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About the Leadership Commission

"The diversity and young age profile of the WMCA area is a huge asset and yet there is a significant leadership diversity gap. This matters..." 

WMCA Leadership Commission


The Leadership Commission examined current representation of key groups in leadership positions, focusing on gender, ethnicity and people with disabilities as well as considering sexuality and class.

It's report evidenced what we already knew: Barriers to leadership opportunities continue to exist at the top of organisations, while more needs to be done to help others get their feet in the door.

This matters. Evidence shows that inclusive businesses perform better. For the region, realising greater inclusion is essential for ensuring that economic growth benefits all our communities and translates into increased productivity and wellbeing.


The 'Leaders like You' report is the summary of a nine-month research programme ordered by the Leadership Commission on promoting inclusive leadership in the West Midlands. The report:

Evidenced a significant leadership diversity gap

Identified barriers to leadership diversity as societal, organisational and individual levels

Analysed data on diverse representation in leadership - and highlighted data gaps

Reviewed initiatives to change organisational culture to promote diversity and inclusion

Highlighted examples of individual development programmes

Read the report


The Commission made a number of cross-sector recommendations for achieving more inclusive leadership, set out under the following five themes:

1. Inclusive leadership to drive inclusive growth (how can WMCA embed the inclusion agenda)

2. Working in partnership with business to develop inclusive leadership

3. A step change in recruitment and human resource development

4. Combatting the evaluation and learning deficit

5. A route map for the next generation

Chair: Anita Bhalla

Anita has enjoyed a successful 26-year media career with the BBC – having been Head of BBC Political and Community Affairs England, Head of BBC Public Space Broadcasting, Founder of BBC Asian Network in the West Midlands and the first woman president of Circom, a European wide group of public service broadcasters. She has delivered a variety of community experiences for major events, from the Last Night of the Proms to the 2012 Olympics.

In 2009, Anita was awarded an OBE for her services to Broadcasting and Communities.

A trained teacher and former community relations officer, Anita ran one of the first hostels for Asian Women and later worked as a lecturer for industrial workers. Anita is currently Chair of Performances Birmingham Ltd, a Board member of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP and a trustee to the Children’s University.

Anita has a strong commitment to public service and was Chair of the WMCA Leadership Commission.

Anita Bhalla

Professor Jenny Phillimore

Jenny Phillimore is Professor of Migration and Superdiversity at the University of Birmingham and the director of its Institute for Research into Superdiversity (IRiS). She is responsible for coordinating activity around conceptualising and finding new ways to research population complexity associated with superdiversity.

Having won a large European project funded by NORFACE, Jenny is developing a new concept of welfare bricolage to understand access to welfare in superdiverse neighbourhoods. This has evolved into a comparative European project, involving partners in Sweden, Germany and Portugal. Another key area of focus is migrant integration, asking: whose responsibility is it to integrate, what should people integrate into and what sort of social networks or other resources are important to facilitate integration. Jenny and her team are interested in bringing new knowledge that can help forward social justice issues for communities to help support policy development in an era of superdiversity as well as the development of theories and methods.

Jenny led the research side of the Leadership Commission's work with Professor Kiran Trehan.

Jenny Phillimore

Professor Kiran Trehan

Kiran Trehan is Professor of Leadership and Enterprise Development, Director of External Engagement, and Co - Director of the Enterprise and diversity Alliance [EDA] at the University of Birmingham’s Business School.

Having secured research grants from a range of private and public bodies, Kiran has published an extensive number of articles, reports and books in the field and led multiple enterprise support initiatives.

She is a key contributor to debated on leadership, enterprise development and diversity in small firms. Kiran is also Vice President at the Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (ISBE), Sub-Group Chair of the Enterprise mentoring group at British Bankers association (BBA), and has taken a national advisory role that shapes debates and policy in leadership Diversity and Enterprise development in small firms.

She is leading the research side of the Leadership Commission's work with Professor Jenny Phillimore.

Kiran Trehan To Use Cropped 230X230

Suzy Verma

With over 15 years Corporate Banking experience, including a strong focus on the Education sector, Suzy Verma leads the Public Sector and Higher Education team at HSBC.

With over 15 years Corporate Banking experience, including a strong focus on the Education sector, Suzy Verma leads the Public Sector and Higher Education team at HSBC.

Suzy Verma

Chief Superintendent Bas Javid

Bas began his successful career with the Police in 1993 following his time in the Royal Navy, where he worked as a helicopter engineer and received a Commanding Officer’s Commendation for Teamwork and Bravery during the Gulf War.

His policing experience has been varied and focused on operational roles, including a number of secondments to specialist Police departments and external agencies.

