Up North Conference Speakers

Up North will feature 24 speakers across our two stages. You’ll hear from leading marketers from brands and agencies including Surreal, Channel 4, Cisco, Girls in Marketing, Google, Diary of a CEO, Adanola 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

Grace Andrews

Head of Content – Steven Bartlett & The Diary of a CEO

A passionate social media obsessive, working full time as Head Of Content for Steven Bartlett & The Diary Of A CEO, Europe’s number one podcast. Sharing industry tips and advice through content on Instagram and Linkedin, as well as at various brand & speaking events.

Daniel Rowles

CEO Target Internet, Programme Director Imperial College & Host of the Digital Marketing Podcast

Daniel has been working in Digital Marketing and Digital Transformation for the past 23 years, with extensive experience working both client side and within the agency environment. He is CEO of TargetInternet.com, Programme Director for Imperial College Business School, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.
He is also the voice of the Digital Marketing Podcast, a worldwide top-ten business podcast, and an award-winning author for publisher Kogan Page (Mobile Marketing, Digital Branding, Building Digital Culture, Podcast Marketing Strategy) who books have been translated into 12 languages. Daniel has helped organisations of all types to use digital effectively, working with a wide range of businesses, from startups through to global clients like the BBC, Accenture, Grant Thornton, Sony, Google, Tesco, Vodafone, Mercedes, Barclays and many more. Daniel prides himself on his practical and hands-on approach and brings best practice from many years of real-world experience planning and implementing digital campaigns and strategies. His career has covered both the technical and business aspects of digital, meaning he is able to bridge the gap between the two and make best use of the tools and technology available.

Talktitle: The Future of Digital Marketing

Synopsis: With the growth of AI, a move toward increased privacy and radical changes coming in SEO, Social Media and Online Advertising, what’s next in Digital Marketing? In this session, Daniel Rowles, will explore these trends and share practical techniques to navigate the future of digital marketing.

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…

Talk title: How to cause chaos on social media (and get away with it)

Synopsis: John spent 4 years causing social media chaos for innocent smoothies. With drunk tweets, online arguments, and so much Comic Sans it should be illegal, he didn’t do things by the book, but he did deliver a 215% ROI – and he has a graph to prove it. It’s almost like chaos is a legitimate social strategy. John now works for cereal start-up Surreal. He might have swapped liquids for solid food, but the chaos (and comic sans) has stayed. He’ll be chatting about how going rogue on social gets results – and if you’re lucky he might even show you that graph.

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.

Talk title: Crafting Connections: The art of a Marketer

Creating powerful work that connects

Join me in exploring how understanding your audience, identifying your allies and building your network can support you in creating powerful work that connects.

Talk Content:
Being you is your superpower
Connecting with audiences
Connecting with stakeholders
Connecting with collaborators

….. and how these all contribute to creating powerful work that connects with their audience.

Samantha Mutongi

Digital Content Strategist & Social Media Expert

Samantha Mutongi is a social media marketing expert with over 10+ years of experience, and her journey began right in her driveway, creating content for her Facebook friends. From those humble beginnings, Samantha’s passion for content and its incredible influence have propelled her to become a content creator, social media manager, and coach. Samantha has honed her skills and gained invaluable insights into the ever-evolving world of digital marketing. What truly sets Samantha apart is her genuine love for content. She understands its power to connect, engage, and inspire audiences. Through strategic storytelling and captivating visuals, she has witnessed firsthand the transformative impact that well-crafted content can have on brands and their online communities.

Talk title: If your content is so good, why isn’t it working?

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.

Talk title: Conquering Confidence: How to improve self-confidence when working in digital

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.

Talk title: From Corporate life to Start-up chaos and everything in-between


  • Entrepreneurship & Personal Branding – brief career round up
  • Cult following and exponential growth at Adanola – what we have seen happen over the last 18 months and our plan to continue on this trajectory
  • The cookie-less era – ever changing industry, what this means and how you can make it work for your brand or business.

Chris Nightingale

Head of Acquisition, ao.com

With over 8 years of Performance Media experience, Chris oversees AO’s Acquisition activity across PPC, SEO, Affiliates, Paid Social and Display. Chris has worked across many industries and business types during his career but has found his Ikigai with e-commerce.

Session: Chris will be joining the e-commerce panel on stage 2 in the morning

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.

Talk title: Building, managing and monitoring brand perception online

Sanjay Purewal

SEO Manager – CAVU

Bio pending

Talk title: How to use the SERP to guide your organic strategy

Synopsis: Sanjay will be going through how keeping things basic by using the SERP can help to guide an organic strategy by:

  • Identifying your actual competitors
  • Helps with content gap analysis
  • Collaboration between paid and organic teams
  • Can also be used to manage stakeholder expectations
  • And additionally we can look at scoping opportunities to growing your website’s visibility outside of target keywords

David White

Content Marketing Director, connective3

David has led PR and outreach strategies for some of the globe’s biggest brands. With a background in business management and marketing, David has a deep understanding of the wider marketing mix and how this contributes to our clients’ bottom line.

Talk title: The state of Digital PR in 2023

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.

Talk title: Pitch Perfect – Storytelling with Success

Synopsis: Hear how to land coverage and create content with success whilst establishing and maintaining meaningful relationships with journalists. Learn the loves and loathes of PR from Editors and publishers, hear the highs and lows of sourcing stories and understand how to pitch properly. Plus! You get the chance to grill one of Fleet Street’s award-winning hacks. And there’s not much that she hasn’t been asked…

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.

