Over 100 senior place leaders gathered together in Sheffield in September 2023 to connect the dots to make places more attractive for citizens, visitors, and businesses.
Read the KEY TAKEAWAYS to learn how towns, cities, and regions across the UK are developing and leveraging tools to build civic pride and develop more sustainable tourism and place economies.
2023 speakers include
"Interesting to hear what other place brand teams are experiencing at City Nation Place UK and it’s making me so proud of what we have in Burnley. There’s always learnings to be had and things to improve, so I’m excited to head back up north this evening and incorporate them into our plans for 2023 and beyond."
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Paul is a chartered town planner with 35 years’ experience gained as a practitioner in both public and private sectors and established his own planning practice in Sheffield last year.
A founder and former Chair of Sheffield Civic Trust, Paul was elected as a Trustee at Civic Voice from 2015 until 2021 and served as Vice Chair, helping launch both the Civic Voice Design Awards and the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Civic Societies.
Paul is a member of the Sheffield Property Association (S-PA) and represents the S-PA both in its Shaping the City Priority Group and as a Trustee for the Sheffield Design Awards, which celebrate excellent buildings, places and public art in our great city.
Joe leads on the Destination Management and tourism business support work for Wrexham County Borough Council. In the last decade Wrexham has become one of the fastest growing areas of Wales for visitor numbers and spend, with the award of a UNESCO World Heritage Site being followed by more recent place developments in 2022. These include the award of City Status, the international love-affair with Wrexham via the Disney+ “welcome to Wrexham” docuseries and the city being runners-up in the 2025 UK City of Culture competition.
Steve heads up the Redcliffe & Temple Business Improvement District (BID) in Bristol, now in its 3rd year. The BID has a strong focus on sustainability and environmental initiatives and projects and working closely with city wide stakeholders to implement positive change. Steve previously managed the Broadmead Bristol BID and prior to that spent much of his career in senior roles in retail and consumer goods. The three city centre BIDs in Bristol are delivered by Visit West, the LVEP , enabling a powerful partnership that benefits, workers , visitors, and residents of Bristol.
Clare is the founder and director of City Nation Place, the global forum for place branding and place marketing. City Nation Place creates connections and shares best practice between country brands, regional brands, and city brands around the world through articles, interviews, surveys, white papers, a membership group, and conferences.
Clare’s interest in the complex area of place branding was sparked whilst working on a series of Nation Branding Masterclass events, led by Simon Anholt, one of the first thought-leaders to speak about and promote the concept of place branding. Having listened to Simon address audiences in Accra, Delhi, Dubai, London and Singapore on how policy, governance, and symbolic actions need to combine with branding and marketing to create a competitive identity and drive economic growth, she continued to follow the growth in this sector. Clare launched the first City Nation Place Global conference in London in 2015: CityNationPlace.com has been steadily building followers and in 2017, she launched the first City Nation Place Americas conference, in 2018 City Nation Place Asia Pacific took place in Singapore, and 2019 saw the first City Nation Place UK, specifically for towns, cities and regions across the UK, and the launch of the first City Nation Place LatAm & Caribbean event. Clare manages the small team at City Nation Place alongside providing event consultancy and management for a number of clients in the publishing and trade association sector, including running the World Media Awards for the World Media Group and event consultancy for the UK Association for Online Publishers.
Freddie leads our commercial and operational functions. He’s started Patch to increase access to opportunity for people based on who they are, not just where they live. With a background in startups, he’s excited about the potential for technology to bring people together.
Susan is an award winning professional and key member of the team behind Liverpool’s 2008 European Capital of Culture celebrations.
Susan is a place-making professional, developing and driving destination strategy, creativity and innovation, identifying untapped growth markets and securing global strategic brand partnerships to accelerate Liverpool’s destination positioning and economic growth through the visitor economy.
Formerly an events management professional, organising events for audiences up to 300,000, Susan has over 23 years’ experience working with over 200 high profile brands, global artists, musicians and athletes, forming successful commercial partnerships and generating over £8m for public sector.
In 2017, during an overseas visit to Sweden to secure the Tall Ships Regatta for the city’s 10 year European Capital of Culture Ceremony, Susan developed the relationship with the Grand Conseil du Vin de Bordeaux and French Government, securing Liverpool’s place as UK host of the Bordeaux Fete le Vin alongside sister cities of Bordeaux, Brussels, Quebec and Hong Kong.
This relationship has gone from strength to strength evolving into Taste Liverpool. Drink Bordeaux, profiling the venues and people behind the plates – and celebrating a sector revolution. This new model has been created to directly support the hard-hit hospitality sector in its post-pandemic recovery while supporting Bordeaux Wine Growers to tap into new markets, discover new trade opportunities and sustain & grow export of the world’s finest wine – Bordeaux.
