Leading Edge Annual Conference 2017

This event has taken place. Click on the link below and book for next year's free conference.



Power your performance

Join us for a full day of free personal development and industry insight training

IGD Sainsbury's Trade Briefing 2017

Why should I attend?


Accelerate your personal development

It’s all about you. Spend a day focusing on your development and what you need to excel.


Be inspired to achieve your goals

Hear from the most dynamic, motivational and thought-provoking speakers who’ll help you be the best you can be.


It’s free!

Join us for a unique day of free presentations and essential industry insight.

Guest keynote speaker

Sir Lenny Henry

Sir Lenny Henry is often regarded as one of our national treasures – a comedian from the age of 16 and the co-creator of Comic Relief. And more recently taking the leap into the world of acting, both on the stage and on our TV screens, to great acclaim. Come and hear all about Lenny’s career in TV, comedy and as a charitable ambassador and be inspired by someone who’s been successful in so many areas for over four decades.


Programme summary

This is a full day event, starting with refreshments at 8:45am. View full programme details here

  • Registration and refreshments
  • Welcome 
  • Powering your performance starts here
  • High-impact speaking: how to win hearts, minds and (perhaps) promotion through public speaking
  • Tomorrow’s digital shopper
  • Industry innovation showcase: an exciting new world is just around the corner
    • 3D food printing: novelty or need?
    • Hands Free Hectare
  • How to 'think diverse' and have brilliantly innovative ideas!
  • IGD Leading Edge Award finalists announced
  • Charisma: an authentic power
  • The power of simplicity: how the best leaders make leadership easy
  • Guest keynote speech from Sir Lenny Henry

Find out more about our speakers, here

Overview - Power your performance

What does powerful performance bring to mind? Athletes at the top of their game, corporate leaders breaking new ground, Oscar-winning actors? The list goes on!

We all perform and we all perform well, but are we always giving our best? 

This year's Leading Edge Annual Conference line-up features people who are powerful performers themselves, and they’re ready to show us how we, too, can power our own performance.


Why attend

A unique day of personal development for all levels and all functions – a must attend for every diary!

Our only free, full day event, the Leading Edge Annual Conference is designed specifically to give you the best return on your time investment, and we’re confident you’ll leave raring and ready to take action!

You will:

  • be motivated and inspired
  • leave with a huge amount of learnings
  • be engaged and thoroughly entertained
  • have a great opportunity to network and meet others in the industry
  • feel proud to be a part of the industry
  • agree that it was a great use of your time

^ Back to top

Get a flavour of the day



See the full programme and line-up here

Lenry Henry

Sir Lenny Henry

Our keynote speaker this year is Sir Lenny Henry.

Rising from teenage comedian to one of Britain’s best-loved household names, Lenny certainly knows what it means to power your performance and achieve big.

He has had an amazingly diverse career over the last four decades and he continues to push himself with new challenges.

He really is an extraordinary man, with an extraordinary journey.

He will entertain, inspire and motivate us all to overcome obstacles and achieve our goals.


Simon Bucknall

Simon Bucknall, Champion of Public Speaking

Simon supported us at the beginning of last year with his highly acclaimed ‘Public Speaking: A skill you can learn’ masterclass, and we’re absolutely delighted that he will be joining us at this year’s conference.

Simon is twice UK and Ireland Champion of Public Speaking, so no one is better equipped to deliver a session on high-impact speaking than him!


Our masterclass delegates unanimously gave him over 9 out 10:

“Simon was truly the best public speaker I've ever had the pleasure of listening to. In his words, "listening can be hard work," but not on this occasion.”

“I have never in my life been able to stay focused for two hours, yet with Simon I was totally engrossed. I learnt so much from the evening. It was fab.”

Shelford Chandler

Shelford Chandler, Giant Steps

Taking us up to the lunch break this year is Shelford Chandler. As the founding creative director of one of the UK’s most successful independent marketing agencies, Shelford truly believes that everyone has the ability to be creative. Now, as a creative consultant, he spends his time helping organisations unlock and liberate the creative potential of their own people.

“. . . the thing that makes Shelford brilliant at what he does, is his ability to see creativity in everyone and get the most of teams working together to get to a better solution.”


