Meet the experts

Barbara Bates

Global CEO, Hotwire  

Barbara started her career as an on-air journalist, then transitioned into the Benjamin Group – a leader in tech communications at the time. Soon after, she joined forces with her two best friends to create Eastwick – the first independent, fully tech-focused agency in Silicon Valley. 

Her leadership of Hotwire (and formerly Eastwick) has helped create hundreds of millions of dollars in value for top technology companies by directing their messaging and positioning, as well as building their brand profiles. Under Barbara's leadership, clients have included Facebook, BMC, Seagate, Dell Software, HP, Adobe and Fujitsu, to name a few. 

After 25 years of building her own agency, Eastwick, into one of the most preeminent technology-focused communications firms in the country, Barbara’s agency was acquired by Hotwire in late September 2016. She served just eight months as the CEO of North America, before being appointed to the role of Global CEO – responsible for driving the strategic direction of the business for all Hotwire offices around the world. She now leads a staff of nearly 300 people globally in 12 offices and 16 countries on a relentless mission to be the best agency clients and employees will ever work with. 

Farshad Hashmatulla

International Public Relations Manager, Zoom Video Communications 

Farshad Hashmatulla is the International Public Relations Manager at Zoom Video Communications. He joined Zoom in 2018 and built its international public relations program from scratch. His expertise is in international public relations, leading 17 international agencies across EMEA, APAC, and LATAM. He has spent his early career at companies such as Target and Enterprise Holdings in a variety of marketing roles. Farshad has an undergraduate degree in Business Management from Sonoma State University. He speaks Farsi fluently.  

Obabiyi Fagade

Global Marketing Communication Manager, Heineken 

Obabiyi Fagade is the Global Communications Manager at Heineken®, where he oversees the global Integrated Marketing Communications for the Heineken brand. He also supports Heineken markets across Africa, Middle East and Eastern Europe in their communication needs, ensuring breakthrough with their audience while maintaining a consistent global Heineken® tone of voice.

An experienced and award-winning Marketing professional, Obabiyi is skilled in the development of digital communication and individualised data-driven marketing (iDDM) campaigns. He is particularly skilled and experienced in Marketing Management, Innovation Management, Integrated Marketing Communication, Advertising, and Brand Activation.

Obabiyi is also a strong business leader with an MBA in Management Consulting from London School of Business and Finance and executive education in some of the world's top business schools including London and Harvard Business Schools.

Jessica Hope

Founder, Wimbart 

Jessica Hope is the Founder of Wimbart, a Public Relations agency focussed on Africa & emerging markets. She started Wimbart in 2014 and has gone on to build the leading Africa tech focussed PR agency, working with some of the continent’s most exciting and well-funded brands and companies.

Prior to starting her own PR company, Jessica worked at the Natural History Museum, the Jewish Museum and was Head of Communications for African entertainment brand, IROKO. An expert in her field, with over 13 years' experience in communications, Jessica and her team have crafted strategic, impactful media campaigns and communications for both Seed-stage and Venture-backed start-ups, as well as entrepreneurs and public bodies, for over four years. She was named in PRWeek's Powerbook 2019 & 2020, she is a mentor for UK-based BME PR Pros, and also for Google Launchpad Africa. 

Maeve Atkins

External Communications Manager, Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I  

Maeve joined as Budweiser's External Communications Manager a year ago. She has previously held positions at The Body Shop, Channel 4 and in Washington DC at the British Embassy. 

Jennifer Ogunleye

Tech PR Lead, KPMG

Jennifer has nearly six years of in-house and agency experience in the public and private sectors, she is a passionate mentor, and was included in the 2018 PRWeek 30 under 30 list.

Her varied career began with pharma, health and public sector communications at Ketchum, Grayling and Edelman including a client secondment to Gatwick Airport.Following the 2016 Brexit referendum, Jennifer joined the City of London’s governing body as a property, transport and digital infrastructure press officer. There she managed and secured high profile media coverage for a range of issues including the London Bridge attack, controversial schemes such as the Tulip skyscraper, and policy announcements relating to infrastructure, road safety and air quality, but also highlight positive commitments made to the City such as the opening of Bloomberg's new HQ and Soho House's Ned Hotel. 

Jennifer now leads on tech, media and telecoms and transport PR at the professional services firm, KPMG.


Jamin Spitzer

Founder, Abacus Insights Partners 

Jamin Spitzer is the founder and lead partner of Abacus Insights Partners. Previously, Jamin spent 16 years at Microsoft where, among other things, he built and supervised Microsoft’s communications organization’s analytics team.

Prior to joining Microsoft, Jamin worked for PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards and started his career as Congressional press secretary.

Jamin lives in Seattle with his wife and two young children.  

Nik Govier

CEO & Founder, Blurred 

Nik is the CEO + Founder of Blurred, which launched in October 2018. A strategic and creative advisory firm, Blurred's work is built on the principles of ESG&P (Environment, Social, Governance and Purpose). Clients include Coca-Cola, BT Group and Lidl. In 2020 Blurred was named best new agency in the world at PRovoke’s Global Sabre Awards and New Consultancy of the Year at the PR Week Awards. Prior to Blurred, Nik co-founded multi-award winning agency Unity, when she was 29, and remained at its helm for 12 years.Nik also co-founded / invested in agency's Tin Man and Happy Yolk and has stakes in a number of other businesses including Allbright, the group behind London's first private members club for working women.  

Deon Pillay

Head of Marketing Operations, Legal and General Investment Management 

Deon Pillay is the Head of Marketing Operations, Legal and General Investment Management in London and also the Chair of the firm’s L&GBT+Allies network. Outside of the office, he is the Co-chair of InterInvest, a network of investment professionals, that drives LGBT+ equality across the investment management industry. 

