A real honour to be asked to Judge the MPAAwards 2024.

Dan #FutureOfWork Sodergren
13 min readMar 26, 2024

I am indeed proud to be a judge for this great organisation, a great award for those in Greater Manchester and beyond in a sector I love.

The creative, digital and tech sectors.

Last Thursday the entries went live for this year’s MPA Inspiration Awards. In their 12th year, the MPA are incredibly proud that the awards continue to grow in popularity, with last year’s the most supported yet.

And an amazing night all round — which they always are.

There are some new faces on the panel this year, which has been selected to reflect the wide range of membership types that the MPA represents.

(N.B. A judge is not permitted to judge a category in which their competitors sit — they are excluded so there is no conflict of interest)

This year — including AI into the mix and perhaps next year even a new category or two — I am a judge. But believe you me the people I am judging with are next level.

So very happy to associated with the MPA again this year.

Click on a judge to view their biography

Sam Walker — Chair of Judges

Marketing and Creative Director, N Brown Group PLC

Sam is Group Marketing and Creative Director at N Brown. He started his career at Tesco as a researcher before making the switch to marketing. A stint at Co-op followed, before the move to fashion for a new challenge. Sam is a great believer in the role of insight, creative consistency and the importance of remembering that our marketing is more important to us than our customers!


Janey Baker

Account Director The Behaviours Agency

With nearly a decade of experience in creative agencies, Janey has worked with a number of big brands including some esteemed North West companies including Soreen, Joseph Holts, Well Pharmacy, Swizzels, Inov8, and the CO-OP. As Account Director for The Behaviours Agency, she has honed her skills in crafting effective campaigns and building memorable brands through blending behavioural science and creativity to unlock brand growth.


Jonny Ashworth

Founder & Creative Director Mighty Giant

Jonny is the Founder & Creative Director of Mighty Giant, a Motion Design and Animation Studio in Manchester.

With 20 years experience as a motion designer and creative director, before setting up Mighty Giant in 2010, Jonny worked for several years within the BBC before moving into the Agency world in London, moving back to his native Manchester in 2012.

Jonny also runs the industry event Motion North, where animators and designers meet to learn and inspire one another.


Richard Aldiss

Managing Director, McCann Manchester

Appointed Managing Director at McCann Manchester in 2017, Richard has been with McCann for over 30 years. He joined the agency in 1997 as a media group head after an eight year stint at the network’s Birmingham office. He has held a number of leadership roles at the agency including head of channel planning. During his journey with McCann he has worked with clients in just about every conceivable sector. As MD he is board level lead across clients including Smyths Toys, Royal London, Miller Homes and Thornton and Ross. Richard is the IPA Chair for England and Wales.


Lee Chambers

Director and Chief Psychologist at Male Allies UK

After a diverse career in corporate finance, local government and elite sports, Lee launched Essentialise in 2020. With a desire to make wellbeing inclusive the venture featured on this year’s Startups 100 Index for their work. Lee is also the Director of Male Allies UK and is on the board of CMI Women, and is the author of the upcoming book, Momentum. Lee is driven by his own journey, learning to walk again after illness in 2014, and the mental impact of scaling a videogame company across Europe.He has been recognised for his work on male allyship and gender equity by the UN and the National Academy of Sciences, and has spoken at the Bloomberg Global Equality Summit and One Young World.


Fliss Jones

Account Manager, Mobsta Ltd

Fliss graduated from her MSc at Manchester Metropolitan University in 2021 and embarked on her journey at Mobsta starting as an account executive and steadily ascending to the role of account manager. She is actively engaged within the Manchester media community and serves as a dedicated board member on the MPA Next Gen and Young Bloomers committee. Her commitment was recognised in 2023 when she proudly received the MPA Rising Star of the Year award.


Pavan Riyat-Ward

CEO, We are the Allies and Manchester Publicity Association Hon.
Secretary & Board Member

Pavan started her career in advertising agencies and then moved client side, working in Head of Marketing roles at Morrisons, Poundland and Coop.

Pavan has now returned to her agency roots as CEO and founder of We are The Allies, a network of over 500 creative freelancers, covering every creative discipline — helping Agencies and Production companies find the best freelance talent for their creative brief.


Marcus Hadfield

Chief Strategy Officer, Apadmi

With over 20 years experience in digital and brand marketing, Marcus has delivered award-winning campaigns across every discipline and most sectors. Most of his career has been spent in advertising agencies, most recently as a Managing Partner at McCann Manchester. In 2017, he jumped into the mobile world to help clients get more out the increasingly close relationships people have with their devices. His question stays the same — why will customers care? Clients have included Expedia, Argos, Costa, American Airlines, CrossCountry Trains, Which?, Homebase, Sony, Aldi, World Vision, Plan International and more.


