye for what makes a great financial adviser. She is at the forefront of finding new talented candidates for SJP, inspiring their next generation of financial planners and loves being involved in the first steps of life changing decisions. Gee has been chosen as one of the finalists of the Women in Financial Advice Awards 2020 under the category of ‘Most Inspiring Returner’, given annually to a woman who, on returning to work in the UK financial services sector, has acted as a role model to other women.

Charlotte Gerken, Executive Director, Insurance Supervision Directorate, Bank of England

Charlotte Gerken is Executive Director, co-leading the Insurance Directorate with Anna Sweeney, and with responsibility for supervision of the life insurance sector. Charlotte was previously Director for Cross-cutting and Insurance Policy, where she was responsible for a number of key policy areas, including insurance policy; and policy that affects both banks and insurers. From 2015-18, Charlotte was Director of Supervisory Risk Specialists, responsible for delivery of analysis for the annual concurrent stress test of the UK banking system, and development of the Bank’s stress testing approach. Her previous experience includes leading risk specialist divisions and leading teams supervising a range of banks, investment banks and insurance groups.  

Tace Heuston, Head of Asset & Wealth Management Talent Institute EMEA, J.P. Morgan

A passionate and creative Learning and Development Executive with over 20 years’ experience in developing talent within Financial Services sector. An accomplished leader, coach and facilitator who is adept at navigating a matrix environment and building highly effective teams. As the Head of AWM Talent Institute, Tace is responsible for all aspects of the people development agenda: Talent, Diversity & Inclusion, Executive & Organisational Development and New Hires. Tace is a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, Accredited EMCC Executive Coach and a Certified  practitioner in MBTI, Hogan, ILS & DiSC.

Lindsay Hewitt, EMEA Inclusion & Diversity Program Lead, Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Lindsay has worked for Amazon for over five and half years and is currently the EMEA Inclusion and Diversity Program Lead for Amazon Web Services. Lindsay launched the EMEA I&D program in 2018 and has a particular passion for cultivating an inclusive workplace culture where all employees can thrive in their careers. I&D at AWS includes an Inclusion Ambassador program, a portfolio of Inclusive Leadership learning products and the AWS GetIT program – a social initiative designed to encourage young girls to consider a career in technology. Prior to joining Amazon, Lindsay worked in executive search in New York, establishing a NorAm and Mexico FMCG practice.

Samina Malik, Supplier Manager, O2

Samina graduated in Actuarial Science from City University and joined Reuters where she developed a detailed knowledge of product and project management across Asia and American markets and led several projects working out of Toronto and London. Her strong focus on delivery and innovation led her to join a London based start-up specialising in mobile technology, mkodo ltd, as their Commercial Manager. After a 10-year career break to raise her 2 young sons, she joined O2 through their initial Career Returners programme and has since been part a team successfully delivering one of UK’s largest national infrastructure projects. 

Paula Leach, Chief People Officer, FDM

Paula is the global chief people officer for FDM Group, a role which she undertook in April 2019. Paula is a member of the executive committee and responsible for the people agenda across this fast-growth, global, FTSE 250 organisation in the tech sector.  Previously Paula was chief people officer at The Home Office, responsible for an HR function of more than 300 professionals, supporting the people agenda for approximately 30,000 civil servants. She joined The Home Office after 18 years working across all HR disciplines at Ford Motor Company. Paula is FCIPD qualified and passionate about optimising inclusivity and the potential of individuals and teams. This professional experience and understanding is coupled with a keen commercial sense enhanced with a first-class honours business degree and an MBA. She has undertaken many professional development programmes including the Ashridge flagship Advanced Organisational Design course, has been an accredited La Marsh Change Master for over 15 years and most recently undertook the prestigious ‘Top Flight’ programme through The Pipeline. She married and is mum to two beautiful daughters.

Craig Locke, Talent Acquisition, Bloomberg

Craig currently looks after experienced hire recruitment for Global Data in London as well as Bloomberg Intelligence and Bloomberg NEF in both London & New York. He plays a lead role in organising and running a wide range of initiatives aimed at connecting Bloomberg with top diverse talent. Craig’s career in recruitment has spanned over 12 years; predominantly recruiting experienced professionals across a wide variety of roles in financial markets and technology. Craig has partnered with Women Returners over the last several years running targeted events aimed at hiring returners into full-time roles.

Kay O’Leary, EMEA Director of Logistics, Facebook

Kay O’Leary is the Director of Logistics for the Infrastructure Business Operations Support (IBOS) team in EMEA. This team is responsible for managing the programs and operational teams that supply the parts / equipment which keep our data centers operating predictably. She joined Facebook just over a year ago with over 20 years experience in designing and implementing logistics solutions for HiTech industries across the globe. In her spare time she loves to travel and experience cultures in different parts of the world.

