- Middle East|
Last year's Speakers
Paul Matthews, Global Head of Communications and Corporate Affairs, Unilever
Paul Matthews is Unilever’s Head of Communications and Corporate Affairs. Unilever is the world’s most global company, with a presence in 190 countries, and 3.4bn people using its products every day. Paul is responsible for the company’s communications and corporate affairs strategy, leading a global team which works to shape the company’s reputation, build stakeholder trust, and grow employee engagement. A journalist by training, Paul joined Unilever in 2008 and has held several external and internal communications roles within the business. He became head of its Communications & Corporate Affairs function in 2018.
Michael Bodansky, Head of Corporate Communications, Revolut
Michael Bodansky is Global Head of Corporate Communications at Revolut, one of Europe's biggest and fastest-growing FinTech businesses. He has worked in communications at Barclays, as well as agencies including freuds and Ogilvy. He was profiled as a 'Rising Star' in the 'Top Reputation Managers' category by Spear's Magazine (Feb 2019). He studied Hebrew and Arabic at Oxford University.
Alex Towers, Director of Policy and Public Affairs, BT Group
Alex Towers is Director of Policy and Public Affairs for BT Group. He leads BT’s political strategy and its public policy work, both in the UK and around the world. Before joining BT, he was the Director of the BBC Trust – the BBC’s regulator and governing body until 2017. In his earlier career, he worked at DCMS and at Ofcom.
Anisa Missaghi, Chief Corporate Affairs and Sustainability Officer, Pladis
Anisa was appointed as Chief Corporate Affairs and Communications Officer for pladis in April 2021. Prior to her current role, Anisa spent seven years with pladis and United Biscuits, leading public affairs, financial communications, digital and social media, and developing new ways to engage consumers and employees. Anisa also supported communications leading up to the acquisition of United Biscuits by Yildiz Holding before going on to lead Corporate Communications for the UK & Ireland region. In 2022, Sustainability and ESG were added to her remit.
Prior to joining United Biscuits, Anisa spent five years in the infrastructure, transport and logistics industry. She started with CEVA Logistics in Amsterdam where she had a global remit across internal and external communications, before moving to Balfour Beatty as Group Digital Manager.
Anisa is a member of the pladis Inclusion and Diversity Board which focuses on bringing in external thinking into the organisation and embedding Inclusion and Diversity into the workplace. She is a member of the Race Equity Advisory Committee for the Chartered Management Institute which aims to move the dial on Race by driving change through professional leadership and management practices. She is also a member of Women in Advertising and Communications, Leadership (WACL) a membership organisation whose purpose is to accelerate gender equality in the advertising and communications industries.
Dominic Laurie, Director of Communications and Campaigns, TalkTalk
Dominic Laurie is Director of Communications and Campaigns at TalkTalk, the UK’s leading affordable connectivity provider. Dominic was a journalist at the BBC for 12 years, where he reported on business and economics for radio and Television. He has also worked as a marketing manager for an airline, been a teacher and university lecturer and a prior to TalkTalk was a strategic comms consultant in London and Frankfurt.
David Bowles, Head of Public Affairs, RSPCA
As Head of Public Affairs David coordinates the RSPCA’s political, local government and campaign work in England, Wales and Europe. RPSCA is the world’s oldest and largest animal charity and was set up in 1824 to educate and campaign to improve standards of animal welfare. The RSPCA has some 650,000 supporters and 180,000 campaigners that are used to get out message out on fundraising and campaigning. We set a new 10 year strategy in 2021 which has at its core integrated messaging across the Society. The RSPCA has been trialling new methods of assessing value for money, cut through and impact of its campaign messaging and ultimately developing indicators to measure success through outcome impacts. David has worked for the RSPCA for 27 years during which time he has been closely involved with campaigns to change animal welfare legislation such as the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and the Sentience Act and Kept Animal Bill.
Jon Elliott MBE, Head of UK and Ireland Government Engagement, Haleon
Jon Elliott leads UK and Irish government engagement at Haleon plc. Prior to joining Haleon Jon spent 3 years at AstraZeneca, where he led global government affairs strategy and prior to that UK government engagement on R&D including AZ’s COVID-19 response.
Before joining AZ Jon spent over 10 years in the UK Civil Service, working across multiple departments on the domestic and international agendas. Some highlights from his time there include negotiations with the US and the EU on post-Brexit regulation and trade and as part of the emergency response to crises such as the Ebola and Zika outbreaks.
