AllExecutive TeamSenior Volunteer TeamFoundersPatronsTrustees
Founder

Barry Matthews

Chair of Trustees and Founder

Andrew Garard

Managing Director

Jessica Clarkson

Head of Operations

Lisa Godfrey

Head of Technology & Communications

Jade Emmett

Student Sourcing Executive

Manisha Kumar

Delivery Executive

Vanessa Uweru

Head of Alumni Communications

Muhammad Gangat

Head of Student Experience

Symrun Gakhal

Head of Impact

Shama Aktar

Director of Strategic Partnerships

Andy Boucher

Chief Technology Officer

Annette Brown

Head of Finance

Robert Henson

General Counsel

Shelley Bezalel

Martin Lewis OBE

Baroness Prashar Runnymede CBE

Mark Soden

Helen Mahy CBE

Osborne Clarke

Ray Berg

Reed Smith

Carole Mehigan

Simply Business

Joanne Theodoulou

Squire Patton Boggs

Rob Elvin

Mishcon de Reya

Kevin Gold

Burges Salmon

Alice Bretherton

BT

Russell Johnstone

Provident Financial

Rob Lawson

Clifford Chance

Oliver Hipperson

Slaughter and May

Dominic Robertson

CMS

Tanya Francis

Formula 1

Alex Edmiston

Founder

Barry Matthews

Barry is Group Deputy General Counsel at Pennon Group. He also sits on the Board of the Solicitors Regulation Authority and founded the Employer’s Social Mobility Alliance (ESMA).

During the decade spent working as volunteer youth worker at the childhood trauma charity, Body & Soul, Barry became increasingly concerned by the number of young people from low income backgrounds, although academically capable, were not considering a career in law. All too often the fear of the unknown was the key factor in putting these students off even attempting to enter the solicitor profession. Barry wanted to change this.

Recognising that in-house counsel do not readily have access to dedicated legal CSR project management resource nor large teams to deliver work experience he set out to devise a model which unlocked the latent goodwill which existed in the in-house community, in turn, enabling students to experience multiple work places meeting a diverse range of professionals. Hence, in 2014, with the help of a number of law firms and corporates the Legal Social Mobility Partnership was created offering places to 20 students in London. In 2017, Barry secured the financial backing of 23 organisations to evolve the LSMP in to a registered charity and broadened its scope to showcase law and accountancy side by side with business – a first in the UK. In doing so, SMBP will facilitate over 700 places across 25 clusters in 17 different locations nationwide in 2021.

Chair of Trustees and Founder

Andrew Garard

Andrew founded the Legal Social Mobility Partnership with Barry in 2014 and they worked together to create the Social Mobility Business Partnership in 2017. He joined Meggitt as Group General Counsel and Director, Corporate Affairs in September 2019.

Andrew is a qualified solicitor in England and Wales and also Hong Kong. His most recent role was Group General Counsel and Company Secretary at ITV where he was a member of the Executive Board and led a global team responsible for legal and business affairs, secretariat, compliance, insurance, health & safety, rights management and corporate responsibility. Prior to that, he was a partner at LeBoeuf Lamb Green & Macrae in their corporate department. Previous appointments include General Counsel and Company Secretary and member of the Executive Board at Cable & Wireless and Global Head of Legal at Reuters. In both roles he led global legal teams and held a wide range of responsibilities including public policy and regulatory affairs, insurance, government relations and led significant M&A projects. He started his career at Clifford Chance and also Freshfields. He is a British citizen. He joined Meggitt PLC as Group General Counsel and Director, Corporate Affairs in 2019.

OTHER POSITIONS AND QUALIFICATIONS
Non-Executive Director at Zinc Media Group
CEDR accredited mediator
MA (Hons), Jurisprudence, University of Oxford

Managing Director

Jessica Clarkson

Jess has been involved in the SMBP since it’s launch in 2014 (then known as the LSMP), initially running point in Manchester to now overseeing the delivery of the programme across all UK regions. Whilst she was Head of Operations the SMBP grew from 300 student placements to 500 in just two years and was named Leadership of the Year at the UK Social Mobility Awards.

