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David Harkin

David Harkin

CEO & Founder 8billionideas

David Harkin, is a dedicated husband and father of three boys (all under the age of 7) and deeply committed to giving every student the skills and belief to change the world. He is the CEO and Founder of 8billionideas, a company teaching students what he describes as the Critical Curriculum : Entrepreneurship, Skills for the Future, Career Education, Performance and Well-being. They've now impacted over 500,000 students in 25 countries in every part of the sector. In 2022, David earned international recognition, ranking 8th globally by ISC Research for his influential contributions to the education sector. He received the EduFuturist Award and a nomination for 'Creative Entrepreneur of the Year 2022' and then 'Global Entrepreneur of the Year in 2023' by the Great British Entrepreneur Awards. 


Alongside their offerings in school, if 8billionideas can provide exciting opportunities to students that help with their mission they will - In 2022 David and his team formed a partnership with Sir Clive Woodward and Apex2100 (a top Ski Academy) to take the lessons out of elite sport and make them relevant for all ages. In 2023, 8billionideas then formed a partnership with SIr Michael Morpurgo and Farms For City Children to launch an initiative called Grow2024 to teach students about sustainability. This added to their existing partnerships with African Promise and Kilimanjaro Young Girls In Need. 


Prior to his life in Education, David was in technology working for the giant IBM. He swiftly rose through the ranks and assumed leadership of a multi-million dollar business at 24 and achieved the distinction of being the youngest professionally globally to receive the CEO award. Beyond his professional life, David cherishes family moments and has a passion for cricket, serving as Vice President at Sevenoaks Vine CC and playing for the MCC. A highlight for him was fulfilling his dream of playing at Lords Cricket Ground in 2019 (and he likes to remind people, he did hit a 6!). 

Rachel Sandby-Thomas

Registrar, University of Warwick

As Registrar at the University of Warwick, Rachel is responsible for the professional services of the University. Rachel joined Warwick after a long career in the Civil Service, the last 8 years of which were as a Director General in the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills where she covered legal, corporate services and policy (skills, regulation, large and
small businesses, local growth). She joined the Civil Service as a lawyer from Linklaters.

She is Vice Chair of LEAP Confronting Conflict, and on the boards of Future Fit, the Warwick College Group, the Royal Society of Arts Academies, and is on the Executive Committee of AHUA. She is a Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths and the City of London.

She is a Companion of the Order of the Bath, was named in the 2016 FTSE 100 “Women to Watch” and The Times 100 “Most Influential Lawyers”, 2012.


Dave Coplin

Chief Envisioning Officer, The Envisioners

For the last three decades Dave Coplin has been at the cutting edge of some of the world’s largest technology companies focused on the intersection of our society and modern technology. 


Formerly Chief Envisioning Officer for Microsoft UK, he has written two books, worked all over the world with organisations big and small, individuals, governments and government agencies, and presented successful stage shows that open eyes and minds - all with the goal of demystifying technology and championing it as a positive transformation in our society.


Now independent, he has a list of clients from around the world and has worked with organisations in every sector and almost every industry.  From Facebook, Google and Microsoft through to Barclays, Ernst Young, and Vodafone as well as leading public sector and academic institutions such as the UK Parliament, Crown Prosecution Service, as well as Cambridge and Oxford Universities, Dave is engaged at the highest levels to help inspire and drive technology enabled transformation.


Dave is an established author on topics surrounding the future of work and our relationship with technology. His first book: “Business Reimagined”, provided a view of a new working environment based on collaborative and flexible working (almost 10 years before the pandemic made it necessary). His second book, “The Rise of the Humans”, provides a further call to action for both individuals and organisations to rise up and take back control of the potential that technology offers our society.


Dave is a recognised authority in the industry on a broad range of topics and is often sought to provide advice and guidance to UK government on policy issues such as Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, as well as being a regular contributor both here in the UK and around the world with media talking about everything from the future of work, the future of education, privacy and on-line safety, right through to big data and the impact of transformational technologies like Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence.


Dave can be found on Twitter - @dcoplin and at his on-line home,

Barry Fletcher

CEO, Youth Futures Foundation 

Barry joined Youth Futures Foundation, the What Works centre for youth employment, as CEO in January 2023. Barry’s career has been dedicated to supporting people into work and helping young people fulfil their potential.


Prior to joining Youth Futures Foundation Barry spent 3 years as CEO at Career Connect a youth focused Charity based in the North West. He began his career at Ingeus, spending 15 years at this large, health, youth, employment and skills provider, with his final role leading the UK business as Managing Director. 

Barry is passionate about increasing social mobility and supporting the most marginalised in society. This is reflected in the non-executive roles he has previously undertaken including serving on the Board of Youth Employment UK, ERSA, Careers England, and Chair of The Way Youth Zone, part of the Onside network.


James Uffindell

CEO & Founder, Bright Network

James is a technology entrepreneur and the UK’s leading expert on Gen Z talent. James started his first business from his student bedroom in 1999 which he exited to a private investor.


James founded Bright Network in 2013, a high-growth technology platform that uses 300M+ data points and insights to build the workforce of tomorrow. Bright Network employs ~150 people, supports over 1 million graduates and works with 300+ of the world’s largest employers including Google, Bloomberg Goldman Sachs, Accenture and PwC. In 2022 James launched Bright Network Technology Academy to train young people from diverse backgrounds in software engineering skills.


James is a regular media commentator and  been featured in The Economist, Management Today, The Times, The Independent, The Daily Telegraph as well as on live on BBC (radio and TV), Sky News, Channel 4, CNN and on ITV.


In his spare time James invests in other growth businesses and enjoys travelling, chess and endurance sports.

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