We are grateful to our experienced judges drawn from business, public bodies and membership organisations to bring the broadest possible knowledge and expertise to the selection process.


Caroline Belasco

Regional Facilitator, CIPD Wales

Caroline has recently been appointed as CIPD Wales’ first volunteer Regional Facilitator, working alongside Lesley with a focus on aligning the strategy and delivery of the three Welsh branches. With over four years as Chair of the South West Wales branch, and countless years in other branch roles, Caroline is well placed to provide the highest level of guidance and support to our volunteer teams.
Her ‘day job’ is Executive Director of HR and Corporate Services at Coastal Housing Group where she leads a team covering HR, OD, L&D, IT, Governance and Facilities and Communications. She has over 20 years’ experience of people management in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors, holds an MBA, Law degree Masters in HR, is level 7 accredited in both Strategic Leadership and Executive Coaching, and is trained in Systems Thinking and Restorative Practice.

Nia Bennett

Independent HR & OD Consultant

A member of CIPD for over 30 years, Nia is passionate about the difference quality HR can make not only to organisational success but to people’s lives. Having worked across sectors in Business Partnership and Leadership roles, Nia now works as an independent consultant undertaking strategic HR & OD project work to support and compliment the work of internal HR/OD departments.


Gayle Budden 

Head of Human Resources, Castell Howell Foods

Gayle has worked for Castell Howell Foods since March 2015, providing advice and guidance on all topics of HR strategy to the Board of Directors and taking responsibility for the HR agenda across multi-functional sites. Gayle’s career has been developed through more than 13 years’ experience in Telecommunications, Manufacturing and Wholesale, both in operational and strategic HR.
Gayle is a Chartered member of the CIPD and is the Vice Chair of the South West Wales Branch. She has a BA in English/Criminology, a CIPD Level 7 in HR Management, an Employment Law Diploma and is a qualified workplace mediator.

Matt Davies

Chief People Officer, Target Group

Matt Davies has had a career in HR spanning more than 15 years. Having started working in a contact centre role straight from school he found himself drawn to HR and all things people.

Moving into HR Matt has been involved in a broad range of specialities from employee relations/ employment law, leadership development, organisational effectiveness, rewards, project management and more.

More recently Matt has been the leader of the People Team at Target Group, looking after Talent Acquisition, Learning and Development, Human Resources and Facilities. While at Target Group Matt had introduced a People Strategy that has resulted in external recognition. Matt specialises in People Strategy, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, and Employee Engagement.  

Nick Davies

HR Director, Seda UK

Nick has 32 years’ experience of HR and Programme Management, initially starting in British Steel as a Graduate in 1990 and working through a succession of HR Roles, predominantly in Industrial Relations. He has worked in a number of senior HR roles in Port Talbot, Llanwern, Rotherham and Stocksbridge as well as being a frequent visitor to the Netherlands. During his two periods with the company, he also headed up a Business Improvement Team for 3 years and led a Culture Change Programme for the Strip UK business.
He has also worked in a Lead HR Manager role for General Electric for 2 years. His most recent role is as HR Director for Seda UK, a paper packaging company based in Blackwood, servicing major Food and Food Service companies.

Bethan Emanuel

Director, Talent HR

Bethan Emanuel is a proud Fellow of the CIPD, with 30 years’ experience in HR and L&D. Having worked in senior HR roles, she established her own company Talent HR in 2015, working with many public and private sector organisations, leading transformational change, delivering leadership development programmes and provides executive coaching and mentoring services.
Bethan holds ILM7 in executive mentoring and coaching and a Masters in Strategic HRM. Bethan is a fluent Welsh speaker and can deliver all services through the medium of English or Welsh at the client’s request.

