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North East England Construction Summit 2023

Wednesday 18th October 2023 - Hilton Hotel, Gateshead Newcastle

The annual North East England Construction Summit supports the OneVoice campaign aiming to build a successful, sustainable and inclusive construction industry, equipped with the people and technology to deliver a carbon neutral built environment by 2050.

This year the Innovation Showcase returns with exhibitors demonstrating their innovations in supporting the drive for sustainability in the built environment.

We would like to thank this year’s Headline Sponsor; AtkinsRéalis



Innovation Showcase

In 2023, the Innovation Showcase will once again bring together organisations committed to helping the built environment sector to address the climate emergency. We are looking for interactive stands showing products, processes, modern methods of construction and innovations supporting Climate Action in practice.

The Innovation Showcase will put you in front of regional, national and international construction organisations to showcase your ideas and hopefully get that bite, enabling you to take a leap forward.

So come on, what are you waiting for? Show us what you’ve got.

To discuss showcase opportunities please contact us on 0191 5007880 or enquiries@cene.org.uk

2023's Programme


Carol Cairns – Head of PMO at Northumbrian Water, Chair of Constructing Excellence

Toby Welstead – Regional Director, AtkinsRealis


Sponsored by K2 Construction Management

Introduction – James Grant, K2 Construction Management

A Route to Value – Tom Jarman, Low Carbon Journey

Value Toolkit – Kay Tor, Infrastructure and Project Authority

Panel Discussion:

Chair – Kathryn Gardner, AtkinsRealis

Iain Garfield, Newcastle University

Kay Tor, Infrastructure and Project Authority

Russell Jones, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals, NHS Foundation Trust



Sponsored by Esh Construction

Introduction – Darush Dodds, Esh Group

Inclusion is Everyone’s Business Lucy Malarkey, Positive About Inclusion

Panel Discussion:

Chair – John Cartwright, Hartlepool College

PlanBEE – Dr Izzy Williams, Ryder Architecture

Wonder Challenge – Angela Carney, Carney Consultancy Ltd

Collaborative Programmes – Darush Dodds, Esh Group

Local Skills Improvement Plans – Mark David, NELSIP


Sponsored by Sir Robert McAlpine

Introduction – Mark Gardham, Sir Robert McAlpine

Reimagining Materials – Dr Natasha Boulding, Low Carbon Materials

Delivering comfortable & affordable heat, protecting tenants & landlords – Oliver Olsson, NexGen

Panel Discussion:

Chair – Dr Olli Jones, Cundall

Will Synnott, Disperse

Erin Peart, Northumbria University

Alison Nicholl – Constructing Excellence

Simon Rennison-Rae, gssarchitecture

Dr Natasha Boulding – Low Carbon Materials


Sponsored by RE:GEN

Introduction – Lee Francis, RE:GEN

Net Zero – Jess Cook, Net Zero North East

Supporting the Supply Chain – Lee Jackson, SmartCarbon

Dogger Bank Operations & Maintenance Base – Francesca Harrison, Ryder Architecture

Panel Discussion:

Chair – Lee Francis, RE:GEN

Paul Fiddaman, Karbon Homes

Lee Jackson, SmartCarbon

Jess Cook, Net Zero North East

2023's Speakers

Alison Nicholl

Head of Constructing Excellence

Alison has a background in knowledge transfer, driving innovation and change into the construction sector both in the UK and overseas. Alison is currently Head of Constructing Excellence, where she works with its members and wider movement to drive positive change in the built environment. Alison has a passion for transforming the construction sector into a more innovative, inclusive, and sustainable industry.

Carol Cairns

Head of PMO at Northumbrian Water, Chair of Constructing Excellence North East

Carol is a passionate strategic business leader and Chartered Civil Engineer with over 25 years’ experience leading asset management strategic planning, business transformation and substantial capital investment programmes in the water sector. She is currently Head of Assets Programme Management Office at Northumbrian Water assuring the effective and efficient delivery of the capital investment programme, caring for our assets, our environment and creating a sustainable future for all.

Value Speakers

Iain Garfield

Director of Estates & Facilities, Newcastle University

Iain joined Newcastle University as Head of Estate Planning and Development in January 2016. In this role he has been responsible for the major capital developments of the University estate. He was then appointed Director of Estates and Facilities in February 2019.

