Who is on the Board?
Under the University's Instrument of Government, the Board must consist of no less than 12 and no more than 24 members.
The Vice-Chancellor is an ex-officio of the Board. Of the appointed members:
up to 13 shall be independent members
up to two may be teachers (academic staff) at the University nominated by the Academic Board
up to two may be students of the University nominated by the students
at least one and no more than nine shall be co-opted members (at least one of this number shall be a person who has experience in the provision of education)
The most recent determination of membership numbers was approved by the Board on 20 July 2017 with a determination of 22 members.
For information on forthcoming and future vacancies please contact the University Secretary and Clerk to the Board of Governors.
The current membership of the Board is provided below.
Anita Bhalla OBE
Pro-Chancellor and Chair of the Board of Governors
Committee Membership: Finance Committee, HR Committee, Remuneration Committee, Nominations and Governance Committee (Chair) and Honorary Awards Committee
Read more about Anita...
An Alumna, Honorary Doctor and former Governor of Birmingham City University, Anita was appointed as Deputy Chair/Chair Designate of the Board at the end of 2022 and formally took over as Chair in May 2023.
Anita has enjoyed an extensive and successful career in media and the arts, including 26 years with the BBC. She established the BBC Asian Network in the West Midlands before moving on to roles as a news correspondent, documentary maker, Head of Political and Community Affairs in England and UK Head and Editor of the BBC’s Public Space Broadcasting. She was the first woman President of Circom, a European wide group of public service broadcasters, has served as Vice- Chair of Warwick University, a Governor of the Royal Shakespeare Company, is a former Chair of the Midlands Arts Centre (MAC), Trustee of the Childrens’s University and is currently Chair of Greater Birmingham & Solihull LEP and Chair of B:Music and Iniva.
Anita has a strong commitment to public service and her portfolio in this area ranges from establishing one of the first hostels for Asian women to Chairing the West Midlands Combined Authority Leadership Commission, serving as a member of Birmingham’s Social Inclusion Commission, a past chair of a Junior & Infant School.
In 2009, Anita was awarded an OBE for her services to Broadcasting and Communities and served as High Sheriff for the West Midlands in 2010.
Interim Deputy Chair of the Board of Governors
Committee Membership: Audit Committee
Read more about Hugh...
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.
Professor Philip Plowden
Committee Membership: Finance Committee, Honorary Awards Committee (Chair), HR Committee, Nominations and
Read more about Philip...
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.
Committee Membership: Audit Committee (Chair)
Read more about Joe...
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 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.
Dr Louise Brooke-Smith OBE, HonDTech, BSc(Hons), DipTP, FRICS, MRTPI
Committee Membership: HR Committee, Nominations & Governance Committee, Remuneration Committee
Read more about Louise...
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
Read more about Andrew...
Dr. Andrew Buckley is a board level leader with global experience in Payments, Telecoms and IT. With a career of driving growth through innovation; by bridging the disparate commercial, product and technology thought worlds. Most recently, as Executive Vice President for Mastercard’s Bank Payment products, Andrew led innovations in real-time payments. Including the exponential growth of PromptPay in Thailand and the Clearing House’s new RTP in the United States. Previously with MasterCard, he held roles in both London and New York, for example as general manager for the Prepaid and Financial Inclusion business; which he led to global market leadership.
Previously Andrew held positions at American Express, PricewaterhouseCoopers, BT and NCR. His career has consistently spanned Sales, Marketing, Product and Technology roles. These for example included leading Amex’s Corporate Card Product Management, launching innovations such as Corporate Centurion. And with BT driving the startup of Telco’s such as Cegetel in France.
In addition, Andrew has held Non Executive roles, for example with Prepay Solutions in UK. He holds several patents and is a published journal author. Andrew holds an undergraduate Electronic Engineering degree, MBA and Doctorate.www.linkedin.com/in/andrewjbuckley
The Rt Hon. The Lord Grocott
Committee Membership: Honorary Awards Committee
Read more about Lord Grocott...
Following undergraduate studies at Leicester University, Bruce carried out research into local government for his MA while tutoring at Manchester University. He later became a lecturer, then senior lecturer at the former Birmingham College of Commerce which became a constituent part of Birmingham Polytechnic and now Birmingham City University before taking up a position as Principal Lecturer at the former North Staffordshire Polytechnic. Bruce has served previously as a Governor of BCU and is an honorary doctor of the University. He was Chancellor of Leicester University for five years from 2013-2018.
