Leadership & Advisors

The Rising Network was founded in 2013 by Lily Cheng. She and the leadership team are supported by a board of Advisers and Chapter Leads who represent women from across sectors.

Lily Cheng, Founder & CEO

Lily is an advocate in raising the awareness of mental health and gender issues, and is passionate about empowering women to reach their full potential. Prior to founding the Rising Network, Lily played a key role in growing and developing a leading technology industry network which brought together a diverse set of hi-tech companies through high quality networking events. During her time in this role, Lily was responsible for business growth, engaging with the tech community, members and partners as well as managing the overall marketing and PR function within the business.

Within the decade she spent in the healthcare sector, Lily has held various roles, the most significant included working in the provisions of mental health services. This became the catalyst in fuelling her desire to empower individuals to create a better life for themselves, and to improve health and well-being. It is her all-inclusive approach to employee well-being and organisational psychology which enables Lily to create effective learning and development workshops alongside initiatives for individuals and organisations to improve the bottom-line performance. Her commitment is to bring people together, from all industries and communities to promote the progression and advancement of women. She believes in a holistic approach towards life and embodies this outlook in the network.

Email: [email protected]

Emily Challis FCCA, Finance Director

Emily is responsible for overseeing the financial operations of the company and providing financial summaries to enable the enterprise to make informed decisions to meet its strategic and operational goals.

With over 20 years of experience in banking, insurance and not for profit sectors, she has extensive management experience at a senior level in devolved and complex varied organisations. Contributing to strategic planning, resource management, policy formulation and development, and successful implementation of change.

Emily holds the position of Project Controller/Budget Officer at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL). EMBL is one of the world’s leading research institutions, and Europe’s flagship laboratory for the life sciences.

Her previous role spanned 10 years at the University of Cambridge; 4 years as the University’s Financial Planning Accountant where she was responsible for delivery and maintenance of Centralised planning tools/systems, and consolidation of the University’s strategic financial plans. From here she moved on to become Finance Manager at the University’s Department of Physics (Cavendish Laboratory). During her 6 years in role she was responsible for the Departments financial operations, introducing monthly reporting as well as routine and ad-hoc financial analysis. She played an integral part in informing senior management’s approach to resource allocation and appropriate use of funding streams through administration of the Department’s Finance Committee and membership of the Department’s Executive Board and Senior Management Team.

Outside of work Emily is a wife, mother to two daughters, and Hon. Treasurer for Coton Cricket Club. She spends many happy hours at the side of a hockey pitch, netball court, and cricket pitch supporting her daughters with their various sporting endeavours.

She is a strong believer that through trial and perseverance we can ALL become our best selves.

Zuhrah Samin, L&D and HR Manager

Zuhrah Samim is an HR professional that has worked in SME’s to strategically and operationally develop their core HR function. Zuhrah’s skillsets with the HR world has enabled her to work in organisations to enhance their HR function or even built their HR department from a blank canvas.

Zuhrah believes that the people are assets of the organisation and her role within the organisation is to support those assets to get the best productivity and best enhanced performance. Zuhrah believes that this is an opportunity to transform the organisation through HR and its assets.

Due to Zuhrah’s role being HR Generalist, it is transferable in every organisation. Zuhrah has worked as HR Manager for one the most prestigious names in the Middle East, HR manager for Annalect, a sister company for Omnicom Media Group, HR BP for a Medical Recruitment Company, Head of HR for a property company and HR and Recruitment Specialist for an Artificial intelligence tech organisation.

Being the first HR in majority of my roles, Zuhrah’s role consisted of creating the HR function from the bare minimum or enhancing the HR department within the organisation. Zuhrah has specialized experience in various HR fields such as TUPE, Redundancy, Restructure and work force training, employee development, HR software implementation.

Zuhrah is a solution focused individual and as Zuhrah has evolved from role to role, there is not challenge to small or big for me in the HR role and thrive in challenging herself and learning new things to better herself.

The influence of successors that Zuhrah has had in her professional development is all due to strong powerful women that has coached and mentored her.

Now it is my turn to give back to the world and The Rising Network has enabled me to do this through a fantastic networking.