She has 6 year’s experience in the Broadcast industry working alongside the legal and commercial teams at ITV; ensuring compliance and governance across the various internal teams and management of key clients.

Jess attended state school before completing a BSC Mathematics degree at University of Bath. She is passionate about social mobility and believes that an individual’s career progression should be merited on their ability and that all students should be aware of the breadth of opportunities available to them and how these can be reached.

She is a keen runner and cyclist, often completing new challenges to fundraise for charities including the London Marathon and Prudential Ride 100.

Head of Operations

Lisa Godfrey

Lisa has a 30 year career across law, charity, consultancy and education, centred on programme delivery and communications. 

An experienced operations leader with a collaborative and empathetic approach, Lisa has applied these skills in a range of settings where she has inspired and supported school leaders and business partners, and often working with multiple cohorts of students to maximise their opportunities and stretch themselves to achieve more than they imagine is possible. Lisa volunteered with SMBP in the height of lockdown and was immediately taken with the mission. She is delighted to now be a full-time member of the SMPB family as it scales its impact across the country. 

Amongst many projects, Lisa has enjoyed recruiting a brand new Sixth Form’s opening cohort and delivering their Higher Education destinations service; recruiting over 400 schools to DfE’s / OECD TALIS survey of teachers in England’s schools; and event management of large-scale events in secondary schools for Jack Petchey’s “Speak Out” Challenge. She also established the Taylor Wessing National Portrait Gallery Photography Competition and, back in the 90’s – the original ‘A Dog is for Life, Not Just For Christmas’ campaign. 

Head of Technology & Communications

Jade Emmett

Jade started her career at 17 by joining ITV’s Apprenticeship scheme. Prior to this, she attended state school where attendance was one of the worst nationally, and GCSE pass rates were very low. A lot of students were from disadvantaged backgrounds, however this inspired her to return back to her school to give career talks, attend career fairs, and assist with SMBP (while it was known as the LSMP) over the years.

Now employed by SMBP, she is very grateful to be able to head up technology and communications for the charity, using her design and creativity skills alongside her administration skills achieved from her 7 years as a Team Admin and Personal Assistant at ITV. Notable projects Jade is proud to have worked on are the implementation of the SMBP App for students during the Covid-19 pandemic, and co-ordinating and designing the SMBP rebrand in 2023.

In her spare time, Jade is an avid digital illustrator and Japanese culture enthusiast, attending comic conventions up and down the country.

Student Sourcing Executive

Manisha Kumar

Manisha participated in the SMBP Work Skills & Insight Week in 2018 visiting Microsoft, Verizon, Veritas and O2 whilst studying A Levels. Attending a state school that did not offer Law as an A Level option, she was unaware of the different types of lawyers, and the work that they do on a day-to-day basis. The SMBP week was paramount in filling in these gaps and informed her decision to study Law at Coventry University. 

Throughout university Manisha became the Mentor Director of the Coventry University society “WhatNext? Coventry”, which provides mentoring sessions on life skills and higher education for Black and South Asian young people. During her 3rd Year, Manisha volunteered weekly at the Central England Law Centre in the Employment Law Clinic, helping people with their employment queries. 

Manisha’s relationship with SMBP has continued from student to alumni, from joining the Alumni Advisory Committee in 2021, to now joining the team full time as the Student Sourcing Executive. Through being involved with the SMBP, she has been able to aid the journey of improving accessibility to industries and sectors for young people who are currently in the same position that she was during 2018.

During her final year of university, Manisha studied abroad in Toulouse, France studying Business Management. Whilst abroad, she travelled to many European cities, met a diverse range of people, and learnt new skills such as speaking French. 

