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Board of Governors - Profiles

 Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Board of Governors

Mark Hopton, FCA

Mark is an alumnus of Birmingham City University. He retired in late 2012 from a career with leading global professional services firm, KPMG, where he was Chairman and Senior Partner of the Midland Region until 2007 and then held leadership responsibilities in the EMEA Region until his retirement.

Mark is passionate about public and charitable service and investing time in his community. As well as his appointment as Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Board of Governors at Birmingham City University effective from April 2015, he is currently Chairman of the Governors and Trustees at Solihull School and Chairman of Trustees of Acorns Children's Hospice Trust.

Pro-Chancellor and Deputy Chairman of the Board of Governors

Joe Kelly, FCA, MBA

Joe qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1983 and gained an MBA from Aston University in 1993. He is a Non-Executive Director for Birmingham Airport. Previously he was Birmingham Airport Holdings (BAHL) Ltd's Group Finance Director and Company Secretary. He is also a Member of the Institute of Credit Management, the Chartered Institute of Marketing, the Institute of Data Processing and the Pensions Management Institute. His experience covers the manufacturing, distribution, retail and service sectors.


Professor Philip Plowden


Professor Philip Plowden joined the university in August 2017, having previously served as Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Derby. Prior to that, Professor Plowden worked for almost 20 years at Northumbria University, where he was Dean of the School of Law.

Professor Plowden graduated with a BA (Hons) in English Literature from the University of Oxford and then qualified as both a solicitor and barrister specialising in human rights and public law. He maintains close links to legal practice and education and is a member of the Law Society's Education and Training Committee. He was also a non-executive board member at the Office for Legal Complaints, which manages the Legal Ombudsman scheme. Before entering the legal profession, he worked for the Citizens Advice Bureau Service in London for almost a decade.

In 2005 Professor Plowden was appointed as a National Teaching Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. His research interests are based in criminal law and practice, and in legal education and pedagogic practice. He also has an interest in the field of privacy law and freedom of information. Professor Plowden has been influential in the development of clinical legal education in the UK, and in strengthening an international network of legal clinicians, centring on the ‘International Journal of Clinical Legal Education’, which he edited for many years.  

Outside academic life, Professor Plowden is a huge fan of American Football, as well as a self-confessed geek, with a long-standing interest in genre fiction and computer gaming.

Mohammed Ayaz

Mohammed 1Mohammed is a graduate of Birmingham City University and has completed an Executive-MBA, an MSc in Data Networks and Security and a BSc (Hons) in Computer Networks for Business.

Mohammed has over 10 years of IT experience and is a member of the Board of Governors at City Road Primary School part of the Inspire Academies Trust. Mohammed holds MCITP, MCSA, MCSE and MTA certifications from Microsoft and has held certifications from Oracle and Cisco. Mohammed's experience covers both the retail and IT Sectors.

Joe Bates

Joe Bates is an alumni of BCU, having attended when it was known as “Birmingham Polytechnic”. He is a Chartered Accountant and retired from a leading independent firm in 2017 where he was latterly managing partner. He spent over 40 years in audit, servicing a range of clients including a corporate clients and had a large “not for profit” portfolio of both charities and public bodies. He currently works part time for a former client as a Director and Company Secretary. He has also been Honorary Treasurer of a Charitable Residential Care Home for over 20 years and is also currently a Trustee of The Henry Barber Trust.

Sally Beavan, BScEcon (Hons), ACA, CTA

Sally graduated from Cardiff University in 1996 with a degree in Business Economics. She went on to qualify as a Chartered Accountant in 1999 and as a Chartered Tax Adviser in 2001.

Sally is the Regional Managing Director of the West Midlands Corporate & Commercial Bank at Santander and also National Head of Santander’s Communities Division responsible for the Education, Local Authorities, Healthcare and Social Housing National teams. Prior to joining Santander, she was a Corporate Finance Partner with PKF (UK) LLP, now part of BDO.