Talk title: Bridging the Gap: Aligning Digital Marketing with Equality

Synopsis: In this talk, Azeem will show you the huge gaps that are still present within the industry in terms of equality and representation, based on his own research and external findings too. You’ll laugh, be shocked, and learn. You’ll leave with facts, figures, and most importantly – things that you can immediately implement to help align equality within your digital marketing efforts, and most importantly – make more money.

Adam Hetherington

Senior Agency Manager & Measurement Specialist, Google

Bio pending

Talk title: AI Powered Ads (you can make more sexy if you think there’s a better one?)

Synopsis: The future of search is going far beyond the search box to help people make sense of the world in more natural and intuitive ways.

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.

Talk title: Humans vs machines: AI in paid media

Synopsis: The dawn of AI is upon us. It can be a help, a hinderance and an unknown, but harnessing it correctly in Paid Media can lead to great performance wins.

In this session you will learn.

  • Where AI is present across paid media
  • Pitfalls to watchout for
  • Hints and tips on harnessing AI to drive performance

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

Talk title: Building a personal brand to become a “gateway drug” for your business

Synopsis: Learn how a business can leverage their Founder/CEO/Senior leadership to make them a gateway drug for their business and the impact that can have on new business, hiring, raising etc.

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.

Talk title: Unlocking Growth – The Power of Company-Wide SEO Education

Synopsis: You’re an expert SEO who knows how to drive organic growth but you keep running into the same stumbling block; the rest of your company isn’t. This leaves you fighting an uphill battle against misinformation, the company’s focus on low impact SEO activity and being measured by the wrong metrics.

This talk is a practical guide to training members of other departments in the SEO knowledge they need to help encourage organic growth. Through this talk you will learn how to identify what teams and people need SEO education and how to ensure they get the right level including:

• Identifying the SEO skills, processes and theoretical knowledge each team in your or your client’s company needs in order to develop a robust training matrix. Understanding where that training can be provided by you, and when you would benefit from the support of an outside resource
• Understanding and communicating the importance of teaching SEO skills and theory to other departments to encourage buy-in, prevent mistakes, help the company think SEO-first and better understand the implications of changes in key SEO results
• Identifying and correcting bad and outdated SEO knowledge through company-wide education and on-going development

This talk will help you to gain buy-in to your SEO strategies whilst making SEO a foundation of stakeholder decisions, all through upskilling your wider team.

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.

Talk Title: It’s Time to Think Differently About Email

Synopsis: Email has grown far beyond ‘sh*t it’s Wednesday – let’s get out an email!’. It’s developed into a channel that Marketers are leveraging as the linchpin in delivering the hyper-personalised experiences that the customer of today demands. In this talk, Adam Oldfield, Founder of the UK’s fastest-growing Marketing Automation platform, Force24, will show just how brands are winning by weaving email through their entire strategy.

In this session, you’ll learn:

  • Understanding the dynamics of engagement levels
  • How to segment your audience properly – the 3D way
  • Defining the relationship email should have with your other channels

Lauren Hughes

Head of Strategy, Social Trinity

Lauren is the Head of Strategy at Social Trinity, a specialist social media and paid performance agency with an influencer network of over 430m+ followers. Lauren creates ROI-focused, social-first solutions for brands across several industries including the likes of Trending Travel, Slater Menswear, and TUI, which led her to be awarded Highly Commended Rising Star 2023 at the Prolific North Champions Awards.

Talk Title: TikTok: The misconceptions, where brands are getting it wrong and how to get it right

Synopsis – Despite TikTok taking the world by storm over the last few years, altering media consumption habits and prompting most platforms to introduce a 9:16 video vertical, the platform is still met with many misconceptions and misunderstandings. In this talk, you’ll learn the truth about TikTok, how it works, why many brands are missing the mark, and most importantly, how you can place your brand in the TikTok conversation to get it right.

Dan Morehead

Lead SEO – Channel 4

Dan is SEO Manager for Channel 4, leading the channel’s organic search strategy. He previously worked as Senior SEO Analyst for the BBC, across multiple products including Bitesize, Food, iPlayer, Sounds, News, and Sport.

Talk title: SEO For Streaming

Synopsis: In this talk Dan will discuss how viewing habits have changed and how broadcasters are adapting in the age of streaming, including how to optimise for live events.

Abi Bennetts

Digital PR Manager, Propellernet

Abi has been working in digital PR for almost five years now and am currently working at Propellernet as Digital PR Manager. As part of her role she plans, develops and executes successful digital PR strategies and processes, in order to land top-tier links and coverage for clients. Abi also runs a digital PR newsletter, called ‘Work in PRogress’ which has over 1,000 subscribers. The newsletter is a curation of Abi’s favourite campaigns, tips and tricks from the industry over the past month, and also includes an interview with a digital PR professional revealing their top tips on all things digital PR, as well as how they manage their wellness in what can be quite an intense industry to work in. Having gained a BSc degree in Psychology in 2018, Abi loves exploring how we can use psychology theories to improve digital PR strategies and better organise and manage teams.

Talk title: Psychology Principles To Power Your Digital Team’s Success

Talk synopsis: With burnout being openly discussed in the digital marketing industry more than ever before, and many of those working in digital sharing the same traits of conscientiousness and perfectionism, Abi will reveal how we can use

Abi Carey

Head of Paid Social, Overdrive Digital

Abi leads the Paid Social team at Overdrive – bringing to the role her experience as an in house marketing manager alongside her years of copywriting experience. Abi’s forte is creating strong, long lasting client relationships based around transparency, knowledge sharing and great results.

Talk title: Preparing for Q4 success now

Talk synopsis: No-one knows what Q4 2023 is going to bring. We can sit in the corner and cry OR we can get our Meta ad accounts in the best possible position ready to tackle whatever Q4 throws our way. Let’s do it!

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