Marnie Millard

Our popular business masterclasses have been running for over 10 years, engaging participants of our business engagement programmes and drawing significant audiences from across the North West's SME networks.

Our latest ‌series includes inspirational speakers who all have a passion for business and want to share their knowledge and expertise. We'd like to thank NatWest for supporting our current masterclass series.

To join our masterclasses or find out more, please contact us.

Tony Anderson, easyJet

easy come, easy go: the inside story of the easyJet start-up: 24th October 2018

As one of the top names in marketing in the UK, Tony Anderson will share his inside story of how he personally coordinated, implemented and oversaw the start-up airline’s route to becoming a major force in European aviation. Tony saw the easyGroup expand, permeating new business areas ranging from car rental and cinemas to a chain of internet cafes. As a result, Tony’s experience and business acumen deepened. With astute marketing experience under his belt, Tony will share his story of successes and failures in his masterclass.



Tony Anderson

Andy Rubin, Pentland Brands Ltd

Building brands in a VUCA world: 21st November 2018

Pentland is the name behind some of the world’s best sports, outdoor and fashion brands. A third-generation, family-owned business – with strong family values. Andy Rubin will be discussing the ways in which Pentland is constantly evolving to keep ahead and continually rejuvenating brands to keep them relevant to changing consumer tastes. This means creating products that meet the demanding standards expected by their customers. It means hiring the best people and making sure they support them to achieve their best. And it means striving to ensure that their suppliers and other partners work in the same, people-centred way. 

Andy Rubin

Nigel Mills, The Lakes Distillery

How to build a Global Luxury Whisky Brand in the Lake District National Park: 30th January 2019

Nigel Mills CBE’s masterclass is an opportunity to hear the story of how two entrepreneurs set out to create a global luxury whisky brand. In six years they’ve gone from an abandoned old Victorian model farm, to an award winning, household name. Their success lies in the natural resources of the Lake District National Park, the passion of the local people and the Governments Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS).

Nigel studied Economics, Accountancy and Law at Lancaster University before joining Pricewaterhouse as an article clerk, where he qualified as a chartered accountant (ICAEW) in 1984. He establish a national chain of 77 convenience stores and 8 supermarkets, which employed over 2,000 people and turned over £170m pa. These were later sold to Tesco. Nigel then went on to co-found The Lakes Distillery in April 2012, which is now England’s leading whisky distillery.

Please note, this Masterclass has now sold out.

Nigel Mills

Vikas Shah, Swiscot

Building , Losing and Rebuilding it all: 27th February 2019

Vikas Shah MBE started his first business aged just 14 just before the .com boom took him on the most remarkable journey building a global presence before the age of 18. In this illuminating talk, Vikas talks about life during the .com boom, losing it all when the bubble burst, and rebuilding his career building an international textiles and commodities trading business, angel investing, teaching at some of the world’s top universities and unexpected journeys into feature film and interviewing the people that have shaped our world. He shares key insights into building sustainable scaling businesses, resilience, and leadership.

Vikas is one of the UK’s highest profile entrepreneurs and business commentators. He holds a Professorship at MIT Sloan (The Lisbon MBA), and is an Honorary Professor at University of Manchester. 

Vikas Shah

Heike O'Leary, Lookers PLC

Merging brands - Branding a merger: 27th March 2019

Heike O’Leary, Group Marketing Director of leading UK motor retailer Lookers, will discuss how to best integrate a new brand into the group during a string of acquisitions. Lookers has grown significantly both organically and through various acquisitions to represent 32 vehicle manufacturers, selling a huge range of cars from value to prestige at over 160 franchised dealerships across the UK and Ireland. One major acquisition forced Lookers to re-evaluate and evolve their own retail brand. Heike will talk about the clear set of Lookers values that underpin the acquisition strategy now, how the transition process is managed to communicate these values, and how both partners should learn and evolve from the process.



Heike O'Leary

Jackie Daniel, NHS

Liberating Potential to Create a Sustainable NHS: 8th May 2019

The NHS is facing some of its greatest challenges since inception over 70 years ago. If the NHS is to be sustainable for a further 70 years we need radical innovation and transformation to underpin its future. Jackie will offer insights from her past NHS experiences and her role as Chief Executive across a number of sectors about the things that will be increasingly important in guaranteeing the future of our health and care system. She will touch on a range of issues including the importance of integration and system working, leveraging the potential from the NHS workforce and harnessing the very latest technology and treatments.

Jackie Daniel

Previous Masterclasses

Discover the highlights from our previous masterclass speakers.