Fergus McCallum

Chief Executive, TBWA\MCR

Fergus started his career in Marketing in the drinks industry at what is now Diageo. Chief Exec at TBWA\MCR since 2009, he has now racked up over 25 years of leading award-winning agencies to success at Cannes, Hollis, the Marketing Society and of course the MPA.


Your Truly — Dan Sodergren

Digital marketing and technology media expert

Ex marketing agency owner, serial tech startup co-founder, Dan Sodergren is a digital marketing / technology specialist who also works on TV and radio as a media expert. He is a futurist who trains companies in how the future of marketing, work and technology will change the world.


Scott Webster

Account Director & Charity Trustee
Excite OOH

Scott has substantial experience in the out-of-home sector working for various media owners including six years heading up Ocean Outdoor’s northern team. He has recently joined Excite OOH a challenger out-of-home (OOH) media agency, having repped all media agencies across the north for a number of years he has a great perspective on things media. Scott is also a trustee of the charity We Are Survivors who support male survivors of sexual abuse and rape in the region.


Mark Kelly

Agency Growth Coach

Mark is an agency veteran and started his consultancy in 2012 to initially help creative and marketing agencies with their digital marketing offer (from strategy to project governance). This expanded a year later to cover developing their proposition, market profile, teams, services, business pipeline and profitable processes.


Matt Geeling

Head of Media, Fuzzy Duck

Having joined the studio as a Motion Designer in 2012, Matt quickly moved into a managerial role and now has overall responsibility for both film and animation. Not one to sit back and take it easy, he can often be found researching new techniques to add to his skillset. He’s also passionate about nurturing new talent, and regularly leads sessions at local universities to help students and graduates breaking into the industry.


Phil Cookson

Director, Creative Resource

For 19 years, Phil has been helping agencies and brands to find and retain talent as well as mentoring creative and marketing talent throughout their career journeys. Phil is also Co-Founder of School of Thought, the creative course and competition that has been running in Manchester and Leeds since 2016.


Vic Elizabeth Turnbull

Founder MIC Media & Pods Up North

Vic is obsessed with audio. She’s the founder of the award-winning podcast production and training agency MIC media. The social enterprise won Silver at the Audio Production Awards in 2022 and has received nominations at the British Podcast Awards and Manchester Culture Awards. She is also the founder of MIC’s Podcast Club an international podcaster community that has over 1,300 members and is the co-founder and Director of Pods Up North, a conference for podcasters. Vic is a judge for the British Podcast Awards and International Women’s Podcast Awards too. She’s named as one of the Top 100 women in social enterprise in the Natwest and The Pioneers Post WISE 100 List 2023 and made the list in 2022 too.


Jane Hector-Jones

Head of Brand Partnerships and Corporate Sponsorships, Factory International

As Head of Brand Partnerships and Corporate Sponsorships at Factory International, Jane Hector-Jones oversees the delivery of authentic, meaningful brand partnerships from its landmark arts and culture venue — Aviva Studios — in Manchester. Jane is recognised in the industry for her innovative approach to partnering with notable brands to deliver dynamic and impactful campaigns.

Previously at Channel 4, Jane is also regarded for developing the Partnership and Content team for Channel 4 Nations and Regions, overseeing the development and delivery of notable national campaigns such as Hillarys sponsorship of Homes on 4, Aldis sponsorship of the Great British Bake Off and winning the Campaign awards Grand Prix with the the “Black to Front” team. Jane’s recent successes include managing the Factory International partnerships team to deliver some of the UKs largest Arts partnerships at Aviva studios, and brokering the Future Modern exhibition partnering Chaos 69 Chan featuring Chanel, as part of Chanel’s Metiers D’Arts in Manchester.


Ani Kaprekar

Executive Coach & Storyteller, Co-founder — Tech India Advocates

Ani is a charismatic polymath leader and an executive coach recognised for creativity, with 30+ years of global career and rich experience in diverse sectors. Ani leads exciting public initiatives in Tech, Entrepreneurship and Performing Arts as a founder & brand ambassador. Formally trained in theatre & film-craft, Ani blends his creative skills and business acumen to create impactful success stories. Ani is also a social media storyteller followed by more than a million+ people across the world on Facebook.


Danny Turnbull

Managing Consultant — Agency MD/Consultant/Non Exec Director

Danny has spent a lifetime in the agency world (well 30 years) and half of this, running large agencies in the UK and Europe.

After early stints in B2B, B2C and medcomms, he joined Cicero and led the agency through its acquisition and integration into gyro, the world’s largest and most awarded B2B network, sitting on the global leadership team and leading the Manchester business (£6m TO, 55 people) for 12 years taking it through its acquisition into Dentsu Aegis Network.

Following spells at Stein IAS leading their EMEA business in Manchester, London and Paris, then most recently was MD/Director of Agency Services at APS Group, Danny now works as a Non Exec Director (NXD), Consultant and Mentor for a number of agencies of different shapes and sizes across the UK.


