Executive Recruitment

Our Board

Non-Executive Chair

Christian Brodie, Non-Executive Chair

Christian (Chris) Brodie was appointed Chair of the Student Loans Company in February 2014. He has a wealth of experience in business, international finance, higher education and working closely with Government departments

After reading law at Oxford University, Christian took on legal roles in corporate finance in the City of London and on Wall Street. He subsequently joined the financial services industry where his career progressed to Vice Chairman of UBS Investment Bank, reporting to the Chief Executive. Christian is currently the Chair of the Council of the University of Sussex, the Public Chairs Forum, the Council of UCAS, and Pentathlon GB.

As well as holding directorships in a number of private companies, he is Chair of the South East LEP and a member of the Boards of UCEA, the Financial Sustainability Group of HEFCE, and the Greater Anglia Stakeholders Advisory Group. He is also Chairperson of a Private Property and Investment Management Company.

Non-Executive Directors

Antonia Cox, Non-Executive Director

Antonia Cox joined SLC in March 2016. Her initial career was as a newspaper correspondent, leader writer and policy adviser.

She is currently a Westminster City Councillor and co-founder of Marylebone Boys' School, a Department for Education-funded boys' secondary.

Antonia’s role working with the Department and as a Councillor has given her experience in governance, scrutiny and strategic oversight.

Mary Curnock Cook OBE

Non-Executive Director

Mary Curnock Cook is an independent educationalist.

From 2010 to 2017, Mary was Chief Executive of UCAS, the universities and colleges admissions service. Earlier in her career she held executive and non-executive positions in the education, hospitality, food and biotech sectors.

She is Chair of Governors at Kensington and Chelsea College, a Trustee of the Access Project and Chair of Governors at Swindon Academy. She is also a Council member at the Open University and an adviser to the University of Buckingham. She is an investor and/or mentor to a number of edtech entrepreneurs.

Mary has an MSc from London Business School and she was awarded an OBE in 2000. She is an honorary Fellow of Birkbeck College, University of London and has an honorary doctorate from the University of Gloucestershire.

Simon Devonshire, Non-Executive Director

Simon Devonshire joined the Student Loans Company in March 2016. He has worked for a number of prestigious corporate businesses across a diverse range of industries – from fmcg (Heinz, Spillers); travel (Thomas Cook) retail (The Post Office, Total petrol); and telco (Virgin Media, O2).

He ran the B2B division of O2 UK for five years; leading a team of more than 1,000 people; accountable for over €1bn revenue pa. Simon also helped create several start-ups, including www.zopa.com the world’s first lending and borrowing exchange, and the social enterprise One Water.

Simon has a portfolio of business interests including being the Entrepreneur in Residence for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Natalie Elphicke, Non-Executive Director

Natalie Elphicke joined the Student Loans Company in March 2016. She is Chief Executive of The Housing & Finance Institute. She is a qualified barrister and solicitor and former international law firm partner.

She is an experienced non-executive director specialising in audit and risk committees. Natalie chairs the Board Risk Committee at a large building society, a senior financial services board responsibility. In 2014/2015 Natalie Elphicke led the UK Government’s Elphicke-House review jointly for HM Treasury and DCLG. She currently sits as an expert advisor to the UK Government’s Heseltine-Lewis Estate Regeneration Panel.

Natalie received an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2015. Natalie Elphicke brings experience of good governance, structured finance, consumer finance and risk management to bear on this role.

David Gravells, Non-Executive Director

Mr. Gravells joined the Student Loans Company in March 2016.  He currently chairs Northern 2 VCT plc a listed venture capital trust providing capital to developing businesses. For many years he has been involved in executive roles, and consultancy and mentoring activities, assisting the senior management of a range of enterprises to move to the next stage of their growth. He has made significant personal investments in a number of businesses. These have included the CBC Group (food services), Stray FM (local radio), The Greetings Store Group (retail), Airedale Group (commercial kitchen and restaurant planning, design and supply), Yeomans Investments (retail).

Mr. Gravells is currently Chair of the Governors of the Grammar School at Leeds, and until recently he was also the Chair of the Association of Masters in Business Administration International Accreditation Board. A justice of the Peace on the North Yorkshire Commission, he was Chairman of the Harrogate magistrates Bench. He was Chair of the Dean’s Advisory Board and Visiting Professor at Durham University Business School.

Professor Andrew Wathey CBE FRHistS FRSA FSA

Non-Executive Director

Andrew Wathey joined the Student Loans Company Board in January 2018. He became Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Northumbria University in 2008. Previously, he was Senior Vice-Principal at Royal Holloway, University of London 2006-8, and Vice-Principal from 2003.

