Up North Conference Speakers

Up North will feature 24 speakers across our two stages. You’ll hear from leading marketers from brands including Surreal, Depop, Cisco, Girls in Marketing, Google, TikTok and more. The talks will inspire you to think bigger, work smarter, improve your marketing strategies and our speakers will share their industry secrets and tips with you.

We’ll regularly update this page when new speakers are announced.

Meet the speakers

John Thornton

Creative – Surreal

John spent four years writing daft words and silly tweets for innocent smoothies. Highlights included a baked bean smoothie, arguing with the internet about the colour of a drink (it’s blue), and handing in a 10ft tall notice letter. Lowlights included getting banned from the company LinkedIn account and being airbrushed out of the TV ad he wrote. John now writes silly stuff for start-up cereal company SURREAL. He’s also written stuff for a ketchup company, a tampon company, and, erm, the United Nations…

Kelliesha White

Senior Brand & Cultural Impact Manager – Depop

Kelliesha White is an esteemed Marketer who is currently the Senior Brand & Cultural Impact manager at tech platform Depop. She is at the core of youth culture, bringing insights into the wider business and is constantly challenging the business to ask ‘ Why should our communities care?’. Her experience spans the lifestyle sector including brands such as Smartwater, Pernod Ricard, Ellesse, Bumble, Adidas and Reebok, to mention a few – supporting them to connect with their audience through an authentic lens – putting their communities at the heart of the work. Commended for always bringing a different perspective into the room she has been noted for using her life experience as a tool to widen the cultural peripheral of those who collaborate with her – creating space for innovation.
Read full bio here.

Rosa Mitchell

Business Director – connective3

With over nine years’ experience in digital PR and content creation, Rosa oversees connective3’s Manchester office, managing a large team of creative professionals. In her career, Rosa has worked across a variety of different projects, from stand-alone campaigns to long-term strategic roadmaps, for brands including Nike, Manchester Metropolitan University, Stena Line, and Ann Summers. She combines her analytical skills with her love of creativity to create concepts that work for many industries, including e-commerce, finance, law, and travel.

Lily Thistlewood

Head of Performance –  Adanola

After almost 8 years working for one of the UKs leading eCommerce retailers (very.co.uk), Lily decided to launch her own Performance Marketing agency in 2020. During lockdown (#1) she was approached by an investor group who were looking for a new business venture in the North. 3 months, 2 proposals and 1 round of investment later Lily launched Reform the Fold, a Performance Marketing agency based in Liverpool. Reform’s early days saw performance focused campaigns with iconic fashion names including Michael Kors and Simply Be whilst serving an impressive roster of fast scaling fashion brands such as Adanola and 4th & Reckless. After 2 years of running the agency, she decided to dissolve the business to focus on her Consultancy network which has since led her to an inhouse role at Adanola leading their digital marketing strategy. Lily currently manages an in-house role whilst also working with a focused set of consultancy clients still withing the fashion eCommerce mix.

Muinat Abdul

Social Media Manager –  Cisco

Muinat Abdul is a Social Media Manager and Producer. She currently works in the Tech industry at Cisco. Prior to this she has worked at ASOS, BBC, BuzzFeed UK. Outside of work she is also a content creator and presenter, she creates long-form content on YouTube, and short-form on TikTok and Reels all about being a self love advocate and a Manchester ambassador.

Leigh Purves

Broadcaster & Journalist

Journalist and broadcaster Leigh Purves has more than 24 years’ experience, spanning across the media industry with a solid career in radio and television, presenting across mainstream commercial airwaves as well as the BBC. Leigh has also worked extensively in the print & digital world, working both as a high-profile columnist and news editor. Kick-starting her career at Metro Radio in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne as a News Broadcaster then evolving to host her own radio show, Leigh enjoyed additional voiceover and acting campaigns. Leigh then worked for Global Radio where she presented various radio shows both networked nationally and regionally, alongside being the ‘voice’ for the station before moving to London and enjoying life working for Capital Radio. Leigh’s professional career in London led her to work for a plethora of Radio stations hosting programmes and news bulletins, including TalkSport, LBC, BBC London, Aire FM and The Hits. In addition, Leigh has contributed to and consulted for BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra. Alongside this, Leigh worked on national newspapers including The Guardian, The Mirror and Express Newspaper portfolio working across news and showbiz. Leigh has also worked for Sky TV, Good Morning Britain, BBC news and a variety of Channel 5 TV programmes including fronting BBC TV programme, 60 Second News. Alongside a full-suite of broadcast experience and leading teams across national news rooms, Leigh has also reported on high-profile court-cases and covered war stories from Kosovo through to reporting live from The Oscars.

