Two of Britain’s most successful and innovative businessmen will share their views on the future of business at a University of Westminster event next month – and as a Westminster alumnus, you have an exclusive opportunity to join them.

Simon Denyer, Joint CEO of pioneering digital rights company Perform Group, and Ian Watmore, COO for the Cabinet Office’s Efficiency and Reform group, will be in conversation with Professor Steven Barnett as part of the first in a series of Q&A events focusing on the key issues for business success over the next decade.

It’s a rare public appearance for Simon Denyer, who has been at the forefront of the digital sporting rights sector for the past 13 years. In 2004 he left his role as head of digital rights at IMG to found Inform, a company specialising in digital broadcast channels for the betting, mobile and internet sectors. Inform merged with Premium TV in 2007 to create Perform, now the global market leader in the distribution of digital sports content. It was floated on the Stock Exchange for £586m earlier this year, and aims to be the biggest digital sports media business in the world within five years.

Ian Watmore has been equally influential in the digital business age. Having left his post as UK MD of Accenture to lead the civil service’s e-Government Unit in 2004, he took on a series of key government posts including Permanent Secretary of the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills. After several years in government he was appointed Chief Executive of the FA in June 2009, before returning to government in September last year in his current role.

Simon and Ian will be speaking exclusively to alumni at the Looking to the Future professional networking event, which takes place on 21 September (6-8.30pm) at our Regent Campus. The talk will be followed by a Q&A session and a networking drinks reception in the grand foyer.

About the speakers

Simon Denyer


Simon started his career in sports publishing via print and switched to digital in 1998. Since then he has been at the forefront of launching sports brands and services online and developing the digital strategy for many of the biggest sports rights holders and brands around the World. In 2004 he left his role as head of digital rights at IMG to found Inform, a company specialising in the creation of new digital broadcast channels for the betting, mobile and internet sectors. In 2007 he merged Inform with Premium TV to create PERFORM. Since its inception PERFORM has grown rapidly to become the global market leader in the distribution and commercialisation of sports content across connected digital platforms. In April 2011 PERFOM floated on the London Stock Exchange with a market capitalisation of £586m, entering the FTSE 250 Index. PERFORM has over 100m unique users a month, 550 staff and offices in 11 countries. Simon remains a major shareholder and is Joint CEO responsible for the groups key products, divisions and revenue streams.

Ian Watmore

COO – Efficiency and Reform Group, Cabinet Office

Ian graduated from Trinity College, University of Cambridge, with a degree in Mathematics and Management Studies. Ian started his professional career as a graduate trainee for Anderson Consulting in 1980. The company later became known as Accenture, and after rising through the ranks, Ian was appointed as the company’s UK managing director in 2000.

In 2004, Ian joined the civil service by taking over as head of the e-Government Unit. The eGU is the largest unit of the Cabinet Office, responsible for helping various government departments to use information technology and improve electronic access to government services. In January 2006 Ian took over as the head of the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit, to monitor the government’s progress to deliver its key priorities across the health, education, crime and transport sectors.

In 2007 Ian was appointed as Permanent Secretary of the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills. This UK government department was responsible for overseeing adult learning, further and higher education, skills, science and innovation. In this role Ian was also responsible for a number of science research councils, including the Medical Research Council, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, the Science and Technology Facilities Council, and the Natural Environment Research Council.

After his successful stint within the UK government, Ian was appointed as Brian Barwick’s successor as the Chief Executive of The Football Association, a role he fulfilled until March 2010.

In September 2010, he rejoined the Cabinet Office as a Permanent Secretary, taking on the role of Chief Operating Officer for the Efficiency and Reform Group which is responsible for helping departments across the whole of Whitehall meet their commitments to save £6.2bn.

Steven Barnett

Steven Barnett is Professor of Communications and a prominent writer and broadcaster who has been involved in policy analysis at the highest levels, both nationally and internationally, for the last 25 years. He has advised government ministers in the UK, has given evidence or served as an adviser on several parliamentary committees, has been called to give evidence to the European Parliament, and has been invited to speak at numerous national and international conferences.

He specialises in media policy, regulation, the theory and practice of journalism, political communication, and press ethics, and has directed over thirty research projects on the structure, funding, regulation and business of communications in the UK and around the world. His work is frequently quoted in parliamentary debates and government reports, and he is a regular commentator and writer on media issues. He was a columnist on the Observer newspaper from 2000-2004. Most recently, he has acted as specialist adviser to the House of Lords Select Committee on Communications for its enquiries into News and Media Ownership (published June 2008), the UK Film and Televison Industries (published January 2010), and the Regulation of TV Advertising (published February 2011). In March 2011, he was invited to address an international conference in Cairo on democratising Egyptian media.

He is an editorial board member of the British Journalism Review and in 2009 initiated the BJR’s annual Charles Wheeler Award for Outstanding Contribution to Broadcast Journalism. The inaugural Charles Wheeler lecture was given by BBC Director General Mark Thompson, and is now part of a major annual Journalism Conference jointly sponsored by the BJR and University of Westminster.