Delivery Executive

Vanessa Uweru

Vanessa completed her SMBP Work Skills Insight Week in summer 2022, stepping into doors she never thought existed. By visiting established organisations that focus on diverse career paths, and meeting professionals in the fields of law, business, and accounting at Manchester United, ITV, Boohoo plc, PwC and Squire Patton Boggs, Vanessa gained real experience in day-to-day work of these well-known brands. She particularly enjoyed the thought-provoking competency activities that are part of the SMBP programme.

After her journey of contributing as an SMBP Ambassador, Vanessa took a gap year after graduating from college, and continued her relationship with SMBP, progressing to member of our Alumni Advisory Board. Through this role, Vanessa mentors student ambassadors, supporting them to make impactful and fundamental decisions about their career or education plans and giving them confidence to reach further than they would have thought possible.

In 2024, Vanessa joined the SMBP team full-time as Delivery Executive and was delighted to have recently spoken to college students about her career journey and providing advice on life after college.

Vanessa is interested in film and photography, and enjoys project work with creatives in the music, fashion and dance industry which celebrates diverse cultures and art in an expressive form.

Head of Alumni Communications

Muhammad Gangat

As an Associate in the Hogan Lovells Intellectual Property team, I put so much of my success down to the core skills, experiences and insight I had during the SMBP week in 2016. Having gone on to complete my Law degree at SOAS University of London and my LPC LLM at the University of Law, before starting my Training Contract, I worked as a Legal Executive at Meggitt plc, whilst also sitting on the Inclusion Advisory Board at Southampton Football Club. Upon completion of my degree at SOAS, I was appointed as the first SOAS School of Law Alumnus in Residence, a role created for me to support students at SOAS settle into life at University and with their career choices, before being promoted to Teaching Fellow for Property Law where in doing so, I became the youngest Tutor in SOAS’ rich history.

The SMBP Work Insight and Skills week gave me an insight into the workings of a number of legal teams across the City, through activities that made me more confident, able, and comfortable with legal lexis. What I learnt on the programme has stayed with me until today, whilst also giving me access to individuals and businesses I otherwise would never have dreamt of being in contact with.

I am passionate about tackling access into the corporate world, and providing equal opportunities for all. In January 2022, in the Special Report on Diversity and Inclusion in the Legal Profession by Globe Law and Business, I was asked to write a chapter in the report, which I titled, “Social Mobility in Law – where’s the equity and justice?” and was subsequently published in April 2022, a moment of particular pride and happiness for me. As the Head of Alumni, I remain a passionate advocate for supporting Alumni of the scheme and providing opportunities for our Alumni, whilst trying to support you in making the right career decision, so will happily be available anytime if you wish to discuss your plans and career options!

Head of Student Experience

Symrun Gakhal

After experiencing the SMBP programme first-hand in 2016, I’ve seen how valuable the skills and experience gained from the programme are in setting students up for future success.

I had the opportunity to gain an insight into how businesses operate, and more importantly, what they look for in future employees. Aston Martin, Barclays and Wasps Rugby club are just a few of the businesses I was exposed to and through each insight workshop, I picked-up key competency skills which provided a strong foundation for professional interviews. For example, team working, presentation skills and time management as well as commitment – considering that the SMBP insight week took place during the summer holidays.  

Over time, one experience seamlessly led to another and opportunities began presenting themselves. I later went on to secure a training contract at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, spent time working in the firms’ Dubai office and have since qualified as an Associate in the Global Projects Practice.

Knowing how to enter the professional world is a daunting prospect for any student, especially without the ‘connections’ that other peers may benefit from and so, SMBP helped me to bridge that gap. From simply entering an office for the first time, to networking with senior executives – SMBP allowed me to develop a range of skills in a safe environment and use these transferrable skills in the working world.  

I’m continuing to support the SMBP team in delivering and developing the programme in an effort to reach as many students as possible. After benefitting so much since taking part, it is great to now share my experiences and advice!

