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Advisory Board

The Runways UK advisory board is designed to be a microcosm of the event itself. It comprises a combination of luminaries, appropriate institutions and associations and commercial partners. Its role is to help shape the content and personality of the event as well as to ensure fair representation of the interests of all parties. Click on the more button to reveal advisory board member biographies

The Rt Hon Baroness Dean of Thornton le Fyld

Chair of Runways UK advisory board



Brenda Dean - Rt. Hon Baroness Dean of Thornton le Fyde, is a Partnership Board Director of National Air Traffic Services - NATS. She is President of Abbeyfield Society and Non Executive Director of the housing and regeneration company, Places for People, and Council member of the University of Nottingham.

She was Chairman of the Freedom to Fly campaign and has been Chairman of the Armed  Forces Pay Review Body; the Housing Corporation and Covent Garden Market Authority. She was the first woman to be elected General Secretary of a major manufacturing trade union - the Society of Graphical and Allied Trades.     

Lord Digby Jones

Baron Jones of Birmingham



Digby Jones is a British businessman and politician, who served as Director General of the CBI from 2000-06. In July 2007 he was appointed Minister of State for UK Trade & Investment and became a life peer. A lawyer by profession and known for his candid, forthright attitude he has campaigned relentlessly on a range of issues including the move from traditional manufacturing of commodities to value-added, innovative products and services. Ever loyal to British business, in addition to his role as an active crossbencher in the House of Lords, he serves as Chairman of Triumph Motorcycles, Chairman of Grove Industries and Corporate Ambassador for Jaguar Cars and JCB

Baroness Jo Valentine

Chief Executive, London First



Baroness Valentine joined London First in 1997 as Managing Director, becoming Chief Executive in 2003. Her role centres on representing to national and local government the most pressing issues affecting London's leading businesses.

Prior to London First, Jo Valentine worked in corporate finance and planning at Barings and BOC Group. She established and ran 'The Blackburn Partnership' a public-private regeneration partnership in 1988 and the Central London Partnership (CLP) in 1995. She was a National Lottery Commissioner from 2000 to 2005.

She became a Crossbench Peer in October 2005 and contributes frequently to debates, mainly on economic and competitiveness issues. She sits on the House of Lords Committee which provides prelegislative scrutiny of European infrastructure proposals. Baroness Valentine is a Non-Executive Director of Peabody, and an Honorary Fellow of St Hugh's College Oxford.

Richard De Cani

Director of Strategy and Policy, TfL


Simon Warr

Communications Director, NATS



Simon joined NATS in January 2012 from Masdar in Abu Dhabi where he was Global Head of Communications.

Formerly, he was Director of Communications and Public Affairs at Jaguar Land Rover.

For four years, during which time Ford sold Jaguar Land Rover to Tata Motors, Simon had global responsibility for all product, brand and corporate communications, as well as employee communications, reputation and issue management. He also served as a Vice President of the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce during this time. Simon started his career in journalism in the early 1990s.

Chris Rowley

Principal Strategic Planner for London and the South East, Network Rail


Nelson Ogunshakin OBE

Chief Executive, Association for Consultancy and Engineering



Nelson Ogunshakin is the chief executive of the Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE) and has been responsible for the repositioning and strategic turnaround of ACE. Before joining ACE, Nelson was managing director of consultancy AEO Group and has been chairman since 2004.  He has previously worked in a number of executive director level positions with multidisciplinary consultancies WSP Group and High Point Rendel Group. He started his career as an engineer with Carillion Group PLC.

Nelson currently serves as chair of Thomas Telford Ltd, and was an executive director of the Construction Industry Council from 2004 - 2009. Nelson was awarded an OBE in the Queen's 2010 Birthday Honours list for services to the UK and international construction and engineering industry. He was also voted one of the top 100 Influential Black People in the United Kingdom. He has also been the inaugural industry chair of the National Infrastructure Plan Strategic Engagement Forum since October 2012, alongside Danny Alexander who represents the government side.

In 2011 Nelson was awarded an honorary doctorate by his alma mater, Aston University.

Paul Wait

CEO, Guild of Travel Management Companies



Paul Wait joined the Guild of Travel Management Companies (GTMC) as chief executive in January 2013.

Wait entered the travel industry aged sixteen as a rail clerk with American Express Travel, where he moved up the ranks with an illustrious twenty-seven year career, rising to the position of VP sales.  There then followed a thirteen-year period at Virgin Atlantic Airways - culminating in GM UK, global and multinational sales.