Tapping into the growing trend of gastronomy tourism, Liverpool’s hospitality sector is now attracting the attention of visitors, investors and media – and with support from the public and private sector, Susan has worked to develop a sustainable model and strong foundations for future growth, spearheading Taste Liverpool. Drink Bordeaux in her position as Chair of the festival steering group. This new model is driven by the private sector, powered by the private sector and strategically and politically supported by the public sector – solid foundations to be built upon.
Susan is committed to ensuring Liverpool City Region is recognised as a UK gastronomic destination in the next five years, attracting new domestic and international visitors motivated by food tourism.
Following Liverpool’s successful Eurovision Song Contest Host City bid, Susan acts as Chair of the Eurovision Host City Visitor Experience Group, working hand-in-hand with the private sector to ensure that the visitor experience from the moment visitors arrive in the city, to the moment they leave is second to none.
Working with the hotels, venues, visitor attractions, transport operators, major gateways and tourism/estate stakeholders, Susan and her team will ensure visitors will be immersed in an experiential Eurovision city playground. Additionally, Susan and the team are strategically supporting the hospitality sector to recruit to the 2,000 + current vacancies in preparation for Eurovision and beyond, showcasing the sector as an attractive career choice.
The visitor economy makes up almost 50% of Liverpool’s economy (47% business rates) and therefore it is strategically, critically important to support this thriving sector, maximising the opportunity Eurovision and other major international events present.
Inward investment is a further opportunity Susan and her team work to unlock and capitalise to re-balance the economy, showcasing the city’s other competitive value propositions, highlighting Liverpool as a great place to work, live, visit and study.
- KEY ACHIEVEMENTS
- Deputy Event Manager for the Liverpool’s 2008 Capital of Culture Opening Ceremony
- Producing Liverpool’s first digital mapping projections celebrating the 100 Anniversary of the iconic Royal Liver Building attracting 60,000 visitors.
- Managing all areas of commercial activity for Culture Liverpool – the team behind Liverpool’s 2008 Capital of Culture Celebrations
- Head of Commercial & Marketing for Liverpool 2018 - 10 year anniversary celebrations since European Capital of Culture 2008
- Head of Commercial & Marketing for the city's largest, high profile events and festivals attracting over 4m visitor including Royal de Luxe Giant Spectacular 2014, Liverpool International Music Festival, Cunard's 175 Anniversary Celebrations 'The 3 Queens', River of Light - UNESCO world heritage waterfront fireworks and many other world class major events.
- Event and Commercial Manager for HUB Festival; UK’s Largest Free Action Sports and Music Festival (2007-2012)
- Chair, Eurovision Host City Visitor Experience Group
Sam is the Business Improvement District (BID) Chief Executive for Our Colchester BID and has overseen the organisation since its formation in 2018. Prior to this spending his career in leisure and hospitality sectors in the UK and Australia. Since taking on his role as Chief Executive at Colchester, Sam has overseen the development of innovative and forward-driven visions and strategy to elevate Colchester's position in East Anglia and further. Through the development of new City Centre brand, InColchester through to chairing Colchester Place Marketing Board, Colchester is placed for high levels of growth with the BID at the forefront ensuring a business-led vision.
Sarah was appointed CEO of NewcastleGateshead Initiative (NGI) in 2020. Sarah oversees all aspects of NGI, the destination and inward investment agency that delivers for Newcastle, Gateshead, and the wider region.
Prior to NGI, Sarah was the Director of Regions and Nations at CBI. She qualified as a lawyer with Clifford Chance working Hong Kong, London and Shanghai and has a MSc in Urban Regeneration and an MBA. Sarah is also currently completing a PhD scholarship at Durham University, studying the social impact of small businesses on the rural economy.
With a passion for improving the visitor economy, advocate for social mobility and enabler of economic growth in the North East, she sits on the Tourism Industry Council, is an Independent Advisory Board member at Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums (TWAM), a council member at the National Trust and a non-executive director at Ryder Architecture.
Claire Hamilton has over 27 years’ experience of working in the public sector; leading high performing teams and developing positive and productive partnerships to deliver complex regeneration initiatives. She is Chief Executive of Dacorum Borough Council which covers the towns of Hemel Hempstead, Berkhamsted and Tring, having joined the Council in October 2020. The Council is delivering an exciting transformation agenda – both internally and externally, and is currently focussing on Economic Growth and Inward Investment, Customer Services and Digital transformation, as well as Placeshaping to ensure that residents and local businesses and communities are supported and thrive.
Fiona is Senior Brand Marketing Manager within the Global Marketing team at VisitScotland, responsible for delivering global campaign activity including partnership collaborations.
With a strategic focus on inclusive and sustainable growth, the Global Marketing team use a data and insight-led approach to ensure Scotland is discoverable in key markets and in the channels visitors are using for travel inspiration, planning and booking.
