Changing the conversation about work and cancer

Our Team

Our professional team are all 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.

Put our lived experience to work so you, or your team, can better work with cancer

Barbara Wilson, Founder

Barbara is a senior HR professional who launched Working With Cancer® as a Social Enterprise in 2014 providing coaching, training and consultancy services to employers, employees, colleagues affected by cancer, carers and health professionals.

She is dedicated to improving work and cancer services throughout the UK and Europe and was inspired by her own professional and personal experience of being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005. After her diagnosis, 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 chaired 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.

Barbara) has more than 40 years’ HR experience. She previously acted as 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 trained as a coach at Ashridge Management College. 


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 brings 30 years of practical experience and knowledge of working with large complex, multinational companies to her coaching for Working With Cancer. She has supported people managing change whilst realising their personal and professional goals and tackling the challenges that life throws at them along the way. 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.

After gaining her MSc, Louise worked at a major US healthcare company, Abbott Laboratories in pharmaceutical research, production management and hospital sales and marketing before moving into a senior HR role. She then worked for Societe Generale and Commerzbank before setting up her own leadership & consulting company.

Veronica Foote, Head of Policy and Consulting

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, tackling the issues and hurdles that impact their daily lives. Then, in 2022 Veronica experienced cancer 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.

Veronica worked 20 years for Novartis, a global healthcare and pharmaceutical company. As Head of Human Resources for Novartis Oncology Europe she built and led the HR function across 37 counties focusing on leadership development, executive coaching and cultural transformation. For the last 10 years she has held leadership roles in Patient Engagement and Patient Advocacy in Oncology. 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.

Génevie Kuiper-Isaacson, Consultant

Génevie is a qualified solicitor and throughout her career she has worked extensively with both employees and employers and is passionate about educating employers about the extensive field of employment law. In 2009, Génevie 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 enjoys using her experience and legal knowledge to assist others who have been affected by cancer.

Maggie Newton, Head of Training

Maggie runs her own coaching business and brings decades of experience of working in professional roles to develop best practice training, for Working With Cancer, as well as coaching individuals.  

Maggie’s management career included positions at Crest Hotels, Kraft Foods, Barclaycard and WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme). She delivers employer support for Working With Cancer to help line managers, and HR professionals, to fully understand the impact cancer may have on staff, and how to handle communications sensitively. She finds it extremely rewarding to be able to support those affected by cancer at work through drawing on her own experiences of breast and thyroid cancer. 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.

Sarah Dawson, Coach

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.

Sarah’s personal experience of cancer is varied.  Her first experience 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 was a trustee for the Bone Cancer Research Trust for 10 years.  Sarah’s  husband has stage 4 melanoma originally diagnosed 8 years ago and has received immunotherapy treatment for a recurrence of disease through 2023.  In 2022 Sarah was diagnosed with breast cancer herself.  Her broad experience of cancer allows her to appreciate the challenges faced at all levels.

Anna Dunn, Coach

Anna is an experienced leadership and career coach with a background in human resources. She spent 16 years working as an HR professional before retraining as a business coach and NLP Practitioner. 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.

Jo Larbie, Coach

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, academic, and operating at board level in leading international professional services firms. Jo specialises in inclusion to create more diverse and inclusive leadership in organisations.  

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

From 2018-2024, Jo was a Non-Executive Director, Vice-Chair, and Audit Chair for an NHS Foundation Trust.  She is a Certified 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.

Lainey Mitchell, Coach

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. She 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.

Cancer has been prevalent in her family for some time. Most recently Lainey cared for her mother during her three year battle with cancer.

Before running her own coaching and consultancy business 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.

Fiona Stimson, Coach

Fiona is a transformational change and integrative health coach specialising in cancer care. She uses her breadth of knowledge and skills to help her clients realise dramatic change both personally and professionally.

Fiona has more than 30 years experience working in Forensic Science and Healthcare and is qualified in multiple healing modalities that support emotional health and wellness. Caring for her mother after a diagnosis of ovarian cancer, as well as managing her own health challenges, led to Fiona’s decision to change career to do something that positively impacted on the health and wellbeing of others in the field of cancer. She relocated to The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust in 2010 where she is the Operational Head for The Centre for Molecular Pathology, a specialist research centre focused on personalised medicine for patients. 

Fiona also works as a volunteer coach at The Fountain Centre at The Royal Surrey County Hospital and runs her own private coaching practice in Tadworth, Surrey. 

Simon Timmons, Coach

Simon is a seasoned executive coach, holding qualifications from Henley Business School and accredited by the International Coaching Federation (ICF). With over 20 years of experience leading global teams, he has lived and worked internationally in Germany, The Netherlands, India, the USA and Australia, gaining a diverse and enriched understanding of different business landscapes and cultures. 

He has coached teams and individuals at renowned organizations such as Publicis and Havas, as well as Dentsu, Lego, and DHL. His coaching portfolio extends to collaborations with start-ups, NGOs, and the UK Government. 

Beyond his professional achievements, Simon has a profound connection to cancer. His sister, Michelle, battled breast cancer for 15 years before passing away in 2022. Moreover, his wife Fran experienced the loss of both parents to different types of cancer while they were starting their family. Simon’s father currently battles bladder cancer and mental illness, demanding significant care, along with his mother who faces Parkinson’s. 

Isabel van der Ven, Coach

Isabel runs her own coaching business in Winchester. She has an engineering background and has two decades of experience in the IT industry, including sales, consultancy, HR, project and programme management before she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003. This marked a major turning point in her life where coaching helped her to re-assess her life and to find a new life balance. She subsequently trained as a coach and she has been coaching people impacted by cancer since 2008.

Returning to work was a major challenge for Isabel after her cancer diagnosis and its treatment, and in joining Working With Cancer in 2017 Isabel is using her experience, together with her coaching skills, to support people affected by cancer facing similar challenges.

Ambassadors and Volunteers

Liz O’Riordan, Ambassador

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), to help patients learn from other patients about how to cope with everything cancer throws at them. In 2023 she also published Under The Knife a frank memoir of illness and recovery.  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 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, Ambassador

Following a HR career in the travel sector, Gail Kenny established an executive travel recruitment company and has extensive experience in talent recruitment and assessment.  For over 25 years, she has advised candidates on the best way to market their personal brand, from creating a CV and LinkedIn profile, interview prep and practice, through to developing a targeted job search strategy.  Gail gained a reputation as the leading expert in digital and e-commerce recruitment within travel. 

In January 2020, Gail was diagnosed with breast cancer and stepped away from the day to day running of the recruitment business.   She joined Working With Cancer in 2020 as an ambassador to share her talent recruitment knowledge, together with her own personal cancer
experience in order to add significant value to others that have been affected by cancer.

Debbie Hindle, Volunteer

Debbie Hindle has worked in communications and marketing for more than three decades. She has provided consultancy to governments, multi-nationals, start-ups and organisations across the world. She has also acting as a trustee of a sustainable travel charity since 2014 and became vice chair in 2023. A cancer diagnosis in 2022 spurred Debbie to provide communications advice on a voluntary basis to Working With Cancer in order to support others on their cancer journey.