Summer Conference

12 - 14 June 2024
Queen's University Belfast


Declan Curry, Business broadcaster and journalist 

Declan presented business news on BBC One's breakfast television for almost a decade. He also hosted BBC Two's Working Lunch and programmes about strategy and leadership on BBC Radio 5 Live, and about personal finance on the BBC News TV channel.

Kevin Jackson, Director of Ideas and Innovation, The Experience is the Marketing

A trailblazer and visionary in the world of marketing, Kevin has left an indelible mark with global marketing services giants like Interpublic, Grey, Saatchi, and later, in the dynamic live space with Jack Morton and George P Johnson. 

Kate Russell, Journalist, reporter and author

Kate Russell has been writing about technology, gaming and the Internet since 1995. She’s been a regular on BBC technology programme Click for over a decade and writes for National Geographic Traveller magazine.

His broadcasts on Breakfast covered a wide range of stories about business, work and money, he extracted news and views from chief executives, trade union leaders, stock market watchers, private investors and individual workers.

He formerly broadcast for the BBC's international news channel, BBC World, and he reported as the business commentator in the United States for ABC News for nearly a decade.

He currently broadcasts for the commerical news radio station, LBC News. He has been published in newspapers, magazines and websites in the UK, Ireland and the United States.


Amidst a diverse array of brands, from Adidas to Zumba, Kevin has consistently explored every facet of the marketing landscape. 

Over the span of thirty years, as marketing ecosystems have undergone evolution, Kevin's unwavering focus remains on driving innovation and fostering creative thinking. His commitment is not just to adapt to change but to catalyze business growth.

Kevin's true passion lies in unleashing the potential of his clients, guiding them towards authentic growth. A fervent advocate for engagement, participation, and action, he ensures that every event transcends into a memorable and meaningful brand experience, creating what he calls the 'lean forward moment.'

According to Kevin, "Great communication used to be about what you said to people, now it’s what you DO for people. Involving them in the story is fundamental, the same is true of growth." His programs exemplify the evolving psychological landscape and demonstrate that despite changes, our fundamental purpose remains the same—a concept he finds thrilling.

In Kevin's own words, "Making the pathway to growth easy, so everyone gets it, watching light bulbs go on all over the room is so exciting. Corporate growth comes from personal growth, and making that happen is rewarding for the people I do it with, the brands, and companies I do it for, and for me." Kevin's legacy lies in seamlessly intertwining innovation and creative thinking into the fabric of business growth.


Kate received her first break on TV after being encouraged to apply for a job advertising for a ‘young & funky’ female presenter who knew about video game for a new show on Nickelodeon. Kate got the job and presented the show for three series, cohosting with Mike McClean and an animated fish called Bert.

Kate was a regular expert on the sofa at ITV’s Daybreak and various other TV and radio stations, she also writes columns for National Geographic Traveller magazine.

In addition to her prolific writing and TV career Kate speaks regularly at technology events and conferences and in schools and Universities inspiring the next generation of technologists. She also gets involved in policy meetings that aim to shape the way the Internet is governed in the UK.

In 2013 she crowd-funded more than 400% of her target to write her first book. Kate has since published two novels and continues to write sci-fi and fantasy.

Her website won the 2015 UK Blog Awards for best individual digital and technology blog, and she has been featured as one of the top 50 most influential women in UK IT by Computer Weekly magazine for the last two years.

When she isn’t busy writing, presenting, and inspiring the next generation, Kate finds time to run 6.5k three times a week and spends far too much time on Twitter advising people about the best web resources for their day-today needs.

Leon Diop, Co-founder & Chief Executive, Black and Irish

Leon Diop is an award winning author, DEI global speaker and co-founder and chief executive
of Black and Irish. 

Pete Maginn, Managing Director, Commercial Insight, Beano Brain

Pete has over two decades of kids, teens and families insight experience, having spent his own teenage & young adult years leading peers across a number of residential camps, tours & social action projects - as well as a brief stint as a Nursery School Assistant.