Head of Impact

Shama Aktar

The SMBP was a fantastic opportunity that gave me a thorough insight in how law integrates with various businesses and since then has paved the way for me to gain further experience in the legal field. Having the opportunity to visit big household names such as ITV, Microsoft, Yahoo and Viacom, and being able to network with people from all kinds of professions allowed me to stand out in future applications for placements at competitive law firms. It was after the SMBP week that I won a £15,000 legal scholarship from Trowers and Hamlins and undertook a Vacation Scheme with Reed Smith, once again giving me the chance to elevate my CV and prepare me for Training Contract interviews and assessment centres. I also had the opportunity to speak about the impact of the programme at the launch of SMBP as a charity at the House of Commons, a very memorable moment for me. 

I later went on to secure a Training Contract with Arnold & Porter, one of the first firms that participated in the SMBP at its inception. Throughout my interview, I referenced several tasks that I undertook whilst on the SMBP, allowing me the opportunity to showcase the transferrable skills that I had picked up and developed throughout the scheme. Following the completion of my Training Contract in September 2023, I am now an Associate in the Intellectual Property practice group, where I advise clients across a range of industries, with a particular focus on life sciences. IP was an area of law that I first discovered when I took part on the SMBP and I am grateful for the exposure that I had to it.  

The SMBP had a huge impact on the subsequent decisions I went on to make for the development of my legal career;  it opened many doors for me and I’m sure it will continue to do the same for everyone who takes part in the programme. As Head of Student Experience for SMBP, I work with the team to improve the scheme for future participants.  I very much enjoy being part of the alumni, to see the programme expand and continue benefiting young talented individuals. As someone who has achieved so much since taking part on the programme, it is my pleasure to now help advance the programme, to ensure that students can take away from their experience just as much as I have.

Director of Strategic Partnerships

Andy Boucher

Andy was a senior partner at PwC until he retired in 2021. His driving passion has been working to improve the social mobility landscape of the country. For the last 13 years he has been involved in a wide range of social mobility projects from the strategic to the operational and is a long term supporter and advocate of the SMBP.

Chief Technology Officer

Annette Brown

Annette recently joined the SMBP family, initially as a Cluster Head but more recently as CTO. Annette brings a wealth of experience and connections which will lead technology for the SMBP to a new level.

As the IT Manager for Milbank in Europe, Annette is responsible and accountable for the smooth running of the Firm’s information technology systems in the London, Frankfurt and Munich offices. Annette manages the IT team who are responsible for delivering day to day IT/helpdesk support, IT Training, System Management and IT Infrastructure & Projects. Recent IT projects Annette has worked on have included upgrade to Office 365, migration of Office phones in Europe from Avaya to Cisco and is currently working on the office move from Gresham Street to 100 Liverpool Street.

Head of Finance

Robert Henson

Rob is a CIMA qualified account, who has been at ITV since 2016.  Prior to this he spent five years training as an accountant in the social care industry.

He has been involved with SMBP since 2016 (then LSMP). As Head of Finance, he oversees everything from day to day banking, long term forecasting, annual returns and financial governance.

Rob attended state school, before completing a BSc degree in Mathematics at the University of Leeds. He passionately believes that the skills and knowledge passed onto the SMBP students empowers them to go on and successfully achieve their ambitions.

General Counsel

Shelley Bezalel

Shelley is Founder and Director of SRB Media Affairs, a consultancy providing drop-in legal support to companies and individuals.  

Shelley has worked with charities for many years; providing legal support on a volunteer basis first to Body & Soul and, for the last few years, to SMBP (even before it was a charity!).  She was, until recently, also Head of Legal Affairs for ITV’s Corporate Responsibility team; working across their many charitable initiatives including Text Santa, Soccer Aid and 1 Million Minutes.

Shelley loves working with the SMBP team and seeing the real value that the charity brings to the students that are involved with it.