Paul Harris

Managing Director, Skylite Associates

Paul developed a career at Board Level as an HRD in the electronics sector including telecommunications and television manufacture in the UK and overseas. He has been extensively involved in managing major change programmes in heavily unionised environments involving restructure and business process re-engineering.
Paul has spent the last nineteen years working for HR Consultancy organisations (Penna and LHH) focussing on Business Development and Account Director roles.
Paul works with a broad spectrum of key clients across the UK on change programmes, helping develop bespoke solutions for clients utilising the support from LHH professional services within its portfolio of Outplacement, OD, Assessment, Coaching and Leadership Development.
Fellow CIPD member, active in promoting the profession across the UK.

Sarah Hopkins

People & Engagement Director, Wales & West Utilities

Sarah Hopkins is People & Engagement Director at Wales & West Utilities, the gas distribution network serving Wales and the South West of England. A graduate of Aston University and a Fellow of the CIPD, Sarah started her career in HR as a Graduate trainee with BG plc, as has held a number of roles within Wales & West Utilities and its predecessor companies.
Her responsibilities include HR, L&D, Occupational Health, Corporate Affairs and Stakeholder Engagement. Sarah has a passion for engagement and people development, is a qualified coach and a mentor on CIPD’s Aspiring HRD Programme.


Peter Kennedy

HR Director, Welsh Government

Peter is on the Board of Welsh Government in his capacity as Director – HR & Corporate Services. Peter joined the organisation in 2004 having worked for several years within the Ministry of Defence. He is an HR professional with many years’ experience of both operational and strategic Human Resources together with experience of Health and Safety, Facilities Management and Emergency Planning.
Peter also has additional responsibilities as Lead Sponsor of Welsh Government Sponsored Bodies and, as the Senior Information Risk Owner.
Peter spent nine years in the RAF within aircraft maintenance and technical training roles.

Rhian Langham

Head of People, Admiral

Rhian has worked in Financial Services for over 25 years, starting out in call centres with HSBC, underwriting and lending with Bank One/HBOS, and then consultancy with Fiserv for banks across Europe. She was one of the founding team of ING Direct and spent ten years as part of the senior team looking after all things people in one form or another! She moved on to Bristol Water as HR Director for a couple of years, and then came back to Wales as Chief People Officer of Principality Building Society for 5 years before moving to Admiral Group mid pandemic in 2020.

Rhian covers all areas of the employee lifecycle, along with CSR and internal and external colleague comms. Her passion is creating an environment that allows everyone to be their authentic self in work and to thrive.


Anthony Lewis


Anthony has a long-standing relationship with the CIPD in Wales, initially through his involvement with the South East Wales branch, developing and implementing CIPD approved courses from Certificate and Diploma through to Masters level, and more recently supporting CIPD activity across Wales.   His main areas of research have been employee engagement, socialisation and on-boarding, organisational retention strategies, e-recruitment, sustainable leadership, and the impact of generational attitudes in organisations.
Retired after 23 years in academia, Tony is turning his hand to practical activities – amongst other things,  designing and creating unique pieces of furniture.

Nicola Montgomery

UK HR Director, Airbus Operations Ltd

Nicola has been UK HR Director for Airbus since October 2019, with two main UK sites: Filton near Bristol and Broughton in North Wales. Nicola grew up and was educated in Scotland and has a BA (Hons) in Business Studies & Languages and a PGDip in Human Resource Management from Edinburgh Napier University.
After joining the Airbus Graduate Programme, Nicola has spent 15 years with the company in various HR roles, including transnational Senior HRBP responsibility across UK, France, Germany & Spain. She is currently HRBP for the Wing Manufacturing organisation in addition to her role as HRD for the UK.

Gaynor Morris

Executive Director People, Pobl

Gaynor is a qualified CIPD professional with over 30 years’ experience across several sectors, namely pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, and recycling industries. She holds a master’s degree in Human Resources Development and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
Gaynor’s role at Pobl covers people services including talent attraction, talent development, HR, people systems, along with organisational development.
Gaynor is passionate about people and has a special interest in talent development and colleague experience.