Tim Daplyn, Founder & CEO, Global Student Living

Tim is the CEO of Global Student Living, the world’s leading student housing data and analytics firm. Proudly founded in the UK, Global Student Living now provides insights and advice to hundreds of PBSA investors, operators and developers across more than 17 countries and 4 continents

He is a mixed race man from Tallaght, Dublin. He was born to a white Irish catholic mother and a black Senegalese islamic father. He grew up in Dublin with a vast range of experience before going to Maynooth University. Leon graduated from Maynooth with a
degree in psychology before going on to be Maynooth Students’ Union President for two terms.

In June of 2020 he founded Black and Irish. An organisation working on the behalf of Black and
mixed race people in Ireland. He is the co-author of Black and Irish: Legends, Trailblazers and
Everyday Heroes and a host of the Black and Irish podcast with RTE. He currently serves on the
board of the Childhood Development Initiative, Tallaght, South Dublin County Partnership and
Work Equal.

His wealth of insight agency experience includes working for global, blue-chip brands and businesses helping them understand, explore and strategically plan around kids’ and young peoples’ behaviour & attitudes. This has included working with clients such as BBC, Disney, NatWest, NBCUniversal Netflix, Sky, Spotify, the V&A,  Warner Bros. Discovery and Young Minds, as well as Middlesex University & LSBU in the HE sector. His perspective is truly cross-generational due to his long-term focus on kids & young people and helps clients and organisations understand the unique attributes of Generation Alpha whilst also preparing them for what this Generation will mean for them as they grow up. He is a regular, expert speaker at conferences and events including the Children’s Media Conference, Quirks London & New York, various MRS conferences and previously at CUBO as we emerged from the pandemic.


Helen McNeely, Head of Student  and Academic Affairs, Queen's University Belfast

Helen McNeely has been the Head of Student Affairs at Queen’s for the last 16 years and during that time has overseen the growth in our student support services as the University responds to the changing needs of students.

Caroline Young, Vice-President of Students and Corporate Services, Queen’s University Belfast 

Caroline is Vice-President of Students and Corporate Services at Queen’s University Belfast and is responsible for all aspects of the student experience delivered through the Directorates of Queen’s Global (Marketing, International Partnerships and Student Recruitment), Student and Campus Experience and Educational Development and Academic Services. 

Ciaran Higgins, Director, Queen’s University Students’ Union  

Ciaran has worked for over 10 years as Director of Queen’s University Students’ Union, leading the Strategic direction of the Union, as well as the day to day management of an extensive range student services, with a view to delivering an excellent student experience and representation for over 24,000 students at Queen’s.  

Her areas of responsibility during her time at Queens have included Wellbeing, Counselling, Immigration Support, Disability Support, Learning Development, Widening Participation, Quality Assurance and Appeals and Complaints.

Helen is committed to working with colleagues across Professional Services and the academic community to help achieve positive outcomes for students. Helen is also a member of the AMOSSHE Executive.  

Her role involves the leadership of various University services which deliver the marketing recruitment and admissions of students from home and international markets, overseeing the enrolment and registration of students and many of the educational support services available to them during their time at Queen’s, as well as campus life and the overall student experience including their final graduation day.

During her 18 years at Queen’s, Caroline has held the positions of Director of Accommodation and Hospitality, Director of Student Plus and has been responsible for the University’s Student Accommodation portfolio, including its growth from 1,600 – 3,500 rooms and investment of over £100m.  Caroline is a passionate advocate for students, working closely with the Students’ Union to ensure that the University provides a positive and holistic student experience.  Parallel to this, Caroline is an advocate for Queen’s as a great place to work and has been committed to creating a positive, creative and supportive workplace. 

Prior to Queen’s Caroline worked in Sales, Marketing and Business Development with a variety of hotel companies and golf resorts throughout the UK, Ireland and in Europe.  She has extensive senior management experience in the hospitality, service and leisure industry within both commercial and higher education sectors.

Caroline is passionate about volunteering and is a Non-Executive Board member of Choice Housing, Visit Belfast and a Governor of Victoria College Belfast.

Prior to joining Queen’s he worked in economic and community development and has held the position of non-executive director on a number of Boards.     

Charlotte Axon, Lead People Scientist, Tailored Thinking

Charlotte is a Lead People Scientist at Tailored Thinking, specialising in encouraging and enabling individuals and teams to personalise their work.

