Changing the conversation about work and cancer

Our Team

Barbara Wilson

Barbara is a senior HR professional with over 40 years’ experience. Her previous roles were Group Head of Strategic HR at Catlin Group Ltd, Deputy Head of HR at Schroders Investment Management, and prior to that Chief of Staff to the Group HR Director at Barclays. Before joining Barclays she was a senior management consultant at Price Waterhouse. She began her career as an HR professional at London Regional Transport after taking a degree in history at Cambridge.

In 2005, after being diagnosed with breast cancer and based on her professional and personal experience, Barbara set up a group with the aim of helping those of working age affected by cancer to return successfully to work. The group was the first to develop guidelines on work and cancer for HR professionals, line managers, employees and carers.

From 2008 to 2010 she was asked to chair a major element of the NHS/Macmillan 5- year Cancer Survivorship strategy, leading a multidisciplinary team developing ‘work and cancer’ support tools for employees, employers, carers and health professionals.

In 2014 after attending the School for Social Entrepreneurs, Barbara launched Working With Cancer® as a Social Enterprise providing coaching, training and consultancy services to employers, employees, colleagues affected by cancer, carers and health professionals.

Barbara speaks about ‘work and cancer’ at various conferences and events, and is an active blogger. She is dedicated to improving work and cancer services throughout the UK and Europe.

Barbara is a member of the CIPD, trained as a coach at Ashridge Management College, and is married with two sons.


Our Associates are experts in the fields of training, consultancy and coaching. What’s more, they have all had cancer themselves – or had a profound personal experience of it.

Louise Barrett, Head of Coaching

Louise has over 30 years of business experience, working with both UK and multinational companies. After gaining her MSc, she spent 10 years at a major US healthcare company, Abbott Laboratories where, before moving into a senior HR role, she worked in pharmaceutical research, production management and hospital sales and marketing.

Louise then moved to Societe Generale and Commerzbank where she led teams developing UK and global HR strategies, following which in 2000 she set up her own leadership and coaching consultancy working with Boards, senior executives and their teams. Alongside this, for over 12 years Louise was a Trustee and Chair of an international conservation and environmental charity, Earthwatch Institute.

As a coach Louise brings her practical experience and knowledge of working with large complex, multinational companies, supporting people managing change whilst realising their personal and professional goals and tackling the challenges that life throws at them along the way. She sees coaching as a dynamic process that both supports and challenges people to be the best they can be. It is also a great source of mutual learning. “I never fail to be amazed at the commitment, determination and ambition of others – anything is possible”.

Louise was diagnosed with breast cancer in March 2015 and underwent 9 months of surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Throughout her treatment she continued to work with her clients, which helped her to deal with both the physical and psychological challenges she was facing. She is very much looking forward to sharing her experiences of balancing work, home and cancer treatment with others who face this life changing event, whilst at the same time recognising that everyone’s cancer journey is unique.

Sarah Dawson

During her career beginning in Retail Management with Marks and Spencer, during which time she trained as a coach, Sarah has developed a diverse portfolio of work in the Public, Private and third sectors.

Sarah has a proven track record as a career coach for Managers, Senior Executives and Graduates. She recruits and selects new people to join current teams, is an accredited assessor and also works with organisations to restructure, integrate and retrain teams to meet changing business needs.

Previous clients have described her as inspirational and energised, a person who shows awareness for the well-being of others and builds self-belief through identifying the experience and transferable skills individuals have to offer. She is inquisitive and motivated to make a positive difference to the individuals she works with, perhaps beyond their initial horizons.

Sarah’s personal experience of cancer was through her son, Al, who died in 2007, aged 16. He was treated for his Osteosarcoma, Primary Bone Cancer, within a Teenage Cancer Trust Unit. Sarah has since worked with the Teenage Cancer Trust supporting young people and their families. She has also been a trustee for the Bone Cancer Research Trust for the last 8 years.

Anna Dunn

Anna is an experienced Leadership and Career Coach with a background in Human Resources.

Anna spent 16 years working as an HR professional before retraining as a Business Coach and NLP Practitioner, in 2015. In 2016 Anna was diagnosed with a stage 2 melanoma. She feels fortunate to have been offered a great deal of psychological support after her treatment finished and this helped Anna to adjust to home and working life, after her cancer. However, she became aware that this level of support is not always accessible to many cancer patients and Anna became passionate about advocating for more nuanced support.