Martin Lewis OBE

Martin Lewis, the Money Saving Expert, is a campaigning broadcast journalist who is founder and Chair of MoneySavingExpert.com, the UK’s biggest money website – over 12 million have opted to receive his weekly email. The seventh series of his prime-time ITV show The Martin Lewis Money Show started in November 2017, he is resident expert on This Morning (Mon & Fri), Good Morning Britain (Thu) and BBC Radio 5 Live’s Lunch Money Martin (Mon), and has columns in newspapers including the Sunday Mirror, The Telegraph and the FT.

In 2016 he founded and funded the influential Money and Mental Health Policy Institute charity, which he chairs. Over the years he’s headed the Independent Taskforce on Student Finance Information, spearheaded major financial justice campaigns including bank charges reclaiming (over seven million template letters downloaded) and PPI reclaiming (over six million) and a successful large-scale campaign to get financial education on the national curriculum. He was awarded an OBE for his contribution to consumer rights and charity work and in almost every poll he was seen as the country’s most-trusted person on the EU referendum.

“I’ve spent many years working to demystify student finance to try and ensure that no one is scared off for the wrong reasons as I believe brilliant people should have brilliant opportunities. Sadly the world often doesn’t work like that. Opportunities come through connections. So if we want to beat social inequality then we need to tackle that.

What a better way to start than to make opportunity and connections open to brilliant people who wouldn’t have them otherwise. That’s what the Social Mobility Business Partnership does, and why I’m proud to be involved.”

Martin Lewis OBE, Money Saving Expert.

Baroness Prashar Runnymede CBE

Baroness Prashar has led a number of public and voluntary organisations with great distinction.

In July 2009 she was appointed a member of the Iraq Inquiry. From 2005 to 2010 Baroness Prashar was Chairman of the Judicial Appointments Commission. She is Deputy Chair of the British Council.

Baroness Prashar is Governor of the Ditchley Foundation, a Trustee of Cumberland Lodge, President of the UK Council for International Student Affairs, President of the National Literacy Trust, President of the Community Foundation Network and Patron of the Runnymede Trust.

From 2000 to 2005 she was the First Civil Service Commissioner. She has served as Chairman of the Parole Board for England and Wales, Director of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations,President of the Royal Commonwealth Society and Director of the Runnymede Trust.

Her past appointments have also included: Board member and Chancellor of De Montfort University, Chairman of the National Literacy Trust, and Governor of Salzburg Global Seminar. She served as a member of the Royal Commission on Criminal Justice, the Lord Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Legal Education and Conduct, the Arts Council and as a non-executive director of ITV and Channel 4.

Baroness Prashar was born in Kenya. She attended the Universities of Leeds and Glasgow.

In recognition of her contribution to public life she was awarded a CBE in 1994 and given a peerage in 1999. She sits in the House of Lords as a Crossbencher.

Mark Soden

An ex-professional rugby player with Northampton Saints, Mark won 100 premiership appearances and Captained his country at all junior age groups. Further to the inevitable ‘body complaining’ he has progressed to the non-contact world of facilitation, coaching and consulting. After working for an in-house Leadership development organisation within Sandhurst Royal Military Academy, Mark now uses a range of experiences from the world of elite sport, the armed forces and business to inform his coaching and Leadership ethos.

Mark has helped to evolve the Leadership approach and adapted sustainable behavioural change of numerous corporate organisations. He specialises in developing Leadership and coach development in Olympic and elite professional sport. As a coach and mentor, Mark has developed and delivered a large scale coach, leadership and resilience programmes in a variety of sports organisations, risk industries and within the corporate world. Mark also plays a key role in more purist coach and Leadership development, being one of the key delivery team in developing UK Sports coaches ahead of Tokyo 2020.

“It’s been a genuine pleasure to be part of the LSMP and SMBP from the very start back in 2014. Working with these bright young things on the programme and helping them to build some new skills around the way they chose to approach difficult and potentially scary future events has been a real privilege.”

Mark Soden, Director. Cleartrack Performance Ltd.