Wait now heads up an organization whose forty members account for more than 80% of the business travel spend in the UK.

Since arriving at the GTMC Wait's mantra has been 'Travel is An Investment not a Cost'; companies must invest in business travel if they wish to see their businesses grow out of the recession.

Philippe Forest

Area Manager UK & Ireland, International Air Transport Association



I represent IATA in UK & Ireland, liaising with airlines, agents and their associations; advocating and lobbying with other industry partners and government bodies on behalf of all IATA's divisions. Furthermore I'm accountable for the operation and development of all aspects of the IATA Settlement Systems in UK & Ireland, whereby focus lies on Financial Risk management.

In the past I have worked for several renown airlines, thereby gained expertise in the areas of Customer Service Management, Airport Management, Cabin Crew Management and Inflight Service Catering. Through my language capabilities I have become cultural aware giving me the understanding and knowledge to be successful in different international markets. I developed strong leadership and people skills, while guiding and coaching colleagues and staff.

Dale Keller

Chief Executive, Board of Airline Representatives UK



Dale Keller was appointed Chief Executive of The Board of Airline Representatives in the UK (BAR UK) in November 2012, following more than 25 years' experience in the aviation, travel and tourism sector.

Since moving to the UK in 1990, the New Zealand born professional held several travel retail roles, including London Flight Centre's. A return to airline management commenced with China Airlines, followed by eight years with Air Malta, where as UK General Manager he was instrumental in restructuring the airline for entry into the EU.

Following a period at Air Mauritius as Regional Manager UK, in 2007 he joined a management buyout of specialist aviation and travel consultancy, KTA Public Relations, where he remains a consultant.

Other notable roles include holding the chairmanship of APRO (Airline Public Relations Organisation) and a previous board position with BAR UK.

Chris Chalk

Chair, The British Aviation Group



Chris Chalk is chairman of the British Aviation Group and has 35 years consultancy experience, the most recent 25 years in the aviation sector, focussed on the planning and finance of airports around the World.  He is currently in a lead role on the development of Hong Kong Airport and has previously worked on major airport upgrades, including Delhi and new/replacement airports including Quito and Istanbul.

Darren Caplan

Chief Executive, AOA



Darren Caplan has been Chief Executive of the AOA since January 2011, with 14 years' previous experience in communications, public affairs and politics in a number of sectors, including infrastructure, planning and technology.

For the four years prior to joining the AOA in 2011, he was Director of Public Affairs for full-service comms agency Brands2Life. Darren's political experience includes standing as a parliamentary candidate in the 2010 general election.

He is incredibly passionate about aviation and the benefits the sector brings, be they global trade benefits to UK plc, boosting regional and local growth, or enabling millions of people to holiday and visit friends and family in the UK and around the world.

Barry Humphreys

Past Chairman, British Air Transport Association



The British Air Transport Association is the trade body for UK-registered airlines. Its members account for some 96% of the output of the British airline industry. Dr Barry Humphreys became Non-Executive Chairman of BATA in 2009, on his retirement as Director of External Affairs and Route Development at Virgin Atlantic Airways, which he joined in 1995.  Previously he spent several years with the Civil Aviation Authority. Dr Humphreys is a Trustee of two charities, carries out occasional consultancy projects and is External Examiner for three MSc courses at City University, London. He is currently co-writing a textbook on Airline Finance.

Hugh Boulter

Aviation Consultant (ex-BA Commercial and Operational Planning)



Supporting stakeholders within aviation sector, particularly focusing on operational planning and scheduling issues including airport slots. Airport Capacity matters have been a major focus during the career in aviation.

Recently retired as Chairman of Airport Coordination Ltd Board of Directors, having served the company for over 10 years as an Executive and non Executive Director. The company is responsible for slot coordination for most UK airports along with overseas airports including Dubai and Dublin.

Retired from British Airways in 2006 after 35 years service, performing a General Manager role in the operational, strategic and slot planning for the airline. 

Paul Le Blond

Board Member and Past President, International Air Rail Organisation



Paul Le Blond is a Board Member and Past President of the International Air Rail Organisation.  IARO is a niche trade association for those involved in air-rail links, including links to airports as well as intermodality between air and long distance rail.  IARO has members all around the world who plan and operate air-rail links as well as suppliers and advisers.  IARO's mission is to spread best practice through workshops, conferences, newsletters, expert reports and one-to-one contacts, enabling members to understand the detail of how to get the best out of their air-rail link. See Paul is also a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport.

