Our Team


Barbara Wilson founded Working With Cancer in April 2013. Barbara is a senior HR professional with almost 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.

Nine years ago, 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 actively involved in framing a key element of the NHS/Macmillan 5- year Cancer Survivorship strategy, chairing 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 re-launched Working With Cancer as a Social Enterprise providing coaching, training and consultancy services to employers, employees, carers and health professionals.

Barbara continues to work as a volunteer and trainer with Macmillan Cancer Support, speaks about ‘work and cancer’ at various conferences and events, and is an active blogger. She 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

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.

Génevie Kuiper-Isaacson

Génevie has been a qualified solicitor in the United Kingdom since 2005. Genevie has a Masters in Law with emphasis on Employment Law. Prior to 2005, Genevie was a qualified lawyer in and founding partner of a law firm in Pretoria, South Africa. 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.

Dr Sally Ann Law

Sally Ann is an organisational psychologist who has been working for nearly fifteen years as a personal and executive coach.

Sally Ann has a private practice in which she works with individual clients from a wide range of professional backgrounds around the UK and abroad. She also works as an executive coach, helping professionals from global companies deal with a wide range of work-related and personal issues. In the corporate environment, Sally Ann coaches executives from board level through all levels of management as well as junior employees who are considered among the top talent in their organisation.

Sally Ann is passionate about helping individuals make confident, positive changes and to make the most of their lives both inside and outside of work. In addition to her 1:1 coaching work, Sally Ann develops and runs training workshops, gives presentations, contributes on radio and TV programmes as well as providing articles and quotes for print media.

Sally Ann was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012 which led to a year and a half of treatment and several surgeries. She is now fully recovered and looking forward to helping others who have been affected by cancer return to work successfully and embrace their life fully.

Mary McPhail

Mary Mc Phail started out as a social worker in Dublin and went on to develop her career as a senior executive in the National Health Service in the UK as well as leading European and global non-governmental organisations. She is also a highly skilled advocate with many years experience working in partnership with the United Nations and European institutions. Most recently, as Chief Executive of a global NGO with a mission to empower girls and women, Mary led a team of staff and volunteers from around the world through a transformative strategic realignment.

Mary was diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2012. Navigating her way through 18 months of treatment and recovery, while continuing in her role as Chief Executive led her to a new focus on health and well-being. In January 2015 Mary made a life changing decision to do many of the things she had never found time for including learning to sail, learning to speak Greek and living abroad for many months.

Having found a new lease of energy and inspiration Mary decided to harness her leadership and management expertise, further deepen her knowledge as a coach and develop her own coaching and consulting practice. In Mary’s experience the coaching relationship creates a safe, dynamic and forward looking space in which to fully pay attention to what is important in our lives. As we become more aware about what we do want in our lives our attention is drawn to harnessing our own resources in order to create choices and solutions.

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 Urbanfetch.com. 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

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.
Her own resilience was tested in 2014 when she was diagnosed and successfully treated for breast cancer. Coaching, and mentoring from colleagues who had been in a similar situation, were a key element of her support structure and helped get her through a very difficult time. The diagnosis also coincided with redundancy, providing the motivation and incentive she needed to start her own coaching business.

Maggie’s focus is now on helping individuals, business owners, managers and teams to communicate more effectively, which includes handling difficult conversations. She uses her knowledge of managing, coaching and building teams, combined with her communications and marketing skills, to develop creative learning workshops, team development and coaching programmes.

A qualified coach with the Coaching Academy and accredited to use DISC personality profiling, Maggie cares deeply about learning, personal development and empowering individuals.

Maggie lives in South Northamptonshire, has 2 children and a granddaughter. She loves gardening, walking, yoga and dancing, all of which contribute to her wellbeing. She also volunteers with Breast Cancer Care.

Debbie Palmer

Debbie held senior leadership positions across both blue chip organisations and consultancy, before qualifying as an executive coach in 2009.

Her focus now is on helping individuals and teams handle change with confidence, by raising awareness of instincts, behaviours and mindset, through a focus on strengths, psychological wellbeing and relationships.

She is a trained Macmillan Work & Cancer facilitator and also has personal experience of cancer through supporting and caring for close friends and family. She is passionate about ensuring everyone enjoys their work and believes that anyone undergoing change - not only those having to deal with cancer - can benefit from support.

She has one daughter and is based in Yorkshire.

Dr Priya Singh.

Priya's medical career began in general practice, following which she specialised in legal medicine, gaining a law degree and becoming a Founding Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians Faculty of Legal Medicine.

She is an experienced executive director with a medical and legal services background and broad strategic and operational experience in healthcare, international member services, professional indemnity and risk. She has advised healthcare professionals on the legal, ethical and regulatory standards underlining practice in the UK and internationally.

Priya's roles have included Medical Director, Responsible Office, membership of Ethical Conduct committees, media spokesperson and international conference chair and speaker. She specialised in quality assurance in healthcare, robust governance systems and the delivery of safe patient care. 

She is a trained mediator and trainer in communication skills, managing change and in resolving individual and team conflict where behavioural issues predominate. She has a particular interest in supporting existing and aspiring leaders to fulfill their potential.
Priya is also President (board chair) of the Society for Assistance to Medical Families, a mutual benevolent fund with charitable status, and a Non Executive Director of Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust.

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."