The Business of Events: First speakers and contributors confirmed for UK Policy Forum


The Business of Events is pleased to announce its first confirmed speakers and contributors ahead of its UK Policy Forum, which takes place on 8th November at IET London: Savoy Place.

The strong line-up includes BBC Newsnight Political Editor Nicholas Watt, major event producer Martin Green CBE, Identity’s Michael Gietzen, Theresa Villiers MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Events, and Shonali Devereaux, who will moderate the event.

The forum is an official participating event as part of International Trade Week, which takes place from 06 – 10 November 2023, and is run by the Department for Business & Trade.

The UK Policy Forum will bring together government officials and political experts from the beyond the events sector with the objective of enhancing communication between the industry and Westminster, as well as developing a Policy Agenda.

Sessions at the Forum include the export and inbound value of tradeshows, exporting creativity and ‘soft power’ potential of events, and the importance of ambassador programmes to drive innovation and change.

The first speakers to be confirmed are:

Nicholas Watt, Political Editor, BBC Newsnight

Nick Watt has worked in national journalism for more than 30 years, reporting on UK and EU politic. Since joining BBC Newsnight as its Political Editor in 2016, Nick has become a familiar figure across BBC television and radio, reporting on the rollercoaster of UK politics since the Brexit referendum. This has seen five prime ministers come and go. Nick also regularly appears on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, the World at One, PM and the World Tonight. He can also be heard chewing the fat about the political world as a presenter of the Westminster Hour on Radio 4 on Sunday nights.

Before joining the BBC, Nick worked as the Guardian’s Chief Political Correspondent and as its European Editor based in Brussels. He started his career at The Times where he worked as a Political Correspondent and, between 1993-1997, as Ireland Correspondent based in Belfast. Nick has returned regularly to Northern Ireland for the Guardian and the BBC ever since then.

Theresa Villiers MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Events

Theresa Villiers has been the Member of Parliament for Chipping Barnet since 2005. She has held many positions in this time, including Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, a Minister of State in the Department of Transport and Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

She is the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Events and will share with the forum the view from Westminster.

Martin Green CBE, Producer

Martin has masterminded some of Britain’s most significant major cultural events including the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Opening and Closing Ceremonies, Hull UK City of Culture 2017, Unboxed; Creativity in the UK and most recently the ceremonies and cultural programmes for Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022. In 2023 he led Eurovision in Liverpool on behalf of Ukraine.

Such success has earned Martin an international reputation. He was an advisor to the Japan 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games and the Dubai Expo 2020. In 2018 He was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Hull and made CBE in The Queen’s New Year Honours List.

Michael Gietzen, CEO, Identity

Identity has run some of the biggest events globally, including COP26 and COP28, the G7 Summit in 2021, and events such as the London New Year’s Eve fireworks display. Michael will sit on a panel discussing the UK’s leading role in exporting creativity around the world and how major events are a great form of soft power, by way of positive attraction and persuasion to achieve policy objectives.

Shonali Devereaux – moderator

The UK Policy Forum will be moderated by Shonali Devereaux. After 25 years in the events industry, Shonali now spends her time helping people find their voice. Through her business Profeshonali, she coaches and mentors in confidence and public speaking. She elevates others’ voices through her work as an emcee and facilitator with and has co-founded the Diverse Speaker Bureau to bring more and diverse voices to debates. She also inspires new generations of event professionals by lecturing in Events and Tourism at the University of Hertfordshire.

Her past career involved working on international mega-events (ranging from the Olympics to the Political Party Conferences) and in fundraising (for the British Heart Foundation and Pride). She has run her own company, gained an award-winning master’s degree with distinction as a mature student, led a team that raised up to £10M for charity and given a TEDx talk about the principles of improvisational theatre, which she brings to all aspects of her work and life.

Further speaker announcements will be made shortly.

The event is invitation only. You can register your interest here.

Adam Parry
Author: Adam Parry

Adam is the co-founder and editor of Adam, a technology evangelist also organises Event Tech Live, Europe’s only show dedicated to event technology and the Event Technology Awards. Both events take place in November, London.

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