Helen Rider, Head of EMEA Sales, Moody’s

Helen Rider is Managing Director, Head of EMEA Sales at Moody’s Analytics, leading sales teams representing Moody’s Analytics products and services and customer relationships across the EMEA region. Helen is a proven leader with over 20 years of experience in the financial markets building high-performing teams and developing commercial strategies to drive growth and help customers make better business decisions. Helen joined Moody’s in 1999 and since then she has held several key sales and sales leadership positions across a wide range of teams. Since 2007, Helen has served as a voluntary board member for The Lily Foundation, a UK charity dedicated to fighting mitochondrial disease by helping families and funding medical research for treatments and to ultimately find a cure. Helen holds a BA Hons in Modern Languages from The University of Sheffield.

Brian Stanislas, Product Manager, Civil Service HR

Brian works within the Digital Data and Technology team of the Government Shared Services business unit within the Cabinet Office. He has been the Product Manager of the multi award winning Civil Service Job Share Finder website since April 2014. Brian began working for the Civil Service in 1996 in DWP. He subsequently worked in the Home Office and HMRC before joining the Cabinet Office. Brian has progressed through a variety of job roles over the years including Employer Engagement Executive, Learning Consultant, Account Manager, Career Consultant and Project Manager before taking up his current role as a Product Manager. Additionally since 2017, Brian has also taken on the role of being the Product Manager of the Civil Service Careers website which launched in July 2018. In  May 2020 he was appointed Co-Chair of the Cross Government Flexible Working Network.

Workshop Facilitators

Jayne Constantinis, Communications Expert

Jayne Constantinis has been in the communications business for 25 years. Her range of experience includes: live voice-over announcing on BBC television; live business reporting on BBC World; presenting corporate programmes for blue-chip companies; facilitating and speaking at live events (she’s a TEDx speaker); moderating panels; communication skills training for individuals and groups. She learned journalism at the LCP, has an acting diploma from the Royal Academy of Music and a Modern Languages degree from Cambridge. She started her working life in financial PR and advertising. Working with Olympic superstars prompted her to confront and dispel the myths around confidence in communications – she has consequently developed a unique approach to empowering those who want to be skilful, effective and memorable. 

Karen Danker, Head of Coaching, Women Returners

Karen is the Head of Coaching at Women Returners and has extensive experience in supporting returners back to work. A former lawyer with 2 teenage sons, Karen went on to work in recruitment, L&D, and leadership development across the corporate and charity sectors. She has a particular interest in supporting professional women to flourish and fulfil their potential in line with their skills and values. Karen re-qualified as a career coach a few years ago and now enjoys delivering coaching workshops and 121s alongside working with Women Returners’ brilliant coaching team to continually evolve its coaching offering to organisations and returners.

Sylvie Garvey, Founder, Computer Fitness

Sylvie is passionate about ensuring IT is there to help, not hinder, our lives. She is currently Director of BBD, a software development company and runs their operations across Europe. She also advises foreign technology companies looking to establish themselves in the UK and in 2009,  Sylvie founded Computer Fitness, an IT support and training company. She previously spent 15 years working for Accenture, a Global IT Consultancy, specialising in large-scale transformation projects and project management. During that time, she worked full time, abroad, part time and had 3 children. Sylvie has a Masters in Management from ESCP and a Business & Economics degree from Trinity College, Dublin.

Kate Mansfield, Senior Coach, Women Returners

Kate is a Senior Coach with Women Returners and has specialised in working with women returners since 2013. A former Executive Recruiter with 2 young children, she took a career break following the birth of her first child, and took the chance to re-train, inspired by her long-term passion for careers. She is particularly passionate about challenging individual and organisational beliefs that it is not possible to return to a fulfilling career after a break. Kate is an accredited Career Coach with an MSc in Organisational Behaviour and a Postgraduate Diploma in Career & Talent Management.

Victoria McLean, Founder and CEO, City CV

Victoria is CEO and founder of City CV. She established City CV in 2009 to bridge a market gap for top quality CV and LinkedIn profile writing. Since then, she has built a client-focused business that empowers job seekers and helps companies to protect their most important resource – their people. She has worked with thousands of cross-industry-sector individuals up to and including C-Suite and board, as well as delivering outplacement programmes to corporates, SMEs, Government and Higher Education providers worldwide. Victoria spent her earlier career in global recruitment before joining Goldman Sachs and then Merrill Lynch. Frequently featured as a careers expert in leading media, Victoria regularly wins major international industry awards. She is in high demand as a keynote speaker at international events and runs workshop and webinar programmes for City CV’s partners.

Stephanie Rix, 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 the career development of professional women, including those returning to work after a career break.