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As a junior officer taking command of the ‘worst-performing ship in the Pacific Fleet’ Mike faced a daunting challenge and a test of his leadership. From his first day he looked at the ship from the crew’s point of view, empowering them, opening up lines of communication, and putting them at the core of the ship’s values. A year from him taking over the ship was rated as the best in the Navy. His lessons in culture, motivation and unity have spread beyond the military and into business, helping all organisations to be the best and prepare for the future.

Carlos Acosta is one of the greatest ballet dancers of all time, alongside Nureyev and Baryshnikov. One of 11 children born into poverty in back street Havana, his father hoped dance might provide the discipline to keep him away from trouble. He rose to become Principal Guest Artist at The Royal Ballet and has since realised his dream of setting up a company in Cuba. Reaching beyond dance enthusiasts, Carlos encourages all delegates to harness their strengths.

Nicola was the first ever female Olympic boxing champion and the first Brit to successfully defend an Olympic boxing title. After golds in London and Rio she turned pro and now faces new challenges. A popular figure in and out of the ring, she has spoken openly about challenges both personal and professional, the role of sport in helping her deal with problems, as well as her dedication, focus and the feeling of facing an opponent one-on-one.

Lucy led BBC HR during a turbulent period. She was responsible for employee relations, reward, training, development and redundancies. During her time the corporation adjusted to four new Directors General, the move to Salford, 30% reduction in management and the Savile scandal. Lucy’s decisions were exposed to frequent media and political scrutiny. In speeches she considers how to instil resilient leadership, break down silos and manage resistance to change.

Victor runs the not-for-profit health and social care provider. Rather than fundraising, all income comes from central and local government contracts. There’s now an annual turnover of £100m, and 2,500 people working with 100,000 individuals on drug and drink abuse, mental health, learning difficulties and long term unemployment. In his speeches Victor explores public health, diversity and social issues. He may also highlight the need for leaders to keep learning.

After being afflicted with polio as a youngster, Ade refused to let disability get in the way of his love for sport and became ‘the Michael Jordan of wheelchair basketball.’ He represented GB at the European and World Championships, and won Paralympic bronze. He has since trekked through rainforests and hauled himself to the top of a 5,000’ volcano. Ade describes how he realised his condition wasn’t a big obstacle, and how we can all set our own boundaries.

Maggie has led projects making anything from land mine detectors to satellite sub-systems that measure variables like wind speed to improve our knowledge of climate change. In presentations the Sky At Night expert talks about exploring space with missions like Rosetta, and how we live in a galaxy with 200 billion stars. Maggie believes that with 100 billion galaxies in the universe, there must be life out there – simply as a matter of probability.

People used to joke that if you find yourself in the same place as Adie you should get out immediately. As Chief News Reporter she broadcast from the front line in the Gulf War and riots in Tiananmen Square. After dinner Kate talks about Britain’s home front, when women started going to football matches.

As Transport Secretary, Schools Minister and Head of the No.10 Policy Unit, Andrew has been an architect of public service reforms from academies to policing. He also prepared the plan for HS2, before leading a review of regional growth strategies. As Chair of the new commission, he is now assessing the UK’s future infrastructure needs. In presentations Andrew looks at change management and policy implementation in complex organisations – and difficult conditions.

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