In 2007, Bas transferred to West Midlands Police in 2007 as a Detective Chief Inspector where he qualified as a Senior Investigations Officer. Bas was promoted to a Superintendent in 2011, and Commander of Solihull Police in 2016.

Bas has completed a post graduate diploma in Public Service Leadership (Coventry University), as well as a Master’s in Applied Criminology from the University of Cambridge.

Since sitting on the Leadership Commission, Bas has started a new role as Commander at the Metropolitan Police.

Basit Javid

Jacqui Francis

Jacqui Francis runs the consultancy AdinaMay, providing a range of specialist recruitment services for organisations and individuals. She brings a constructive external perspective to senior recruitment campaigns for ministerial appointments, executive and non-executive roles and membership of regulators and expert bodies. Her work has spanned the Home Office, Department of Health and DEFRA bodies.

Jacqui is a member of the Judicial Appointments Commission recruitment panels and she serves on the Bar Standards Board, Independent Appointments Panel. Locally she is a Citizen Member of Birmingham City Council - Independent Remuneration Panel. Jacqui is a previous ministerial appointee Lay Adviser on the West Midlands Strategic Management Board responsible for public protection arrangements.

Outside of work, Jacqui is a volunteer at PAUSE a mental health drop-in centre for young people.

Jacqui Francis

Tim Rayner

Tim trained and qualified at Martineau Johnson solicitors and joined Browne Jacobson LLP in 2010, where he was promoted to partner in 2015 and became joint national head of the property disputes team.

He deals with the full spectrum of property-related disputes with a strong focus on commercial property.

He has particular expertise in dilapidations and hostile lease renewals under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 acting for some of the most active and high-profile investors and estates in the city.

Born and raised in Solihull, Tim is very active in Birmingham and passionate about the city. He is director of Business Professional Services (BPS) Birmingham, which aims to improve the skills in the sector and has taken an active role in the WMCA Productivity and Skills Commission. Tim is also the lead partner for the firm’s relationship with the West Midlands Growth Company, and is actively engaged with the mentoring juniors both inside his own organisation and beyond.   

Tim Rayner 2

Christina Michalos

Christina is a leading barrister specialising in privacy, media, copyright and information law.  She is known as a leading practitioner in social media & image rights work and is the author of The Law of Photography & Digital Images (2004). Christina is appointed to the Attorney General’s panel of advocates authorised to act on behalf of government departments – a highly competitive and prestigious appointment.

Christina is a trustee of Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospital Charity and grew up in Solihull. She led a Bar Council working group tasked with creating a series of films for schools and universities to recruit candidates to the Bar from more diverse backgrounds and has a special interest in promoting professional diversity. In 2015, she was elected a Bencher of Gray’s Inn (one of the four Inns of Court) and is an A Grade accredited advocacy teacher.

C Michalos Colour

Anisa Haghdadi

Anisa Haghdadi is Founder and CEO of the Beatfreeks Collective, a group of people and companies using creativity for good. Anisa has set up multiple companies and projects including Free Radical, Young Giant and Doink.

She is a multi-award winning social entrepreneur including a BEM aged 23 for Services to Education and Young People, one of The Observer and NESTA's 50 New Radicals changing the UK for the better, and is the youngest person to receive an Honorary Doctorate from Aston University as part of their 50 Year celebrations recognising 'pioneers of change'.

Anisa is passionate about youth, creativity and redefining the culture of enterprise so that business and social are seen as inextricable. Anisa recently curated the first ever TEDxYouth@Brum and is a former TEDxBrum speaker and host.

Anisa Haghdadi

Vidar Hjardeng

Brought up in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Vidar studied French and German at Manchester University before a post-graduate Journalism course at London’s City University. He has spent over 25 years working for ITV in the Midlands and is now a Diversity Consultant for ITV News across England, Wales and the Channel Islands.

Vidar is passionate about inclusion and has reviewed audio-books for Radio 4’s In Touch programme and audio-described theatre, contributed to a number of magazines, participated on a number of judging panels and works as a motivational speaker. He is a board member of multiple arts and charity boards, Chair of Birmingham Hippodrome’s Access Forum and an Associate with the Business Disability Forum.

In 2013, Vidar became a director with Healthwatch Birmingham and the director of communications with Focus Birmingham. He was also invited to become a role model for a new DWP campaign aimed at encouraging young disabled people to aspire to their chosen career. Vidar was awarded an MBE in 2012 for his services to broadcasting and visually impaired people.

Vidar Hjardeng

Professor David Roberts (advisor)

David Roberts is Pro-Vice Chancellor and Dean of the Arts, Design and Media at Birmingham City University. He has held academic posts at the Universities of Bristol, Kyoto, Osaka, Oxford and Worcester. His monographs have been published by the University Presses of both Oxford and Cambridge, including his most recent study, Restoration Plays and Players (2014).