Helen Mahy CBE

Helen read law at Manchester University and qualified as a Barrister and also as an Associate of the Chartered Insurance Institute. After a varied legal and commercial career in insurance, Government, aid work, engineering and support services, she was Company Secretary and General Counsel of National Grid Plc for 10 years. At National Grid she was also executive sponsor of inclusion and diversity about which she is passionate.

Helen is a non executive director of the FTSE 50 company SSE plc and the law firm Gowling WLG. She will join the board of NextEnergy Solar Fund, a FTSE 250 company, in April 2023 and take over as chair in the summer of 2023. Helen is chair of the charity Global Media Campaign to end FGM. She was Chair of the Renewables Infrastructure Group from 2013 to 2022 and has been a non executive director of Aga Rangemaster plc, Stagecoach Group plc, SVG Capital plc, the Norwegian Company Bonheur ASA and deputy chairman of Primary Health Properties plc. 

Helen is married to Mark and lives with him and their cocker spaniel, Borage. She loves musical theatre in many forms and speaks passable Norwegian. 

“When I was growing up, I didn’t have family members around me who had been to university or had professional careers. I lacked a lot of confidence as a result.
I think that what the SMBP does is show young people that, whatever background they are from, they can succeed. Equipping talented young people with the right skills and attitude and experience helps ensure that success for them is inevitable.”

Helen Mahy CBE

Osborne Clarke

Ray Berg

Ray is UK Managing Partner, responsible for running the Osborne Clarke LLP business. A corporate lawyer for more than 25 years, Ray uses his wide-ranging experience of company structures, reorganisations and financing to help set our strategy and guide our day-to-day operations. Ray is passionate about building a strong and diverse organisation, and has made this a core part of Osborne Clarke’s strategy. Under his leadership, the firm has introduced a wide range of initiatives focused on diversity and wellbeing, leading to greater engagement amongst employees and recognition from industry bodies most recently being named an agent if change by management today for his work championing gender equality and he speaks regularly on the subject.

Ray was previously head of the Business Transactions Group, which is home to the M&A, corporate finance, financial services and commercial teams. During his 18 years at Osborne Clarke, Ray has advised on a wide range of high-profile transactions for both public and private companies including takeovers, mergers, IPO’s and joint ventures – often with a cross-border aspect. Ray qualified as a lawyer in 1992 and spent 18 months of his early career working in-house at a major international corporation in the United States, joining Osborne Clarke as a Partner in 2001.

Reed Smith

Carole Mehigan

I am responsible for developing, organising, managing and hosting our community volunteering opportunities focused on combating social exclusion within the vulnerable communities, our Diversity & Inclusion programmes focused on promoting social inclusion for young people from early stage education i.e. primary school to university and career changers. I work closely with our partnership charities, non-profit organisations and some key clients who we collaborate with, to provide various workshops, events, insight days, career open days, mentoring programme and work experience placements. I also manage our large Firm fundraising events supporting various charities.

I am also the London Diversity & Inclusion Chair for Operations, representing our business service staff; a member of our Diversity & Inclusion Committee which supports all of our various Business Inclusion Groups for individual Diversity Committees focused on LGBT+, disability, social mobility, culture, ethnicity, faith, gender and environmental issues. I am a First Aider in the Workplace, Mental Health First Aider and one of the Mental Health Representatives for our Disability Committee, LEADRS London.

Simply Business

Joanne Theodoulou

Joanne, who has experience of governance in the not-for-profit sector, joined SMBP’s board in December 2018.

A lawyer by profession, she has a wealth of legal, financial and management experience drawn from working in and with large law firms and banks, as well as small entrepreneurial companies. At Simply Business where she is General Counsel, Joanne champions Inclusion and strives to make sure diversity is celebrated. She is also a passionate advocate for workplace wellbeing, and sits on the board of Mind, the mental health charity.

Joanne qualified as a solicitor in 1998 and holds a degree in English and Spanish American literature from Warwick University. Before qualifying as a lawyer, Joanne studied music and dance to a high level and still has a passion for both.

