Last updated: January 2022
An established, energetic, award-winning executive with a successful portfolio career, offering a rare combination of high-level skills and a proven track record across many different areas including higher education, leadership, enterprise, communications, strategy, policy and business development. A widely respected and well-connected expert in education and employability. Inspiring, straightforward and unambiguous, with personal integrity and commitment. Collaborative and inclusive. Pragmatic and flexible, with a sense of humour and perspective. Highly intuitive with a well-developed understanding of behavioural motivators.
Experience: current positions
Chief Executive, The Engineering Professors’ Council July 2016 – present
- Leading the national membership organisation for engineering academics representing over 8,000 academics across 81 universities requiring excellent managerial ability, a detailed grasp of a wide range of policy areas and effective advocacy skills.
- Developed a new strategic vision and plan, based on wider engagement with the membership, improved strategic policy campaigns, better use of technology and closer collaborations with key stakeholders. Launched new branding and working on overhaul of website and digital infrastructure.
- Led influential campaigns on degree apprenticeships, teaching and learning, engineering skills, and Brexit, often working through strategic collaborations with RAEng, IET, NCUB, CaSE and others.
- Developed new uses of HEIDI+ data to report on state of engineering in HE and serve members’ needs for benchmarking and statutory returns (eg Athena SWAN).
Chief Executive, Push 1992 – present
- Started Push and built it into the market-leading independent resource for school-leavers, a commercially self-sufficient social enterprise reaching 50k university applicants per year and a recipient of a National Careers Award from the Institute of Careers Guidance.
- In the face of changed circumstances, I reinvented the business model of Push from subscriptions and book sales to schools outreach and web-based services, visiting hundreds of schools each year and multiplying the reach of our services by a factor of three in less than a year.
- Instigated and managed a unique national research programme – the widest ever into UK student life – and wrote the first of ten annual editions of a 650-page guidebook selling over 30,000 copies a year.
- Managed and trained over 900 staff over 26 years, comprising teams of up to 50 researchers, 5 writers and other editorial and administrative staff, operating at minimal costs to conduct a research campaign for £25k that was priced independently at £125k.
- Ran a marketing campaign with a budget of less than £10k each year, attracting over £1Mn worth of media coverage, and achieving a Google page ranking of 6 and market-leading web traffic.
- Brought together the needs of students, schools and major sponsors (Lloyds Bank, KPMG, universities, NCOPs, etc) to create an innovative delivery channel for valued careers guidance.
- Created the UK’s largest and only annual survey of student debt – influencing political and social debate about education – and developed a ground-breaking methodology for measuring the drop-out rates of UK universities, now a key performance indicator in the sector.
- Devised the unique ‘sift and sort’ search algorithm behind Push’s ‘Uni Chooser’.
Education and Careers Consultant 2002 – present
- Author of a widely cited policy paper on embedding employability in education for the Higher Education Policy Institute. Currently commissioned to write a paper on a graduate levy HE funding model. Author of various other papers on student information and choice, social capital and social mobility.
- Spearheaded ‘Learning through Experience’, working with a leading member of the House of Lords and key stakeholders across industry and education to develop a framework for work-related learning in the curriculum.
- As a member of the Steering Group of education charity BestCourse4Me, helped create a ground-breaking careers resource for students driving data transparency.
- Over 400 appearances on television, radio and in online and print media as a specialist on higher education.
- An active contributor to many policy think tanks and forums including The Bridge Group, The Social Mobility Forum, WonkHE, Reform, 1994 Group Policy Forum, Guardian Round Tables, political parties and the Pearson Centre For Learning, including writing chapters for two editions of Blues Skies: New Thinking in Higher Education.
- Influenced policy development on careers information and advice as a member of various Government committees for BIS/BEIS.
- Highly praised as a speaker at countless high-profile conferences and events – including keynotes – run by the National Union of Students, Universities UK, HESPA, AGCAS, Cumberland Lodge, Westminster Briefing, the Southbank Centre, and many others.
- Expert advisor to HEFCE-funded project to identify postgraduates’ information needs and other consultancy on student information needs.
- Other consultancy clients have included Which?, Oxford University, YouthSight, Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys, Business in the Community, HELOA, GuildHE and others.