Olan Garrett, Vice President, Acuho-i and Associate Vice President of Student Affairs, Temple University

Olan Garrett is the ACUHO-I Vice President, he is the also associate vice president for student affairs at Temple University, Philadelphia. 

Rachael McGuickin, Director of Business Development, Sustainability and Transformation, Visit Belfast

Rachael has over 18 years sales and marketing experience working in senior international roles across tourism, economic development and higher education. She leads a multi-award-winning team at Visit Belfast where she is currently Director of Business Development, Sustainability and Transformation.

Charlotte has worked in a variety of HR, inclusion and organisation development roles across the Higher Education sector, having led and supported projects relating to culture, change, inclusion and recruitment. She has a specialist interest in inclusion and belonging, and is passionate about making work better for everyone. Charlotte also has a wealth of experience in people analytics and how to practically use and apply these insights to make positive changes to the employee experience across organisations. 

Charlotte has a first class Master’s Degree in Occupational Psychology, and is a member of the British Psychological Society (BPS) Division of Occupational Psychology (DOP). She has published research focused on leadership, and presented her work at various conferences.

With over 23 years of experience in student affairs and housing/residence life, Olan is a strategic leader and a passionate advocate for student success and well-being.

As the Associate Vice President for Student Affairs at Temple University, he oversees the strategic planning, operations management, and daily supervision of various organisational components, including housing and residential life, student centers, and campus recreation. He also serves on the senior leadership team for the Division of Student Affairs and contributes to the development and implementation of a comprehensive housing program for approximately 6,000 on-campus students. His mission is to create a safe, inclusive, and supportive environment that fosters learning and development for all students.

As a member of Visit Belfast’s executive leadership team, she is responsible for promoting Belfast internationally as a leading business events, cruise and group tour destination to help deliver inclusive and sustainable growth for the city region. Visit Belfast work with Queen’s University, Ulster University, Invest NI and over 1400 business, academic and medical leaders to attract strategic events to Belfast and Northern Ireland that can also promote the region as a place to visit, do business, study, work, live and invest in.  

Rachael is responsible for leading out on Belfast’s ‘sustainable tourism’ programme as one of the 30 transformational change projects within city’s resilience strategy and climate plan. As a result, Belfast has gone from second last in the Global Destination Sustainability Index to 11th in the world across 100 leading destinations. 

Working for the city’s destination marketing and management organisation, Rachael has gained an extensive network across the public and private sector, working collaboratively with a diverse range of stakeholders and partners to support city development. 

In addition to her role with Visit Belfast, Rachael is a member of the Belfast Resilience and Sustainability Board and a Trustee of the Strand Arts Centre supporting a multi-million pound regeneration project as part of the UK Government’s Levelling Up fund. 

Carol Thomas, Accommodation Services Manager, University of the Arts, London

I am a woman of colour with lived experiences and more than 20 years' experience as a senior manager within Students Services, Accommodation Services, and the voluntary sector.

James Greenwood, Head of Residential Life, LSE

James Greenwood (he/him) is the Head of Residential Life at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), taking the strategic lead for all aspects of community building and wellbeing support. 

Kirsty Woodward, Director of Estates and Campus Services, University of Leicester

Kirsty joined the University of Leicester in 2010, where she progressed from Deputy Director of Residential and Commercial Services to Director of Campus Services before taking up her current role.

Throughout this period I have continually acquired and refined skills which I have applied in my personal and professional life.

I am currently a member of UAL Accommodation Services Senior Management Team, where I contribute to and lead on strategy to enhance the student's experience. 

Most recently I have been working with my team and key stakeholders to encourage students with disabilities and health conditions to disclose at the point of application so that we can engage, provide support and enhance the student’s experience. As a result we have received an increase in disclosures and engagement.
I have had the privilege of being the ASRA South East representative which enabled me to work with so many wonderful colleagues across the HE and PBSA sector.

During my 4 year tenure the regional meetings covered a range of topics that were relevant to the sector such as the impact of student fees, student disciplinary issues, applications, housing management, youth breast cancer, students with disabilities, mental health, resident life, policing campus through to offering campus study tours.
I have managed several projects whilst working with homeless and vulnerable people such as implementing and facilitating various groups that offered a safe space, through to mobilising women only hostel and introducing a student Head Leasing Scheme.