Olivia Mae-Hanlon

CEO & Founder – Girls in Marketing

Olivia Hanlon is the Founder and CEO of female-led, female-focussed startup organisation, Girls in Marketing. Originally set up as a community initiative in 2019 while working full-time, Girls in Marketing is now has an audience of over 300,000+ across social media. In 2017, Olivia started her marketing career freelancing in SEO, working with clients across the world on their SEO and content marketing efforts. After being rejected from what she considered her dream role at a non-profit organisation, Olivia used her knowledge in organic marketing strategies to grow the Girls in Marketing social media channels without spending any money on paid ads. Since leaving her full-time role and growing the GiM team, Olivia has found a love for spreading her knowledge and talking to marketers across the world on stage. In fact, Olivia took to the stage of Social North twice in 2022 speaking to over 700 people combined in Leeds and Liverpool. Olivia is also a public speaker, podcast host, presenter and mentor. Olivia hosted the most recent Global Marketing Day conference powered by Semrush. Recently, she was named Northern Power Women Future List of 2023. Every Wednesday, Olivia hosts the Girls in Marketing podcast which has over 70,000+ downloads and regularly ranks in the top 5 marketing podcasts in the UK and US.

Sanjay Purewal

SEO Manager – Manchester Airport Group

Bio pending

Claire Stanley-Manock

Paid Media Director – connective3

Claire has over 17 years of digital marketing experience and knows how to navigate the complex paid media landscape to deliver incremental growth for clients. Campaigns are planned with strategic creativity and delivered with personalisation to generate cut through, emotion and results.

Ash Jones

Founder – Great Influence

Ash started Great Influence in 2018 after being part of the Founding Team at Social Chain where his role was to build Steven Bartlett’s personal brand, which he did for 4 years and now Great Influence is the UK’s first Talent Agency for entrepreneurs and business leaders where we help them grow their personal brand and have worked with names such as Gary Neville, John Amaechi, Jordan Brompton, Matthew Syed, Katy Leeson, Carrie Rose, Group CEO of Frasers Group, Founders of Huel, MyProtein & Grenade and VP’s at Zalando & Booking.com

Azeem Ahmad

Digital Marketing Lead – ASSA ABLOY

Azeem is an award-winning digital marketer and international conference speaker – recently his talk at ISS Barcelona was voted the best talk of the conference by attendees from over 30 countries. He has several years of experience in the industry managing millions in marketing spend, covering multiple disciplines such as SEO, PPC, Social Media, Programmatic, Audio/Video, and Display too. He hosts his own digital marketing podcast, rated amongst the top podcasts globally, called “Azeem Digital Asks”, and has previously been a judge at many search awards across the globe, including the Global Digital Excellence Awards and both the European and US Search Awards.

Helen Pollitt

Head of SEO – Car & Classic

Helen is a senior SEO with over a decade’s experience in the industry. She has a passion for equipping teams and training individuals in SEO strategy and tactics. Helen is often seen on stage at conferences delivering talks about digital marketing, including SMX London, Search Leeds, BrightonSEO, WTSFest and LearnInbound. She is also a regular contributor to publications like Search Engine Journal, OnCrawl and Moz.

Adam Oldfield

Founder & CEO

After spending 20+ years in senior marketing roles, in 2010 Adam began a journey to develop a solution that allowed marketers to hold greater conversations with their audience at speed. He called it Force24 – now one of the in-demand marketing automation platforms in the UK.

Dan Morehead

Lead SEO – Channel 4

Bio pending

Up North is happening on 22 June at Victoria Warehouse in Manchester, you can find out more here.

Pitch to speak here.
Enquire about sponsoring here.