Other current roles
- Co-Chair, The Fair Access Coalition (since 11/2020): Leading policy and public affairs for a group of influential third sector organisations working to support educational and career opportunities for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
- Board member, Centre for Engineering Education (since 10/2019): The strategic group behind the work of the UK’s leading academic centre, based at University College London, for the understanding and enhancement of engineering education.
Experience: previous positions
Director, the Higher Education Academy 2011 – 2018
- Recruited to the Board to provide leadership on communications strategy and business development.
- Worked collaboratively on strategic planning to move from c.£20Mn in public grants to full self-sufficiency in 2018 at the time of a complex merger to become AdvanceHE.
- Served for 4 years on the Audit Committee (monitoring risks, financial and operational systems) and 4 years on Finance Committee, providing Board-level leadership on commercialisation.
Director of Strategic Communications & Usability, U-Multirank 2013 – 2017
- Led the user experience and marketing sections of a bid to the European Commission as part of a consortium that won a €4Mn tender to build U-Multirank, a fairer international university comparison system, and then led part of the delivery consortium which delivered the web tool on time, on budget and to wide acclaim.
- Subsequently appointed to lead global communications strategy and forge media partnerships.
Publisher, Cherry Publishing Ltd (Real World) & Editor-in-chief, Real World Media Ltd 2010 – 2012
- Reinvigorated a dwindling brand, Real World Magazine, by establishing new editorial approach and reducing editorial costs by 15%, making it fit for sale to a new owner who retained my services while expanding throughout Europe.
- Implemented metrics to monitor the success of the Cherry Publishing websites, the advertising and sales leads, demonstrating performance to advertisers.
Development Director, Malcolm Bradbury Memorial Trust/University of East Anglia School of English & American Studies 1999 – 2003
- Conceived and instituted a fund-raising campaign to support new talent at the UK’s leading faculty of creative writing, generating around £200k to establish an on-going programme of scholarships and a financially
self-sufficient publishing imprint.
Head of Business Development, TVF 1996 – 1997
- Director-level position where I used existing resources to realise the value of hidden rights assets, generating £50k of revenue in the first six months and creating intrinsic value for the business beyond the order book.
- Raised £250k from businesses and government agencies to support the production of an educational series for Channel 4 with Carol Vorderman.
Head of Development, Clark Television 1994 – 1996
- Developed many TV formats ranging from education to entertainment for international broadcasters including the BBC to Channel 4.
Writer, editor, journalist and media relations consultant, freelance1991 – present
- EditedBabel, an anthology of new writing, which was the first showcase for more than twenty new writers, many of whom have gone on to greater publishing success.
- Author of various books, and a specialist writer on higher education, careers and youth issues.
- Author of The Human Script, published by Red Button Publishing in 2013 and awarded ‘Book of the Year’ by London literary salon BookSmoke.
- Ran various courses on sub-editing (Westminster Adult Education Service), HE careers advice (London South Bank University) and creative writing (Governor’s School NC (USA) and various other schools and colleges).
President, Durham Students’ Union 1989 – 1990
- Elected representative of 7,000 students, leading campaigns, commercial and welfare services and acting as employer to a staff of more than 50 and de facto chief executive of a company with a turnover of £1.2Mn pa.
Advertising Manager, Sanglier Publications (Caldercorn Ltd) 1986 – 1987
- As Advertising Manager of three leisure magazines managed a sales team and increased revenues by a third.
Education and qualifications
|University of East |
|MA in Creative Writing||1999|
|Durham University||BA Hons in |
English & Philosophy
|Dulwich College||A levels in |
English, Maths, Economics and Art
|Trained as a television presenter||1996|
|C&G in Adult Education||2001|
- Fellow of The RSA (Royal Society for Arts, Manufacture & Commerce)
- Careers Development Institute
- National Education Opportunities Network
- Society of Authors
- Institution of Engineering & Technology
- Winner, Wonkhe Award, Category: Writing on Funding Higher Education (2019)
- Winner, MemCom, Best Equality & Diversity Campaign for ‘Careers in Ideas’ (2018)
- Winner 14-19 Category, National Careers Award for Push.co.uk (2008)
- Outstanding Young Person of the Year, South East Region, Junior Chamber of Commerce (1994)
- Shortlisted for NUS/Guardian Student Journalist of the Year (1990)
- Hunter Davies Prize for Journalism (1989)
Literature, science, natural history, philosophy, cookery, politics, singing (bass) and wordplay.