Lord Karan Bilimoria CBE

Entrepreneur and founder of Cobra Beer, Lord Karan Bilimoria is an expert in Business, Leadership, Marketing and Branding.

As a keynote speaker Karan has had huge inspirational impact, earning the respect of fellow business leaders and organisations as he tells his story of developing the highly successful Cobra Beer brand.

Karan became a qualified Chartered Accountant with Ernst and Young, before studying law at Cambridge University, where he created Cobra Beer; a new variety of premium lager that was less gassy, could compliment food and is brewed to appeal to both ale and lager drinkers alike.

Fifteen years later, Cobra Beer was one of the fastest growing beer brands in the UK and was ranked in the 1999 Sunday Times Virgin Atlantic Fast Track 100. In 2005, Cobra Beer was awarded two Grand Gold Medals and nine Gold Medals, which is more than any other beer company in the world, at the Monde Selection Awards in Brussels. Cobra Beer has also received the International High Quality Trophy in 2003 for its achievements.

In 1999, Karan launched General Bilimoria Wines. Produced in France, the acclaimed brand is now listed as the house wine for some Michelin-star restaurants, as well as hundreds of others.

Aside from his duties as Chairman of Cobra Beer, Karan is a member of the Government’s National Employment Panel and served as Chairman of the Panel’s Small and Medium Sized Enterprise Board from 2001 to 2005. He is the Vice Chairman of the London Chamber of Commerce and is a member of the Bank of England – LCCI / Asian Business Association Panel. Karan is also an Honorary Life Fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce.

He is a guest lecturer at Cranfield University School of Management, the Cambridge University Business School and the London Business School, and a Visiting Entrepreneur at the Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning at Cambridge University – one of the first to ever be appointed. Karen was also the former Chancellor of Thames Valley University, a positon which saw him become the youngest university Chancellor in the UK.

In 2004 Karan was awarded the Commander of the British Empire in Her Majesty the Queen’s Birthday Honours List. Some other honours received include the Award for Outstanding Achievement 2005 by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, Business Person of the Year 2004 by the London Business Awards and London Entrepreneur of the Year in 2003 by Ernst & Young, established as the most prestigious business award in more than 35 nations worldwide.

Karan directly supports a number of charities and is a Patron of both the Thare Mache Starfish Initiative and Rethink Mental Illness, Vice Patron of the Memorial Gates Trust and Chairman of the advisory board of the Shrimati Pushpa Wati Loomba Memorial Trust for education of the children of poor widows in India.

Neil Mullarkey

Neil has been described by the Guardian as “one of the unsung heroes of modern comedy, not many can match his ability”.

Neil studied Economics, Social and Political Sciences at Cambridge University. He was President of the comedy troupe the Cambridge Footlights (whose alumni include John Cleese, Hugh Laurie and Emma Thompson) and toured the UK and Australia.

Neil has performed in two double-acts, with Mike Myers and with Nick Hancock. In 1985 he co-founded the world-famous improvisers ‘The Comedy Store Players’ with Mike Myers. He still improvises with the Players most Wednesdays and Sundays at the Comedy Store in London.

Neil has numerous TV credits including ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway’, ‘QI’, ‘Have I Got News For You’ and ‘Saturday Live’. He has acted in films, most notably ‘Leon the Pig Farmer’, ‘A Fistful of Fingers’ and ‘Solitaire for 2’ and appeared in theatre and radio.

Alongside his many and varied roles within the entertainment industry, Neil is highly accomplished in the field of management training, having run numerous workshops and hosted conferences for private and public organisations. Neil uses improvisational comedy as a metaphor and an interactive way to achieve learning and change in the corporate world. The themes he explores through improvisation, in which everyone takes part, range from communication and behavioural change to mind-set shift and sales techniques.

Sahar Hashemi OBE

Sahar is one of UK’s most inspirational female entrepreneurs.

She shares with the audience her captivating personal stories of building two famous brands; Coffee Republic, the UK’s first coffee bar chain which she and her brother grew to 110 stores and £30m turnover and exited in 2001; and Skinny Candy, the guilt free confectionery brand which she sold to Glisten Plc. in 2007.

She is a bestselling author – her book ‘Anyone Can Do It – building Coffee Republic from our kitchen table’ has been translated into six languages.

Formerly a lawyer, Sahar has been recognised for her achievements as an entrepreneur by Her Majesty the Queen and named as a ‘Pioneer to the life of the nation’. She was named Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in Davos and also one of 100 most influential women in Britain by Daily Mail and 35 top women in British business by Management Today.

In a Shell Livewire survey of role models Sahar was among the top five along with James Dyson and Dame Anita Roddick. Meanwhile in 2011 Sahar was nominated by Director magazine as one of its Top 10 Original Thinkers, alongside Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Sir Jonathan Ive.

In 2012 she was honoured with an OBE for ‘services to the UK Economy and to charity’.

As a speaker Sahar tells her very personal journey as an entrepreneur and in doing so she connects with the audience on an emotional level, bringing to life the passion, determination and open mindedness needed to succeed.

Sahar always makes a strong impact, igniting the audience with a ‘can do’ spirit and the tools and habits to ‘make it happen’.