Information about the 2023 speakers will be updated soon. To get a taste of who you might see, you can explore the list of last year's speakers below.
Lieutenant General James Swift OBE, Chief of Defence People
Lieutenant General James Swift is responsible for the people agenda across Defence, in particular leading People Transformation and the HR function. His previous role was General Officer Commanding of the 3rd (United Kingdom) the UK’s high-readiness warfighting Division. Prior to which he was Assistant Chief of the General Staff (ACGS) where he led on corporate strategy and was the Chief of Staff of the Army.
He was Head of Capability Strategy in the MOD for the Strategic Defence and Security Review in 2015. He was Colonel Army Strategy in the MOD over the period of the Strategic Defence and Security Review 2010 and the subsequent design of Army 2020.
Major General Simon Brooks-Ward CVO CBE TD VR, Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff for Reserves & Cadets
Simon is Chairman, Chief Executive and Owner of The HPower Group. He joined the Royal Yeomanry. As Commanding Officer he mobilised and took 2 Squadrons and Regimental Headquarters through the Iraq War in 2003 and subsequent Peace Support Operations.
After three years as Assistant Commander 3 (UK) Division as a Brigadier, Simon was appointed Deputy Commander Field Army in 2015. He left the post in 2018 and in 2019 he was appointed Assistant Chief of The Defence Staff, Reserves & Cadets.
Neil ‘Jacko’ Jackson, Director, Defence Relationship Management
Jacko served as a senior Army officer completing operational tours around the world and postings in the UK MoD, Army Headquarters, the UN and NATO. He has since focussed commercially on executive level stakeholder management, refining customer service delivery models and business process outsourcing including as Operations Director for a complex recruiting programme in partnership with the MoD. He was appointed as the Director of DRM in 2019.
Adrian Dottridge, Director of People Transformation, Ministry of Defence
Adrian has worked in the MOD since 2018 when he started as Director, Armed Forces People Policy leading on a number of policy areas such as remuneration and accommodation. In 2019 his role changed to Director, People Transformation; he is accountable for the Defence-level work to transform the People function, which comprise setting up a functional portfolio of change and strengthening the Operating Model for the people function, to help deliver the vision and People strategy for Defence.
Commodore Mel Robinson ADC MSc FCIPD
Mel was appointed Commander of the Maritime Reserves in 2020. She is the Programme Director for both the Future Reserves 2020 Programme and Reserves Transformation and is responsible for building a Reserve that best supports a Global, Modern, Ready Navy on 21st Century operations at home and abroad.
She is the author of the Maritime Reserves People Strategy. She is the architect of the seamless transfer process and most recently wrote the Maritime Reserves Directive against which the Royal Naval Reserve and Royal Marines Reserve are being modernised. This has triggered a once in a generation transformation of the Maritime Reserves that must be delivered in her tenure.
Brigadier Marc Overton TD DL VR
Brigadier Marc Overton has been an Army Reservist since 1987 and will be taking over as Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff (Reserves and Cadets) in June 2022. He was responsible for the Reserve component of the Army 2020 personnel strategy and as Brigadier he became Head Strategy for the Reserves responsible for the Army Reserve input into the Integrated Review.
In his civilian career Marc is a technology executive who has run international businesses across a variety of industries. A Vice Patron of the Royal British Legion Poppy Factory, he is Chairman of Greater London Reserve Forces and Cadets Association and the Regimental Lieutenant Colonel of the London Regiment.
Deputy Commandant General RAuxAF Air Commodore Gavin Hellard RAuxAF
Air Commodore Gavin Hellard has completed various tours a regular, his final or which was the Senior Regiment Instructor at the RAF College Cranwell.
On leaving regular service in 2003, he immediately joined No 2503 Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force Regiment, taking command of the Squadron in 2005. In 2012 he was promoted Wing Commander and appointed as Officer Commanding No 611 (West Lancashire) Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force, one of the three new squadrons created within the Future Reserves 20 expansion of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force.
In 2021 Gavin was promoted to Air Commodore and appointed as the Deputy Commandant General RAuxAF.
Captain Paul Hill RD Royal Naval Reserve
Captain Paul Hill joined the Royal Naval Reserve in 1984. He provided the lead for RN Reserve issues during the Strategic Defence and Security Review during 2010 and during the Future Reserves review in 2011. Promoted Captain in 2011 he worked on the implementation of the Reserve Forces expansion and was responsible for the design and delivery of an Employer Recognition Scheme.
Since the outset of the pandemic Paul has been seconded to the Operations Directorate in the MOD working on the reservist aspects of the Defence response under Ops RESCRIPT and BROADSHARE. In civilian life Paul has worked in the electronics industry as a Director with responsibility for a global business within the test and measurement sector.
Colonel Darin Gray VR
Colonel Darin Gray is an Army Reservist with over 30 years’ experience alongside a successful career in leading critical national railway projects with Network Rail. A champion for the Armed Forces Covenant and the Employer Recognition Scheme within the Railway Industry he brings significant experience of developing and building effective teams in both civilian and military settings.
As the Assistant Head Reserves, his primary focus is now on re-establishing the Reserves culture of readiness through the Reserves work strand of the Agile Stance Campaign Plan.
Matthew Seward – Deputy Director Office for Veterans’ Affairs
Matthew is the Deputy Director in the Office for Veterans’ Affairs (OVA) in the Cabinet Office, leading on policy, programmes and engagement. The OVA leads UK Government efforts to make sure the United Kingdom is the best place to be a veteran anywhere in the world, helping the nation fulfil its lifelong duty to those who have served in the Armed Forces.