Bruce was Member of Parliament for Lichfield and Tamworth between 1974 and 1979. From 1979 until 1987 he was a presenter and producer with Central Television in Birmingham. From 1987 to 2001 he was Member of Parliament for the Wrekin then Telford and served as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Tony Blair working in Downing Street from 1997 to 2001 when he was made a Life Peer. During his time in the Lords he spent six years as the Government Chief Whip under Tony Blair and then Gordon Brown, with a seat in the Cabinet.
Committee Membership: HR Committee (Chair), Remuneration Committee (Chair)
Read more about Sue...
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.
Committee Membership: Finance Committee
Read more about Glenn...
Glenn Howells established Howells 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 Howells, 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.
Committee Membership: Finance Committee
Read more about Neil...
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.
Nicola McGowan MA (Cantab.) MSt.FCA
Committee membership: Audit Committee
Read more about Nicola...
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 served as a co-opted member of the University’s Audit Committee before joining the Board of Governors in November 2021.
Committee Membership: Audit Committee
Read more about Hinesh...
Hinesh has been a police officer in the West Midlands for 20 years. As a software developer in a previous career, Hinesh has sought to increase police capabilities around technology and is the Detective Inspector for the Regional Cyber Crime Unit, the team that investigates global cyber-attacks. Hinesh also runs a cyber consultancy firm and supports people to understand cyber security.
Peter Phillips, FCA, FCT
Committee Membership: Finance Committee (Chair)
Read more about Peter...
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.
Committee Membership: Nominations and Governance Committee, HR Committee, Remuneration Committee
Read more about Parm...
Parm joined Eversheds as a trainee in 1987 and became a Partner in 1997. Parm is currently Operations Partner for Eversheds Sutherland’s Global Account Management Team which manages the firm’s largest, most complex global clients legal needs across multiple jurisdictions.
Parm is the founding member of Eversheds' India Group and is currently Eversheds Sutherland’s Head of the Group. 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.
Parm 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.
Co-opted Members of the Board
Committee Membership: Nominations and Governance Committee
Read more about Zubeda...
Zubeda Limbada is a founding director of ConnectFutures, a social enterprise that delivers training and research around tackling extremism and exploitation. She previously worked for over 15 years in the public sector as a senior member in a wide variety of local, national and pan-European policy-orientated projects on topics such as extremism, inequalities and leadership innovation.
She is a Clore Social Fellow (2014/15), an alumni of the International Visitors Leadership Programme (Dept of State, USA) and was previously invited to the White House Countering Violent Extremism (President Obama) summit in Washington in February 2015 sharing the insights of the specialist work of ConnectFutures in engaging with communities and schools.
She graduated from the University of Manchester with a BA in Politics and Modern History and an MA in Middle Eastern Studies.
Committee Membership: Finance Committee
Read more about Clare...
Clare is Chief Executive of a medical research charity, the Epilepsy Society, which hosts in partnership with UCL the world’s leading epilepsy research group. Prior to her work at the Epilepsy Society, Clare was Chief Executive of Leonard Cheshire Disability, the country’s leading voluntary sector provider of social care and campaigner for disabled people. She has also held Senior Civil Service roles in the Ministry of Justice, Home Office and Cabinet Office – which was followed by her appointment as Director of Active Lifestyles at Coca-Cola GB & Ireland; and then as the inaugural Chief Executive of the Judicial Appointments Commission. Among her non-executive roles, Clare is currently a director of Ofqual.
Dr Melanie-Marie Haywood
General Staff Representative
Read more about Melanie-Marie...
Dr. Melanie-Marie Haywood is the Director for Education Development at Birmingham City University, and currently serves as member of the Board of Governors. She is an international higher education specialist and speaker with a passion for educational development, quality, and equity in education. She has worked across the field of education, in primary, secondary, and higher education in the Caribbean and the UK.
