IWD 2022 | Introducing some of the terrific women who will be speaking at this year’s BCO Conference in June

A very happy International Women’s Day to all! In support of the #breakthebias campaign, introducing some of the terrific women who will be speaking at this year’s BCO Conference in June:

Joanne Roney OBE

Joanne has been the Chief Executive of Manchester City Council since April 2017.  Over the past 4 years she has dealt with several unprecedented events including the Manchester Arena Bomb. Joanne is driving the Council through the fundamental changes to Health and Social Care. She is lead Chief Executive for economy across Greater Manchester. 

Before moving to Manchester, Joanne was previously Chief Executive of Wakefield Metropolitan Borough Council, where she held the top post from 2008. 

Joanne’s career started in local government as an apprentice with Birmingham City Council when she was 16.   She has a strong track record in transforming public services and delivering major regeneration initiatives such as the Hepworth Gallery Wakefield and Parkhill Housing in Sheffield.  She has extensive experience in housing and local government having previously worked as Director of Housing at Kirklees Council and Executive Director with responsibility for housing, communities and adult care services at Sheffield City Council.  Joanne is a Fellow of CIH and a regular contributor to Inside Housing.

Joanne is president of SOLACE

Joanne was awarded the OBE for services to local government in 2009.

In September 2021 Joanne was named the Local Authority Chief Executive of the Year at the annual MJ (Municipal Journal) Awards.

Rebecca Heron, Head of Development and Strategy, Manchester City Council

Becca Heron is the Strategic Director of Growth and Development at Manchester City Council. Formerly Director of Economy and Skills at Wigan Council, Becca’s career has included a number of different public sector roles, including previous positions within both Manchester City Council and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA). 

During her time with the GMCA, Becca led on a series of high-profile and complex initiatives, including the development of 2014 Devolution Agreement. At Wigan, she took on the economic development and regeneration brief, playing a pivotal role in bringing key sites forward for development and kickstarting the redevelopment of Wigan town centre.

As Strategic Director of Growth and Development at Manchester City Council, Becca has a key role in the delivery of the ambitions set out in the Our Manchester strategy, leading the city’s recovery following the pandemic, building on the successes of the last two decades to drive inclusive growth that will ensure the city continues to be one of the most exciting destinations in Europe to live, work and play.    

Rt Hon. Ruth Davidson MSP

Ruth Davidson is a journalist, broadcaster, author and politician. She served for eight years as leader of the Scottish Conservatives, during which time she transformed the party’s prospects, leading to its greatest electoral results in 35 years. She also played a prominent role in both the Scottish independence and EU referendum campaigns, arguing her case in stadium television debates at the Glasgow Hydro and Wembley Arena. As the first openly gay leader of a major political party in the UK, and the first party leader to give birth while in office, Ruth has broken barriers throughout her time in public life.

 A regular contributor to debates on gender, inclusion and equality, Ruth talks about authentic leadership from a first-hand perspective. A former BBC journalist and Territorial Army soldier, Ruth understands how important individual expression, trust and developing leadership skills can be within large organisations.

Her close professional relationship with successive Prime Ministers, and membership of UK Cabinet, gives her a unique insight into the current political environment north and south of the border.

Ruth’s book, Yes She Can – Why Women Own the Future, is a positive appraisal of gender advancement across the globe; how far women have come to achieving equality and, crucially, how much road there is still to travel. It draws on direct testimony from world-beating women as diverse as Christine Lagarde, Dame Katherine Grainger and Melinda Gates, who Ruth interviewed in a fascinating series of conversations while researching her work.

Despite operating exclusively in the Scottish Parliament, Ruth has successfully built a UK-wide platform. A gifted political communicator with a modern, realworld touch, she is as at home on Have I got News for You, The One Show, Celebrity Chase and The Great British Bake Off: Stand Up To Cancer as she is on Newsnight, Question Time and Andrew Marr. In 2018, she was named as one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people of the year, alongside international figures from sport, media, and politics including New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Prince Harry.

Ruth’s professional career prior to politics was in broadcast journalism, variously operating as a presenter, producer and documentary maker. Since leaving the party leadership, Ruth has returned to journalism, regularly providing political commentary for the Telegraph, Mail on Sunday and the Evening Standard as well as developing broadcast projects for both television and radio. She lives in Edinburgh with her partner Jen, son Finn, and cocker spaniel, Wilson.

Bronwen Maddox

Bronwen is Director of the Institute for Government, the think tank that aims to improve the effectiveness of government. She previously served as Editor and CEO of the influential current affairs magazine, Prospect – which both explains City thinking to policy makers and helps the financial community navigate the geo-political landscape.

Bronwen started out as an investment analyst in the City and on Wall Street, and a director of Kleinwort Benson’s media team. She moved into journalism to head up the Financial Times investigation into Maxwell, before joining The Times as Washington Bureau Chief, US Editor, and finally Foreign Editor. She remains a regular newspaper contributor.

With access to key figures across business, politics and leadership, Bronwen has built a reputation for informed, original insights. She has interviewed almost everyone from Henry Kissinger to Vladimir Putin. 

In presentations she sets out the big challenges besetting the West, which she argues are overturning a pattern that’s been settled since the end of World War II. As one example, the ageing population means that society can no longer afford the present pensions and benefits system; but is democracy capable of delivering the changes necessary, or will the scale of transformation needed make governments too unpopular to be elected?

Born in the US, Bronwen is author of the acclaimedI n Defence of America. She is perfectly positioned to analyse the global impact of events on Capitol Hill.

Despina Katsikakis, Global Head of Workplace, Cushman & Wakefield

For over 35 years Katsikakis has led innovation, research and implementation of transformative workplace environments for global corporates and exemplary real estate developments for investors worldwide.

In her role at Cushman & Wakefield, she provides input across the firm’s global business on the rapidly-changing context of work and its impact on employee engagement, productivity and wellbeing and the future role of the workplace. 

With these factors increasingly determining the leasing decisions of leading corporations, Katsikakis’ unrivalled insight on the future of work benefits occupier clients – as well as building landlords and investors – through repositioning commercial real estate to drive top line performance. 

Despina is the BCO junior vice president and she serves on the advisory board of Delos™, the pioneers of Wellness Real Estate™ and founders of the WELL Building Standard. 
She regularly lectures around the world, writes and contributes to media, research and publications on the future of the workplace.

Learn more about the annual conference taking place in Manchester and book your tickets here via the BCO website.