Leading in Challenging Times

How can the conference help you?

If you are a business leader, it’s likely you’ll have faced a number of challenges since the outbreak of COVID-19, many of which you may have experienced for the first time. This virtual conference has been specifically designed to help you confidently navigate through any existing and future challenges that may arise.

Hear about the difficult situations our keynote speakers have faced during the pandemic and learn the steps they took to overcome these situations.  Speakers will also share their insights into future challenges that may still occur and offer advice on the most important elements needed to overcome potential problems.

Conference speakers

Confirmed speakers for this conference are currently as follows. Please check back for more updates.


Jason is the Managing Director of Arrowsmith Engineering Ltd and board member of the Aero Services Global group. He has been Involved in the UK Aerospace supply chain for nearly 20 years, specialising in the Aeroengine sector.

Arrowsmith and ASG have seen large growth over the last 3 years resulting in the Queens Award for International trade and the ADS SC21 Silver award in 2020.

Jason is considered a leading opinion figure within the industry and has worked closely with the Manufacturing Technology Centre and collaborations on NATEP, UK Innovation and DRAMA projects. He has also worked alongside Coventry University to develop long term apprenticeship and Intern programs.

Jason is the current Chair of the Coventry and Warwickshire Aerospace Forum and panel member of regional associations Midlands Aerospace Alliance, Make UK and the Coventry and Warwickshire LEP.

Paula’s background as a Mechanical Engineer has led to a wealth of experience in the engineering, manufacturing, construction and technology industries. She worked in a variety of director and leadership roles before becoming a senior consultant at Altran four years ago.

Altran is a world leading consultancy in innovation and high-tech engineering, with more than 50,000 employees operating in over 30 different countries. Paula partners with client organisations to help develop their products, services and strategic direction. She is highly experienced in team leadership and enjoys coaching and mentoring high-performing global teams to achieve complex tasks.


Having worked with Acres Engineering for 15 years, Luke has experience within a variety of roles including CAD Designer, Estimating and Sales Engineer, General Manager and now Managing Director. Luke is well respected in the industry and his extensive sector experience has enabled him to hold a number positions within other organisations. He his board member of Make UK, a member of the Science and Technology Business Development Group for Midlands Aerospace Alliance and a member of SEMTA East Midlands Regional Council.

Acres Engineering is one of the leading design and manufacturing businesses for custom finished products. The organisation has served a wide range of industries during the last 70 years including automotive, aerospace, rail, power generation, pharmaceutical, manual/material handling and food & drink.

With over 15 years’ experience in delivering strategic digital cultural transformation programmes and data innovation for global enterprise organisations, Manisha has developed a wealth of expertise. She has successfully executed complex technical and cultural change programmes, through developing and leading global multi-disciplinary teams.

In her current role at Rolls Royce, Manisha is accountable for the strategic roadmap of data innovation and data science capability throughout the 50,000 global workforce.

Wendy will bring her past experiences of overwhelm and burn out to the audience, a common but under-discussed element of modern business life. She will go on to unpack the essential elements that are needed for sustainable and authentic leadership, both at work and at home.

Wendy has worked in rail and off-highway operations, engineering and assurance for 25 years.  She is a human scientist and engineer, who now uses her skills to support businesses to develop resilient staff who thrive at work.


Break out sessions

You will also have the opportunity to attend a break out session of your choice. These short interactive sessions will last approximately half an hour and will be led by one of our university experts. You'll be able to choose from one of three discussion topics:

In times of uncertainty and complexity, strategic planning is crucial in helping organisations to overcome challenges so that they can move forward with confidence and build a stronger position within the marketplace. Join Nihar Amoncar, senior lecturer in strategic management for this highly topical discussion.

Many organisations have had to make fundamental changes to the way they operate during the pandemic. Join Simon Smith, senior lecturer and programme leader in Logistics and Supply Chain Management to discuss the improvements organisations can make in light of the current situation.

Learn which skills are most important during change and uncertainty, to ensure effective leadership during these unprecedented times. Discussions will be led by Sarah Digby and Sa’ad Ali, senior lecturers in leadership and management

Supporting Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs)

The conference is part of Enscite which offers funding and support to SMEs in the aerospace, rail and automotive supply chain.

Enscite is a partnership between the University of Derby and Aston University, which is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). To benefit from this scheme, organisations need to be based in the Derbyshire or Nottinghamshire region - this is the area covered by the Local Enterprise Partnership, D2N2.

Find out how Enscite could help your organisation to grow and make operational improvements.

The offices of Bloc Digital

How Enscite helped us

Hear from some of the companies Enscite has helped — from fledgling start-ups to more established firms — and find out what impact this support has had.

Read the Enscite storiesRead the Enscite stories

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