In 2022, she attained recognition as a Principal Fellow as a result of her strategic leadership in higher education, specialising in curriculum development, assessment, and the quality enhancement of higher education provision in Trinidad & Tobago and the UK. She is the author of 'The UK University Guide: An essential pocketbook for students of colour', a book that contains practical and affirming steps on key elements of university learning that have been found to make a significant difference in the experience of students of colour transitions into HE. She works with the sector to provide equitable outcomes for all students, serving as a Race Equality Charter panellist for Advance HE, and a Teaching and Learning advisor to a number of HEIs across the UK.
Teaching Staff Representative
Read more about Helen...
Helen White is Associate Professor and School of Health Sciences Lead for Practice Quality within the Faculty of Health, Education and Life Science, and is currently the appointed teaching staff member on the Board of Governors. A Therapeutic Radiographer by professional background, she has been working at Birmingham City University for 20 years after moving to radiotherapy higher education from the NHS. Within her teaching time at the university, she has undertaken a range of roles including module and course leadership as well as Head of Department for Radiography (diagnostic radiography, therapeutic radiography and ultrasound education).
Professionally, Helen has been a key member of trailblazer groups for establishing apprenticeships within her professions, is Chair to the Heads of Radiography Education (UK & Ireland) and has recently been part of the national steering group for the College of Radiographers (CoR) Education and Career Framework for radiography education. A core member of many workforce strategy groups, Helen always advocates for the importance of education alongside workforce review and reform. Helen is a visitor for the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and an assessor for the CoR, offering expert advice on whether higher education programmes meet standards. She is a member of the CoR Radiotherapy Advisory Group who report on issues relating to therapeutic radiography, including career development pathways.
Recent projects at BCU include her successful bid to Health Education England for BCU to be a named Imaging Academy Hub for the Midlands, as well as successful tenders for national and regional projects for the Allied Health Professional Workforce.
President of the Students' Union
Committee Membership: Honorary Awards Committee
Read more about Jay...
Jay is a recent graduate of Mechanical Engineering at BCU. Since joining the University in 2018 from Gujarat, India, he has been an active member of Birmingham City University Students’ Union (BCUSU), consistently engaging in various roles and opportunities to enhance student experience and encourage collaboration with the University.
With a passion for improving the Representation System, Jay was elected as VP Student Voice in 2022/23 and his campaigning during the year helped him be elected as BCUSU President this year.
Jay has helped contribute to the student experience through his involvement with societies (Indian Society, BCUIC Society, Enactus BCU and Earth Society). As BCUSU President Jay aims to enhance student experience by fostering a strong relationship with university decision makers and ensuring that student voices are heard and valued.
Jay is dedicated to increasing student participation in SU activities as well as promoting student welfare by advocating for adequate mental and physical health support services. He also champions diversity and inclusivity, striving to create a welcoming and inclusive environment for every student, regardless of their background.
Vice-President Academic Experience
Read more about Luke...
Luke is the current Vice President Academic Experience at Birmingham City University Students’ Union (BCUSU), who graduated with a degree in Psychology in 2022. As a student, Luke participated in a wide range of activities, becoming a Student Rep for his courses, and committee roles in societies – such as LGBTQ+ Society – being recognised in both capacities with awards in categories: Student Representative of the Year and Campaign and Representation Committee of the Year.
As VP Academic Experience, Luke is committed to using his passion and experience for higher education and academia to represent the student voice and improve student experience. He’s particularly interested in developing accessibility to learning alongside quality of learning at the University – both of which are common themes throughout the mandate he was elected on.
Originating from Ireland, Luke is very familiar with the fact those who come to Birmingham City University are from a wide variety of backgrounds, demographics, and cultures. He’s passionate about learning and championing underrepresented perspectives – and enjoys spending time with all types of students to learn from their points of view.
Clerk to the Board of Governors
Karen Stephenson LLB, Solicitor, MA
University Secretary and Clerk to the Board of Governors
Read more about Karen...
As University Secretary, Karen is responsible for all matters of governance, and legal and statutory compliance. She is Clerk to the Board of Governors and Company Secretary to the University's subsidiary companies. Karen is a qualified solicitor with particular expertise in higher education corporate governance and all issues that arise out of the institutional relationship with students. Prior to joining the University in 2016, Karen spent seven years as an external legal adviser in private practice advising a number of HEIs on issues involving corporate governance, strategic management (including faculty, department and course restructuring) and Board matters. She also advised on all aspects of the student/university relationship and management of complex student litigation. Karen also spent 15 years at London South Bank University; nine years as the University Secretary and Principal Solicitor and six years as an Academic Lecturer in Law. Karen is the sub-editor for the higher and further education section of the Education Law Journal, writing regularly on strategic management issues. Karen is a member of the Law Society and AHUA (the Association of Heads of University Administration).