I have served as Chair for UAL Black workers group which has grown and evolved to Equality of Minority Staff (GEMS) of which I am still a member.
I am a mentor and a member of the B-Mentor network facilitated by UCL and a member of Black Equity Organisation (BEO).
I have been described as having many superpowers which include personable, friendly, compassionate, trustworthy, reliable, effective listener, effective communicator and collaborative leader.


James is also chair of the Global Initiatives network for the International Association of College and University Housing Officers. Additionally, James chairs the UK Residential Life and Student Experience groups as part of College and University Business Officers (CUBO) professional body.

James has worked within residential life for over 10 years at various universities across the UK and has created award-winning student experience programmes. 

Prior to residential life, James studied International Events Management at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. He has also worked in different events and communications-based roles across several different industries in the public and private sectors. James is passionate about diversity and inclusion within education and has chaired groups and networks to support LGBTQ+ staff and student communities. You can catch James on LinkedIn where he is always available to network and share best practices

At the University of Leicester, Kirsty is the strategic lead for Accommodation; Print Services; Leicester Conferences; Campus Operations, including Portering and Cleaning, Grounds and Gardens, Post, Fleet; and Security. Kirsty is also a Board Director of College Court Conference Centre and Leicester Services Partnership, (the Student Union and University catering partnership) and the University lead on Prevent.

Kirsty joined CUBO Executive Board in March 2019, initially picking up the conference portfolio. Kirsty is CUBO Chair and has represented CUBO on the Board of the Universities UK Accommodation Code of Practice since October 2018.

Prior to joining Leicester, Kirsty was a Senior Project Manager at the Russell Partnership. In this role, Kirsty worked with well-known organisations such as the BBC and Goldman Sachs to improve their catering offer. She also worked with a number of universities, including Leicester. It was while working for Leicester as a consultant that Kirsty began the journey of transforming the University’s catering service, which led to her being offered a permanent role at the institution.

Her early career was spent in hotels including a spell as a Hotel Manager working for Wolverhampton and Dudley Breweries. She also spent ten years at the University of Warwick, firstly as Catering Manager and then as Head of Catering Services.

Kirsty is a former winner of a Caterer and Hotelkeeper Acorn Award and was named Cost Sector Caterer of the Year in 2001. She received her MBA from the University of Leicester in January 2017, having combined her studies with a very busy job.


Bobbi Pickard, CEO, Trans in the City

Bobbi Pickard is a Diversity Equity and Inclusion professional with many years senior operational and programme management experience in the banking, trading, technology and energy sectors.

Jan Capper, Executive Director, CUBO

Jan Capper joined CUBO as Executive Director in 2017.

Professor Judy Williams, Pro Vice Chancellor Education and Students, Queen’s University Belfast

Judy is a distinguished academic and visionary leader in the field of Education and Students. With a strong educational background and chair in academic enhancement, she has dedicated her career to advancing the quality of education and enhancing the student experience. 

She is CEO of Trans in the City an organisation she founded in response to seeing a lack of co-operative working between global corporates to help the trans and non-binary community and has transformed it into a global organisation with over 350 major organisations collaborating on furthering trans awareness across the world.

Extremely active in all areas of diversity Bobbi speaks at many events around the world on LGBTQIA+ inclusion in business, trans issues and diversity and inclusion in industry. She is in demand on radio, TV and other online mediums.

Bobbi is a Patron of FFLAG, a very proud golden champion of Stonewall Housing, an EDI Associate of the Wellcome Trust and a Diversity Role Model

She is the first trans person ever to close the London Stock Exchange, was voted #1 in the Yahoo Finance OUTstanding 50 LGBT+ Future Leaders’ List 2019, #4 in 2020, included in the PWC Stonewall 50 Inspirational Role Models 2019, was winner of the Rainbow Honours LGBTQ Champion Award 2019, the Nestle Diversity Champion Award at the 2020 British LGBT awards, placed #14 in the Pride Power List 2020, 12 in 2021, was a business nominee in the 2021 Diva Awards, winner of the Diversity Hero Award at the European Diversity Awards 2021 and was awarded Changemaker of the Year 2022 by Stonewall. She has raised over £450K for LGBTIQA charities in the last 5 years.