He holds a degree in biological sciences from the University of Aberdeen and was awarded an MBE in the 2021 Queen's Birthday Honours for services to British life-sciences and the COVID-19 response.
Joshua Green, Head of Public Affairs, British Beer & Pub Association
Joshua Green is a public affairs professional with over 15 years’ experience working in aerospace, consumer rights and the hospitality sectors. He began his career in the House of Commons working for three MPs and has since gone on to contribute to several high profile campaign successes, including his most recent role at the British Beer & Pub Association ensuring that tax on beer has only increased once in the last decade.
Lesley Woods, Chief Communications Officer (External Campaigns) Ministry of Defence (MOD) and Squadron Leader, Media Operations, RAF Reserves
With a background in Public Relations, Lesley has 20+ years’ experience of curating and creating compelling content. Her career has taken her around the world, working with international partners to shine a light on the work of her military colleagues, from celebrating Christmas in Kandahar to delivering humanitarian aid to the Central African Republic.
As a current serving senior Royal Air Force Reserve officer, Lesley brings unique perspectives gained from her operational experience to your organisation. Her mission is to get you out of the (communication) trenches and into new territory, to get you thinking differently about how you can emotionally engage your people and your audiences. In her civilian role she leads the Campaigns team in the UK Ministry of Defence Communications Directorate, a team that aims to ‘give a voice to the men and women who serve so that their stories can be heard’.
To help the UK Armed Forces reach new audiences she has led collaborations with films, TV series and documentaries, from influencer events with Disney to a PR partnership with the producers of James Bond. She once lost half an eyebrow evacuating a TV documentary crew from a burning US Marine Corps toilet tent in Afghanistan....whilst wearing ballistic pants.
Lucy Thomas, Corporate Affairs Director, TalkTalk
Lucy is TalkTalk’s Director of Corporate Affairs and Regulation, where she leads regulation, public affairs, ESG, communications and PR. Prior to joining TalkTalk in 2020, Lucy was a Senior Director at the global communications firm Edelman, where she advised a range of clients including Sainsburys and Coca Cola on integrated regulatory, policy and communications campaigns, as well as media and select committee training.
Lucy began her career as a BBC journalist, producing EU news content from Brussels before returning to London as a producer on Newsnight and Radio 4 News programmes, The World at One and PM. After leaving the BBC, she led a pro-European business campaign which became the Remain campaign in the EU Referendum. As the Deputy Director of the Stronger In campaign, Lucy led communications and media relations, including negotiations with broadcasters and preparing key campaign spokespeople for media appearances.
Rupert Gowrley, Group Corporate Affairs Director, Bupa
Rupert is Group Corporate Affairs Director for Bupa, the international healthcare company which covers health insurance, health provision, including clinics, hospitals, GPs, dental centres, digital health services and aged care. Employing 85,000 people worldwide, Bupa’s primary markets are Australia, UK, Spain, parts of Latin America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. In this role, Rupert is responsible for Bupa’s global reputation and corporate communications, external relations and for building the global brand around strategic priorities. At global group level, this covers media relations, digital and social, stakeholder engagement, financial communications, sustainability communications, issues and crisis management and public affairs.
Rupert has spent 20 years largely in public affairs, corporate communications and reputation, both in agency and in-house. He has worked at Bupa for over eight years, and led Corporate Affairs for the UK businesses, public affairs globally and held other leadership roles across external and internal communications, sustainability and public affairs before moving into global roles. He also spent a period in the Strategy team and on M&A projects. Before Bupa, he spent four years at Engine MHP in London and was in a public affairs consultancy within a global law firm for 6 years. He started his career as a corporate lawyer in London and Hong Kong and also worked as a political researcher.
Sam Hodges, Communications Director, formerly worked with BBC, Netflix, Freuds, Twitter
Leading comms teams both big and small, Sam has worked globally and locally for some of the world's most dynamic companies and CEOs, including Netflix, the BBC, Twitter and freuds.
From massive consumer launches to high-profile corporate crises, Sam is a leading advocate for the power of media relations and its impact on customers, regulators, stakeholders and investors alike as they all demand more from the people they spend money and time with.
Tom Davis, Head of Corporate Affairs, EDF
Tom Davis is Head of Corporate Affairs at EDF, the largest generator and supplier of low carbon electricity in the UK.
He has been with EDF since 2013 and is responsible for the company’s engagement with UK politicians and advocacy groups, on issues ranging from new nuclear to energy retail markets.
Tom worked for several years in the House of Commons for a Select Committee Chairman and later a Transport Minister, before working in public affairs for the rail industry.
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