Co-opted Committee Members
Committee Membership: HR Committee
Read more about Natasha...
Natasha Harris is an accomplished HR Director with more than 20 years’ experience working in public and private sector organisations. Having delivered transformational change in different contexts, Natasha has been credited for her ability to develop and implement HR strategies that improve the overall employee experience and positively impacting organisational performance. With equality, diversity and inclusion as a cornerstone to delivering an improved employee experience, Natasha has driven demonstrable change by leveraging and creating opportunities to diversify the workforce by embedding inclusion into workplace practices including attraction, recruitment and development. Alongside her work and family life, Natasha volunteers as a school governor at a local special school for children with autism.
Committee Membership: Finance Committee
Read more about Sukhjeeven...
With over 19-years in the global banking industry Sukhjeeven (Sukh) Nat leads Santander’s UK strategy and proposition development as UK Head of Wholesale & Retail Sector, Corporate & Commercial Banking at Santander plc. Having studied BA (Hons) Accounting & Information Systems at university, Sukh joined a graduate scheme and since gained experience across multiple business industries, through operating a variety of roles such as Relationship Director, Area Director in the West Midlands and Warwickshire regions.
Sukh holds an Advanced Diploma in Credit from London Institute of Banking & Finance, as well as Financial Planning Certificate from the Chartered Insurance Institute.
Sukh also Co-Chairs one of Santander’s diversity & inclusion networks for Santander Group. With the wider banking teams contributing to local communities to support businesses & job creation through financial instruments, he also undertook a role as the European Structural Investment funds committee member, supporting Coventry & Warwickshire LEP board; this enabled allocating significant funding for projects, such as investing in education & lifelong learning, promoting employment, supporting low carbon projects, and promoting social inclusion initiatives.
Charitable activities include leading a team to win the Princes Trust Million Makers West Midlands challenge, where the team raised tens of thousands for Princes Trust charity. He also led a team to raise funds, and setup & hosted three eye camps in India that provided care for 1500 people suffering from cataracts.
Outside his core role, Sukh enjoys family activities with his two young children, and as a football & cricket fan, regularly supports his children’s local teams in these sports.
Aftab Rahman OBE
Committee Membership: Audit Committee
Read more about Aftab...
Aftab is the founding Director of Legacy West Midlands. He has worked in the community over the last three decades. His career includes work as a senior civil servant, Director of charities and as an entrepreneur.
He is at ease at grass roots work and at senior strategic levels. He has the proven ability to develop relationships that lead to partnership between the public, private and the third sector. He has excellent communication skills with a track record of developing and leading organisations. He is a very competent public speaker who has lectured to international audiences.
Aftab is a heritage, wellbeing and cohesion expert with the ability to engage minority communities in a new and meaningful way. He has developed an excellent track record for raising funds from Lotteries Fund, Public sector, Trusts, Charities and Europe. His qualifications include a B Phil Ed in Youth & Community Work, Post Graduate Diploma in Management Studies and MSc in Management & Organisational Development (BCU).
Committee Membership: HR Committee
Read more about Helen...
Helen Ross is a Fellow of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries and has over 15 years’ of experience consulting with businesses and pension scheme trustees in relation to the provision of pensions to current and former employees. Helen holds a statutory role as Scheme Actuary to a number of private sector defined benefit pensions schemes of varying sizes and across different sectors. As a partner at XPS Pensions, Helen leads their Midlands advisory practice and is a senior leader within their Women’s and LGBTQ+ networks, helping to shape business direction on diversity and inclusion.
Helen is from Sheffield and studied Mathematics and Economics at the University of Nottingham before moving to Birmingham and entering the world of pensions consultancy. Helen loves the outdoors and enjoys trail running, rock climbing and mountain biking with her young family as well as being a keen amateur violinist.
Helen joined BCU as a Co-opted member of the HR Committee in 2022.