Dr Louise Brooke-Smith OBE, HonDTech, BSc(Hons), DipTP, FRICS, MRTPI  


Louise is a Chartered Surveyor and Chartered Town Planner with experience drawn, over 30 years, from the public and private sectors in the UK and overseas. She has recently stepped down from being an Equity Partner of Arcadis LLP, the Global Consultancy for the Built Environment, where she was UK Head of Town Planning and Head of Social Value to take on various Non Executive roles and undertake international consultancy across the built environment with Consilio Strategic Consultancy Ltd.

Louise was the first female Global President of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (2014-15). She championed diversity & inclusivity and led a series of initiatives, including the RICS Inclusive Employers Quality Mark and the Property Strategy for Sub Saharan Africa.

Louise was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 2019 for services to the built environment, diversity and inclusion.  She is also a Freeman of the City of London and her various accolades include; Outstanding Woman in Construction (2015), National Achiever in Construction (2015) and finalise for the First Woman Awards in 2014 and 2015. She has Honorary Doctorates from the Universities of Wolverhampton, Sheffield Hallam and Birmingham City. Louise is retained as a UKGov adviser, is a Trustee of Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and is Chairman of All We Can – the International Aid Agency.

Dr Andrew Buckley

As Executive Vice President for New Payment Platform Products, Andrew Buckley, leads MasterCard's real time infrastructure, real time applications, push-payments (MasterCard Send) and Open Banking products. Enabling innovations in Real Time Payments, including the exponential growth of PromptPay in Thailand, The Clearing House’s new RTP in United States and Pay by Bank in the UK. Previously with MasterCard, Andrew held roles in both London and New York, most recently leading Prepaid; which has grown through innovation to become global market leader. Previously at American Express, Andrew held senior Sales and Technology roles, in both the UK and USA. These included Vice President for Global Corporate Card Product Management, launching innovations such as Corporate Centurion, and Vice President for Global Corporate Marketing, driving digital acquisition innovations. Prior to this he was a consultant with PricewaterhouseCoopers, and before that held sales and product roles with major Telecoms and IT companies. This experience included the startup of Telco’s such as Cegetel in France and BT NIS in Japan. In addition, Andrew has held Non-Executive roles, for example with Prepay Solutions in UK. He is an Advisory Board member at the IDM (Institute of Direct & Digital Marketing), a published author, holds several patents and a regular conference speaker. Andrew holds an undergraduate Electronic Engineering degree, MBA and Doctorate.

Ian Burke

Ian Burke is the Chairman of Studio Retail Group and is a non executive director at intu Properties plc. He stepped down as the Chairman of the Rank Group board in October 2019 after 13 years as chief executive, executive chairman then non-executive chairman. His early career years were spent at Unilever and Exxon. For the past 20-plus years he has led a number of leisure and hospitality companies including Thistle Hotels plc and Holiday Inn Europe, Middle East and Africa.

He has a Mathematics degree from Imperial College, London, an accounting qualification (A.C.M.A.) and a Masters in Business Administration from London Business School.

Ian is a Trustee of Cumbria Education Trust and an Honorary Doctor of Birmingham City University.

Sue Hall 

Photo of Sue Hall

Sue Hall has worked in HR for over 35 years. Following graduation from the University of Hull with a modern languages degree, she worked for Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London before relocating to Birmingham to work for IMI plc. She held a variety of UK and international HR roles with IMI and was Head of Capability Development from 2013 until her retirement in 2020. She has been a Governor at Tudor Grange Academy, Kingshurst for seven years. Sue enjoys theatre, live music, reading, walking, pilates and yoga in her leisure time.

Professor Graham Henderson, CBE, DL

Professor Graham Henderson was the Vice-Chancellor of Teesside University from 2003 until his retirement in May 2015. He was employed within the higher education sector for 40 years, which included 26 years of senior management experience within 3 Universities in the North East of England.

Professor Henderson was awarded the CBE in 2011 for his outstanding services to national and local higher education. He was appointed as a Deputy Lieutenant of North Yorkshire in 2012.