Stephen Pobjoy

Senior Stakeholder Lead, CIPD

Stephen is the Senior Stakeholder Lead at the CIPD, where he helps develop and support the Senior HRDs within CIPD’s vibrant HR Leaders’ Network.
Stephen’s background includes several senior Head of Events and Head of Content roles in industry associations within publishing, logistics, IT and technology.
With over 20 years’ experience of content production, running leading exhibitions, C-suite networks, and online events he has managed events in every industry vertical globally. In 2019 Stephen set up Events Creator Ltd to aid companies’ growth and to advise on the strategy of their events portfolios with a specific foundation of research and content. He has been working with clients to shift to virtual and hybrid event planning and execution, for example on Ceridian’s global customer event ‘INSIGHTS 2020’ for an audience over 30,000 guests.


Louise Price

Partner and Head of Employment and HR Services, Hugh James

Louise is the head of the Employment and HR Services team leading a team of employment lawyers who specialise in all aspects of employment law, data protection and immigration. Louise has been with Hugh James since 2001 and has 16 years post qualification experience as an employment lawyer.
Louise has extensive experience advising HR professionals across the full spectrum of employment issues including discrimination, business restructures, trade union issues, complex and drawn-out grievances and senior management disciplinary/exit strategies.


Rachel Phillips

HR Director, Babcock International Group
Rachel had a background in operations management, before moving in to HR in 2005. Moving through a number of generalist and specialist HR roles, most of her career has been spent in financial services, latterly with Lloyds Banking Group, before moving to the aerospace and defence sector. She has recently taken up a role with Babcock International Group, partnering the MD and leading the HR team supporting the Mission Systems Division.
Rachel is passionate about Diversity and Inclusion, colleague engagement and has extensive experience leading organisational change programmes. She is a Chartered Fellow of the CIPD with a BA (Hons) in Business Studies.

Nick Rogers

HR Director

Nick Rogers has been an HR Director in five universities across the UK and Australia including: Napier University, Edinburgh; Kingston University, London; University of the Arts, London (the largest arts, design, communication and fashion university in Europe); and James Cook University in Australia. He is currently at Aberystwyth University having been initially appointed as Director of Change Strategy.
Prior to working in higher education Nick worked in two Government Departments.  He is a Fellow of the CIPD and has been a Fellow of AHRI – the professional body for HR in Australia.  Nick has a research-based Masters degree in HR Strategy and has published a peer-reviewed academic article on change management.
Nick was a member of the Universities HR Executive committee for many years and in that capacity has presented at international higher education conferences.

Mark Stevenson

Director of People and Organisational Development, South Wales Police

Mark joined South Wales Police in September 2018 as Director of People and Organisational Development having previously enjoyed a career spanning 18 years within the private sector. Prior to joining the Force, Mark’s most recent position was Head of Capability, Talent and Training for Tata Steel UK.
In his current role Mark provides leadership and strategic direction for workforce  development. As the Chief people officer. he is responsible for a diverse people service function including safety, occupational health, human resources, employee engagement, organisational and learning development.
Mark is the lead for human resources and learning and development collaboration across 4 Welsh Forces. He is also the National Police Chief Council (NPCC) Lead for learning and development and the National Police Forum, CIPD lead for Leadership & Organisation Development.
Mark is a Chartered Fellow of the CIPD and a member of the Industrial Law Society.




Harry Barton

Emeritus Professor

Up until his retirement in early 2017 Harry Barton was Professor of Human Resource Management and Professional Practice and Head of Research at Nottingham Business School (NBS), Nottingham Trent University. He currently works as a part-time HR consultant for Watson Marton Ltd.
Prior to this Harry held posts in policy development, research and management within the Metropolitan Police, Audit Commission and Cardiff Business School. His wider research interests are in the areas of international HRM; public services management; ‘lean’ in public services; police performance management and the future of management education, outputs of which have resulted in both national and international publications.
He has previously served as Chair of the South East Wales Branch of the CIPD. In 2014 he was he was elected as a Council Member to the British Academy of Management and the following year he was made a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Authority.