Meet our Speakers & Panelists

Ady Williams

Ady Williams

BBC Berkshire Commentator & former Captain of Reading FC

Born in Reading, Ady a former professional footballer for over 22 years. Captained Reading football club for many years, and is the only player ever in the history of the club to play in every position, including goalkeeper. Ady also played for Wolves, Coventry, Millwall and Swindon and also been capped many times at full senior level for his country Wales. Since retiring from football Ady has become an established BBC sports broadcaster/radio presenter and has also been seen on the TV many times. Ady has hosted numerous awards ceremonies, charity gala evenings and is a regular presenting at The Pride of Reading Awards’.  

Alex Aitchison

Alex Aitchison

Director of Development, Lincoln Property Company

Ruth has led innovation in spatial planning, housing, economic growth and regeneration for which she and her teams have received national recognition.  She has 16 years’ experience as Chief Executive to two councils. Deploying her experience in building public:private partnerships, she now holds a portfolio of board and strategic partnership roles including in a Housing Association and University.  She is a member of the British Chamber of Commerce Expert Panel on Transport.  Ruth chairs the Thames Valley Chamber’s Working Group to secure delivery of the Western Rail Link to Heathrow, focusing on strengthening the case to government and building a stakeholder network representing the nearly 14 million people and thousands of businesses the scheme will benefit.

 
Ruth Bagley

Ruth Bagley

Director, Ardynt Consulting

Ruth has led innovation in spatial planning, housing, economic growth and regeneration for which she and her teams have received national recognition.  She has 16 years’ experience as Chief Executive to two councils. Deploying her experience in building public:private partnerships, she now holds a portfolio of board and strategic partnership roles including in a Housing Association and University.  She is a member of the British Chamber of Commerce Expert Panel on Transport.  Ruth chairs the Thames Valley Chamber’s Working Group to secure delivery of the Western Rail Link to Heathrow, focusing on strengthening the case to government and building a stakeholder network representing the nearly 14 million people and thousands of businesses the scheme will benefit.

 
Andy Briggs

Andy Briggs

General Manager, The Oracle

 

 
Chris Harty

Chris Harty

Professor of Technology and Organisation, University of Reading

Chris has been the Director of the University’s EPSRC Health and Care Infrastructure Research and Innovation Centre (HaCIRIC) and has been principal / lead investigator on over £3.5 million of research projects funded by the EPSRC, TSB and IUK. He was Visiting Professor in the Department of Organisation at Copenhagen Business School from 2013 – 16 and is currently Visiting Professor at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden. He has worked in the area of future studies and forecasting. His personal research contributions are in the areas of understanding innovation in the built environment and organisational processes, applying socio-technical systems oriented approaches to organisations and projects, and the design, implementation and use of information systems and he has published widely in these areas.

Nigel Horton-Baker

Nigel Horton-Baker

Executive Director, Reading UK

Nigel has extensive senior management experience in Economic Development over the past 20 years and a career stretching back 25 years covering all aspects of regeneration, skills, job creation, foreign direct investment; small business and sector support services; tourism promotion and infrastructure development. Nigel served on the Board of Reading UK for three years while he was the Area Director for the South East of England Regional Development Agency covering Berkshire and Surrey. Prior to this Nigel was CEO of Surrey Economic Partnership, Vice Chairman of the South East Regional Assembly and  Head of Community and Economic Regeneration at London Borough of Hounslow. 

Victor Nicholls

Victor Nicholls

Director, Hadley Nicholls and Visiting Fellow, Henley Business School, University of Reading

A freelance consultant, Victor is a chartered town planner with 35 years’ experience in local authority regeneration and development. Previously Executive Director of Borough Development and Deputy Chief Executive at Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, responsible for flagship projects worth £4bn. As Assistant Chief Executive at Bracknell Forest Council, Victor led the council’s team to masterplan and deliver the Lexicon, Bracknell, the first substantial regeneration of a post-war New Town centre in the UK. The scheme was an award-winning development and one of the largest construction projects in the country. Victor is a member of the Revo (formerly the British Council of Shopping Centres) Urban Development Committee, a judge on the Revo Purple Apple Awards and an Academician at the Academy of Urbanism. In 2017, he was invited to become a Visiting Fellow in the School of Real Estate and Planning, Henley Business School, University of Reading where he is involved in teaching and research.

