Director of BBC England confirmed as Northern Leadership Awards speaker

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The Director of BBC England will be the keynote speaker at’s Northern Leadership Awards.

Helen Thomas, one of the BBC’s most senior female executives, has been in her role since June 2018. She is in charge of 2,700 staff and is responsible for the BBC’s output in England across all platforms including 15 regional television services, 39 Local Radio stations and regional and local online services.

Thomas has direct editorial and operational responsibility across England, and oversees and enhances the BBC’s offer to communities across the country.

At the awards, to be held at the Queens Hotel in Leeds on November 28, Thomas will talk about the importance of strong leadership to drive success and motivate teams of all sizes.

Thomas said: “It’s an incredibly exciting time to be in the north of England where there is so much going on, being pushed forward by fantastic leaders across a range of sectors. I’m looking forward to celebrating the achievements of many different leaders at the first Northern Leadership Awards in November.”

The awards, sponsored by CMS, are the first pan-Pennine awards by and follow on from the success of the Yorkshire Leadership Awards which were held last year for the first time.

As the leader of a huge team across the UK, Thomas said she is committed to better serving the nations and regions, representing the diversity of the UK.  Her role is to provide strategic direction and overall leadership in England across all platforms.

In May 2019 Helen added management of the BBC’s flagship site in the North to her role.  BBC North in Salford has almost 3,500 staff and is the home of BBC Sport, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Children’s and Education, BBC Philharmonic, BBC iPlayer and BBC Breakfast, as well as many other BBC departments.

Thomas first joined the BBC in 1985 and has worked as a producer, presenter and editor within the BBC and the commercial sector.  She took a career break to have three children and then returned to work at ITV’s Yorkshire Television.

After that she led news teams at various commercial radio stations before re-joining the BBC as editor of BBC Radio Humberside in 1999.  She was promoted to Head of Regional and Local Programming in East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire before her remit was eventually extended across the whole of Yorkshire.

In 2017, she managed the BBC’s partnership with Hull’s UK City of Culture year which provided a £300m boost to the city’s tourism industry.  Hull’s special year attracted a total audience of 5.3 million who attended more than 2,800 events, cultural activities, installations and exhibitions.

Thomas hails from Yorkshire, lives in York, and is a passionate advocate of what the whole region has to offer the BBC and the creative industries in general.

Attending the awards – Early Bird offer

The Northern Leadership Awards on Thursday 28 November will celebrate the people and organisations across the North who are role models for their teams and raise the bar for their competitors.

While the entry deadline has now passed, there is the opportunity to buy Early Bird tickets, with a 10% discount on tables and individual tickets. This offer will run until August 19th and can be utilised by entering EarlyBird in the discount code area when booking online.

There are also a number of high profile opportunities available. To discuss these please contact the sales team on or 0113 394 4324

All details about the award categories and the event can be found on the Northern Leadership Awards event page.