Previous speaker profiles


Amee Chande

Managing Director, Global Strategy & Operations at Alibaba Group            

Amee Chande was the one of the first international leaders recruited to join Alibaba Group, (THE LARGEST RETAILER IN THE WORLD) in September 2015. As part of the international leadership team, she is shaping the globalisation strategy of Alibaba
Prior to her current global strategy role for Alibaba Group, Ms. Chande built the UK office as the hub for Alibaba Group in Europe, leveraging her global leadership experience with large retailers and established brands to and bring the best of the Alibaba ecosystem to businesses and consumers in the region.

Prior to joining Alibaba, Ms. Chande served as Managing Director of NutriCentre, a health and wellness subsidiary of Tesco, from 2013 to 2015. She previously spent four years with Staples, most recently as Managing Director of the UK business. Before joining Staples, Ms. Chande held a number of senior roles at Wal-Mart where she was the company’s youngest officer. She began her career as a strategy consultant with McKinsey & Company where she spent eight years working with a broad range of retail and consumer goods companies. 

Ms. Chande is active in the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, where she serves as a global Board member and chairs the Fund Development Committee. She also serves on the London Board of the Young Presidents’ Organization.

Ms. Chande earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Simon Fraser University, a master’s degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from the London School of Economics, and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

John Browett

Chief Executive at Dunelm Group plc AssetAltText

John joined Dunelm Group plc, the leading specialist out-of-town homewares retailer, in July 2015 as Chief Executive Designate and officially took over the role of Chief Executive in January 2016. Previous to joining Dunelm John was CEO at the fashion retailer Monsoon Accessorize Ltd and before that Dixons Retail, with a stint in between at Apple Inc. as Head of Retail. During his time at Dixons, he was responsible for major improvements in customer service, helping the business to shape its post-internet retail offering.
Prior to this he worked at Tesco plc in a number of roles, including CEO of and a group operational role where he focused on improving service and productivity. John is also a Non- Executive Director of Octopus Investments and has a Degree in Natural Sciences from Cambridge University and an MBA degree from Wharton Business School. 

Helen Dickinson

Chief Executive of British Retail ConsortiumAssetAltText

Helen leads the BRC team and is responsible for the strategic direction and performance of the BRC. She brings a wealth of experience working with retailers for over 20 years. Helen took her role at the BRC on 1 January 2013 and is very privileged to have the opportunity of driving the BRC's mission to make a positive difference to the retail industry through advancing vibrant and consumer focused retail and helping to shape the future of the industry, working our members and our diverse stakeholders.

Helen was previously Head of Retail at KPMG, where she had overall responsibility for leading and developing KPMG's retail practice in the UK. Over her KPMG career, Helen worked with retailers across all sectors and led the relationships and the audits for many clients since becoming a partner in 2002.

Helen is also Chairman for Working Chance, a great charity with a fresh approach to helping women offenders find rewarding, quality employment and has a passion for the development of the retail industry's female talent and is a Judge of the Everywoman Retail Ambassadors Programme.



Wilf Walsh

CEO of Carpet RightAssetAltText

Wilf has been Chief Executive of Carpetright plc since July 2014. He has held senior positions in various roles in the Betting and Gaming industry most recently as Chairman of Fortuna Entertainment Group NV a business he led to a successful IPO in 2010. He was Managing Director of bookmakers Coral from 2000 to 2008 and was part of the team that took the business through two private equity transactions.

Prior to that he was Managing Director of HMV Germany and Operations Director for the UK. He is a Non-Executive Director of the Gala Coral Group. Wilf graduated in Law from Leeds University and is a Chartered Fellow of the Institute of Personnel and Development.

Beth Butterwick

Managing Director of Bon Marche

Appointed to the Group in 2011, Beth led the turnaround of the new business strategy. This enabled the sale and successful acquisition of Bonmarche to Sun Europe, an affiliate of Sun Capital Partners, Inc, in January 2012. With over 25 years’ retail experience, Beth started her career as a graduate trainee with Marks & Spencer plc where she progressed to Head of Buying for the Accessories Group.

She joined Gap Inc as part of the Senior Management Team responsible for the European expansion. Following this, she was appointed as Commercial Director at MS Mode BV, based in the Netherlands, where she played a key part in its performance improvement, prior to its acquisition by Excellent Retail Brands Group in January 2011. She will be transitioning to Karen Millen as their new CEO this year.