She lives in London with her husband and two teens.

Squire Patton Boggs

Rob Elvin

Rob Elvin is a solicitor-advocate and the managing partner of our Manchester office. Following outstanding client feedback, Rob was recognised as a star lawyer in the Acritas StarsTM global database 2020, cited as having “full confidence in his experience and his knowledge, and he was very pragmatic in terms of finding a solution to the issue”. Rob primarily focusses on leading large and complex investigations across a broad range of health, safety and environmental matters. His expertise also covers nuisance, noise abatement, pollution, permit appeals and environmental warranty and civil claims, judicial review, corporate defence (including bribery and corruption, investigations and corporate manslaughter), inquest law, food hygiene and safety, transport law, including public inquiries in front of traffic commissioners, and product safety, liability and recall.

Mishcon de Reya

Kevin Gold

Kevin is Mishcon de Reya’s Executive Chairperson. He specialises in corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions and joint ventures as well as advising families on international tax, succession and strategic dispute resolution. Much of his work has an international dimension with a large part of his practice having a Middle Eastern, South African and Asian bias.

He is increasingly instructed to lead the commercial negotiations on behalf of clients in addition to providing more traditional legal input. He has a practical and pragmatic approach and has developed a formidable reputation among his clients for effective negotiation on their behalf.

Kevin became Managing Partner in 1997. Under his leadership the firm has seen more than a ten-fold growth in revenue and launched MDR Lab – the first Legal Tech accelerator in the UK. He also oversaw the launch of several successful ancillary businesses – including MDR Discover, MDR Cyber and MDR Brand Management.

He was named ‘Law Firm Leader of the year’ at the 2015 Legal Business Awards.

Mishcon de Reya was named ‘Law firm of the year’ by both The Lawyer and Legal Business in 2012, and again 2017. In 2020 the firm appeared in Sunday Times ‘Best Companies to Work For’ list for the 13th consecutive year.

In 2020, Kevin was appointed Executive Chairperson, focusing on the overall strategic development of the law firm and its ancillary businesses.

Burges Salmon

Alice Bretherton

Alice is Burges Salmon’s chief people officer with responsibility for all aspects of the firm’s strategic approach to its people.

Alice is a member of the partnership committee and the executive committee of the firm. Alice joined the firm in October 2023 from EY, where she held the role of Strategic Talent Director for the Tax and Law business in the UK and Ireland.   

She has held various Talent Leadership roles in Professional Services firms in the UK and Internationally, and has particular expertise in Organisational Development, Transformation and Change Management, and the Future of Work.

Alice holds an MBA from INSEAD Business School in France.

BT

Russell Johnstone

Russell is responsible for leading legal, governance and compliance support for BT’s three consumer brands: BT, EE and Plusnet. Together those businesses are sector leaders in the UK across voice, broadband, WiFi and mobile, and they’re growing in TV and Sport.

He sits on the Consumer Executive Committee, Group Legal & CoSec Leadership Team, Group Risk Panel and Group Diversity & Inclusion Board.

Russell started his career at Olswang, a leading media, communications and technology law firm. After secondments to BBC Worldwide and Channel 4, he took up various in-house legal roles within TV and broadcasting.

Having joined BT in 2011 as Acting Head of Vision & Third Party Projects, in 2012 Russell became Head of Commercial/Media before becoming Chief Counsel, TV in which role he managed the team which delivered all legal and regulatory aspects of the creation, development, launch and ongoing operation of BT Sport. Appointed General Counsel for BT Consumer in 2015, Russell was then appointed General Counsel for the combined BT, EE and Plusnet consumer businesses in 2017.

Russell is also a trustee of the Social Mobility Business Partnership.

Provident Financial

Rob Lawson

Rob is a sustainability professional with over 20 years’ experience of supporting organisations from a range of sectors to manage and report on the environmental, social and governance issues that are material to their activities. He has worked for Provident Financial Group since 2006 and is the company’s Head of Sustainability, responsible for the ongoing management of Group’s company-wide corporate responsibility programme.