After very many years when she struggled to stay alive she now finds such joy in life. That joy does not extend to tomatoes, aniseed or sultanas.

She plays guitar, bass and sings, enjoys painting, has two grown up children and lives in Wiltshire, UK


Previously she worked in international education, most recently as executive director of the International Association of Languages Centres (IALC). Prior to this, she was marketing director of GLS Sprachenzentrum in Berlin and international marketing director at Pitman Central College in London. Her early career was spent in marketing and operational roles in the travel industry. She studied languages and has worked as a freelance writer and translator.

She joined Queen’s University Belfast in September 2023 as the Pro-Vice chancellor for Education and Students, Professor Williams plays a pivotal role in shaping the strategic direction of education at Queen’s University Belfast. Judy is committed to fostering an inclusive and digitally enhanced learning environment that nurtures students’ personal and academic development. 

Professor Williams’s dedication to student success and well-being is evident in her commitment to providing holistic and transformative educational experiences. She is a strong advocate for student support services, mental health initiatives and community engagement opportunities, recognising the importance of developing civic and social responsibility in every student. 

Under her leadership, Professor Williams has spearheaded various initiative to enhance the student experience, promote diversity and inclusion, and ensure the highest standards of teaching and learning. She collaborates closely with faculty members, staff and students to create innovative programmes and policies that empower students to excel in their studies and prepare them for successful careers. 

Her vision and guidance continue to shape the education landscape at Queen’s University Belfast, making a lasting impact on the lives of students and the wider society. 


Michael Deane, Restaurant Proprietor

Michael Deane is one of the most recognisable faces of Ireland’s hospitality industry. He is proprietor of three different restaurants in Belfast, Deanes Meat Locker, Deanes Love Fish and Deanes at Queens as well as two Private Dining Rooms. 

Jonathan Perry, Head of Development, Co-op

Jonathan has a 30 year career in convenience retailing with Co-op, he has held a variety positions including Head of Format Design and Development and now Head of Development for the franchise business. He has a wealth of experience and insight to share. 

Marion Grey, APSAA President, CEO Deakin Residential Services (VIC, Australia)

With over ten years’ experience working in student accommodation, Marion is responsible for the overall operational and strategic leadership of DRS, a subsidiary of Deakin University. 

He shares credit for transforming the city’s food culture and holds the record for the longest-lived of Northern Ireland’s Michelin Stars with a total of twenty-five stars held over the years.
He gained his first Michelin Star in Deanes on The Square in Helen’s Bay and opened Deanes Belfast in 1997. 

Over the years Michael himself and Deanes Restaurants have achieved a string of accolades like Restaurant of the Year on several different occasions, including in 2016 when Deanes EIPIC was named Restaurant of The Year in Ireland and Michael was hailed Entrepreneur of The Year in Ireland.  In 2023 he was named by Michelin, Chef Mentor of the Year for UK, and Ireland.

He is also well known for his contributions to local charities including The Northern Ireland Cancer Fund for Children, The Chest Heart & Stroke Association and The Princes Trust in which he mentored scores of young people carving out a better life for themselves. 

Michael puts his consistent success down to a loyal winning team, who under his watchful eye, take responsibility for providing the best of local food.  
He said “Our dedication to sourcing the best local produce and demanding the highest standards of cooking and presentation continues to please customers at home, as well as those visiting from abroad, and that is the only secret to our success”.


With the primary purpose of sustainably developing and managing the suite of student accommodation premises, services and support for Deakin students across the four campuses in Victoria.

Prior to joining Deakin Residential Services, Marion was Director of Sales & Marketing for Accor hotels with over 10 years of senior roles in the hospitality industry. Marion recently became a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Jacob Waitere, APSAA Vice-President, General Manager Portfolio & Senior Leader – Residential Life, UniLodge (Canterbury, New Zealand)

Jacob has over fifteen years’ experience working in students in accommodation in NZ for private providers and universities. 

Martin Rogers, Director of Partnerships, Co-op

Martin founded Co-op Franchise in Co-op five years ago, growing it from scratch into a multimillion-pound nationwide business. He also led the strategy of Nisa following the acquisition by Co-op.    

Jonathan Thompson, Estates Manager (Planning), Queen's University Belfast

Jonathan has been a Chartered Architect for almost 20 years and for the majority of that time has been employed within the private practice setting.  