View previous Academy speakers here.



Cormac Tobin - MD - Celesio UK

During early 2013 Cormac Tobin was appointed as managing director at Celesio UK, one of the nation’s largest providers of healthcare services, after successfully leading the Celesio Group’s business in Ireland for six years. Cormac is also on the Leadership Team for Celesio’s International parent company Celesio AG, which also includes holding regional responsibility for LloydsPharmacy Ireland.

Through its six main businesses – LloydsPharmacy (with 1,600 pharmacies UK-wide), AAH Pharmaceuticals, Evolution Homecare, Wilkinsons Healthcare, LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor and Betterlife – Celesio UK has a significant presence across the secondary, primary and homecare sectors. LloydsPharmacy also has a substantial market share within the Irish pharmacy sector.

Cormac began his career with the Irish retailer Superquinn at just 13 years of age, but quickly progressed through the company holding several management roles until being promoted to Board Member in 2002.

In 2005, Superquinn was acquired by Select Retail Holdings where Cormac was appointed Development & Strategic Director.

In 2006, Cormac became Managing Director of DocMorris/Unicarepharmacy and successfully led the strategic development of the business resulting in a growth of 50% in sales over six years as well as several awards for creative and innovative retail store initiatives.

DocMorris/Unicarepharmacy had also won prestigious awards for Best Employer and Best Workplace under Cormac’s direction: in 2010 the company was selected to represent Ireland in the European Business Awards for best employer. 

Catriona Marshall - Chief Executive - Hobbycraft

Catriona Marshall is the Chief Executive of specialist retailer Hobbycraft, which has over 80 stores and a fast growing on-line business in arts and crafts. Prior to joining Hobbycraft in 2011, Catriona was the Trading & Marketing Director of pet food and accessories retailer Pets at Home, where she was responsible for its brand and in-store customer proposition development as well as its multi-channel presence. She joined Pets at Home in 2003 from Wal-Mart, where she was Private Label Director for Wal-Mart Europe and had worked previously for Kraft and Mars Confectionery.

"I'm very much looking forward to speaking at the Academy School this summer. It will be a pleasure and a privilege to share time and experience with our future retail leaders. Retail is such a rich and dynamic environment to build a career that I'm looking forward to sharing my experiences and insights and hopefully motivating and inspiring others to contribute to business and society through this sector.

We make a material contribution to the economy from GDP to employment and as such have a responsibility to stimulate growth and manage our businesses responsibly. We also have the enjoyment of a fast-paced, transforming sector that thrives on competition and change."

George MacDonald - Executive Editor - Retail Week

George MacDonald is the Executive Editor of Retail Week.

He has worked on the title since 1998, originally starting as a reporter and covered sectors ranging from food to department stores

He is in day-to-day charge of Retail Week's editorial content online and in print. He writes a weekly column and blogs.

George has interviewed many of the biggest names in retail and is often asked to comment in the wider media on the latest industry developments

Martijn Bertisen - Senior Industry Head, Retail - Google UK

Martijn is responsible for leading Google’s eCommerce initiatives and strategies across a large portfolio of retail clients. This involves the management of a sales and account management team that shares the benefits of Google advertising solutions and other products directly with senior level executives.

Over the last six years Martijn has worked with and developed a deep understanding of some of the world’s leading retail businesses and has helped them get the most out of the web. 

Martijn says:

"Digital has been disruptive to the retail industry over the last two decades, but it has also created unbelievable opportunities for retailers. Those that were early adopters have seen much faster growth than those not adopting the web. With the emergence of mobile and the increasingly global nature of ecommerce the fast and agile will continue to win."

Paul Anderson-Walsh - Director - Simply L&D

Paul is the former CEO of The Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust. He began his career in retail as the manager of a boutique in Chelsea where he became the main buyer. In the mid-80s Paul entered the financial services industry with the merchant bank Schroders. Paul subsequently established himself as an independent Management Consultant specialising in leadership accession, managing change, brand development and bid writing.

Paul has extensive experience in facilitating high-level strategic change workshops, which include instructor-led training sessions. Over the past 15 years, he has worked with a wide variety of companies and individuals and is  highly regarded for his ability to help management teams work together.