Shelford joined us in the autumn of 2015, with his highly interactive innovative masterclass, helping us to unlock our own creativity.

“The content was inspiring and I have already started some fantastic new habits!”

“It was not just really good fun, but it was also readily applicable to my job role. Couldn't wait to start trying the new tools and ideas. Great session.”


JJ Lynch, Leading Edge Leadership

This will be our third outing with JJ, and there’s one simple reason we’ve invited him to be part of our conference again this year: our delegates love him.

He has a refreshingly unique ability to clear away confusion and bring simplicity and relevance to his subject, which this year is leadership. Delivered with charm and humour, JJ is truly engaging.


"JJ was amazing - great speaker."

"Great presenter. Relevant, interesting and actionable content - a real buzz."

See more from JJ Lynch

Nikki OwenNikki Owen, International Expert in Charisma

Nikki is an international thought-leader, award winning speaker and bestselling author on the topic of charisma, and is best described as “truly life transforming”.

Nikki simply says “the first step towards enhancing your charisma is to identify what areas require development”, but her remarkable life experiences, passion and insight, give her an incredible talent for empowering people and creating impact on people’s lives.


Nikki is guaranteed to deliver an inspirational keynote that transforms attitudes.

“Nikki’s approach is crazy and exciting, but nothing great was ever created by being a conformist.” Frank Bastow, Chairman Academy for Chief Executives

“Nikki is an inspiration. She inspires others to achieve great things.” Collette Stone, Organisational Development, Home Office

Pere Obrador

Pere Obrador, Chief Technologist, Natural Machines

Victor Delgado

Victor Delgado, R&D engineer and 3D Chef, Natural Machines

Tim Jones

Tim Jones, Chef Manager, IGD

Natural Machines

Natural Machines are creating a new generation IoT kitchen appliance, a 3D food printer. We call it Foodini – a new generation kitchen appliance that combines technology, food, art and design. It’s the world’s first 3D food printer making savory and sweet foods, using fresh, real ingredients.


Jonathan Gill

Jonathan Gill, Robotic Engineer, Harper Adams University

Martin Abell

Martin Abell, Mechatronics Researcher, Precision Decision

Hands Free Hectare

What an innovation . . . automated machines growing the first arable crop remotely, without operators in the driving seats or agronomists on the ground.

The interest in this innovation has been phenomenal and we are so lucky to have Jonathan and Martin joining us as they reap their first automated harvest!


Vanessa Henry

Vanessa Henry, Shopper Insight Manager, IGD

Vanessa is an experienced presenter and provides regular commentary in interviews for TV, radio and the press. She is one of IGD’s high-scoring presenters and has a real knack of bringing accessible shopper insights to life.

Toby Pickard

Toby Pickard, Senior Innovations and Trends Analyst, IGD

Toby Pickard is IGD’s senior analyst specialising in innovations and trends, and the impact they could have on retailers, suppliers and shoppers. Toby supports IGD’s channel events, research and training programmes and is looking forward to sharing his insights into the world of exciting innovations.

Haidee Elise

Haidee Elise, Head of Learning and Development Programmes, IGD

As Head of Learning and Development, Haidee is very happy to be chairing the conference this year. She is passionate about training that makes a real difference, so is perfectly placed to steer the day. 


^ Back to top



08:45 | Registration, refreshments and networking

Let the day begin! Come and collect your badge from our IGD Leading Edge registration desk and enjoy some refreshments before taking your seat in the auditorium.

09:30 | Welcome

Head of Learning and Development Programmes, Haidee Elise is chairing our conference this year, and will be in the driving seat all day, ensuring the road is clear and any bumps are seamlessly smoothed out! She may even throw out a few, ‘did you know’ IGD facts along the way.

Haidee Elise, IGD

09:40 | Surprise start to the day

That’s all we’re going to say!

09:55 | High-impact speaking: how to win hearts, minds and (perhaps) promotion through public speaking

Your ability to connect, influence and inspire through the spoken word is a critically important skill. You may be presenting to senior colleagues, pitching to prospective customers or representing your organisation at an industry event.

In this fun and interactive keynote session, pick up simple, practical and easy-to-apply tips and insights that will help you take your public speaking skills to a new level.