Anna started volunteering as a Cancer Coach in 2021 and this experience cemented her desire to help and support cancer patients in their working lives. Anna uses her own personal experience with cancer, and her coaching skills, to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges experienced by each person she supports.

Anna understands the positive impact that a return to work can have on a person’s recovery, and she is dedicated to helping people, and their employers, to create a workplace where cancer patients can flourish and thrive.

Veronica Foote, Head of Consulting and Policy

Veronica has more than 30 years international business experience in leadership roles across a variety of industry sectors, functions and geographies. Her breadth of skills and experience, include consultancy, coaching, training and policy development which enable her to support individuals and organisations that engage with Working With Cancer.

Veronica has advocated and supported the aims of people living with cancer for over 10 years, tackling the issues and hurdles that impact their daily lives. Then in the first half of 2022 Veronica experienced first hand both as a patient and then as a caregiver the impact of cancer and the challenging side effects, both physical and psychological, that various treatment options have on people’s quality of life and their livelihoods.

Previously Veronica worked 20 years for Novartis, a global healthcare and pharmaceutical company, predominately for their Oncology division. For the last 10 years she has held leadership roles in Patient Engagement and Patient Advocacy in Oncology focusing on patient engagement and patient involvement in healthcare policy to enable improved patient access to innovative cancer medicines and better outcomes.

Prior to moving to Patient Advocacy Veronica was the Head of Human Resources for Novartis Oncology Europe where she built and led the HR function across 37 counties focusing on leadership development, executive coaching and cultural transformation.

Veronica has a BA (Hons) degree in Russian & Italian with Economics & Politics from the University of Westminster where she also studied for a MA in Human Resources Managment. Throughout her career Veronica has lived and worked internationally including Italy, Switzerland, Netherlands, Russia and Australia. She speaks fluent Italian & Russian and has working knowledge of spoken French. She now lives in London with her husband and son.

Génevie Kuiper-Isaacson

Génevie has been a qualified solicitor in the United Kingdom since 2006. Genevie has a Masters in Law with emphasis on Employment Law. Genevie qualified as a lawyer in South Africa in 2000 and was a founding partner of a law firm in Pretoria. During her career she has worked extensively with both employees and employers and is passionate about this field, and more specifically, educating employers about the extensive field of employment law.

In 2009, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. This was the first time that her law firm employer had to deal with an employee having cancer and it was a learning experience for Genevie, her colleagues and the law firm, which ultimately helped subsequent employees during their cancer journeys. In 2014 she was again diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. She is currently in remission and really looking forward to using her experience and legal knowledge to assist others that have been affected by cancer.

Génevie is married with three young children, including a set of twins, two dogs and a very busy life trying to keep up with all of them. She loves yoga, running, reading and volunteering at the local school on a weekly basis. Genevie’s latest charity achievement was to inspire a large group of school mums to run with her in the Pink Mudder to raise money for Cancer Research.

Jo Larbie

As an executive coach, Jo draws on over twenty-five years of professional and personal experience as a lawyer, human resources and organisational development director and academic, operating at senior level in leading international professional services firms.

Jo specialises in inclusion to create more diverse and inclusive workplaces.  She is passionate about working with organisations to successfully retain, develop and increase the number of talented BAME women and men, and non-BAME women, into senior and leadership roles.  

As a result of her personal cancer experiences, as a coach Jo is committed to helping people to learn from their experience and to rebuild their lives beyond cancer.

Jo is a Non-Executive Director, Vice-Chair, and Audit Chair for an NHS Foundation Trust.  

She is a Master Neuro-Linguistic Practitioner, and her qualifications include an MSc in Human Resources Management and an MA in Applied Social Sciences She is also a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales and co-author of How to Make Partner and Still Have a Life (2019, 3rd. ed), Kogan Page.

Jo is a passionate gardener and loves walking, travel, food, and wine.

Lainey Mitchell

Lainey specialises in one to one coaching as well as team and leadership development, with experience in the Retail, Media, Charity, Leisure and Technology sectors.