Having undertaken a degree and research in Mining Engineering at Newcastle University Iain embarked on a career with British Coal working as an engineer and Colliery Undermanager at various mines throughout the North East.

In 1994 Iain moved into the HE sector at the University of Sunderland, firstly in the School of the Environment and then the Business School before moving into the Estates department in 2004, taking up the role of Head of Estate Services from 2010 before leaving to join Newcastle.

Iain had a key role in the strategic development of the estate and implementation of the estate capital investment programme at both institutions and has been instrumental in introducing numerous estate innovations and novel estate planning processes including the now widely accepted Soft Landings process and sustainable development. He has also presented nationally in several fora on a variety of collaborative projects.

James Grant

Senior Marketing & Communications Manager, K2 Construction Management

A communications, marketing, and business development professional with more than 20 years’ experience across the Tees Valley and wider North East.
Extensive experience within both private and public sector environments beginning his career operationally within the luxury hospitality sector. He went on to manage strategic partnerships for Peel Airports across the North of England before moving to the Tees Valley Combined Authority Group to manage communications incorporating Teesside Airport and Teesworks.

Kathryn Gardner

Regional Director, AtkinsRéalis

Kathryn Gardner is a Regional Director for AtkinsRéalis Project and Programme Services, a world-leading integrated project and programme management consultancy. Kathryn Chairs the CENE Value Theme Group, with its focus this year on creating a route map to delivering better Value and improving collaboration across the sector. She is passionate that the impact of construction projects on local communities is much greater than just the physical asset.

Kathryn has had in the construction industry for over 30 years, undertaking roles in cost, risk, project and programme management as both Client and Consultant.

Kay Tor

Sustainability Lead, Infrastructure and Projects Authority

The focus on prioritising and optimising benefits and outcomes for nature and people becomes the basis of how we intervene in the built environment to ensure a more resilient, adaptive and sustainable system is the IPA’s TIP vision for the future. In collaboration with Government Departments and Industry, Kay is driving forward this agenda, reshaping how we deliver projects to achieve better outcomes.

Core to the success of this, Kay is passionate about driving the cultural and behavioural shift needed, a step change in project delivery, and embedding a systems approach to tackling the climate crisis.

Russell Jones

Deputy Director of Estates (Strategy, Planning and Capital Development, The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Russell has 20+ years’ experience working in NHS Estates and is responsible for the delivery of the Estates Strategy and capital construction programmes across the Trust estate.

As a chartered builder Russell has worked in many facets of estates from operational maintenance, PFI monitoring through to leadership roles in capital and planning with vast experience in contract management and commercial control of complex construction programmes.

Russell has a track record of successful delivery on major construction projects with a wide portfolio of work from new build schemes to refurbishment, service improvements and critical infrastructure upgrades.

Tom Jarman

Director, Low Carbon Journey

Tom is an independent consultant working in decarbonisation, sustainability and energy, with expertise in the construction and housing sectors. He has over 15 years client-side experience in the construction sector, including project development, project and programme management, sustainability, Planning, newbuild, housing retrofit and Building Information Modelling. He is an active industry volunteer, and regularly speaks on industry issues and challenges as well as acting a mentor to small, tech- and climate-focussed start-ups. He participates in working groups at national and regional level via the Construction Leadership Council, National Retrofit Hub and Constructing Excellence North East.

People Speakers

Angela Carney

Director, Carney Consultancy Ltd

Angela started her Consultancy 21 years ago to build it to one of the larger construction H&S consultancy & training companies in the North East. She has 33 years’ experience across both building and civil engineering projects for public and private sectors. With a foundation as a Civil Engineer and experience in Site Management from varying sizes projects. Then moving into a H&S consultancy role in 2002 meant Angela had a firm grasp on the unique issues and hurdles the industry faced with H&S.

Darush Dodds

Corporate Affairs Director, Esh Group

Darush heads up Esh Group’s Corporate Affairs function; responsible for communications, events, brand, carbon reduction and Esh Group’s award-winning Social Value strategy – ‘Constructing Local’.

With over 15-years’ experience in the delivery of Education, Employment, Engagement and Economic programmes, and Esh’s whole business approach to community wealth building. Darush’s team deliver measurable socioeconomic benefits for Esh’s clients and their communities as part of the procurement process.

In addition to his role at Esh, Darush is a member CENE’s One Voice People and Climate Groups, Chair of the North East Institute of Technology’s Construction Board and a Governor at Middlesbrough College.

