Growth and Innovation speakers announced for The Big Debate 2022

  • Alex Sellers Turning Factor
  • George Freeman MP

The Big Debate returns as a face-to-face event at The Halls, St Andrews Plain, giving you the opportunity to engage with Norfolk MPs and business leaders.

The event brings together Norfolk MPs, and local business leaders to discuss and debate key issues affecting businesses in the region, this high-profile annual policy event is a key date in the commercial calendar for the start of 2022.

The topics for 2022 will be:

  • People, Skills, and Wellbeing
  • Transport and Infrastructure
  • Growth and Innovation
  • Climate Change

We are very pleased to announce our Growth and Innovation panellists are; George Freeman, Mid Norfolk MP, Alex Sellers, Director of Learning of Turning Factor and Ashley Shorey-Mills, Head of Sizewell C of Suffolk Chambers of Commerce.

George Freeman, Mid Norfolk MP

George Freeman was elected to Parliament in 2010 after a 15-year career in the Cambridge cluster founding high-growth technology companies. After serving as Government Life Science Adviser and launching the landmark Life Sciences Industrial Strategy in 2011, he was appointed as the UK's first ever Minister for Life Sciences in 2014, leading an £18bn portfolio across the Departments of Health and Business and launching the Accelerated Access Review and championing the role of genomics, patient data and UK healthcare innovation.

In 2016, George was promoted to become Chair of the Prime Minister’s Policy Board at Number 10. He also served as Minister of State for Decarbonisation, Disconnection & Digitalisation at the Department for Transport and helped lead the Prime Minister’s Task Force on Innovation, Growth and Regulatory Reform (TIGRR). He has founded and launched the Reform for Resilience Health Commission with fellow commissioners including Malcolm Turnbull (former Prime Minister of Australia), Lord Hague (former UK Foreign Secretary), José Manuel Barroso (former President of the European Commission), Professor Michelle Williams (Dean of Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health) and Roula Khalaf (Editor of the Financial Times) before being appointed as Minister for Science, Research and Innovation at BEIS in 2021.

After graduating from Cambridge University, Freeman worked in the burgeoning Cambridge tech cluster founding and financing high-growth biomedical start-ups. He was Director of Early Stage Ventures at Merlin Biosciences, CEO of Amedis Pharma and founder and Managing Director of 4D Biomedical where he worked around the UK putting together translational medical research collaborations with UK Universities, Hospitals and Life Science Companies.

Alex Sellers, Director of Learning of Turning Factor

Alex has over 20 years’ operational management experience in the hospitality sector and a further 10 years in learning and development leadership roles. Throughout his frontline management career, his passion, enthusiasm, and people centric approach often meant that he was tasked with improving failing businesses. Key to his success were engaging his teams and customers alike in his vision and values and encouraging collaborative and open-minded approaches – effective working practices he believes in passionately and employs to this day.

His unique experience, genuine interest in people and authenticity has helped Alex become an expert in leading people, building relationships and learning and development practices. Alex now works as a Director for Turning Factor and also operates as a leadership and business coach. Working across sectors (public, private and voluntary) and organisations, Alex has designed and run modern, innovative and industry leading learning and development programmes that have delivered sustainable impact for both the organisations and the people involved.

Alex is driven by a passion for helping people develop to their full potential and is a firm believer that people and teams can be empowered through self-awareness, leadership, communication, and taking the right action at the right time. He has an exemplary track record of encouraging behavioural change and new perspectives in the people he works with.

Ashley Shorey-Mills, Head of Sizewell C of Suffolk Chambers of Commerce

Ashley Shorey-Mills heads up the Sizewell C Supply Chain as part of the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce. He and his team are there to guide and support the huge range of regional businesses, to ensure that Sizewell C is build using local people and local companies, and that we leave a legacy for the regions supply chain and business community.

Originally from Essex, Ashley began work straight from school and spent over 20 years with Hughes, the East Anglian Electrical retailer, working his way from sales through to senior management. During this time, his passion for working with people really took shape and he has spent huge proportions of his career helping others to develop and grow, whilst also focussing heavily on high levels of service and care.

Outside of standard work, Ashley has a young family with 2 children and lives with his wife, daughter and son in Suffolk and has now officially spent more of his life in Suffolk than Essex and is passionate about where he lives. He also has dedicated some of his time to volunteering at schools, as his passion for learning and supporting the next generation drives what he does, especially with his own children in mind.

Once a keen sportsman (but age catches up with us all at times), he is a big football fan (and can sit back and enjoy the old farm derby as neither allegiance affects him), but will happily enjoy watching absolutely any sport possible. 

In June of last year, Ashley took on the role at the Suffolk Chamber. He believes that this is a once in a generation opportunity for our region and is passionate about local business and making the most of every single opportunity. He believes by working with the other regional chambers, as well as close partnerships with EDF and Sizewell C, we can truly bring a legacy to East Anglia, that will put us on the map for being a beautiful, but also investable and business ready part of our country.  He wants to work with every single type of business possible, to showcase exactly what makes us special.

Make sure you are part of the debate on Friday 04 February 2022 - Book you ticket here.

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