The theme of International Women’s Day 2022 is ‘Breaking the Bias’, raising awareness of the bias, stereotypes, and discrimination towards women that still exist in all walks of life.
As a responsible business, we share the desire to create a world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. A world that is gender equal.
On 7 March we held a panel discussion with senior female leaders from a broad range of sectors and backgrounds, which was chaired by Bevan Brittan Partner Judith Hopper. We hosted an open conversation covering:
- The importance of having women in leadership roles
- The impact of female mentors and role models
- Everyday healthcare challenges for women – and why they shouldn’t be a barrier
- Helen Bentley - Regional Managing Director, Driver Trett
- Lydia Devenny - Director of Finance at the University of Huddersfield
- Tabitha Kassem - Executive Director of Governance, Technology & Transformation at Network Homes Limited
- Thelma Stober - Head of Legal Services, Local Government Association
- Jodie Sinclair - Senior Partner, Bevan Brittan
To read our speaker biographies please use the second tab of this page "information for delegates".
HELEN BENTLEY - REGIONAL MANAGING DIRECTOR, DRIVER TRETT
Helen is a chartered civil engineer with over 30 years’ experience. She initially trained with a firm of consulting engineers, performing numerous roles as contract administrator. Helen’s experience covers a wide range of projects including tunnelling work, sewage treatment plants and sea defences, process engineering including cement works, power stations and nuclear works, underground rail projects, and building works including refurbishment and new build; many including significant mechanical and electrical installations.
Helen has worked for clients, contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers dealing with claims both up and down the line and has a varied and fair perspective on all elements of the supply chain. She understands the need to effectively communicate analysis outcomes to ensure that any testimony provided can be readily understood and considered.
Moving into claims consultancy in 1995, Helen has maintained active project involvement, advising clients on matters of delay and contract administration, including appointments, as contract administrator, to bring to a conclusion some difficult and complex schemes mid way through the project. Helen also undertakes technical appointments within her field of experience, She has advised on a wide number of contracts including NEC3, PPC2000, JCT, ICE, and bespoke forms of contract.
Helen has been instructed to produce expert reports and has acted as technical expert witness and delay analyst, on building, infrastructure and transportation projects across the UK and the Middle East. She has given evidence and been cross examined in ICC Arbitrations, Adjudications, and mediations. Helen operates in a wide range of sectors including building, infrastructure, transportation, and energy.
LYDIA DEVENNY - DIRECTOR OF FINANCE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF HUDDERSFIELD
Lydia Devenny is Director of Finance at the University of Huddersfield, joining the University in January 2022. Previously Lydia was Deputy Chief Executive of Luminate Education Group, a large education provider based in Leeds covering all phases of the education system, but predominately focused on Further Education.
As a member of the University Executive at Huddersfield, Lydia is responsible for providing strategic financial advice to the University’s senior management and its Council in support of the development and delivery of the University’s aims and objectives. The University is among the top 10 in the UK for financial sustainability and continues to invest in top class estate and facilities without the need to borrow and has just embarked upon the development of a new £50m National Health and Innovation Campus.
Lydia is a Chartered Management Accountant with more than twenty years post-qualification experience, working in a variety of different sectors throughout her career, and putting these varied experiences to good use in a pragmatic and professional manner.
Lydia is a trustee for the Red Kite Learning Trust, where she chairs the Finance Committee. The Trust has a mixture of primary and secondary schools based in Leeds and North Yorkshire. Lydia is also serves as Chair of Governors of Oatlands Junior School, one of the Trust’s academies.
TABITHA KASSEM - EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF GOVERNANCE, TECHNOLOGY AND TRANSFORMATION AT NETWORK HOMES LIMITED
Tabitha Kassem is Executive Director of Governance, Technology and Transformation at Network Homes Limited, a G15 housing association with over 22,000 properties in London and the South East. Tabitha is qualified solicitor with over 14 years post qualification experience, as well as professional and voluntary experience in company secretary and data protection matters in the private, charitable and public sectors. She is also a trustee for NACRO, a social justice charity providing housing, education, and support to reintegrate people in custody and the community into society.