In addition to his current role as Board member, Professor Henderson has held numerous other Board-level, non-Executive positions within business, professional and higher education organisations, as well as serving as a Board Member/Director of a number of other Universities, Colleges and Schools.

Glenn Howells


Glenn Howells established Glenn Howells Architects (GHA) in 1990 and since then has built a strong reputation for designing innovative, award winning buildings and shaping cities throughout the UK, winning numerous major design competitions and built a portfolio of award winning projects across all sectors and across a diverse range of building types. Key projects include Savill Building, London City Island, The National Memorial Arboretum, English National Ballet HQ and a 55-storey tower in London’s Docklands.

Glenn has led some of Britain’s most complex and ambitious regeneration projects and has been particularly influential in shaping Birmingham over the last three decades. The practice has advised Birmingham City Council on regeneration of the city including the Big City Plan and is involved in major regeneration projects of Paradise, Brindley Place and HS2 alongside significant projects in the city core, Jewellery Quarter, Digbeth and the Westside of the city.

Outside GHA, Glenn has been involved in an advisory role for several leading cultural and education organisations including Ikon Gallery, MADE (the West Midlands Architecture Centre), RIBA, CABE, University of Warwick, Birmingham City University and Birmingham Hippodrome. In 2018 he was appointed as Visiting Professor at Birmingham City University’s School of Architecture and Design.

Hugh Jones

Hugh Jones is an independent management consultant working with universities and other organisations across higher education. Prior to this role, he worked within university professional services at five universities in London and Wales, including executive leadership roles at Goldsmiths, University of London; and Cardiff University. Hugh is a Fellow of the Association of University Administrators (AUA) and is programme lead on the AUA’s Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education Administration, Management and Leadership, and holds degrees from the LSE and from the University of London Institute of Education, now part of UCL. You can follow Hugh on Twitter @hughjconsulting – on most weekdays he’ll share an old postcard relating to higher education.

Andrew Jowett, OBE

Andrew Jowett has worked in the Arts for over 40 years. Following graduation from the University of Salford he held posts at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield and at Darlington Civic Theatre. He was appointed Director of Darlington Civic Theatre in 1979 and subsequently Director of the Arts Centre at the University of Warwick from 1982 until 1988.

From 1988 until his retirement in 2016, Andrew was Director of Symphony Hall, Birmingham, overseeing the opening and management of this major international concert hall to great critical acclaim. In 2007 Birmingham Town Hall was reopened following a £37m refurbishment, and its operation brought together under the company Performances Birmingham Ltd. Andrew was Chief Executive of PBL as well as retaining directorial responsibility for both Symphony Hall and Town Hall.

Andrew was Chair of the British Association of Concert Halls for 10 years until 2016, a former Council Member and Vice President of the UK Theatre Association of the Advisory Board for the Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton, a Trustee of the Young Musicians Trust, the Brant International Piano Competition and the Elgar Birthplace Foundation. He is also a Founding Member of the European Concert Halls Association (ECHO). Andrew is an Honorary Fellow of BCU and is a recipient of the Birmingham Civic Society Gold Medal, which is awarded to individuals who have made a significant contribution to life in the City. In June 2012 he was awarded the OBE in HM The Queen's Diamond Jubilee Birthday Honours for services to music.

Andrew Kulman

Andrew k 1Professor Andrew Kulman divides his professional life between working as a practicing graphic artist and being an educator. His career milestones have been marked by innovative curriculum design and collaborative practice, with a particular interest in developing overseas partnerships. Andrew is a strong believer in continual professional development and has developed workshops for colleagues in his faculty, enabling them to gain teaching fellowships and progression. Recently he was awarded Fellowship of the Royal Society of Arts and Principal Fellowship of the HEA.

Andrew has worked with D&AD and the Association of Illustrators. In 2016 he was elected to serve on the Representative Board of the European League of Institutes of the Arts. This prestigious appointment means that he can work alongside colleagues from leading European institutions in helping to form policies and strategies that will impact on future directions in art and design education.