Deon has several notable achievements for his contributions to diversity and inclusion. He is a keynote speaker, sharing his personal experiences to surface LGBT+ issues, a panellist championing diversity and inclusion, committee member of the Diversity Project’s LGBT+ stream and a supporter of Queer Britain. In 2019, Deon was recognised as an LGBT+ Future Leader in the OUTstanding list and also featured in Empower’s Top 50 Ethnic Minority Future Leaders list in 2019/2020 and made the Top 10 Diversity Hero’s at the British LGBT Awards. 

Salma El-Wardany

Writer & Presenter, BBC

Writer, poet and presenter, Salma El-Wardany, started her media career in the middle of a revolution. Half Egyptian, half Irish, she was raised in Newcastle upon Tyne, only returning to Cairo just in time for the Arab Spring. Between protesting and fighting in the revolution, she started a blog to document her experiences, discuss womanhood and explore the tumultuous identity of being female, of colour and Muslim. Since returning from Egypt she's set up an international marketing business focusing on diversity & inclusion, given two TEDxTalks, is a published author and journalist, performs spoken word internationally and hosts a full-time show on BBC Radio London. Everything she does is about shining a spotlight on marginalised voices and changing the world through storytelling.

Khalid Albaih

Cultural Producer & Cartoonist 

Khalid Albaih is a creative cultural producer who plans, designs, organises and manages artistic projects that have a cultural impact on the public that will interact with them. He has also been a political cartoonist since 2011and was named one of the top 5 cartoonists in the world in 2018 by The Independent. He publishes his cartoons on social media under “Khartoon!,” a wordplay on cartoon and Khartoum, the capital of Sudan. In addition of two published books Khartoon by Khalid Albaih 2018 and Sudan Retold 2019, Khalid has published widely in international publications including The New York Time, The Atlantic, PRI, and NPR, BBC, in addition, Albaih has published his written social and political commentary in publications such as The Guardian, CNN and Al Jazeera. Khalid has been hosted in various TV shows and news programs around the world as a trusted commentator on political events around the world. Khalid is the founder of @Dohafashionfridays &  

Ian Murray

Executive Director, Society of Editors

Ian Murray is an award-winning journalist and editor with 40-years’ experience in newsrooms and working with the British media. He is currently the Executive Director of the Society of Editors (SoE) and in this role heads-up the running of the body that includes some 400 editors as members across the full media landscape: print press national and regional, magazines, broadcast and digital.

The Society lobbies for press freedom, freedom of expression, editorial training and standards and supports journalists under threat worldwide. The SoE organises and stages both the National and Regional Press Awards each year. Ian began his career in journalism in 1979 when he started work as a trainee reporter with Berrows Newspapers in the West Midlands. At the age of 25 he was considered Britain's youngest editor when at the helm of the Kidderminster Shuttle and Times and Stourport News titles. 

Amanda Nunn

Deputy News Editor, Channel 5

Amanda Nunn is Deputy News Editor at Channel 5 News. Her role consists of news editing and field producing. Previously she worked at ITV and originally started her career in newspapers. Before becoming a journalist, she lived in the Middle East and worked for the UN. You can find her on Twitter @amandanunnC5.

Katie Vanneck - Smith

Co-founder and Publisher, Tortoise Media

Katie Vanneck - Smith is the Co-founder and Publisher of Tortoise Media, a slow media news platform that is committed to looking at what is driving the news. Prior to this new adventure as an entrepreneur, Katie was the President of Dow Jones and publisher of The Wall Street Journal, where she led the company to over 3m subscribers, the largest number in WSJ history. She has previously worked at the Telegraph Media Group and The Times, where, as Chief Marketing Officer, she was the architect of the newspaper’s early move to paid digital subscriptions.


Alison Phillips

Editor-in-Chief, Daily Mirror

Alison came to Trinity Mirror (now Reach) in 1998 as a feature writer on the Sunday People magazine. She moved to become Features Editor on the Daily Mirror in 2001. In 2012 she became Editor of the Sunday Mirror and in 2016 was made Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the Trinity Mirror papers.  In 2018 she was named Editor of the Daily Mirror, making her its first female editor since its very first editor in 1903. She has also written a weekly column in the Mirror since 2012.  In 2018 she was named “Columnist of the Year” at the National Press Awards. Alison was recently promoted to Editor for The Mirror (adding Mirror online to her remit).

She is chair of Reach plc’s Reaching Gender Equality group and Deputy Chair of Women In Journalism. She has three children aged between 10 and 16.  Alison is also a regular media commentator and has appeared on such programmes as Question Time, BBC Politics Live and ITV's This Morning.

Laura Collins

Editor, Yorkshire Evening Post

Laura Collins is the editor of the Yorkshire Evening Post. After studying at university in Leeds she joined the YEP newsroom in 2007 and has spent her working career at the heart of local news as a keen campaigning champion for the regional media. The YEP last year was praised for its Call It Out campaign which aims to tackle abuse on social media - particularly around the impact on female journalists.

Peter Clifton

Editor-in-Chief, PA Media

Peter has been Editor-in-Chief of PA Media since January 2015. He was the Editor of Ceefax, and both the BBC News and Sport websites during a 15 year career at the corporation, and was also Executive Producer of the MSN UK website for three years.

Clifton began his career as a news and sports reporter at the Chronicle and Echo newspaper in his home town of Northampton, and also had a stint as chief sub on the PA Media sports desk in Fleet Street in the early 1990s. Away from work his interests include cycling, golf, playing the piano and exchanging stories in bars.