Tim Danaher - Partner - Brunswick Group (and former Editor of Retail Week)


Steve Connell - Owner - Inspire

Corporate and Consumer markets as well as the Retail, Financial Services, Leisure, Hotels and Hospitality verticals. Steve is the Programme Director for the OSS Academy. A delegate in 1994, Steve served as a Group Director for 8 years and Vice Chairman for two before becoming Summer School Chairman for 4 years between 2005 and 2008. In 2003 Steve established inspire, a sales, marketing and management development company. Steve has a degree in marketing and a strong sales, service and marketing background. He has significant experience of the

Through inspire, Steve offers a range of services including consulting on business strategy, sales and marketing, training and development, coaching, facilitation and lecturing, both in the UK and overseas. He is a strategic thinker and an enthusiastic and energetic leader as well as a fluent, articulate, persuasive and inspirational communicator. With highly developed coaching and motivational skills Steve is a proven presenter with experience of conference speaking, after dinner speaking, chairing and presenting at industry events and customer board presentations. Steve is also an author with his first book, Personal Brand Essence published in May 2009 and another on the way.

David Meckin - Managing Director - Insight Financial Consulting

David Meckin has over twenty-five years’ commercial experience, which encompasses several senior management positions, including that of finance director of a multinational business. His work has involved him in the financial management of companies in the United Kingdom, Europe, the Middle East and North America. He regularly delivers management workshops and presents at conferences to managers from all over the world.

In 1988 he set up Insight Financial Consulting to provide consulting solutions and tailored in-house training programmes, aimed at enhancing commercial performance. Over the years he has developed a reputation for demystifying what is often perceived as a complex topic, making the world of finance interesting, easy to understand and even fun!


Jeremy Seigal - CEO - White Stuff

Jeremy is Chief Executive of White Stuff Limited, having taken up this role early in 2013; he is also a Trustee of the White Stuff Foundation. Additionally, he is a retail advisor to ScotMid Co-operative.

From 2008 to 2012 Jeremy was CEO at AS Watson UK Ltd, part of Hong Kong based Hutchison Whampoa, where he led Superdrug Stores, Savers and The Perfume Shop.

In the early 1990’s he co-founded The Perfume Shop, which was sold to AS Watson in 2005, and he continued as Managing Director until 2008. Jeremy started his retail career with The Burton Group at Top Shop and Debenhams after beginning at HM Treasury and The Boston Consulting Group.

Jeremy graduated in Engineering Science & Economics at Christ Church Oxford and has an MBA from The Graduate School of Business, Stanford University, California where he was a Fulbright and an Arjay Millar Scholar.

Jeremy Says:

“I am excited to be part of the fantastic OSS programme in 2014. Developing great talent is essential in our industry, and I am honoured to be able to speak to so many individuals who will make such an impact in the future.”

Vanessa Gold - Managing Director - Ann Summers

Vanessa is Managing Director of Ann Summers and Knickerbox, one of the UK’s most well known high street retailers offering customers a unique shopping experience. Ann Summers is one of the UK’s most successful family run businesses with 145 retail stores, a thriving e-commerce site and over 7,000 party planners.

Since her appointment in June 2011 as MD, Vanessa has focussed on the completion of the new brand delivery including the award winning new concept store at the Westfield Stratford City Shopping Mall, improving infrastructure and starting the business on its journey to becoming a true multi-channel retailer.

Vanessa continues to oversee the new brand implementation and works closely with CEO Jacqueline Gold to develop new opportunities and partnerships for the business.

Vanessa Says:

“I can't wait to to be a part of the OSS programme which really understands the need to develop great talent in the industry. Supporting our colleagues is important when working in an ever evolving environment such as retail.”

Past speakers also include:

  • Justin King - CEO - Sainsburys
  • Mark Price - MD - Waitrose
  • Laura Wade-Gery - Executive Director, Multi-channel E-commerce - Marks & Spencer
  • Beverley Aspinall - Managing Director, Fortnum & Mason PLC
  • Marco Capello - Chairman, Liberty
  • Stephen Robertson - Director General, British Retail Consortium
  • Tony Wheeler - Managing Director, Peter Jones, John Lewis Partnership
  • Joseph Wan - Chief Executive, Harvey Nichols
  • Susan Aubrey-Cound - Director of Multi Channel Development, Marks & Spencer
  • Mark Newton-Jones - Group Chief Executive, Shop Direct Group
  • Marigay McKee - Director of Fashion & Beauty, Harrods
  • Nick Robertson - Chief Executive, ASOS

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