Andrew has developed exciting workshops and classes at institutes of art and design overseas. He works closely with colleagues at in Hong Kong, where he supports colleagues in their teaching and development of innovative programmes. In NID in India, he ran a very successful series of workshops investigating the wordless novel. This built on new research that he has undertaken in visual communication practice.

He hopes to develop new environments for art practice using virtual reality models. This will enhance current research being carried out at Birmingham City University and will involve collaboration with BIFCA in Wuhan and SHAPE in Hong Kong.

Qasim Majid

Qasim is the CEO of Wow Group of Companies, the home of several digital brands, marketing agencies, digital transformation companies and content agencies. In 2002, Qasim moved from Manchester to Birmingham to launch his first business, a technology services company specialising in offshore development, which was in partnership with an American firm.  Since then he has gone on to set up and been involved in several businesses in the field of technology, as an investor, board director and CEO. For over 20 years Qasim has worked with many household brands both in the UK and internationally and has served 4 years on the Board of the UK IT Association, an initiative which was set up by Advantage West Midlands to help collaboration and growth for SME technology businesses. Whilst serving on this board, Qasim was asked to represent the West Midlands on technology trade delegations to the United States and Turkey, with the aim being to build closer ties with US, Turkish and UK-based businesses in the field of technology. He also served on the IAB Board, part of the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, from 2006 to 2010. In April 2016, Qasim was fortunate enough to be recalled to serve once again on the Executive Board of The Asian Business Chamber of Commerce (ABCC). From 2018 to 2020, Qasim was President of the ABCC and he now serves as its Honorary Chair. He also served as Vice Chairman of the Ronald McDonald House Charity, Birmingham.  

Qasim is also a founding Member and Executive Director of Birmingham Tech, which is a not-for-profit organisation promoting the City and Region globally to attract investment and talent into the tech industry. He now champions the tech divide, to provide access to technology to the poorest children in the City. Every year Qasim plays an integral role in organising Birmingham Tech Week, a week-long event attracting over 5000 people. 

Although business keeps Qasim busy, he is a keen sportsman and enjoys running, playing cricket regularly, and has taught boxing.

Peter Phillips FCA, FCT

Peter is a Chartered Accountant and a Fellow of the Association of Corporate Treasurers with wide financial and commercial experience from a main stream career in the private, public, and charity sectors, holding executive group board finance director roles with amongst others fashion retailer Laura Ashley plc and Government owned science and technology based British Nuclear Fuels. He is currently a non-executive director, Deputy Chair and Audit Chair of Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust, and has also held non-executive roles in social housing in both London and the West Midlands. Peter was until recently the Midlands Area Chair for Arts Council England, and remains a trustee of West Midlands Arts Trust. He was previously Chair of Birmingham Opera Company and is passionate about education and communication enabling a wider reach to diverse community participation, particularly in arts and music in Birmingham and the West Midlands, and of his involvement with Arts in Health in support of patient care and recovery.

Parmjit Singh

Parm joined Eversheds as a trainee in 1987 and became a Partner in 1997. Parm is Head of Eversheds Sutherland's Diversified Industrials Group, responsible for the industrial, chemical, automotive, defence and aerospace sectors.

Parm is the Operations Partner of Eversheds Sutherland’s global account management team. Parm and colleagues visit India regularly on trips to its main cities, meeting clients doing business in India and Indian companies looking to do business outside of India.

Parm is a Board member of the UK India Business Council and specialises in urban regeneration, development and management/ investment. He was recommended as a leading lawyer in Real Estate Legal 500 and led the teams advising on the redevelopment of the Bullring, The Mailbox and Fort Dunlop in Birmingham.

