2015 Conference Speakers

2015 Conference Speakers

This page will contain details of the keynote speakers and presenters at our 2015 conference.

Martin Davies (Former CEO, Pluss)

Martin has over 17 years experience within the Welfare to work Sector, particularly specialising in services for people with disabilities.Along with Huw Davies, Martin was the co-founder of Base in 2005 and was active for many years on the National Executive.

For 8 years Martin led Pluss as CEO during a period that saw the organisation develop from its Devon base to the national specialist  provider it is today. Driven by the need to ensure provision is available and suitable for those with the greatest barriers to employment Martin was involved in influencing the design of Work Choice. He remains an advocate for a separate but improved and larger specialist programme to deliver the Government's aim of halving the difference in employment rates for people with disabilities. 

Martin is currently enjoying a career break before re-immersing himself in his career.

Laura Green (Owner, Serendipity)

Laura Green is a 28-year-old businesswoman from Runcorn, Cheshire. She was inspired to set up her accessory business Serendipity in 2010, after she became frustrated with the lack of options that career advisers were offering to her. She had explained to them that she ‘didn’t want to work in Asda’, and now sells her products at exhibitions and craft fairs across the UK.

‘There was no career planning at college for me. I was just killing time until I was moved onto the next step in the system. After three years I said “no more” and I left’.

Laura has never looked back and now she offers other young people with additional needs work experience. She hopes to inspire others to follow their dreams and never settle for second best. Laura was nominated for Entrepreneur of the year in 2012 and her recent interview for BBC was the most watched BBC video worldwide. Laura was recently part of Radio 4 Woman’s Hour and is currently in talks with several TV companies to star in her own documentary about her life.

Steve Hawkins (CEO, Pluss)

Steve spent the first 25 years of his career with BT. His involvement with employment / economic development began in the mid 1990’s, joining BT’s specialist Inward Investment team. His role entailed him working as a consultant to Regional Development Agencies and UK Trade and Investment to attract overseas businesses to the UK, particularly focussing on Contact Centres, Pan European HQ / Shared service centres. Success in this role let to Steve being seconded fulltime to UKTI as Vice Consul Investment at the British Consulate General in New York.

At the end of the secondment and his return to the UK in 2005, Steve chose to leave BT and ran his own successful consulting business until early 2007, when he joined Working Links. Over the next 4 years, Steve held various roles in Business Development, culminating in the role of Sales Director. He was involved in major contracting rounds including Pathways to Work, Flexible New Deal 1 & 2, Work Choice, Work Programme, plus various ESF programmes.

In June 2011, Steve joined Pluss. He became part of the Pluss Leadership team in 2012, and became Executive Director in 2014. He was appointed CEO in July 2015.

Carmel McKeogh (Deputy Chief Executive, Blackpool Council)

Carmel McKeogh is the Deputy Chief Executive of Blackpool Council and she has been working in Blackpool since April 2009, she is a Chartered Member of the Institute of Personnel and Development. As well as her responsibilities as Deputy Chief Executive Carmel and her team are responsible for providing the human resources and organisation development strategy, direction and support across the Council. She is also responsible for ICT services, corporate communications internally and with the community of Blackpool and her team delivers corporate policy, corporate performance and engagement strategies to ensure the Council has a clear vision, strategy and policy framework that is well communicated to support the delivery of services to residents

Carmel began her career in HR in the retailing business. She worked her way through the management ranks from Management Trainee to Regional Personnel Manager responsible for more that 150 stores in the west of England. After that Carmel moved to the South East and took on the role of Personnel and Training Manager for an international marketing company who provided support to motor manufacturers and managed a number of large car fleets for public and private sector clients. In 1993 Carmel moved into the public sector and became the Diversity in Employment lead at Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council back in the North West. In 2002 she went on to become the Head of Human Resources in Stockport Council in Greater Manchester. Carmel has also worked on a number of major initiatives and projects in her career in the public sector at local, regional and national level.