Delivered by an award-winning speaker who has twice represented the UK & Ireland in the finals of the World Championships of Public Speaking, you’ll come away being able to …

  • Engage an audience with your very first word…
  • Project confidence - even if you don’t feel confident!
  • Get your message across with even greater clarity and impact
  • Use public speaking as a business tool, rather than a necessary chore!

Simon Bucknall

10:40 | Tomorrow's digital shopper

Access to technology and new digital devices has transformed the way we lead our lives today. This is set to continue at an even faster rate as new technologies become more accessible. Vanessa will share IGD’s latest research about the opportunity this digital trend presents for our industry.

  • Understand the impact of technology on the current shopper path-to-purchase
  • Assess how future digital solutions could change shopper behaviour
  • Find out how to maximise your digital touchpoints with your shoppers

Vanessa Henry, IGD

11:15 | Morning coffee break


11:35 | Welcome back

Haidee will welcome us back from a short coffee break and introduce the next part of the programme.

Haidee Elise, IGD

11:40 | Innovation showcase: an exciting new world is just around corner

Let yourself be taken on a journey into the future and explore augmented reality, automated delivery and printed food!

The pace of change within the food and grocery industry is happening at breakneck speed and standing still just isn’t an option. New technologies are changing the way we live and purchase food.

Toby will showcase some of the most exciting retail innovations from around the world. He will highlight how the industry is having to be innovative to remain relevant and he’ll paint a picture of the new ways in which the food industry will have to work, to ensure we meet an increasingly demanding shopper.

Toby Pickard, IGD

11:50 | 3D food printing: novelty or need?

Natural Machines will be joining us on stage, introducing us to the world’s first 3D food printer, Foodini, making savoury and sweet foods, using real, fresh ingredients. Foodini will revolutionise every kitchen, outpacing the last kitchen revolution; the microwave.

This is real food, 3D printed!

Pere Obrador, Natural Machines
Victor Delgado, Natural Machines

Tim Jones, Chef Manager, IGD

12:10 | Hands Free Hectare

What an innovation . . . automated machines growing the first arable crop remotely, without operators in the driving seats or agronomists on the ground.

The Hands Free Hectare (HFHa) project at Harper Adams University, which aims to be the first in the world to plant, tend and harvest a crop with only drones and autonomous vehicles, is nearing to an end. Harvesting of the spring barley at the ground-breaking project, which has been run in partnership with Precision Decisions, will be taking place before they join us in London on 12th September.

Hot on the tails of this exciting harvest, Jonathan and Martin will share their ground breaking journey of the Hands Free Hectare project.

Jonathan Gill, Harper Adams University
Martin Abell, Precision Decision

12:25 | How to 'think diverse' and have brilliantly innovative ideas!

Innovation is the lifeblood of business, it’s reliant on fresh thinking and new ideas. But the most successful innovation uses a diverse mix of influences and thinking, to generate winning ideas, from the people it involves to the tools and processes it employs.

In this high energy, interactive and practical session, we’ll use some of the principles of this diverse approach to innovation and idea generation, to:

  • Prove that being creative isn’t just for the ‘creative types’
  • Give you confidence to realise your own creative potential
  • Demonstrate how diverse thinking can help you have brilliantly innovative ideas!

Shelford Chandler, Giant Steps

13:05 | Leading Edge Award

The finalists for 2017 IGD Leading Edge Award are announced!

13:10 | Lunch


14:00 | Welcome back

Haidee will welcome us back from lunch, and introduce the second half of the day.

Haidee Elise, IGD

14:05 | Charisma: an authentic power

Nikki’s unique and ground-breaking ideas on high performance will challenge, inspire and motivate. 

Described as an “edgewalker” her transformational approach to the way you perceive yourself and your role within your organisation will engage and amaze all those in the room. 

She will:

  • Explore how important charisma is to achieving success and what it means to organisational growth
  • Share research by Harvard Business Review and the University of Lausanne around charisma and its impact on working relationships and performance
  • Use insights from cellular biology and quantum mechanics, to demonstrate the impact of energy and intention on an well-being, performance and productivity

Nikki Owen, International Expert in Charisma

14:50 | The power of simplicity: how the best leaders make leadership easy

Successful leaders understand the power of simplicity. 