He has also written for leading journals including Shakespeare Quarterly, ELH, The Review of English Studies and Cambridge Quarterly.

A National Teaching Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, he also maintains a profile in educational publishing. His latest title, Games for English Literature, was co-authored with Izabela Hopkins and published in 2016. Currently he is writing a biography of the dramatist George Farquhar and trying to complete his second novel.

David Roberts

Johur Uddin

Johur Uddin is the Chief Executive of Community Connect Foundation, which provides a range of services including training opportunities, community development and youth work. Initially established to address issues of disadvantage and deprivation by communities in Smethwick, the organisation now provides services across the West Midlands.

Johur has been working in both the public and voluntary sector since 1991 and has wide-ranging experience of public policy, urban regeneration and developing local communities. Prior to working for CCF, he worked for Sandwell Council and was engaged in community economic regeneration activity and undertook community capacity building work, designing and delivering bespoke training courses and developing social enterprises.  He has also undertaken a number of consultancy projects specialising in developing community regeneration strategies and securing funding for third sector organisations.

His qualifications include Master of Business Administration (MBA).


Lawrence Barton

Lawrence is Managing Director of GB Training (UK) Ltd, alongside a number of other executive appointments in the Leisure and Charitable industries (including Festival Director for Birmingham Pride).

Having led GB Training for over 15 years, Lawrence has a wealth of experience in the work-based learning arena including the delivery of Apprenticeships and the Adult Education budget.

Under Lawrence’s leadership GB Training was awarded Grade 2 (Good) from Ofsted in 2015, and has facilitated a number of events with Ofsted through which learning providers have had the opportunity to understand the inspection process and common inspection framework through the eyes of inspectors.

As a business leader, Lawrence is passionate about delivering high quality learning, whilst also maintaining a profitable and successful business approach. Throughout all of his business roles he fosters a strong emphasis on business improvement, and is able to consistently deliver the right balance of quality and quantity to ensure business continuity and stability.

Lawrence Barton

Davinder Prasad

Davinder Prasad is an alumni of the Indian Institute of Technology and Indian Railways Institute, where he served as a mechanical engineer before undertaking a management postgraduate in the UK. Since, he has worked in Coventry with NP Aerospace Ltd and was head of Environment Health and Safety at Morgan Composites and Defence Systems.

Davinder has made important contributions to the community life of Coventry Asians.

He was a co-founder of ‘Coventry Indian Community’, an organisation that brought various Asian community groups together and held joint cultural events. Davinder has also organised major fundraising events and served as a member of Coventry Voluntary Services Council, Coventry’s Racial Equality Council, Indian Overseas Congress and is Lions Club of Coventry.

His passion for British identity, integration, social cohesion and peace has inspired him to join others to form BOPA and he has been General Secretary since its formation in 2012.

Davinder Prasad

Jackie Dunne

Jackie is responsible for leading the University of Wolverhampton’s widening participation and outreach work, including engagement with schools and colleges and the University’s work with Academy Schools and University Technical College (UTCs). She is also responsible for online and technology enhanced learning and for the University’s approach to distributed learning centres.

Her 25 year career in higher education began at Coventry University where she was a Lecturer and then Principle Lecturer in Spanish. She moved to University of Leicester in 2001 as Director of Continuing Professional Development, and later became Director of Lifelong Learning. Following a number of successful university wide initiatives, Jackie took the post as Dean of Distance Education in 2013.

Jackie is Honorary Secretary of the Universities Association for Lifelong Learning, has been a Board member of the Universities Vocational Awards Council and held a number of regional roles in the East Midlands. Her research interests include higher education and lifelong learning policy and practice, and distance and online learning, and she has written and published in these areas.

Jackie Dunne 400X560

Lyndsey Roberts

Lyndsey Roberts was project manager for the Leadership Commission, and has since been promoted to Scrutiny Officer at the West Midlands Combined Authority.

Lyndsey Roberts was project manager for the Leadership Commission, and has since been promoted to Scrutiny Officer at the West Midlands Combined Authority.

Lyndsey Roberts

Deborah Cadman OBE

Deborah became Chief Executive of the West Midlands Combined Authority in September 2017, following a long and distinguished career in public service.

After gaining a degree in politics, Deborah began her career with the London Borough of Newham, worked on major regeneration projects at Birmingham City Council and was promoted to Head of Policy at Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council.

She achieved two masters degrees, undertook a two-year secondment as Local Government Advisor to central government and was appointed as a Lead inspector in the Audit Commission.

Deborah has been Chief Executive of St Edmundsbury Borough Council, the East of England Development Agency and Suffolk County Council, and interim Chief Executive of Waveney District Council, Babergh District Council and Mid-Suffolk District Council.