Our Advisors

Alan Barrell Advisor

Professor Alan Barrell DBA, FRSA 

Biologist with experience in NHS medical technology, turned salesman turned businessman, entrepreneur, venture capitalist fund manager, and labelled now “pracademic”, Alan is a champion of the next generation and the vision of A World Without Borders – through Education Without Borders and Open Innovation. Entrepreneur in Residence at the Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning Judge Business School University of Cambridge, Visiting Professor at University of Sunderland, Portsmouth in UK and International Executive Fellow University of Essex , and in China Guest Professor at Xiamen University, Shanghai University, Shanghai College of Science and Technology and University of International Business and Economics Beijing.

International Research Fellow at Laurea University Helsinki and Lahti University in Finland, and at the Tohoku Fukushi University Sendai Japan, Alan is also engaged in support of NHS Healthcare Reforms after being Chair of NHS Health Enterprise East Ltd for eight years. His next generation work extends to Board Membership / shareholdings in four early stage health care companies and to having been Chairman of Trustees of NACUE – National Association of College and University Entrepreneurs and advisor to Start Up Generation International and Youth Business China.

In his spare time raises money for the charitable causes he supports. Best selling book out July 2013 – co-authored with David Gill and Martin Rigby – “Show Me The Money – how to raise the money needed to get your business off the ground” Knighted in Finland by the President there in 2012 for services to education – Knight First Class of the Order of the White Rose of Finland having earlier been one of the first ten recipients of The Queen’s Award for Enterprise Promotion. Very proud to be an Advisory Board Member to Innovation Forum and MedCity London. His article in Cambridgeshire Business “Sharing China’s Dream” displays his deep interest in China and its history and his love of the country and its people. Travels widely but always loves coming home to Cambridge and visiting Yorkshire.

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Dr Soraya Jones

After many years as part of the senior leadership team of Tribal Technology (part of Tribal Group Plc), Soraya became the first CEO of Cambridge Wireless (CW) from 2007 to 2015, where she was successful in growing the business from a one-person company to a membership cluster of over 400 tech companies and 20 industry-focused Special Interest Groups Forums, making it one of the premier tech clusters in the UK. She stepped down in 2015 to pursue other ventures including becoming an entrepreneur-in-residence at the St. John’s Innovation Centre, the Innovation Ambassador at the Bradfield Centre and the Director of Partnerships at the Invested Investor as well as holding many other Ambassador roles. Soraya is currently on the Rising Network Advisory Board, the UEA Innovation Advisory board and is a Panel Advisor for the SIPF funding from UKRI. On a part time basis, she is passionate about helping the future generation of leaders and is supporting the Homerton Changemakers Programme at the University of Cambridge. Born in Malaysia, Soraya holds  BSc and MSc degrees from Indiana University, USA, and a PhD from the University of Cambridge.

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Dr Lynn Morgan

Dr Lynn Morgan has a PhD in Organisational Psychology from Manchester Business School, her thesis focussed on business mentoring and gender dynamics. Lynn’s passion in this subject is reflected in her interest and experience in developing both businesses and individuals through mentoring and coaching.  She recently retired from the Arthur Rank Hospice where she had worked for 9 years, prior to this she was the Director of Business and Enterprise at the East of England Development Agency. In 2017 she was honoured to be named Business Person of the Year in the Cambridge News Business Awards. In addition to sitting on the Rising Network Advisory Board and the planning committee for the Rising Festival, Lynn is currently working with several organisations in an advisory role.

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Miranda Western-Smith 

Miranda helps early stage biomedical businesses attract investment and develop their business strategy. She founded and runs BioBeat, a programme to inspire the next wave of bioentrepreneurs and business leaders.

Miranda has worked with many entrepreneurs and is experienced in fundraising, business planning and technology transfer. She is a long standing Mentor for Cambridge Judge Business School’s Entrepreneurship Centre, contributes to the University of Cambridge Masters in Bioscience Enterprise course, is a Coach for the SME Instrument of the European Commission and a member of the St John’s Innovation Centre Training Team.

She brings experience as a Technology Manager at Cambridge Enterprise, where she assessed and marketed life science technologies, negotiated licences and spun-out companies. She was responsible for technology transfer at the University of Cambridge for the Cambridge-MIT Institute. In her five years at the seed capital firm, Cambridge Research and Innovation, she invested in early stage technologies. Miranda co-founded Cambridge Network with Hermann Hauser.

Miranda studied Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge and has a Diploma from the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants.

Rising Festival Committee

Professor Dame Carol Black

Professor Dame Carol Black is currently Chair of the British Library, the Centre for Ageing Better, and Think Ahead, the Government’s fast-stream training programme for Mental Health Social Workers. She chairs NHS Improvement’s Advisory Board on Employee Health and Wellbeing, and is Adviser to NHSI and PHE on Health and Work. She is also a member of RAND Europe’s Council of Advisers, and of the Board of UKActive.

