About A PASSION FOR PEOPLE With Dame Irene Hays, Bill Scott OBE and Gill Hunter

When you invest in your people, that’s when you start to see the magic happen.

With phrases such as ‘war on talent’ and ‘quiet quitting’ hitting the headlines, the importance of attracting, retaining and investing in people has risen to the top of the agenda. What does it take to put your people first and what are the benefits?

From supporting young people into work and placing a strong emphasis on development to the importance of inclusivity, our panellists will delve into the reasons why they all have a passion for people. Find out how their people mindset has created a positive culture and fuelled their business growth.

Hosted by Graham Robb, Recognition PR, we’re delighted to be joined by three successful business owners who have made people a priority; Dame Irene Hays, Hays Travel, Bill Scott OBE, Wilton Group and Gill Hunter, Square One Law.

Whether you are at the start of your journey or a long-established business, this event will provide invaluable insight and inspiration to support the people plans in your organisation.

About our panellists:

Dame Irene Hays – Brought up in Ashington, Northumberland, Dame Irene worked her way through the ranks in local and national government, becoming CEO of Sunderland City Council and South Tyneside Council and serving as Director General of Local Government and Regeneration in Whitehall.

Along with her late husband, John, she has grown Hays Travel into one of the region’s major employers whilst placing a strong emphasis on the personal and professional development of the Hays Travel team.

Their apprenticeship scheme, which is still as popular today as when it was launched 36 years ago, is testament to the supportive working culture Dame Irene and John have built. For her ongoing support to training, education and young people, she was made a dame in the 2020 New Year Honours List.

Passionate about supporting the next generation to be the best they can be, John and Dame Irene launched the Hays Travel Foundation in 2015 which has awarded over £1 million to community projects, helping to support young people in education, sport, the arts and health.

As Hays Travel chair and owner, Dame Irene is focused on taking forward John’s ambitions for the company with a team who share their passion for the travel industry and the people who work in it.

Bill Scott OBE – Starting out as an apprentice, Bill worked his way up, gaining experience in a number of senior production, quality and offshore installation positions until, in 1994, he teamed up with business partner, Steve Glenn, to set up Wilton Engineering Services.

Through national and international strategic planning, acquisition of a design engineering company and a £16m private equity deal, the group grew to employ more than 800 people at its peak.

Under his leadership, Wilton has become the ‘go-to company’ for world-class fabrications, specialising in designing, manufacturing, coating and loading out large, complicated structures for the offshore oil and gas, subsea, marine, decommissioning and offshore wind industries.

In recognition of his business success, Bill was crowned our 2012 Entrepreneur of the Year, EY Entrepreneur of the Year (North of England), IOD Investor Director NE and North East Business Executive of the Year; not to mention being made an honorary doctor of business administration at Teesside University, and he also received an OBE in 2019.

Gill Hunter – As owner and managing partner of commercial law firm, Square One Law, Gill leads a team of highly talented people committed to delivering top quality service in a way that suits clients’ needs, not their own. She is taking the firm forward with a vision for growth whilst preserving the entrepreneurial spirit and willingness to disrupt the status quo that have made the firm successful.

Gill believes that people are the firm’s key asset and is committed to creating a culture that is supportive, inclusive, and fun. In her view, there is nothing better than seeing talent within the business grow and thrive. She is committed to creating a great place to work with a diverse team of people who aren’t afraid to be their true authentic selves. She is passionate about creating an environment that fosters diversity and resilience in decision making and where challenge is welcome across the board.

Gill is a tech and commercial lawyer by trade, with a specialism in IP and IT law and over 25 years’ experience working in commercial law firms with clients from a broad range of public and private sectors including NHS trusts, universities, port authorities, biotech and ecommerce companies as well as engineering and manufacturing businesses.

She is passionate about the creative and tech industries and tech as a facilitator for business growth. Previously, she has been involved in a non-executive capacity in a variety of creative, cultural and tech organisations.

Gill is the vice chair of the board of trustees at Disability North, a founding member of the Northern Power Women’s Power Circle 150, a mentor for the Girl’s Network and a single mum of two children and an angry dachshund!

The small print – Member events are open to all members and partners of the Forum.

Two guest places are available to ‘Ultimate’ and ‘Premium’ members. If you are a ‘Core’ member and would like to find out how to upgrade your membership please email or call one of the team on 0191 500 7780.

Food and refreshments will be served during this event. If you have any dietary requirements please let one of the team know at least 24h prior to the event.

Event Overview

Event Organiser:

Entrepreneurs Forum

Event Dates:

Wednesday 1st March 2023

Event Duration:

17:00 - 19:30

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