She is a trustee of the Joseph Rowntree Trust and Joseph Rowntree Housing Foundation and as a dedicated and passionate female advocate at the forefront of the public sector, Deborah recently won the First Women Award for Public Service.

Deborah was awarded an OBE in 2006 for services to local government.

Deborah Cadman Photo 2017

Rosie Ginday

No average baking businesswomen, Rosie founded Miss Macaroon to combine her passion for beautiful hand-crafted food and her desire to help disadvantaged young adults in her local area, Birmingham.

Miss Macaroon is a social enterprise which provides premium macaroons for special occasions, businesses and designer brands – for branding and event purposes or via wholesale to sell in their own high-end establishments.

The company offers employment and training programmes aimed at youngsters who may have slipped through the education system, are care leavers or find themselves homeless. Rosie is changing the world one macaroon at a time.

Rosie is a winner of the Enterprise Catalyst Social Entrepreneur 2015 awards, the Asian Business Young Entrepreneur Midlands Award 2016 and finalist in the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards 2016.

Rosie Ginday

Sunder Katwala

Sunder Katwala is the director of British Future. He has a successful background in journalism, having been a leader writer and internet editor at the Observer, a research director of the Foreign Policy Centre and commissioning editor for politics and economics at the publisher Macmillan. Between 2003 and 2011, Sunder was general secretary of the Fabian Society think tank.

He celebrated his 10th wedding anniversary with his wife, Stacy, in 2011, and is the proud father of four children, Zarina, Jay, Sonny and Indira. His support for Everton and Southend United football clubs reflects an upbringing in Cheshire and Essex, though he was born in Doncaster, Yorkshire, to parents who came to Britain from India and Ireland, to work for the NHS.

Sunder Katwala

Derek Webley

Bishop Derek previously worked as an administrator for British Gas West Midlands before going into full time church work in 1987.

He is a Minister of Religion for the New Testament Church of God.  He was National Director of Evangelism (1987 – 1991), then National Director of Youth and Christian Education (1991 – 1997) and since 1996 has been the District Bishop for Birmingham / Solihull.

Bishop Derek has served on a number of committees, including Relate (Executive Member), Lord Chancellor Advisory Committee, Birmingham Citizens, Chair of The Drum (Arts organisation) and was Chair of the West Midlands Police Authority.

Bishop Derek Webley

Sarah Jane Marsh

Sarah-Jane joined the NHS via the Graduate Management Scheme in 2000, and less than eight years later became CEO of Birmingham Children's Hospital. The Trust has been under her leadership ever since and was recently rated Outstanding by the CQC.

In 2015, Sarah-Jane took on the additional role of CEO of Birmingham Women’s Hospital, before going on to integrate the two Trusts, just 18 months later - and led the development of a new mental health partnership for 0-25 year olds – Forward Thinking Birmingham.

Sarah-Jane is also Chair of the NHS Maternity Transformation Programme Board, which aims to make maternity care safer and more personalised.

Sarah Jane Marsh

Dr Dorian Chan

Dr Dorian Chan is a highly motivated entrepreneur with a strong vision, enthusiasm and an unquenchable thirst to achieve success across a multitude of sectors whether it be the hospitality industry, education, or non-profit organisations.

As Vice Chairman of the Wing Wah Group, Dorian has achieved sustained year on year growth, with successful branches in Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Burton and Coventry.

Dorian has also founded several other business ventures including: Ming Moon chain of restaurants, Caffe Chino, Café 55, Kochi Ltd and Kudos Management. This success ultimately led to her being awarded the Midland Business Woman of the Year in 2006.

Dorian’s commitment to public service is evident in her background as a member of multiple Boards including Governor of the Birmingham Chinese School, Vice President of the Confederation of Chinese Business UK and member of the ITV News Central Diversity Advisory Panel. She received an Honorary Doctorate from Aston University in 2014 and the Wing Wah Group received the prestigious Nachural Entrepreneurship Award in 2017.

Dorian Chan

Professor Stuart Croft (advisor)

Professor Stuart Croft is Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Warwick, which employs some 6,000 people, has some 25,000 students, and a turnover approaching £600m per year.

His field of scholarship is international security, and he has published extensively on arms control, NATO and counter terrorism.

Stuart’s successful academic career includes serving as the Ngee Ann Kongsi distinguished professor at the Nanyayng Technological University in Singapore and as Programme Director for a number of major projects. He is a past chair of the British International Studies Association and has been elected as an Academician in the Academy of Social Sciences and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Born in Leicester, Stuart has lived in the Midlands for the majority of his life and is a season ticket holder at Aston Villa Football Club. Outside of academia, he is a member of multiple boards including: Chair of the Equality Challenge Unit, Chair of the Midlands Innovation Board and Co-chair of the skills subcommittee at Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership.

Stuart Croft