Jo Whiteley

Creative Director at if Agency

Jo’s enjoyed (& endured!) many years in the creative industry, starting out as an art director & working her way to CD. Fiercely competitive, Jo hops out of bed come rain or shine, with the same ambition & passion for concepts and innovation as she did on day one. With her infectious enthusiasm, she thrives on nurturing ideas & creative talent, so is honoured to be part of the panel & looks forward to celebrating in the Norths creative success.


Jeff McCarthy

Senior Lecturer — Digital Marketing, Manchester Metropolitan University

5xs award-winning blogger with runeatrepeat.co.uk as well as a prize-winning author, Jeff is a board member of the MPA and sits on the DMA North Council Talent Hub. His key focus is driving student employability, nurturing and retaining talent, particularly in the digital and creative sector. His work as a digital marketing specialist since 1996 has seen him work with major retailers, online brands, charities and over 35 football clubs.


Asma Younus

Marketing Manager, Co-Founder, Radio Presenter

After launching a travel blog in 2010, Asma was able to shift from a career in business operations to specialise in Marketing and now holds a Senior position at Indiespring, a Manchester based agency providing mobile-first custom software solutions. She also co-founded islamicartprints.com, a curated, artist-driven global platform for affordable Islamic Art. Her spare time is spent as a radio presenter on Travel.radio and hosting Sunday Breakfast on BBC Radio Manchester. Passionate about diversity and inclusion, Asma is also a trustee for a new Manchester based charity, Pave the Way.


Niki West

Director of Agency & Client Services, Newsworks.

Niki joined Newsworks in May 2017 to oversee client services and strategy planning. Her core remit is to forge ever stronger relationships between Newsworks, advertisers and the agency community. Before Newsworks, Niki was a managing partner at Havas Media.


Rick Hollister

Senior Account Director at PR Agency One

Rick has more than a decade of experience in PR and communications agencies in the North West. He specialises in raising the brand awareness and reputations of businesses to achieve their communications and organisational objectives, and commonly works across the technology, financial services, retail/ FMCG, built environment and healthcare industries.

Rick has worked with a diverse range of clients, from startups to established corporations across a number of different sectors helping them become household, or ‘boardroom’, names. Possessing a deep understanding of his five focus industries allows him to navigate the challenges and seize the opportunities available to help businesses achieve their strategic goals.

As a creative and solutions-focused PR professional, Rick is credited for his ‘nose for news’ and journalistic instinct. He thrives on putting his clients at the heart of the news agenda.


Reet Sercombe

Head of Membership & Commercial, Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce

Reet was appointed to head of Membership & Commercial at Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce 4 years ago, having worked for GMCC for over 8 years. Throughout her time at the Chamber, Reet has developed strategic partnerships and a passion for fostering growth within the business community. This strategic network has played a pivotal role in the Chamber’s success, complemented by the work done to shape an outstanding service portfolio for Chamber members. Her current role at the Chamber is centred around the growth of membership, increasing the Chamber’s influence and serving as a representative for the voice of business in Greater Manchester.


Chris Mawdsley

Head of Media Strategy, BBC

Chris began his media planning career in the lovely surroundings of McCanns in Prestbury in 1997 before moving to Feather Brooksbank just before the millennium bug ruined all our lives. A move to MediaVest Manchester 8 years later was followed by a move to MediaCity and the BBC in 2011. Now Head of Media Strategy, Chris is responsible for the planning and execution of a huge variety of campaigns for the Corporation, from recent smash hits like Doctor Who, and The Traitors through to sporting events such as the Euros and Olympics


Rob Sethna

Digital Creative & Tech Sectors Lead, GC Business Growth Hub

Rob has been at the heart of sector industries all his professional career having lived and breathed creative direction in advertising and design for over 30 years. Also a multiple SME owner over that period, he now spends his time as a Digital, Creative and Tech Growth Leader at GC Business Growth Hub, helping businesses in the sector thrive using his extensive agency and commercial experience.


As you can see — some amazing people judging an amazing competition and awards.


These awards are a way of recognising the amazing talent across Manchester, and perhaps more importantly than ever, a way of inspiring future talent, innovation and creativity. Members and non-members are invited to enter, and all members get their first entry free.

Inspiration. Collaboration. Celebration. These are the core values of the MPA Awards, distilled from the attitude, style and personality of our great city.

Want to enter the awards?

Key dates:

First call for entries: 7 March 2024
Closing Date for entries: 17 May 2024
Shortlist announcement: July 2024
Awards ceremony and gala dinner: 16 October 2024



Dan #FutureOfWork Sodergren

#PublicSpeaker #TedxTalk #KeynoteSpeaker talks on the #FutureOfWork #Tech and #AI. Expert / guest on national TV / Radio and podcasts. Co-founder of YourFLOCK