In this highly engaging and interactive talk, you will:

  • Gain fascinating insights into how the most successful leaders from the worlds of business, sport and politics make leadership easy by keeping it simple
  • Become familiar with the most important words to use in the workplace to get the best from your people all day, every day
  • Learn a range of simple, yet very powerful techniques for presenting your leadership message in a memorable and engaging way.

JJ Lynch, Leading Edge Leadership

15:35 | Keynote speech from Sir Lenny Henry

Our keynote speaker this year is Sir Lenny Henry.

Rising from teenage comedian to one of Britain’s best-loved household names, Lenny certainly knows what it means to power your performance and achieve big.

Sir Lenny Henry

16:35 | Summary of the day

We’ll take a quick look back at the key takeaways from the day and let you know how you can continue the learning when you’re back in the office!

Haidee Elise, IGD

16:40 | Drinks, nibbles and networking!

IGD reserves the right to alter any elements of the programme < /p>

^ Back to top


Martin Abell

Martin Abell is a recent graduate of agricultural engineering at Harper Adams University with a farming and technology background. He was employed by Precision Decisions specifically for the project as a mechatronics researcher. Previous projects have included research into the effects of tillage and traffic systems upon soil and the development of an autonomous sprayer demonstration vehicle for the university.

He is an advocate of precision farming and the benefits it can bring to both farmers and consumers throughout the world and is typically found on the family farm when away from the lab, maintaining a hands-on link with agriculture. He is driven to show the potential for automated systems within agriculture with the Hands Free Hectare providing a platform to do so.

Simon Bucknall

A full-time professional speaker and coach since 2008, Simon helps high-performing leaders to connect, influence and inspire through the spoken word. Clients include General Electric, BP, Shell, CIMA, Cambridge University, Oxford University’s Said Business School and Blavatnik School of Government and the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Simon’s career spans corporate executive headhunting, brand consulting in the FMCG sector plus a stint as Head of Office for a senior parliamentarian in the House of Commons.

Simon is a Fellow of the Professional Speaking Association and the Royal Society for the Arts. He was awarded the Freedom of the City of London in 2013.

Shelford Chandler

As the founding creative director of one of the UK’s most successful independent marketing agencies, Shelford spent over 20 years working with famous FMCG and retail brands; Vodafone, Nestle, Mars, McDonald’s and Carlsberg to name a few. Now, as a creative consultant, he spends most of his time helping organisations unlock and liberate the creative potential of their own people. He believes in:

  • INNATE CREATIVE ABILITY - That everyone has the ability to be creative. That creativity can be demystified and 'trained' to arm individuals with the skills and confidence to realise their creative potential.
  • COLLABORATION AND CO-CREATION - That group creativity (involving not just the usual suspects!) Can be motivating, empowering and inspire fresh thinking and innovative ideas.

Victor Delgado

Victor Delgado is an R&D Engineer, a 3D Chef, and one of the first members to join Natural Machines - makers of the Foodini, 3D food printer - a new generation kitchen appliance that combines technology, food, art and design.

Haidee Elise

Haidee has worked in the food and grocery industry for over 10 years with companies such as Unilever, Kerry Foods, Britvic and Heinz, to name but a few.

She has been with IGD since 2012 and heads up the Learning & Development department, which offers free online and face to face learning opportunities, plus an annual open workshop programme.

Haidee is passionate about training that makes a difference and motivates individuals to achieve their potential.

Jonathan Gill

Jonathan Gill is a qualified robotic engineer with ten years of experience specialising in mechatronic systems. Jonathan diversified into remotely operated vehicle operation for over six years with the sole purpose of completing tasks remotely by mechatronic actuation. The past four years he has been focusing on the operation, design, and programming of aerial drone systems and their associated control systems and role within agriculture while In the past two years he has been working in the role of agricultural mechatronic engineer on two successful innovative UK-backed collaborative projects as part of the research team at HAU's National Centre for Precision Farming.

Sir Lenny Henry

Sir Lenny Henry is widely regarded as one of the UK’s best-known and most beloved performers.