Rt Hon Baroness Stuart of Edgbaston

Gisela Stuart Labour politician Rt Hon Gisela Stuart served as the Member of Parliament for Birmingham Edgbaston from 1997 to 2017. She served as a Health Minister in the first Blair administration and her parliamentary work focused on Defence and Foreign Affairs. In 2015 she was appointed by the Prime Minister to the Intelligence and Security Committee, overseeing the work of M15, M16 and GCHQ. Gisela campaigned for a directly elected mayor for Birmingham and still works with the Constitutional Reform Group for greater decision making powers to be given to our cities and regions. Gisela was Chair of the official Vote Leave Campaign Committee in 2016 and since leaving parliament she has been appointed as Chair of Wilton Park, an Executive Agency of the Foreign Office. Gisela has an Honorary Doctorate from Birmingham City University.

Tracy Westall

Tracy Westall

A Board Executive in the Digital and Technology sector for  30 years.  

Tracy was a Board Director at Midlands tech firm SCC plc, running a £350 million public sector business. Latterly as Director of Corporate Services, Tracy ran a range of operational functions overseeing in excess of 250 staff. In addition to her corporate career, Tracy was a Director of The Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP), responsible for stimulating innovation in the West Midlands. Tracy also participated on the Smart City Commission and  Birmingham Science City Boards, championed the Digital Leaders West Midlands programme and supported the West Midlands Mayor through the West Midlands Digital Advisory Board.

Now a Non-Executive Director at the Department for Transport, sitting on the Future of Mobility Advisory Board supporting the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Tracy is an Advisory Board Member for Bruntwood Scitech Birmingham, Executive Chair at Curium Solutions and founder of her own advisory business, Westmill Solutions, helping businesses scale up.

Tracy spent several years on the Main Board of Tech UK, the trade association for the UK tech sector and is passionate about increasing diversity and inclusion in the sector, speaking regularly at events. She was recognised as the Digital Leaders West Midlands Champion in 2018.

Co-opted Members of Board Committees

Nick Longley, BSc ACA - Audit Committee Member

Nick is a Chemistry graduate from the University of Birmingham and member of ICAEW following qualification as a Chartered Accountant with PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. He joined as a co-opted member of the Audit Committee in January 2013.

Nick has worked with a number of Midlands-based PLCs and Private Equity backed companies while working as an Audit Senior Manager at PwC and is now the Group Financial Controller at Titan Europe PLC following four years as Group Financial Controller of Metalrax Group PLC.

Nicola McGowan - Audit Committee Member

Nicola McGowan is the Director of Internal Audit and Risk for Travis Perkins plc and previously held a number of senior finance and audit roles in in large listed Groups including GKN and Marconi. She qualified as a Chartered Accountant with Deloitte LLP in 2001, after graduating with degrees in Theology and Religious Studies from the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford. Nicola is also an experienced pension scheme Trustee and serves as a non-executive member of an Audit & Risk Committee for a Birmingham-based housing association. Nicola joined as a co-opted member of the Audit Committee in October 2020.

Neil Jones - Finance Committee Member

Neil is native to the Midlands having grown up near Dudley before reading Chemistry at Exeter University and pursuing a career across Europe and the US. Neil has been a Birmingham based Deloitte partner for almost twenty years where he specialises in technology enabled business transformation projects that embrace organizational, process and technology change. Neil is a Chartered Accountant (FCA) and has also been a Financial Controller in the fast moving High Tech sector. Neil is currently the COO of Deloitte’s European Consulting business and prior to that he was the COO of Deloitte’s UK Technology Practice. Neil’s experience as a Partner also includes leading Deloitte’s CFO Advisory practice, leading Deloitte’s Shared Services practice, leading Deloitte’s Finance Systems practice and leading Deloitte’s Travel and Hospitality practice. Neil is the Partner responsible for clients including Intercontinental Hotels, National Air Traffic Services, International Airlines Group (including British Airways). Neil is also a passionate Mental Health Champion and mentor of Women in Technology across Deloitte. When not at work Neil likes to be at home in Worcestershire and active outdoors with his three teenage children and enjoying running, cycling, sailing and skiing.