He is a past Head of Operations for University of Auckland Accommodation, Past President of the NZ Association of Tertiary Education Accommodation, Past Chair of ACUHO-I Global Initiatives Committee and Current Global Ambassador for ACUHO-I.

In 2018 Jacob was awarded the Fred Johnson Award for Innovation and Excellence in NZ student Accommodation, in 2022 he received the ACUHO-I Roelf Visser award for Global initiatives, and 2023 he was awarded the APSAA “Best of” Conference speaker award for his presentation on the future of student accommodation . Jacob is passionate about indigenous student support, sustainability and operational effectiveness. Jacob is a Chartered Manager through the Chartered Managers Institute and Institute of Leaders and Managers AU/NZ.

Prior to this, Martin led the Central Operations team in Food, including IGD award winning customer service and workforce management programmes. Before joining Co-op’s graduate scheme in 2005, Martin worked in investment banking for UBS Warburg in Frankfurt and London, and did Voluntary Service Overseas in China.

Jonathan joined Queen’s University in December 2022 and holds the position of Estates Manager (Planning) and Faculty of Medicine, Health and Life Sciences (FMHLS) Lead within the Estates Team at the University.  In these roles, Jonathan maintains an overview of the FMHLS Estate and manages capital build projects of all values up to RIBA Stage 3.  Jonathan has a key input into feasibility studies and business case reviews relating to projects and maintains the face of the client to external Design Teams.

Jonathan’s architectural experience is extensive and varied.  He has held the role of Lead Designer and Lead Consultant on projects up to £20 million and the role of Lead Executive Architect on projects of up to £280 million.  He has both led and contributed to projects across many sectors including education, healthcare, leisure, residential, commercial offices, industrial and ecclesiastical.

Immediately prior to joining Queen’s, Jonathan led the design and delivery of the award-winning Queen’s University Business School Student Hub building.  This building, heated entirely from Geothermal energy, was a pioneer building within the university campus which is set within an ecologically sensitive and mature site within a conservation area.  Whilst in private practice, Jonathan also held the position of Associate Architect on the iREACH project for Queen’s University which is due to commence on site in the Autumn of 2024.


Ali Bott, Head of Customer Experience, Kinetic

Ali Bott (she/her) is the Head of Customer Experience for Kinetic Solutions, leading on all aspects of Customer Experience across the EMEA customer base from account management and software training, through to events and thought leadership. 

Melissa Browne, Deputy Director of Commercial Services and Estates, University of Kent

Melissa has worked within the student accommodation sector since 2009 and has gained invaluable experience within the Private and HEI sector. Melissa is the Deputy Director of Commercial Services and Estates at the University of Kent, she has been in post since 2022.

Carley Owen, Student Experience Manager, University of the Arts London

Carley has worked in the HE sector for the last 15 years in institutions up and down the UK.  She has picked up a wealth of knowledge in student experience, EDI and championing the student voice. 

Ali began her journey in Higher Education as a Residential Assistant at the University of Winchester, and shortly after graduating embarked on a career in Student Accommodation working within teams at Winchester, The Courtauld and Queen Mary University of London, before joining Kinetic in 2022.  

Ali has worked within various roles across allocations, credit control, welfare and commercial business, and now works with a vast customer base supporting a range of customer roles to enhance their success strategy using Kinetic’s software. The best part about her role is visiting universities across the country and seeing the amazing work underway and the unique facilities of each campus supporting the student experience. Connect with Ali on LinkedIn here

She is responsible for and provides strategic management for a comprehensive integrated range of value-added services including catering, conferencing, residential accommodation, sport and recreation and Marketing. She has extensive experience gained in managing both in-house and 3rd party contract staff, with direct strategic and operational management responsibilities, including managing Soft Services Contracts, New Builds, Mobilisation and Refurbishment Projects, Capital Investment works, Third Party Lettings/Commercial Summer Lettings and Outsourced and Inhouse Catering.

Melissa has been a member of various Senior Leadership Teams throughout her career. As a trained life coach Melissa has focused her career on the importance of investing and developing people to create effective, diverse and happy working environments which will allow teams to ‘thrive’ and achieve organisation goals and objectives. She specialises in Leadership development, building training programmes, managing teams through organisational change, promoting Culture and EDI initiatives within organisations whilst meeting commercial objective and targets.

