2016 Speakers

Dr. Claire Spencer – International Keynote Speaker

Dr. Claire Spencer is Senior Research Fellow in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Programme at the foreign policy institute Chatham House. She was previously Head of the MENA Programme at Chatham House and served as Head of Policy for the Middle East and Central Asia for the development agency Christian Aid. Until 2001, she was Deputy Director of the Centre for Defence Studies at King’s College, where she set up and ran the Mediterranean Security Programme. She is a member of a number of advisory boards and associations relating to the MENA region and has acted as external advisor to the British Council’s Young Arab Analysts Network International (YAANI).

Educated at Bristol University (BSc Politics) and SOAS, University of London (Ph.D), Claire’s core research interests are in the changing dynamics of the Mediterranean region, with a particular focus on EU and Transatlantic policy towards North Africa and the Levant, the geopolitics of economic change and the socio-cultural dimensions of regional political developments. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (FRSA).

Claire’s recent publications and commentary include ‘Western ‘soft power’ revisited’ in IE Med Yearbook 2015; ‘Terror must not trample on Tunisian institutions’ Financial Times, July 2015; ‘The Potency of a Good Idea: Cultural Innovation across the Maghreb’ (book chapter, 2014); ‘A Vision for Social and Cultural Relations in the Euro-Med region’ in Anna Lindh Foundation Report 2014; Tunisia: politics as usual (Foreign Policy, October 2013), Syria: the Real Cost of Diplomacy (Prospect, June 2013), The Changing Role of Civil Society in the Euro-Mediterranean Area (book chapter, 2012).


John W. Bay, CMInstD – Investment Forum Host

John currently holds the position of Managing Director of consulting firm Contract Strategies Ltd, which assists companies in developing commercial strategies. He has over 35 years of international negotiating experience and has advised companies in over $2 billion in M&A, product sales and other commercial transactions. He is an experienced company director, with governance experience in both public and private companies and has sat on the boards of a variety of companies including energy, property investment, charitable trusts and tertiary education. He is a past chairman of the Petroleum Exploration and Production Association of New Zealand (PEPANZ). Prior to taking on his current role, John most recently held the position of Vice President and General Manager Commercial for New Zealand Oil & Gas Limited. Prior to joining NZOG he was Managing Director and CEO of ASX and NZX listed L&M Energy Ltd. John has previously held senior management positions with Mighty River Power and Fletcher Challenge Energy. Before immigrating to New Zealand in 1990, John worked in the United States in various petroleum engineering assignments for Tenneco Oil and Gulf Oil. John is a Chartered Member of the NZ Institute of Directors, a member of the Association of International Petroleum Negotiators and a 35+ year member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers.


Suzannah Toulmin, Senior Analyst – Global Exploration, Wood McKenzie:

Suzannah is a core member of Wood Mackenzie’s Global Exploration Knowledge Network, providing thought leadership on emerging themes and topics within the exploration industry, including recent trends in global exploration and the strategy and performance of leading exploration companies. She leads Wood Mackenzie’s Exploration Research for the Asia-Pacific region, providing analysis on the recent and future volume and value potential of exploration, at a basin and play level.

Suzannah joined Wood Mackenzie in 2012 following an academic research career. She worked for geoscience institutions including GNS Science and NIWA, before moving to the UK to undertake PhD research. Her areas of specialty include geophysical quantification of gas hydrate reserves, seismic acquisition and processing, controlled-source electromagnetic surveying and modeling the formation of onshore, fault-controlled basins.

Suzannah graduated from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, with a BSc and MSc (Hons) in Geophysics, and is working towards a PhD in Marine Geophysics and Petroleum Engineering at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh.

Steve Bielby, CEO, Gas Industry Company:

Steve Bielby is Chief Executive of Gas Industry Co, the ‘industry body’ appointed under the Gas Act 1992 to provide effective governance of the downstream gas industry – essentially from the point that gas enters the processing plant or transmission system. This has been achieved for over 10 years through a unique ‘co-regulatory’ model, which combines industry ownership with oversight by a board combining industry chief executives and a majority of independent directors.Prior to his Gas Industry Co role, Steve held senior executive positions in several New Zealand energy companies across more than 10 years and spanning most parts of the sector. He began his career as a lawyer and was a partner in a leading national law firm. Steve has degrees in arts and law from Auckland University, and a masters degree in law from King’s College, London.