Our Speakers

Mark Scott

Mark Scott

Founder, Bella & Duke

The heartbreak of losing a pet through ill health is never easy and when friends Mark Scott and Tony Ottley lost three dogs to cancer, they launched Bella & Duke, a pet food company providing 100% natural, healthy, nutritious raw meals for dogs and cats alike. 
 
Bella & Duke have taken the pet food industry by storm growing organically into a multi-million pound business in just eight short years. Having recently celebrated their biggest year yet (delivering over 15 million meals and featuring on the first ever Scotland Fast Growth 50 index), this is your chance to hear Mark share the Bella & Duke story and learn how they’ve become one of the fastest growing businesses in the UK. 

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Rosie Brown

Rosie Brown

Co-CEO, COOK

Rosie Brown joins us to share how, through a focus on purpose, people and the planet, COOK has grown into a business with annual turnover exceeding £100 million, defining the standards for others in the industry. 

From being named the #1 Best British Food and Drink Company to work for, and a success built without ever having been stocked in a major supermarket,  discover more about the origins and growth of the UK's biggest name in frozen meals.

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Irene Graham OBE

Irene Graham OBE

Founding CEO and Board Director, ScaleUp Institute

According to the 2023 ScaleUp Institute Annual Review, there are 870 scale ups registered in the North East and Teesside, which whilst improving, is still one of the lowest numbers in the UK.  

To understand more about the North East's performance, and to get a greater picture of the region's density of scale-ups, Irene will draw upon the latest ScaleUp Institute findings and offer solutions, insights and advice to empower North East businesses to achieve their growth ambitions. 

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Darren Edwards

Darren Edwards

Recordbreaking Disabled Adventurer

Since sustaining the life-changing injury that left him paralysed from the chest down, Darren has focussed his recovery by taking on new and ambitious challenges – whether that's by becoming the first person with a disability to complete the iconic World Marathon Challenge (7 marathons in 7 days across 7 continents, or leading a small team across Antarctica to reach the South Pole. 

Discover how, with determination, grit, and an unwavering commitment to expanding his horizons, Darren has continued to embrace challenges and risk failure in order to achieve his true potential. 

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Julia Hoggett

Julia Hoggett

CEO, London Stock Exchange

Julia took over the role of chief executive of the London Stock Exchange in April 2021, managing the continued impact of the pandemic. Just as it began to subside, inflation and a major land war in Europe upended markets and unleashed major volatility.

Join us as she delivers a lightning talk on capital markets and their impact on the North East economy.

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Alfie Joey (Host)

Alfie Joey (Host)

Alfie Joey is one of the region's finest entertainers, known for his quick wit, hilarious storytelling and infectious energy on stage. In addition to his work as an entertainer, Alfie is a highly regarded illustrator, broadcaster, podcasters, communication coach, TedX speaker, impressionist, interviewer, charity auctioneer, motivator, children's author... take your pick!

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Panel Discussion

Inclusion for Entrepreneurs

Bringing together industry leaders and experts, our panel discussion will explore why entrepreneurial businesses should be looking closely at how inclusive they really are. We will discuss the opportunities which a diverse and inclusive workplace can bring and how you can take action today to start building a more inclusive culture for your own organisation.  

From addressing unconscious biases to implementing inclusive policies, our panellists will share insights on creating environments where all voices are not only heard but valued. 

Ammar Mirza CBE (Host)

Ammar Mirza CBE (Host)

Multi-award-winning entrepreneur 

With infectious enthusiasm, a warm reception and a passion for helping others, Ammar Mirza CBE is a man on a mission: to propel the North East to new heights.

This ambition, combined with his strong work ethic and entrepreneurial drive, led him to create the Asian Business Connexions (ABC) in 2009 to tackle inequalities, promote community cohesion and address the lack of access to existing business support programmes amongst the Asian community in the region. 

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Gill Hunter

Gill Hunter

Managing Partner, Square One Law

Gill Hunter is many things – a disability rights and LGBTQ activist, feminist, mother, charity champion, podcast host and managing partner at Square One Law – and she’s on a mission to drive positive change and create opportunity for all.  

Adopting a progressive approach to work, Gill has created an inclusive and diverse workforce where people are encouraged to do three things: be themselves, have their clients’ back and be fearless business champions. 

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Julia Hoggett

Julia Hoggett

CEO, London Stock Exchange

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