First finding fame as a comedy impressionist on 70’s TV talent show New Faces, Lenny is best known for his appearances on TISWAS, Three of a Kind, The Lenny Henry Show, Hope & Glory, Lenny Henry in Pieces and Chef!

He has completed many sell-out live stand-up tours in the UK, Australia and New Zealand; worked for three years as a DJ on BBC Radio 1 and has also worked extensively for Radio 4, starring in the comedy Rudy’s Rare Records and presenting the series Lenny and Will.

He made his West End acting debut in the role of Othello in the Northern Broadsides production at the Trafalgar Studios. His portrayal won him critical acclaim and the London Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Newcomer. Lenny returned to the stage in 2017, playing the lead in an adaptation of Brecht’s The Resistible Rise Of Arturo Ui and his acting credentials also include a key role in the third series of the hit ITV show Broadchurch.

Alongside this fantastic and varied career, Lenny has also made time to study. He graduated in English Literature, (BA Hons), with the Open University in 2007 before going on to study for an MA in screenwriting for television and film at Royal Holloway, where he received a distinction and where he is now studying for a PhD in screenwriting.

Vanessa Henry

Vanessa joined IGD in October 2009. Since then, Vanessa has been involved in many of IGD’s leading shopper research projects covering a variety of themes. She now has responsibility for all of IGD’s shopper research on digital engagement and online grocery shopping.

Vanessa is an experienced presenter, regularly delivering shopper insights to audiences at bespoke briefings to large conferences. She also provides regular commentary in interviews for TV, radio and press.

Tim Jones

Tim Jones is a chef with over 30 years of experience having spent 16 of those years as our Chef at IGD, creating a range of healthy and appetising dishes to delight our colleagues and visitors.

Tim is passionate about health and wellbeing and combines his culinary art with a keen interest in fitness, acting as a personal trainer and sports therapist in his spare time.

JJ Lynch

JJ Lynch is a highly experienced trainer, facilitator, coach and motivational speaker, having worked in the field of leadership and management for the past fifteen years.

JJ has trained, coached and consulted across a wide range of sectors including retail and customer service, as well as various government bodies in the public sector. He has worked with all levels of delegates from CEO to supervisory level and has a wide experience of working with different cultures, including the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

Pere Obrador

Pere Obrador is the Chief Technologist at Natural Machines in the area of computer vision. He has had a long career in research and innovation, both as an individual contributor, as well as a manager, at Hewlett-Packard Laboratories and Telefonica Research and Innovation. He was recently the Digital Food Lab Manager, an open innovation initiative between elBulliLab and Telefonica, in the area of digital technologies applied to the Bullipedia, brainchild of Chef Ferran Adria. He was also product manager for Appetit, a big data based application that recommends ingredients in the gastronomy creative process. He holds over 40 patents.

Nikki Owen

Nikki Owen has studied charisma for thirty years, and believes that it cannot be taught using conventional development tools and processes.

NNikki has a series of accolades to her name, including runner up of Speaker of the Year 2014 Academy for Chief Executives, and holds a number of positions, including: Positivity Advisor for Expotel Group, Charisma Coach on Sky’s Kitchen Sink to Catwalk series and fellow at the Professional Speaking Association.

Toby Pickard

Toby Pickard is IGD’s senior analyst specialising in innovations and trends, and the impact they could have on retailers, suppliers and shoppers. Toby supports IGD’s channel events, research and training programmes.

His work focuses on innovations, digital insights, sustainability strategies and macro trends within the food and grocery sector to create strategic insights for industry. He has been commissioned to deliver presentations and training to major companies within the sector, and he has developed and project managed a number of conferences for IGD and the industry.

Toby joined IGD in 2007 and he holds a BA (Hons) from the University of Leeds, UK.

^ Back to top

QEII Conference Centre, London

IGD have teamed up with Trinity Event Solutions to provide you with the best possible accommodation rates in the local area. Please contact Trinity Rooms on 01780 484 052 or email (bookings@trinityeventsolutions.co.uk) to take advantage of the discounted rates.

This event is now full and any places booked will be added to our waiting list.

Leading Edge Annual Conference

Develop your career and industry network with our events and free online resources on a range of personal development topics.