Cancer has been prevalent in her family for some time. Most recently Lainey cared for her mother during her 3 year battle with cancer. Sadly she died in June last year.

Lainey’s career began with Marks and Spencer’s on their graduate training scheme where she worked as HR Manager in various UK stores. She subsequently became Head of HR for before moving to The Walt Disney Limited operating as HR Director at a pan European level. Lainey has been running her own coaching and consultancy business since 2007.

Lainey is an accredited coach through the Henley Management College and also a CIPD graduate. She is accredited in Emotional and Social Competency Intelligence ( ESCI ) 360 feedback, PPA and a qualified NLP Master Practitioner and Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI ) Practitioner step 1 and 2.

Lainey’s philosophy to coaching is that it provides a unique and highly personalised learning opportunity. Through clear goal setting, active listening, and a non-judgmental mind set, Lainey explores individuals thinking, helps them build on their past successes and enables them to find solutions which help them obtain the best from their talents and their situation.

Maggie Newton, Head of Training

Maggie joined the Working With Cancer team in 2016. She finds it extremely rewarding to be able to support those affected by cancer at work through drawing on her own experiences. She was successfully treated for breast cancer in 2014 and then thyroid cancer in 2017. Despite having a strong support network of family and friends there were times when she felt very alone and being able to share feelings with colleagues who’d also been through cancer was immensely beneficial. She enjoys being able to use her knowledge and coaching skills to help clients rebuild their confidence and set realistic goals. She also delivers employer support for WWC as it is really important for line managers, and HR professionals, to fully understand the impact cancer may have on staff, and how to handle communications sensitively.
Maggie started her management career at Crest Hotels before moving into communication focussed roles at Kraft Foods, Barclaycard and WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme). She has extensive experience in effective communications, getting the best out of people and developing resilience, particularly in times of significant change. When her breast cancer diagnosis coinclded with redundancy, this provided her with the motivation and incentive needed to start her own coaching business.

Maggie qualified as a coach with the Coaching Academy and is also accredited to use DISC personality profiling. She cares deeply about helping clients find their feet again emotionally after cancer and clients describe her as kind, passionate and knowledgeable.
Maggie lives in North Oxfordshire and has 2 children and 3 grandchildren. She loves gardening, walking, yoga and playing tennis, all of which contribute to her wellbeing. She also volunteers with Breast Cancer Now.

Fiona Stimson

Fiona is a Transformational Change & Integrative Health Coach (specialising in cancer care) and has over 30 years’ experience working in Forensic Science and Healthcare as a Scientist and Senior Leader.
In her role as a Forensic Scientist and Senior Manager, she gained an inordinate amount of respect and experience for the value and complexities of life. She specialised in the areas of Serious and Major Crime and led the national eCrime forensic unit across England & Wales.

Alongside this she managed life as a single parent and latterly was a carer to her mum who was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer. After the loss of her mother, Fiona made the decision to change career to do something that positively impacted on the health and wellbeing of others in the field of cancer.

Fiona relocated to The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust in 2010, a world leading centre of excellence in cancer care. Fiona is the Operational Head for The Centre for Molecular Pathology, a specialist Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) focused on personalised medicine for patients. Fiona works in partnership with The Institute of Cancer Research, with the aim of transitioning the latest scientific research into routine patient care.

Having been through a great deal of change, Fiona recognised the value in coaching and personal development and followed her passion to become a fully accredited International Personal Performance Coach on The Coaching Academy’s Protégé Coaching Programme. Fiona has since become a Professional Coach, Master of Neurolinguistic Programming, Master of Clinical Hypnotherapy, EFT and Time-Based Techniques. She uses her breadth of knowledge and skills to help her clients realise dramatic change both personally and professionally.

Fiona works with a range of clients in Career Development, Personal and Professional Change Management and specialises in helping clients with chronic health issues, including cancer, to help overcome fears, confidence, pain, anxiety and trauma issues. She works as a volunteer Coach at The Fountain Centre at The Royal Surrey County Hospital and runs her own Private Practice at The Surrey Psychology Practice in Banstead, Surrey.

Isabel van der Ven

Originally Dutch, Isabel lives and works as a life coach in Winchester.
With an engineering background in Geographical Information Systems and Cartography, she’s been working for 20 years in both commercial and non-profit (IT) industry in a diversity of roles: sales, consultancy, HR and project & programme management.