Charlie Nicholson

Charlie Nicholson

Partner, Vail Williams

Charlie, Partner at Vail Williams, is a driven commercial property agent with expertise in the disposal of office, industrial and mixed-use schemes; mainly in the Thames Valley and Heathrow region on behalf of occupiers and landlords. He also represents a number of businesses in the acquisition of premises or development land for design and build opportunities. Charlie has been involved in the 70,000 sq ft design and build prelet to Rockwell Collins at Winnersh Triangle. The planning, speculative development and letting of an 80,000 sq ft warehouse to Daler Rowney in Bracknell. Charlie heads up the Thames Valley and Heathrow acquisition and disposal team where he has developed a solid corporate client base having acted for clients such as Ferring Pharmaceuticals, Konami, Ecover/Method, AVC Live Ltd, Oracle and Watchshop.

Maria Sabey

Maria Sabey

Head of Property UK & Ireland, EMEIA Property and Shared Services HQ , Fujitsu

Maria has worked at Fujitsu for many years with responsibilities for real estate and other key services within the Fujitsu portfolio. She is currently involved with Andy Smith leading the BID process for the Southern Industrial Estate in Bracknell.

 

Tim Smith MBE

Tim Smith MBE

Chief Executive, Thames Valley Berkshire LEP Ltd

Tim is the chief executive of Thames Valley Berkshire LEP Ltd; one of 38 LEPs in England. His remit is to deliver a £182m investment programme that will generate an uplift of £700m GVA to Berkshire by 2021. This is being done through a range of initiatives, including a dedicated fund for high-growth SMEs, which has so far has made loan and equity investments into 50 SMEs, creating or safeguarding 585 jobs. The LEP’s capital funds – some £142m – are being invested in rail, road, housing, regeneration, skills and other infrastructure schemes. It also has responsibility for an investment strategy of £25m European funds, which has enabled £12.5m worth of skills initiatives and £5m for the new Thames Valley Science Park.

Tim Vaughan

Tim Vaughan

Chief Executive, Moorgarth Group

Tim started Moorgarth’s UK business in October 2003, managing an existing real estate portfolio of 31 properties, and with funding to acquire new real estate assets such as Broad Street in Reading. Since then, he’s grown the group’s portfolio from £8 million to just short of £300 million, and diversified operations by creating two new trading formats: our serviced office operation, The Boutique Workplace Company, and our asset-based lending business, Reward Capital. Moorgarth has prided itself on its innovation, its ability to identify creative opportunities in the real estate market. In particular understanding and embracing change has embedded it to reposition its assets for the future. Before creating Moorgarth, Tim worked with Ernst & Young, and with Arthur Andersen, where he ran the regional real estate consulting practice. This involved advising on and completing property company acquisitions and disposals, general corporate sales where there was a real estate element, the asset management of property portfolios held through insolvency, and an advisory role in some inward investment strategies for companies and cities. 

Scott Witchalls

Scott Witchalls

Partner, Peter Brett Associates

Scott leads the management and delivery of area wide transport strategies and major land development projects both in the UK and overseas. Major mixed use projects include the Reading Station area renaissance project (3Msq.ft). Scott has also developed transport strategies and implementation plans for several major employment areas including Green Park and Thames Valley Park in Reading, and Slough Trading Estate. As a former Director of the Thames Valley Economic Partnership, Scott successfully lobbied Government for transport infrastructure investment in the Thames Valley. Scott regularly appears as an expert witness at regional, local planning and CPO inquiries including that for the £65M M4 Junction 11 project.

 
Steve Woodford

Steve Woodford

Managing Director, Haslams Estate Agents

On leaving school Steve joined an estate agent’s business in Wokingham in 1982. Progressing to an Area Director role he then bought Haslams Estate Agents in 1995.  At that point the business had 7 staff with a turnover of £100,000. Now a full-service agency it has over 1,000 properties in its lettings portfolio, sells more homes in Reading* than any other agents office and has a new homes business that is the envy of much larger estate agency chains.  Since Steve formed the new homes division in 1998 the business has represented a range of developers from local small builders to some of the UK’s largest residential developers. Steve’s business acquired a new office in 2015 which is a landmark showroom for his business with nearly 4,500 sq ft of space.  This new space has seen a significant growth to the business with our lettings portfolio, turnover and team numbers close to doubling in size in the last four years.

 

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