Heather Bolton

Director of South East England Councils (SEEC)



Heather Bolton is Director of South East England Councils (SEEC), a membership organisation representing the interests of local authorities in South East England, the UK's most profitable economic area. Heather works closely with elected councillors from county, district and unitary councils to make the case for funding, policy changes and infrastructure investment that will support the South East economy and the area's 8.7m residents.

Heather joined SEEC in 2010. She was previously Communications Director at South East England Development Agency, Communications Director at South East England Regional Assembly and Head of Public Affairs at Transport for London.

Colin Chick

Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning & Transport (ADEPT)



Colin Chick is Corporate Director of Environment and Regeneration at Luton Borough Council. He has extensive experience of working in the Regeneration, Engineering and Transport fields, including major highway and busway construction,Chairing the East London Line Working Group, numerous major regeneration schemes as well as being responsible for determining the proposed London Luton Airport Planning Application to nearly double its capacity and previously working on T5 and various highway and public transport airport surface access improvements.

Rob Whittle

Business Development Director, Temple



Rob is a marketing and business development professional with 25 years' experience working in professional services, mainly engineering and environmental consultancy. Prior to joining Temple, Rob held senior positions leading both marketing and BD functions at companies including; Amec Foster Wheeler, WSP Environmental and Norton Rose. During his time at Amec he oversaw key areas of their transport sector, including airports and ports.

Rob has an understanding of the complexities between the need for growth of the UK's aviation infrastructure and the sensitives that come with that in terms of communities and the environment. Rob will be able to bring his experience working in the sector, as well as Temple's track record advising major UK airports on environmental assessments, to his role on the advisory board.

Justin Symonds

Partner and Co-founder, Hillbrook Partners



Justin has over 20 years of strategic and financial advisory experience with corporate, government and financial clients in the Transport and Infrastructure sectors. He has advised on a wide range of M&A, capital raising and strategic projects for airports, airlines, bus, rail, shipping and logistics companies.

He is a co-founder of Hillbrook Partners, an independent corporate finance advisory firm which is focused on the Transport and Infrastructure sectors. Prior to that, he was Head of Transport Advisory at RBS. He began his banking career with Natwest Markets, following which he worked in the Transportation team of Morgan Stanley.

Justin holds a Master's degree in Air Transport Management from Cranfield University, and an Honours degree in Modern History from Oxford University

Cllr W Jamie Macrae

Chair SASIG (Strategic Aviation Special Interest Group)


Nigel Schofield

Director, Cheshire and Warrington LEP



Nigel is Director of the Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership and Group Commercial Director, Cresta World Travel. He is committed to supporting economic development in the North West. This includes chairing the Macclesfield Chamber of Commerce and Enterprise Highways and Transport subcommittee, whose remit focuses upon the economic benefits of the development of an enhanced transport infrastructure across the region, and the development of air service and rail connections to support the needs of the business community. 

An economics graduate, Nigel has held a number of marketing and corporate planning roles including marketing director of Manchester Airport and vice president of British Aerospace Commercial Aircraft. In 1992 Nigel and his wife set up a travel management company, which has since expanded to become the second largest such company in the North. It includes two business travel management companies, a retail travel agency, a long-haul specialist tour operator and three specialist sports tour operators.

Graeme Power-Hosking

Global Aviation Sector Lead, Bechtel




Steve Large

Director, Cemex


Chris Welsh

Director of Global and European Policy, Freight Transport Association



Chris Welsh was appointed Secretary General of the Global Shippers' Forum with effect from 1 July 2011.

From 1997-2002 Chris was Secretary General of the European Shippers' Council (ESC) where he played the prominent role in deregulating EU shipping and air cargo markets, spear-heading a series of successful maritime legal cases culminating in the repeal of anti-trust immunity for liner shipping conferences in trades to and from Europe in 2006.

Chris has held a variety of senior management roles for the UK Freight Transport Association, and is currently Director of Global and European Policy and is a member of FTA's Leadership Board. In 1992 he establishing FTA's Brussels operations and in 2010 set up FTA Ireland a new independent multimodal logistics trade association for Irish shippers and logistics interests.

Chris holds a Masters Degree in Business Administration (MBA), is a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CMILT) and a Member of the Chartered Management Institute (MCMI).

Gold Partners

Barton Willmore
pinsent masons

Silver Partner



London First
Constructing Excellence
Movers & Shakers Property Networking Forum

Media Partner

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