Having worked at VisitScotland for 10 years, Fiona has held various roles giving her a rounded knowledge of both marketing and the tourism industry.
Isabel leads the visitor and inward investment marketing activity for Norwich, as part of Norwich Business Improvement District.
Norwich launched its city rebrand in 2019, unveiling ‘Norwich, the City of Stories’ across VisitNorwich and Norwich BID brands, just before the Covid-19 pandemic. By 2021, the new brand had been shortlisted for City Nation Place’s ‘International Place Brand of the Year’ award, and VisitNorwich had seen record-breaking results across all digital channels and PR.
By 2022, work was underway to add another brand to the City of Stories family: Work in Norwich. Funded by the Town Deal, and with objectives spanning cluster growth, staff recruitment and retention, as well as attracting investment into the city, this was a project with big ambitions. Following extensive stakeholder research, and a year-long creative process, the brand launched in October 2022. In 2023, Work in Norwich was awarded ‘Best Branding and Marketing Scheme’ at the Town and Centre Management Industry Awards.
Kate Josephs CB joined Sheffield City Council as Chief Executive in January 2021, having spent 20 years in national government in the UK and United States.
Since arriving in Sheffield Kate has overseen the creation of an ambitious, outcome focussed one-year plan to guide the city’s recovery from COVID; initiated a wide-ranging programme of self-reflection and culture change in the Council; and partnered with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation to support an innovative project to reimagine Sheffield’s future, engaging a diverse range of citizens. Following the May 2021 elections, she has supported the city’s new Labour-Green Cooperative Executive administration to deliver on their shared priorities alongside preparing the ground for the shift to a committee system of council governance from May 2022. Kate is an active member of core cities taking a lead role on CCUK work on climate change and net zero, specifically the UK cities climate investment commission.
Kate’s career as a senior leader in the UK civil service included positions in HM Treasury; the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit; and the Department for Education (DfE). Kate joined Sheffield from the Cabinet Office’s COVID 19 Taskforce where she was Director General; in June 2021 she was awarded Companion status, The Most Honourable Order of the Bath, in the Queen’s birthday honours in recognition of exemplary public service during her civil service career.
Kate also spent time living in Washington D.C. working for the US Federal Government during the Obama Administration, including as Executive Director of the White House Performance Improvement Council, working across US Government Agencies – on priorities from veterans’ affairs to STEM education – with a mission to advance and expand the practice of performance analytics and improvement.
Kate grew up and went to comprehensive school in Doncaster, was educated at Oxford University and the London School of Economics, and lives in Sheffield with her husband and two young children.
Amanda Lumley is Chief Executive of Destination Plymouth. She has a wealth of experience in tourism from leading UK national attractions such as Chester Zoo and Leeds Castle, to regional tourism partnerships Visit Essex, Visit Kent and most recently Plymouth, Britain’s Ocean City where she was involved in the Mayflower 400 programme for over 9 years.
As well as being the voice of the city’s visitor economy, she leads on the city’s brand strategy, Visitor Plan, marketing and digital strategy, events, major development projects, public space and place making.
Amanda is Immediate Past President, a Director and a Fellow of the Tourism Management Institute, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and Co-Chair of the Great South West Tourism Partnership.
Cristian is an award-winning strategic communications specialist and currently Assistant Director for Communications at Staffordshire County Council. In 2020 he launched the We Are Staffordshire place marketing partnership, shortlisted for City Nation Place international place brand of the year in 2022. Cristian leads the county council’s internal and external communications, reputation management and public affairs. Staffordshire won the prestigious Communications Team of the Year at the comms2point0 Unawards last year, which recognise the best in UK public sector comms.
A former newspaper reporter, Cristian has worked in local government communications for 16 years, including roles at Westminster, Richmond-upon-Thames, Harrow, Sutton and Stoke-on-Trent. A peer reviewer for the Local Government Association, he has also provided consultancy and interim support to unitary and district councils in the West Midlands.
Martin studied law at the University of Sheffield. He had a career in the legal profession spanning more than 30 years, he was a partner at international law firms Nabarro and CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang LLP. He retired from practice in April 2018.
Martin works for AESSEAL plc, the Rotherham headquartered global manufacturing company specialising in the manufacture of mechanical seals and support systems. AESSEAL has reached a major environmental milestone by achieving net zero carbon emissions. The company was ranked by the Department of Education as the number one apprentice employer in the manufacturing and engineering sectors in the UK for 2022/23.
Martin is a former board member of the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership and Transport for the North Partnership Board.
Martin presently holds a number of Board, NED and Trustee positions across the business, charity, education and voluntary sectors in Sheffield and South Yorkshire, including at Whirlow Hall Farm Trust, St Luke’s Hospice, The Herbert Hughes Memorial Trust and The Burton Street Foundation.
