Meet our Speakers & Panelists

Rupert Batho

Rupert Batho

Commercial Director

Rupert Batho, Frasers Property, has 30 years experience of the South East office market. At Frasers Property, he has responsibility for its southern portfolio that totals around 3.5m sq ft that is occupied by circa 200 companies employing around 15,000 people. The portfolio includes 1.5M sq ft at Winnersh Triangle in Reading. The role combines traditional property skills of asset management and development with a deep understanding of place making’s wider requirements of community and customer engagement and sustainability.

Prior to joining Frasers Property in 2017, Rupert held positions at Patrizia AG; MEPC Ltd and Regus Plc.

Tanya Beckett

Tanya Beckett

BBC World News Correspondent

Tanya has worked in broadcasting and the media for over twenty years. She started out at the FT, then went to work for CNBC, Sky News, CNN and since 1998, the BBC. She has worked on a variety of programmes in both New York and London on BBWorldNews, the Newschannel, Radio 4 and BBC1 and BBC2 including Our World, Working Lunch, Today, World Business report, Newsnight and World Business Report. She also spent 3 years living in and reporting from New York. She also works with the World Bank, Chatham House and the Foreign Office in matters relating to trade and communication.

Tanya has a degree from Oxford University in Metallurgy and Materials Science and spent 5 years as an investment banker in Frankfurt and London. She speaks fluent German and good French.

Fiona Brownfoot

Fiona Brownfoot

Director, Retail and Leisure Disposals and Aquisitions

Hicks Baker is the only practice in Reading to have a partner dedicated to the retail and leisure market; Fiona’s expertise is wide ranging, from disposals and acquisitions, to investment and development advice and rent reviews. In a previous business life Fiona has been a land buyer and worked for Berkshire County Council. Outside the office her interests are golf and retail therapy – lots of it!

Fiona Carleton

Fiona Carleton

Director, Future Heathrow

As Future Heathrow Director, Fiona is charged with developing the Future Strategic Direction that will consolidate Heathrow’s current status- voted Western Europe’s Best Airport. Fiona works within Heathrow’s expansion team and her remit covers airspace change, end to end airport operations, commercial strategy and passenger experience alongside surface access, capacity, masterplanning and innovation. Fiona’s objective is to ensure that passenger insight, alongside optimal operational practices and innovation come together to enable an expanded Heathrow to deliver on its vision to give passengers the best airport service in the world.

 

Rory Carson

Rory Carson

Vice President, Asset Management, Europe

Responsible for the Asset Management of Green Park, the 195 acre business community in Reading, Rory joined Mapletree UK Management Limited in January 2017 from Oxford Properties. He has been directly involved in the Thames Valley office market for 16 years, as well as having been a student in the Thames Valley at both The University of Oxford and The University of Reading. Rory’s role is to ensure that Green Park delivers on its promise of being a destination where businesses will ‘Discover Better’. As such, he takes an overview of all aspects of the running of the 1.4m sq ft park – from strategy and masterplanning, through to customer service and events.

 

Kevin Cook

Kevin Cook

Partner

Kevin, Partner at Vail Williams,  specialises in the acquisition and disposal of commercial property, specifically within the Thames Valley market where he has built a strong corporate client base acting for Jacobs, Airspan Communications, Shoosmiths LLP, Reckitt Benckiser, Technogym UK Ltd, REL Field Marketing, Golder Associates, Segro, Verizon and Hutchison Three. Kevin has built a strong reputation for advising local authority clients, including Surrey County Council, the London Borough of Sutton, Bracknell Forest Council, Slough Borough Council and Wokingham Borough Council to name but a few. Kevin also acts for Surrey County Council where he specialises in providing strategic portfolio advice.

 

Daniel Gierhart

Daniel Gierhart

Customer Experience Manager

Daniel has worked at Transport for London for 3.5 years covering a number of different positions across the business, including both operational and corporate roles. In his current role, Daniel is responsible for the overall Customer Experience of the Elizabeth line, including delivering TfL’s vision of world class service and ensuring the Elizabeth line is fully integrated with the wider TfL network.

Nick Gray

Nick Gray

Regional Development Manager

Nick Gray has over 10 years of telecoms experience working with fibre providers Hyperoptic and now CityFibre. Since joining CityFibre three years ago, Nick has looked after the key channel partnerships across the UK including the four active gigabit cities in the Thames Valley. With a Construction Management degree from Oxford Brookes, Nick thrives off the complexities that come with CityFibre’s rollout of full-fibre and thoroughly enjoys the mission of creating Gigabit Cities and ultimately Gigabit Britain.

 

Matt Hopkinson

Matt Hopkinson

Director & Co-Founder

Matthew Hopkinson is a Director and Co-Founder of Didobi and has over 20 year’s experience of working within market leading data businesses within the UK. He is a Visiting Professor at University College London and sits on the Research Advisory Board of Nottingham Business School. He is a strategic adviser to Trouva.com, an online portal for independent retailers and a volunteer business mentor for The Prince’s Trust. He is a regular speaker, panellist and chair at industry events.

 

Paul Lewis

Paul Lewis

Regional Director

Paul joined SEGRO in 2000 initially as an Asset Surveyor on the Slough Trading Estate, but then moved onto a variety of roles including Regional Manager of their South West portfolio, Corporate Acquisitions Manager and Business Development Manager. Paul rejoined the Slough Trading Estate team in October 2008 as Regional Manager and is now Regional Director for SEGRO’s Thames Valley Industrial portfolio with responsibility for its 7 million sq ft of accommodation and 400 customers.

 

Kate Orwin

Kate Orwin

Head of Leasing

Responsible for the leasing of over £5bn of prime shopping centres across the UK, Kate has been part of the team at Hammerson for 15 years having previously worked at Schroders and MEPC.  Kate is responsible for identifying and delivering new and exciting brands into the Hammerson portfolio.  Kate’s role in Leasing the 70,700 sq. ft. Oracle Shopping Centre in Reading has seen the introduction of a host of new retailers including new flagship stores for Next and River Island which will open in 2018.  Kate grew up in Reading as well as attending The University of Reading and rowing for Henley Rowing Club.

 

Naisha Polaine

Naisha Polaine

Deputy Director, Projects Regeneration & Infrastructure

Naisha Polaine is a Deputy Director at The Department of International Trade and Head of the Projects Team for the Capital Investment Directorate. Her role networks across the UK identifying a pipeline of large-capital real estate schemes across all asset classes and infrastructure projects (energy, transport & regulated assets) suitable for international investment opportunities. This involves interfacing with private sector promoters and public sector bodies to ensure that the best of the UK offer is promoted overseas.

 

Tim Smith MBE

Tim Smith MBE

Chief Executive

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.

 

Sally Swift

Sally Swift

Director, TAR (Theatre Arts Reading)

Sally is the former Head of Communications at Reading Borough Council and local resident of Reading. She is passionate about the town and the need to create a cultural quarter within Reading which will generate continued growth in the arts & theatre sector.

 

Neil Usher

Neil Usher

Executive Consultant: Property, Workplace & Change

With over 25 years in the industry as a property, workplace and change leader, Neil has delivered innovative environments for organisations in a variety of sectors, all over the world including Warner Bros., Honeywell, Rio Tinto and Sky. He hasn’t just talked about it – he has been there and done it. Together with this practical experience, his influential blog www.workessence.com regular conference talks and occasional performance poetry have made him a leading thinker in the profession. His first book The Elemental Workplace is published on 1 March 2018.
Scott Witchalls

Scott Witchalls

Partner

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.

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