She recently completed her seven-year term as Principal of Newnham College Cambridge, where she was a Deputy Vice-Chancellor. She still sits on the University’s Advisory Board for the Centre of Science and Public Policy, and the Strategy Board on Student Mental Health and Wellbeing. She is a Patron of the Women’s Leadership Centre in the Judge Business School.

Dame Carol has completed three independent reviews for the UK Government: of the health of the working-age population in 2008 as National Director for Health and Work; of sickness absence in Britain in 2011 as co-chair; and of employment outcomes of addiction to drugs or alcohol, or obesity, in 2016. In February 2019 the Home Secretary announced that Dame Carol would lead an independent review on illicit drugs, demand, supply and treatment.

Professor Black is a past-President of the Royal College of Physicians, of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, and of the British Lung Foundation, and past-Chair of the Nuffield Trust for health policy. The Centre she established at the Royal Free Hospital in London is internationally renowned for research and treatment of connective tissue diseases such as scleroderma. She has recently been a Trustee of the National Portrait Gallery.

Sarah Reakes

Sarah is Managing Director of creative agency KISS Communications. Prior to joining KISS Sarah led consumer-goods marketing teams at Colgate-Palmolive and Nestlé then moved to head key client teams at advertising agencies Publicis and JWT. Sarah returned to the UK in 2010 after 17 years working in New Zealand, Australia, The Netherlands and Belgium.
As a working mother of three daughters and trained doula, Sarah has experienced many sides of the work-life debate first hand in several cultures. Her passions include ensuring that childcare is seen as a job equally for men and women and challenging wider norms around work to embrace diversity of all kinds.

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Dr Lynn Morgan

See bio above.

Dr Minha Rajput-Ray 

Dr Rajput-Ray is a Licensed Medical Doctor, Physician in Occupational and Disability Medicine practice and Registered Osteopath. As a clinician, Dr Rajput-Ray provides integrated focused solutions to manage sickness absence, rehabilitate and engage employees back in the workplace, with a special interest in pain and musculoskeletal disease. She also serves as Chair of the International Commission on Occupational Health (ICOH), Scientific Committee on Unemployment, Job Insecurity and Health … bringing a strong ethos of ensuring population sufficiency as per the UN Sustainable Development Goals in her role as Medical Director (Wellbeing and Equity Lead), at NNEdPro (Need for Nutrition Education/ Innovation Programme), Global Centre for Nutrition and Health http://www.nnedpro.org.uk This is in particular by providing strategic leadership in linking wellbeing via nutritional equity awareness to improved sustainable health, educational and employment outcomes.

Harriet Fear MBE

Harriet was a career Diplomat for over 20 years with the British Foreign Office. She served in over 17 countries, in various roles including Deputy Ambassador 3 times, Head of Press and Public Affairs and Head of Commercial Services. She regularly served in hostile environments, trouble-shooting specific crises including in the Congo, Cambodia and Ethiopia.

Half her diplomatic career was spent in the commercial field, helping SME’s trade internationally. For 5 years of her diplomatic career she was the Head of the national Life Sciences and Healthcare Trade Team for UK Trade & Investment (described by the Board as a ‘transformational leader’).

Harriet was Chief Executive of One Nucleus from 2009 to 2017, which became the largest life science and healthcare membership body in Europe under her leadership and won a major award as ‘Best Global Life Sciences and Healthcare membership organisation’ in 2016.

Harriet has a strong UK business reputation, not least in her 5 year role as the Prime Minister’s Business Ambassador for Life Sciences. This role has seen her undertake a range of high-profile duties including advising No 10 on the sector, being a critical friend to the Department for International Trade on its life sciences remit, leading trade missions overseas and briefing European governments and businesses on the UK’s sector, business strategies and inward investment opportunities.

Harriet has worked at the heart of the Cambridge business ecosystem since 2003. She has extensive networks regionally, nationally and internationally particularly in the US, Asia and Europe. Harriet was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honour’s List 2016 for her services to Healthcare and Life Sciences. Harriet is currently a Director of Deyton Bell, which offers economic and commercial development support to global public, private and not for profit organisations. She is also Chair of Cambridge Ahead and founder of Harriet Fear Associates Ltd.