One of Rob’s key responsibilities is to support Provident’s community investment activities which are delivered through its Social Impact Programme. The strategy of this Programme is to invest in activities and initiatives which seek to address some of the key factors which, on their own or acting together, can reduce someone’s likelihood to be financially or socially included. Such factors include lack of literacy or numeracy skills; disabilities and/or mental health issues; unemployment or under-employment; low levels of educational attainment; and low, uncertain or fluctuating incomes.

It is through this Programme that Provident Financial initially got involved in the Legal Social Mobility Partnership, and subsequently became a founding funder of the Social Mobility Business Partnership.

Originally from Stoke-on-Trent, Rob was the first of his family to go to university and has completed a BSc (Hons) Biological Sciences at University of Sheffield, and MSc Environmental Protection and MA Health and Safety and Environmental Law, both at University of Salford.

Clifford Chance

Oliver Hipperson

Oliver is a partner at Clifford Chance and leads the firm’s asset finance group in London.  Oliver’s practice focuses on the financing, sale and leasing of heavy transport assets in the aviation and maritime sectors. Oliver advises a wide range of clients, including leasing companies, banks and other financial investors, and export credit agencies on transactions across the sectors, including restructurings and insolvencies, repossession activities (whether consensual or contentious), M&A, asset disposals, joint ventures and fund-raising. 

Oliver is the executive sponsor of RISE, Clifford Chance’s social mobility UK employee network.

Slaughter and May

Dominic Robertson

Dominic Robertson is a tax partner at Slaughter and May, advising a wide range of clients on tax disputes, and on the tax treatment of mergers, acquisitions and other corporate finance transactions. Dominic joined the firm straight out of university in 2004, and became a partner in 2014.

Dominic chairs Slaughter and May’s community and pro bono committee, which focuses its work on enhancing social mobility and access to justice; and, as one of the firm’s recruitment partners, has seen first-hand the importance of ensuring that bright young people, regardless of their background or socio-economic circumstances, are encouraged to pursue careers in the law or in other business spheres.

CMS

Tanya Francis

Tanya Francis, is a Partner at CMS LLP based in the Manchester office.  She is a D&I ‘Champion’ within the real estate team’s initiative to improve the D&I representation with her practice group and is an advocate for social mobility.   Having attended a state school herself, Tanya has personal experience of the challenges that can be encountered in progressing a career in law from a less privileged background and believes in the importance of having visible role models for young people.

Formula 1

Alex Edmiston

Alex is Senior Counsel at Formula 1. F1 is the commercial rights holder to the world’s leading motorsport series, racing in 23 locations around the world each year, from historic racetracks like Silverstone and Suzuka to street circuits like Monaco and Singapore, and most recently, in Miami and Las Vegas. Alex is responsible for negotiating F1’s revenue generating agreements with broadcasters, Global Partners, licensees (content, experiential, gaming and consumer product) as well as key service providers such as those underpinning F1’s broadcast operations. His role also encompasses day to day advisory work, including in relation to F1’s OTT service F1 TV, brand protection, advertising standards and data protection compliance. Away from work, during his time at F1, Alex has been lucky enough to take part in a “Hot Lap” of the Abu Dhabi Yas Marina circuit, with F1 driver Nico Hulkenberg taking him for a spin. 

Alex trained at the London-based law firm Travers Smith LLP, qualifying into the Commercial, Intellectual Property & Data Protection department. At Travers Smith, he advised clients on a range of commercial and technology transactional and advisory matters. Following qualification, Alex was seconded to content and publishing business Immediate Media for a four month client secondment and completed the University of Oxford Postgraduate Diploma in Intellectual Property Law and Practice.

In partnership with SMBP, Alex established “The Next Grand Prix” business insight work experience programme at F1, where students are invited to pitch their next Grand Prix to join the race calendar. In January 2023, Alex joined as a Trustee of SMBP.