I joined the Trust as CEO in September 2013 so already over eight years! The CEO works with the board of trustees to set, and then implement, the strategic direction and culture of the Trust. The charity is very much like any other business but without shareholders to pay – all funds are reinvested in projects and programmes that support the core mission. In our case to encourage the pursuit of science and enterprise. Ultimately ‘the buck stops’ at the CEO but it wouldn’t be possible to function without a strong, skilled senior management team and committed staff.
Ensuring that our two innovation centres perform optimally is crucial to the success of both our start-up enterprise support initiatives and of course the varied Science Oxford STEM education programmes. We are always balancing what we want to do in an ideal world with available funds!
The Trust is involved in many different projects across Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire but the most exciting and also challenging one has been the building of our new Science Oxford Centre and adjoining Wood Centre for Innovation in Headington. This is by far the largest project the Trust has initiated, costing many millions of pounds, so it is crucial we get it right. We are always balancing what we want to do in an ideal world with available funds!
Science and innovation have always been a part of my professional life so being able to be at the centre of an organisation that really makes a difference to young people and young companies is an incredible honour. I work closely with our Chair of Trustees and other board members, who themselves have immense experience so am still constantly learning new things! In the end, it is about looking at all the fabulous programmes that our staff develop and deliver, or the growth of small innovative business coming through our innovation centre, and realising that the world might just be a little better place through what we are contributing.
Immediately before the Trust, I was the Development Director at Cheltenham Festivals – the arts and science festivals group not the horsey one! This certainly allowed me to explore many different aspects of science education and public engagement which has been invaluable. Prior to this, I had a long corporate career in the pharmaceutical and chemicals industry mainly with the German company Merck KGaA, which involved senior level positions in North America and the UK. I am an industrial chemist by training but moved from the bench into sales and marketing very early on in my career.
Whilst work-related activities take up a considerable amount of time, there is still space for doing other things! My wife and I have two grown-up children, both doing extremely well in IT-related careers, so we spend our leisure time walking with our dogs Toby (Cavachon) and Sam (Labrador), spending time with friends, travelling when we can and, living in the Cotswolds, enjoying the beautiful countryside around us.