Melissa's vision for her role at CUBO is to create a CUBO L&D framework that supports the goals and ambitions of the CUBO members. Working actively with current and new members to create impactful training and mentoring opportunities for leaders and their teams which will add value to organisations and the people within them.

Carley is passionate advocate for the LGBTQ+ community across all aspects of her work and personal life.  She is an openly queer leader and more recently after being diagnosed with ADHD wants to create opportunities for all regardless of orientation or disability. 

Carley’s current fulltime role is Student Experience Manager at the University of the Arts London where she is also the chair of the LGBTQ+ staff network and EDI Estates working group.  Alongside this she is involved in various charities and organisations such as being the Head of Year-Round Events at Pride in London, Awards lead for DIVA , a committee member for the Gay Women’s’ Network and trustee for the disability charity Enhance the UK.   

Carley has featured in many podcasts, blogs and LGBTQ+ dating shows (all for research purposes of course).  She has received many accolades over her professional career for her work with EDI including Vice Chancellor awards and more recently receiving 7 nominations from various awarding bodies for a hero campaign delivered around EDI.

She continuously pushes boundaries and creates brand new innovations for students and colleagues alike.  She is excited to share her new trail blazing partnership with Trans in the City with the hope many more institutions jump on board and support this amazing organisation.

Conor McGowan, Head of Estates Planning, Queen's University Belfast

A Chartered Architect with over 20 years’ extensive experience across education, commercial, hospitality and housing sectors, Conor now leads a team with responsibility for overall Estates planning and policy, design and conservation policy, major project planning, rates and valuations, portfolio management and residential property management within Queen’s University.  

Mike Uprichard, Head of Accommodation, Queen's University Belfast

Mike is the Head of Accommodation, leading a team of 108 staff working across an accommodation portfolio of 3,456 University managed bedrooms, 730 bedrooms in nominated partner accommodation and 90 staff and family houses / apartments.

Sam Roth, Operations Director - Universities, Gather & Gather


He joined the University in 2014, where he was responsible for the delivery of two city-centre Purpose Built Managed Student Accommodation (PBMSA) projects, increasing the University’s student housing portfolio by over 50% when opened in 2018.  Conor has also led out on the initial stages of a number of flagship projects for the University, including One Elmwood, Student Hub at Riddel Hall, and the replacement of the Physical Education Centre.

As Head of Estates Planning, Conor was responsible for compiling Queen’s Future Campus (approved by Senate April 2024) and forms a framework of concepts and capital projects to create a key enabler of the University’s Strategy 2030, enabling delivery on its long-term strategic objectives.

Conor has demonstrable experience in strategic planning, feasibility studies, project delivery, construction, buildability, budget management, contract procurement/administration, financial planning, space management, end-user focused architecture, sustainable construction methodology and conservation.


His role is to ensure that his whole team are delivering timely and relevant support to students, families and staff living in accommodation, and provide planning input to accommodation strategic change at Queen’s.


Jenny Shaw - HE External Engagement Director at Unite Students

Jenny has worked for Unite Students on HE sector engagement for the last ten years, and prior to this spent 17 years in the sector itself. 

Emer Maguire - Presenter and Musical Comedian

Emer flawlessly blends laugh out loud musical comedy, devilishly quick wit, and Northern Irish charm. Her hilarious brand of musical comedy combined with  a serious talent for captivating storytelling makes for a truly unique comedy performance.

She leads on student experience insight, national HE engagement and sector-wide projects.



Emer is a four time TEDx speaker, an international award winning science communicator, and a double Irish Radio Award winning BBC presenter. Her debut musical comedy show ‘Emer Maguire: Hilarious Humans’ sold out its entire run at Edinburgh Fringe 2019 with unprecedented demand. 2021 saw Emer pack out Belfast’s iconic Ulster Hall for her brand new solo show ‘Emer Maguire - In Her Element’. In 2022, Emer performed to sold out audiences in venues across Northern Ireland, giving stellar performances in the likes of The Mac, Belfast, and The Grand Opera House. Emer is Northern Ireland’s brightest comedy star.


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