Dr Izzy Williams

Senior Learning and Development Lead, Ryder Architecture

Izzy oversees the learning and development activity at Ryder Architecture. She works across the practice on recruitment, orientation, EDI, apprenticeships and specialist learning programmes. Through Ryder’s role as founding partner and sponsor lead for the PlanBEE programme, Izzy works with Gateshead College on delivery in their three affiliated regions, Newcastle, Manchester and London. She works with the college on sponsor and apprentice recruitment, delivers induction sessions to sponsor companies, and advises best practice. Izzy also coordinates this delivery internally within Ryder, including orientation, rotation facilitation, mentoring, rotation target setting and reviews, and represents the practice at sponsor meetings.

John Cartwright

Head of Construction and the Built Environment, Hartlepool College of Further Education

I have been involved in education for close to 25 years and during my time in education I have worked as a consultant for organisations such as the governments Department for Education and Skills (DFES Standards Unit), City and Guilds, AQA, Pearson Education and Nelson Thorne. During that period of time, I have carried out such work as writing, inspecting, observing, reviewing, moderating, presenting and quality assuring. I am still an active educational consultant and have worked on national and international projects in roles such as Principal Moderator, Chair of Examiners, Inspector, author and scrutineer.
Prior to moving into education, I worked in Construction and Built Environment undertaking a variety of roles ranging from bricklaying foreman to estimator for SME’s in the local area.

Lucy Malarkey

Director, Positive About Inclusion CIC

Lucy is Director and Co-founder of Positive About Inclusion CIC, a not for profit social enterprise, providing training and consultancy services based in the North East of England. She is also Managing Director of Women In Social Housing (WISH), the membership body for women working across every discipline of housing in the UK.
Lucy has been a key member of a number of national equality, diversity and inclusion steering groups, an active volunteer mentor and coach and earlier this year, she was recognised by the Euclid Network in their Top 100 Women Leaders in Social Enterprise initiative.

Mark David

LSIP Project Manager, North East Automotive Alliance

Mark joined the NEAA in November 2022 and will manage the North East Local Skills Improvement Plan (NELSIP), an employer-led plan
that meets future business needs and provides a resilient and responsive supply of the skills needed to drive economic success and
investment in the region.
Mark has over 15 years’ experience in the skills and education sector, including over seven years at the Construction Industry Training
Board (CITB), and has built a wealth of experience working with the region’s SME community after starting his business support career at
Business Link in 2009.
Prior to joining the NEAA, Mark worked at Business Durham where he managed an ERDF innovation programme whilst supporting the
North East Satellite Applications Centre of Excellence where he helped to develop deliver a skills strategy for one of the UK’s fastest
growing space sector

Innovation Speakers

Erin Peart

Director of Campus Services, Northumbria University

Erin joined Northumbria University as Director of Campus Services in 2021, following 8 years at the local Property Investment Company Hanro Ltd where she managed the £150m asset portfolio.

Now leading the operational services including Maintenance, Security, Catering and Student Accommodation, she is also developing the University Estates Strategy and Master Plan, creating the vision to provide the best facilities for students through to 2035.

Mark Gardham

Director, Sir Robert McAlpine

A chartered construction manager and experienced senior leader with an operational and main contractor background. Passionate about continuous improvement, innovation and collaborative working – we achieve our best results when we’re all working towards a common goal.

Dr Natasha Boulding

CEO & Co-Founder, Low Carbon Materials

Dr Natasha Boulding is the founder and CEO of Low Carbon Materials, a climate tech company developing material-based solutions in the race to Net-Zero. Natasha has patents in the area of advanced materials and has raised grant funding and private investment upward of £2.5 million. She sits on the advisory board for the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) start-up division and has been recognised by Forbes 30 under 30. Natasha has led LCM to win numerous awards.In 2022 LCM was announced as a finalist for the prestigious Earthshot Prize.

Oliver Olsson

Sales and Client Services Manager, NexGen Carbon Zero

Next generation ‘Net Zero’ heating solutions for housing and buildings. An organisation committed to a social and sustainable impact mandate, a green economy investment.

UK designed, Far Infra Red graphene electric wallpaper, seamlessely integrated into any buildings, providing tenants and householders absolute granular control over when and how long to heat their homes. Linked with PV Solar and Smart Batteries we will directly attack the fuel poverty while using the technology to mitigate damp and mould.

