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Michael Pain, LLB (Hons), Barrister at Law, – Founder & CEO

Michael Pain is a strategic adviser to CEOs and Chairs, leadership trainer, entrepreneur and author. Michael’s career has been dedicated to advising CEOs and boards on how to plan ahead – anticipating and managing change with success; and to develop vision, strategy and communications that ensure their organisations thrive. 

Since 2017, Michael has established six regional leadership networks across the UK for CEOs of trusts and charities, and is passionate about supporting leaders to succeed in a rapidly changing world. 

Michael’s career and work is now also grounded in his unique experience as an entrepreneur, having taken Forum Strategy – in five years – from a start-up business to a national consultancy and training organisation that is highly respected by hundreds of CEOs. He was formerly Special Advisor to the CEO and Head of Policy & Public Affairs at the National College for Leadership and, before that, Assistant to the Minister for Europe. He is a trained lawyer, having been Called to the Bar in 2007.

Michael regularly speaks at conferences on visioning, context and strategic planning; recruitment and retention; and improvement and organisational change. His writing and thinking has featured in a range of national publications including TES, Schools Week, Governance Matters, and Academies Magazine. His interests include sailing, motorsport, and playing the guitar. 

You can follow Michael on twitter at: @michaelpain

You can read Michael’s speeches here:

You can read the introduction to Michael Pain’s book here: Being the CEO Book – Intro

You can read Michael’s recent articles including:

Would you like to book Michael to speak at your conference? See more at: Michael Pain Forum Strategy Conference Speaker


Sarah Ginns – Research Manager; MSc; PRINCE II Qualified Practitioner

Sarah Ginns

Sarah Ginns is responsible for Forum Strategy’s briefing services, as well as a range of consultancy projects – including bid writing support and research projects.

Sarah has strong background in policy and research in the education sector, having spent over ten years working at the National College for Teaching and Leadership. During this time she provided strategic and policy support to successive Chief Executives and their leadership teams, including leading the College’s first major policy review during 2004. From 2011-13 she was Manager for Policy and Public Affairs, providing regular policy updates and advice to colleagues, as well as developing a policy briefing service for the College’s membership website. She has also managed a number of seminal research projects, successfully commissioning world-renowned research teams and individuals.

Previously, Sarah was Policy Adviser at the major biomedical research charity, the Wellcome Trust, where she was responsible for identifying and developing the Trust’s position statements and consultation responses regarding major developments in biomedical research and policy.


Rachael Gács, MA – Network & Resources Manager 

Rachael is Forum Strategy’s Network & Resources Manager, and is responsible for the delivery of our leadership training events and for overseeing our marketing projects working with a small team of associates including graphic designers and social media experts. Rachael also oversees the resources and materials that we produce to support the learning and development of leaders and organisations, including publications and case studies for CPD providers. She has edited and written editions of Inspiring Leaders Magazine – a publication for leaders across the East Midlands.

Rachael is a trained teacher, and formerly taught Religious Education and Humanities subjects for seven years, with experience in both the state sector and independent sector. She held the pastoral role of Head of House for several years, and is well acquainted from first-hand experience with the everyday issues and pressures effecting schools and children in the current educational climate.

Rachael holds a first-class degree in Philosophy and Theology, and an MA in Philosophy, Theology and Literature, from the University of Nottingham.



“Michael played senior roles within the National College. He has designed and delivered high profile projects and events that have set the agenda for leadership policy and thinking.”

Prof. Toby Greany, Education Leadership & Innovation, Institute of Education

“Michael was exceptional in his support and advice in the run up to the general election of 2010 (and immediately afterwards) as the College planned, successfully, to be one of the very few non-departmental bodies to survive the change in government. He played a key role in ensuring the National College was well-prepared and briefed to enable it to argue its case in a credible way – during the period of the changes in government – with shadow ministers, with ministers and officials….He also helped to craft the important consultation and communications with school leaders on the development of Teaching Schools and the new, revised, NPQH.”

Steve Munby, CEO of CfBT (Formerly CEO of the National College)

“Michael played an important role in advising and supporting me in my role as Chairman . His ability to identify the key issues and trends and to draw on relevant evidence and sector intelligence, and his perceptive approach to understanding our large and experienced audiences, contributed significantly to the organisation’s development and reputation. I always found him calm and thoughtful in approach, with the confidence necessary to provide constructive advice to senior executives”.

Vanni Treves CBE