Ali Sahan, Reserves Forces and Cadets
Ali’s professional career began as an aircraft development engineer for a reputable civilian airline. His Civil Service career started off with DSTL working in Operational Research which also included a deployed tour in Op HERRICK. He has since expanded his breadth of experience in a project delivery role looking to share skills between Defence and industry as well as within the People space by delivering Reserve Forces policy.
In addition to his Civil Service role he is a serving Army Reservist within the Honourable Artillery Company.
Kevin Gartside, Head of Military & Veteran Outreach, Barclays
Kevin joined Barclays in 2012 on a work placement whilst awaiting medical discharge from the British Army. He used the placement to secure a full-time roll as a project manager in the Citizenship team, working with youth employability charities across the UK.
Since November 2014, Kevin has led Barclays’ veterans initiatives: including the Armed Forces Employment, Transition & Resettlement (AFTER) programme, which has supported more than 7,000 veterans in their transition to civilian employment and employed more than 600 directly into Barclays; the Veterans’ Employment Transition Support (VETS) initiative that brings together other corporates, military charities and the Ministry of Defence, with the aim of helping all veterans land the right job; Armed Forces Banking, which provides a bespoke set of products and services for military customers.
Kevin is currently Chair of the Gold Award Association, which represents the 493 UK employers that have received the Ministry of Defence’s Employer Recognition Scheme highest level gold award for support to the UK military community.
James Cameron, CEO Mission Motorsport, The Forces’ Motorsport Charity
A former Major in the Royal Tank Regiment, James Cameron completed 17 years in the British Army. James retired from the Army in 2012 and determined to help his comrades founded Mission Motorsport, The Forces’ Motorsport Charity.
Helping veterans and service leavers to lead successful lives after service, James spearheads Mission Automotive – the armed forces engagement initiative for the automotive industry. Harnessing best practice he helps companies create a tailored Armed Forces engagement strategy, guiding and aligning their interactions with the Armed Forces community across brand, corporate and HR areas to support their own business strategies as well as mentoring and aiding Service Leavers and Veterans find employment.
Rachel Evans FCIPD, HR Director – Sodexo
Rachel is currently Human Resources Director for Sodexo Government where she is responsible for delivering the people strategy for an 11,000 strong team across government, military and justice organisations in the UK, Cyprus and the Falkland islands.
She has delivered an industry-leading employee engagement score and plays a pivotal role in influencing the people agenda for strategic suppliers to the defence industry. Rachel’s passion for people and the wider defence community is evident in everything she does – as an employer, she’s leading on a range of initiatives to recruit and support services leavers and their families. Outside work, Rachel’s uses her professional skills and experience as a SSAFA mentor.
Captain Ant Chapman RD DL RN
Ant has worked in the MOD in London, reviewing the use of Honorary Officers in the Reserve Forces, and led the Royal Navy’s Employer Engagement team, overhauling the way in which the Royal Navy engages with employers in order to better explain the benefits of employing reservists. In 2016 he was appointed Captain South, supporting the Commanding Officers of all Maritime Reserve units in the south of the UK and is now working on the Royal Navy’s response to the RF30 Review.
He is Managing Director of a manufacturing and project management company which this year received the Gold Employer Recognition Scheme Award.
Colonel A N B Foden DSO MBE
In his early career Adam fulfilled a range of Regimental appointments. He assumed command of The Royal Lancers (Queen Elizabeths’ Own) in 2019, and led them training in the UK, US and Europe, as well as in support of the response to Covid-19 across the North West.
Away from Regimental Duty his time on the staff has been spent in operational and strategic planning roles. As a Lieutenant Colonel he worked on future structures in the Army Directorate of Strategy and as part of the Army’s Capability Plans. Adam assumed his current role as Assistant Head Strategy in the Army’s Strategic Centre in December 2021.
Colonel Rosie Stone MSc DL VR, Deputy Head (Military), Reserve Forces 2030 Implementation
Colonel Rosie Stone is a Human Security and military Strategic Communications specialist with over thirty years Regular and Army Reserve service experience.
Rosie joined 11 Signals and West Midlands Brigade in 2016 as Deputy Commander (Reserve) with responsibility for regional engagement and employer support for Reserves. Concurrently, she completed a Masters by Research in Gender and Conflict and moved to the UK Defence Academy in 2019 as Director Human Security training and education.
Group Captain Paul Baroni
Group Captain Paul Baroni’s career has encompassed both the RAF and Microsoft. He joined the RAF Reserves Directorate in July 2021, appointed to lead the Strategic Plans Team. As such, he and his small team are responsible for delivering the Astra Reserves Optimisation portfolio of work, which looks to transform RAF Reserves into a truly 21st Century organisation.
Darren Knight, HM Forces Liaison Manager, Pertemps
Darren Knight is the Reserve Champion and Armed Forces Liaison Manager for Pertemps, assisting Service Leavers, Veterans, Reservists and the wider military community in finding a suitable job role, covering all aspects of civilian employment. After completing 23 years of Regular Army Service in the Royal Logistic Corps, Darren commissioned into the Army Reserve in 2009 and was promoted to Major in 2014.
After undertaking the role of Unit Employer Support Officer, he took up his current role as an Officer Commanding. In addition to his civilian role within Pertemps, he is a member of the Gold Award Association (GAA) Steering group (since 2016), a GAA regional lead and most recently been appointed as the GAA Reserves Special Interest Group Lead.
Iain Harrison, QinetiQ – Director Strategic Engagement Land
Iain Harrison joined QinetiQ in September 2017 as Director Strategic Engagement Land after a 35 year career in the British Army. His role includes interpretation and advice about land forces capability and needs, and development of a QinetiQ global land forces-related strategy.