Dr Olli Jones

Associate Director, Cundall

Dr Olli Jones, Head of Sustainability & Innovation (NE) is part of a world leading, international network of sustainability thought leaders, innovators and disruptors who are working to realise a more sustainable future.

Olli has been recognised as one of the construction sectors top 500 influencers in 2019 and as one of the UK’s top 100 sustainable design visionaries in 2021 by the UK Design Council. He works with government policy makers, NGO’s and organisations to develop sustainability strategies as a trusted advisor.

Olli is driven by a healthy planet, healthy people philosophy – an enduring belief that regenerative practices will create healthier people, societies, environments, and economies.

Simon Rennison-Rae

Partner, gssarchitecture

Simon is a Partner at GSSArchitecture, overseeing the teams Newcastle studio.

Simon is a CENE Innovation Group member, GSS’s Net Zero working group lead as well as a lead in their Continuous Improvement Group. He has delivered notable projects such as The Catalyst for Newcastle University, the recently completed Net Zero Industry Innovation Centre for Teesside University as well as the redevelopment of the Park Hotel in Tynemouth
GSS are a National award winning practice with 6 offices covering all of the UK

Will Synnott

Director of Strategic Accounts, Disperse

A former Geotechnical Engineer and Chartered Geologist with nearly 15years of experience in the construction industry. A strong passion for new technology.

Will now supports the Construction Industry helping Project Teams make more informed and better decisions using construction technology.

Leads the business development across the UK, Ireland and Northern America for Disperse on over billions of dollars of live projects.

“Continuously continuing to be curious.”

Climate Speakers

Francesca Harrison

Associate, Ryder Architecture

Francesca is an Associate at Ryder Architecture and was the Project Architect for Dogger Bank Operations and Maintenance Base.

Jess Cook

Programme Manager, Net Zero North East England

Jess is Net Zero Programme Manager at North of Tyne Combined Authority, the accountable body for the Net Zero North East England initiative – a new partnership across private, public, voluntary, and academic sectors, formed to accelerate the transition to net zero in the region, creating a cleaner, greener, and fairer North East.

Jess has 12 years’ experience across regulated industries, both in direct customer delivery roles and in strategic and policy-focused positions, across both private and charitable sectors, and is passionate about delivering positive change through partnership.

Lee Francis

CEO RE:GEN & Chair of CENE Climate Group

Lee Francis is the CEO of RE:GEN Group and Chair of the CENE Climate Emergency Group, following an impressive career spanning 24 years at ENGIE (previously Keepmoat). Lee’s role at RE:GEN Group is focussed on driving the group strategy forward. From strengthening client relationships to governance, sustaining organic growth and exploring potential acquisitions, Lee is an inspired leader with a proven track record for delivery. He has been instrumental in driving real change and innovation across the North East Social Housing sector. But most importantly, he is recognised as an approachable, well-respected individual, dedicated to improving people’s lives.

Lee Jackson

Commercial Director, SmartCarbon Ltd

Lee is Commercial Director with SmartCarbon Ltd, engaging directly with clients to provide consultancy support on carbon emissions reporting and decarbonisation planning. As part of his SmartCarbon remit Lee also facilitates the IEMA accredited Carbon Champion course delivered through Northumbria University.
Through regular projects with clients and environmental partners Lee is involved in an increasing Net Zero ambition organisations and business sectors.
Lee’s background is in senior business development positions in the travel and payments sectors, most recently with Diners Club International. He is an associate member of IEMA and works with both businesses and community groups to create meaningful impact in response to the climate emergency.

Lee is also a volunteer community trainer with CAfS (Cumbria Action for Sustainability), Co-founder of CACTUS (Climate Action for Corporate Travel Urgent Sustainability) and an active member of Sustainable Keswick where he is leading a community car share initiative.

Paul Fiddaman

CEO, Karbon Homes

Paul is the Group Chief Executive of Karbon Homes.

Paul trained as a chartered accountant with Price Waterhouse before joining Sunderland Football Club in 1992, becoming Company Secretary and General Manager.

Paul first joined the social housing sector as a board member in 1993 and has held a variety of senior roles in housing since then.

Paul is currently Chair of the Northern Housing Consortium and a Placeshapers board member. He is also Chair of the Retrofit Steering Group of the North East England Climate Coalition and was until recently Chair of Clanmil Housing Association based in Northern Ireland.

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