In 2003 Isabel was diagnosed with and treated for breast cancer, which marked a major turning point in her life. This is when she discovered the power of coaching that helped her to re-assess her life and to find a new life-balance.

Subsequently, in 2006, Isabel trained as a life coach at the Coaches’ Training Institute and set up her coaching practice.

Returning to work has been the biggest challenge for Isabel after her cancer diagnosis and treatment, and in joining Working With Cancer® Isabel is using that experience, together with her coaching skills to make a difference to people affected by cancer facing a similar challenge.

“She used to map the world, she now helps people to map their lives.”

Ambassadors and Volunteers

Liz O’Riordan

Liz was a 40-year-old consultant breast surgeon when she was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer in July 2015. She suddenly realised that she had no idea what it was like to be a patient, despite spending her working life treating the disease. She started an award-winning blog to help doctors and patients see what having breast cancer is really like, in a friendly, informative way ( and now speaks all over the world about her experiences, including a TEDx talk (Jar of Joy), focusing on digital healthcare, self-care, and how to improve the patient experience.

She has also co-authored a best-selling book with Prof Trish Greenhalgh, a GP with breast cancer, called – The Complete Guide to Breast Cancer: How to Feel Empowered and Take Control (Penguin Random House), again to help patients learn from other patients about how to cope with everything cancer throws at them. Liz found it incredibly hard to return to work, and had no idea where to turn to for help. She came across Working With Cancer® through Twitter and they were invaluable in helping her build the confidence she needed to be able to see patients again. Sadly, Liz was diagnosed with a local recurrence in May 2018, and side effects of treatment have meant that she has had to retire as a surgeon.

Stephen Bevan

Stephen Bevan is Head of HR R&D at the Institute for Employment Studies (IES). Previously was Director of Research at The Work Foundation, Lancaster University. His expertise lies in both his research and consultancy on the future health of the UK workforce and the ways that the world of work is likely to change over the next 30 years. He was the lead author of a book looking at the future of work (21st Century Workforces & Workplaces) published by Butterworth in 2018. He is Visiting Scientist at the Centre for Musculoskeletal Health & Work at Southampton University and was an advisor to the Government’s Thriving at Work review of mental health and employment. Stephen was an Honorary Professor at Lancaster University Management School between 2011 and 2018 and has been voted one of the UK’s ‘most influential’ HR Thinkers by HR Magazine. In October 2018 Stephen was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer and has recently returned to work after surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Gail Kenny

Co-Founder & MD of Gail Kenny Executive Recruitment Ltd

Gail Kenny started her career in the UK travel industry over 25 years ago. She gained HR experience in her role at the then leading Australasia tour operator, which led her to join a travel specialist recruiter, progressing quickly to become the most senior consultant.

In late 2004, Gail launched her own eponymous recruitment company, and rapidly gained a reputation as the leading recruiter and the go to person for hiring senior travel executives. Working with both established and start-up companies, including Expedia, Tui, Easyjet, and Virgin Holidays, the business also emerged as leading experts in digital and e-commerce recruitment.

She has extensive experience in talent recruitment and assessment. As part of her role, she advises candidates on the best way to market themselves from creating a CV and LinkedIn profile, interview prep and practice, through to developing a targeted job search strategy.

 In January 2020, Gail was diagnosed with breast cancer and is now coming to the end of her treatment, having had chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapy. It has been a lonely journey as she was unaccompanied for much of her treatment due to Covid, but she has been fortunate enough to have a strong network of friends and family to support her. Gail is keen to use her HR and recruitment knowledge and her own personal cancer experience. She hopes to be able to add significant value to others that have been affected by cancer.

Gail was named as one of the 60 most influential women in the travel industry over the past 60 years*. This recognised women who have been the most revered influential and a made real difference to women in travel. She has been on numerous judging panels at various award ceremonies, and was a panel speaker at the Global Digital Conference on Diversity & Inclusivity.

Currently living in Blackheath, Gail is married to Ian and has two grown up children, James and Emma. Gail enjoys fitness training, and in fact has completed the London Marathon, the London Triathlon, and numerous other challenges.

* by AWTE (Association of Women Executives)