He is Chair of the Sheffield Property Association, the only formally constituted property association in the country outside of London.
Martin is also a Non-Executive Director of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce and Chair of the Northern Regional Assembly of the British Chambers of Commerce, which comprises the 16 Chambers of Commerce in the North of England.
Martin was the High Sheriff of South Yorkshire for 2021/22.
Kazadi is an experienced economic development professional who has worked for boroughs and county councils across London, Essex and now Surrey. His current role focuses on taking forward economic programmes and priorities, ranging from innovation, business support, the skills agenda, and the localities and economic infrastructure programme.
Kazadi brings expertise to various challenges local authorities, BIDs, property developers, and small businesses face. In his spare time, he volunteers at his local club, teaching young people martial arts. Before beginning his career in local government, Kazadi was a professional kickboxer competing worldwide.
With over 25 years’ experience in the Tourism, Travel, Tour Operator, Destination Marketing, Visitor Economy, Maritime and Charitable sectors in the UK and Europe with market leading organisations in both B2B & B2C areas
It all started in 1994 at Ripley Castle Estate near Harrogate as Marketing Coordinator for 2 years followed by 5-year tenure as Travel Trade Marketing Manager for Yorkshire Tourist Board in York.
P&O Ferries based in Hull was the next port of call commencing as B2B Marketing Manager for ex-UK business then developing to Destination Manager for the North Sea routes to The Netherlands and Belgium, then as On-Board Marketing Controller for all P&O Ferries routes in the UK.
A new challenge with Vaconsoleil, Europe’s leading mobile home and camping tour operator as UK Sales & Marketing Manager.
A directional change for 4 years at UKSA, the UK’s leading maritime training charity based in Cowes as Head of Sales & Marketing which led to a family move to the Isle of Wight.
His current position as Managing Director of Visit Isle of Wight, the island’s DMO has allowed him to put all his extensive skill set into play whilst marketing and promoting the UK’s leading Island Holiday Destination.
Simon Ryan is the Investment Director with Locate in Kent. His role is building relationships with businesses around the world and showcasing all that the region has to offer. With nearly 30 years sales, marketing and consultancy experience in the real estate industry; Simon has played a pivotal role in driving investment and jobs in Kent and Medway. He is a non-executive director, a trustee for a homeless charity, a school governor and recently awarded 2021 Coach of the Year by the Kent Football Association.
Gavin’s primary role is one of place marketing through promotion of Glasgow’s regional technology startup/scaleup and innovation landscape to drive greater cohesion, awareness and investment activity.
A creative brand-building specialist with over 25 years of international marketing experience in private and public sectors, Gavin has worked with premium brands to build awareness, grow equity and increase profitability through leadership roles in drinks, media, arts, technology and government sectors.
Sheona Southern is Managing Director of Marketing Manchester, the agency charged with promoting Greater Manchester on a national and international stage as a place to visit, invest, meet, and study. Her main aim is to raise the profile of Greater Manchester as a global city-region and position as Gateway to the north of England.
Marketing Manchester is the strategic lead for the visitor economy in Greater Manchester and includes Manchester Convention Bureau and Sport Bidding Unit whilst supporting the inward investment promotional agency, MIDAS on frontier sector marketing, and Greater Manchester’s Business Board on the city-region’s economic vision. It also provides a platform to promote Greater Manchester at major partnership events such as MIPIM, SXSW, as well as at overseas trade events in key markets such as the USA, China, GCC, and India.
Sheona works with local, national, and international partners to promote Greater Manchester including VisitBritain, Department for International Trade, Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport, other DMOs, and a strong network of private partners as well as Greater Manchester’s cultural and sporting brands.
Sheona sits on several boards including the Science and Industry Museum, the Manchester China Forum, Manchester India Partnership, the Greater Manchester’s International and Marketing Advisory Board, and Green City Partnership.
Over the last 25 years Sheona has worked in senior commercial and marketing roles across media, retail, tourism, and telecoms including the BBC and Marks & Spencer. Previously she served as a commissioned officer in the RAF in the UK and Germany.
As founding Director of thinkingplace, John has directed the development of over 80 place brands over the last 16 years across the UK. He is active in promoting and implementing this best practice approach of creating a shared place story, widening place leadership and creating active collaboration as a key part of growing a place’s economy and promoting local pride. He has led projects for places as diverse as Hampshire, Nottingham, Torbay, Harrogate, North Cambridgeshire, Newhaven, Medway, Lancashire, Staffordshire, Harrogate, Perth and all three UK Cities of Culture.
John has also been working with places to help them develop their response to the Towns Deal, Future High Streets Fund, Levelling Up Funding and Shared Prosperity Fund and is a Mentor to the High Streets Task Force helping to support local authorities and communities to transform their places.