As company secretary of the Network Homes group, she services 14 legal entities of varying legal status. She is responsible for ensuring regulatory and legislative requirements are met for the business, with approximately 550 staff and over 50,000 residents. She joined the Network Homes Group in 2016 as Head of Legal Services and Company Secretary. Since that time she has moved up, expanding her remit to her current Executive position. She presently oversees all legal, insurance, data protection, company secretariat, technology and transformation arrangements in the Group, and is presently working on designing a Group wide information strategy. Tabitha is not your typical solicitor or company secretary; she seeks to use her knowledge, understanding and varying experience to identify and deliver improvements across the business and sector.
THELMA STOBER - HEAD OF LEGAL SERVICES, LOCAL GOVERNMENT ASSOCIATION
Thelma Pamela Stober, BA (Hons) Law, Postgrad Dip International Human Rights CEDR is a Solicitor and Commercial Mediator with extensive experience in the public sector. After practising as a barrister at the Bar, she moved to the public sector as Head of Legal Services and Monitoring Officer at the London Borough of Hackney.
Thelma has since served as Director of Corporate Law, Governance and Company Secretary at the Equality and Human Rights Commission and, before that, as Director of Legal and Procurement and Monitoring Officer at the Greater London Authority and the London Development Agency, where she played a leading role in bringing the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games to London.
Thelma played a key role in bringing the Olympic and Paralympic games to London in 2012 and on the 7 July 2005 London Bombing she suffered serious life changing injuries on her way to work. Since then, she has immersed herself in voluntary advocacy, mentoring and supporting families of victims and survivors of terrorism and recently other national disasters such as the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017. She campaigns and lobby for the voice of victims of terrorism to be heard and speaks nationally and internationally for support for victims of terrorism.
As a member of the Home office Victims Panel,Thelma played an influential role in the development of the Government’s Victims Strategy which was launched in September 2018. She worked for many years with other victims and professionals on a UK draft legislation for the rights of victims of crime which got cross party support.
In August 2019, Thelma was invited to speak at the United Nations conference for victims of terrorism and in August 2021, on “leave no victims behind”. She has since been working with the United Nations to develop a legislative template for the rights of victims of terrorism to be adopted by member nations.
Thelma is a Non- Executive Director of Catalyst Housing Group; a trustee of the London Emergencies Trust; the National Emergencies Trust; lay member and chair of Hertsvalley CCG Primary Medical Committee, Ambassador for the One Voice Project, Mentor and Advocate and public speaker.
Thelma was recently appointed as co-chair for Grenfell Memorial Commission., working with the community to develop a fitting memorial to honour the 72 people who lost their lives in the 2017 fire.
Thelma is also an inspirational speaker at schools and mentors young people.
JODIE SINCLAIR - SENIOR PARTNER, BEVAN BRITTAN
Jodie is Senior Partner at Bevan Brittan and Head of the Employment, Immigration and Pensions team, with overall responsibility for Bevan Brittan's health and social care employment practice, acting for employers across the independent and voluntary sectors, as well as the NHS. Jodie is also a member of the Bevan Brittan board and the strategic lead for the firm’s Wellbeing agenda, which forms part of Bevan Brittan’s wider Responsible Business focus.
As Senior Partner, Jodie supports colleagues and clients across key markets of health and social care, housing, local government, insurance and finance, higher education, energy and resource management and construction.
With over 20 years' experience as a specialist employment lawyer, Jodie’s employment practice spans both contentious and advisory work. Jodie regularly supports Chief Executives and Chairs in managing strategic and board level workforce issues, including senior executive terminations and breakdown in working relationships. Jodie is increasingly consulted as a sounding board for the management of workforce issues arising from the #Metoo and Black Lives Matter Movement, Health and Wellbeing and “Just and Compassionate Culture” agendas, including the facilitation of cultural reviews, audits and “deep dives” into disciplinary and formal management processes, and the learning arising.
“I am delighted to be part of a panel discussion celebrating International Women’s Day. As each person’s career experience is unique, hearing others’ stories and reflections always provides inspiration and motivation, irrespective of where you may be in your career.”