He was appointed Professor of Music History at Royal Holloway, University of London in 1999, where he was also Head of Department and Dean of the Faculty of Arts. He graduated from Oxford in 1979 and held posts in the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Lancaster before moving to Royal Holloway in 1989. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and of the Society of Antiquaries, and was a Visiting Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford in 1998.

Professor Wathey chairs the UK Standing Committee for Quality Assessment. He is a Board member of the Quality Assurance Agency, and a member of the Council of the All Party Parliamentary Universities Group. He chaired the Student Loans Company Stakeholder Forum from 2010 to 2017. He has also served as chair of Universities for the North East, and was Deputy Chair of the University Alliance 2009-12.

Regionally, he is an elected Member of the CBI North East Regional Council and a Governor of Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Chief Executive

Peter Lauener, Chief Executive

Peter Lauener joined the Company as Interim Chief Executive and Accounting Officer in November 2017.

Prior to joining SLC, Peter was Chief Executive and Accounting Officer of the Education Funding Agency (EFA) which was formed in April 2012 and Chief Executive of the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) in November 2014. Peter held both roles concurrently and had separate accountability for each agency’s budget. He was also Chief Executive of the Institute for Apprenticeships. On March 1 2018 he was appointed as Chair of the Newcastle College Group, a group of further education colleges and independent learning providers in England.

Executive Leadership Team

David Wallace, Deputy Chief Executive and Chief Customer Officer, Executive Director Product Development and Digital Customer

David started at SLC in March 2010 as interim Chief Operating Officer. He formally joined the company in 2011 has been Deputy Chief Executive since then and held the position of Interim Chief Executive from December 2015 to June 2016.

As SLC's Chief Customer Officer David is responsible for the Product Development and Digital Customer Directorate. His current portfolio includes Policy, Product Management, Service Design (incorporating business architecture, customer insight and user experience), Enterprise Architecture, Customer Communications and Marketing, Customer Relations, Assurance Services, Change and Programmes and Corporate Communications.

Before joining the SLC David held a number of senior positions within Abbey National plc and was Chief Operating Officer for Santander's Insurance and Asset Management Division.

A Chartered Accountant, David served as a Governor of Court at Glasgow Caledonian University and Chair of its Finance and General Purpose Committee.

Derek RossExecutive Director Operations

Derek Ross joined the Student Loans Company to establish an in-house legal function in 1999. He was appointed to the Executive Board in 2003 and since then has held a number of executive roles and played a key part in many of the initiatives that have seen the SLC grow and develop into its current role.

Currently Director of Operations, Derek has responsibility for the Company's largest directorate with staff at three sites in Glasgow, Darlington and Llandudno Junction. Derek's team is responsible for the successful payment of student loans and grants to more than 1.6 million students every year and tuition fees to more than 600 Higher Education Institutions in England and Wales.

Before joining SLC, Derek was a practising solicitor for 15 years. He holds a law degree from the University of Strathclyde, and an MBA with distinction from the University of Glasgow.


Bernice McNaught, Executive Director Change & Programmes

Bernice joined Student Loans Company in February 2016. Currently Director of Repayments and Counter Fraud and HR, Bernice is focussed on delivering a secure and accurate repayments service for our 4.7 million customers in over 200 countries.

She is also responsible for managing the student loan book and facilitating future loan sales and securitisations for HM Government, as well as ensuring that SLC has a robust counter fraud and debt recovery capability.

In addition Bernice leads the HR team ensuring that the organisation is resourced with the skills and talent needed for successful business delivery.

Previously, Bernice was a Director with Deloitte MCS where, as a business transformation consultant, she led programmes of change across the private sector on behalf of clients.

Mike Blackburn, Chief Financial Officer / Executive Director for Finance, Commercial and Estates (interim)

Mike is a chartered accountant who has held a number of senior posts within the public sector on an interim basis. Functional areas covered during the last 20 years include finance, procurement, estates and IT.

Mike is responsible to the CEO, the Board and the parent Department for the overall financial and commercial integrity and performance of the Student Loans Company. To fulfil these responsibilities, he leads a team that plays a key role in the proper planning, monitoring, governance and reporting of the Company as a major central UK government body. This work includes ensuring that public money is safeguarded at all times and is used appropriately in a way designed to deliver best value to the taxpayer.

Adrian Tucker, Chief Information Officer (interim)

Adrian Tucker joined the Student Loans Company in December 2017. His focus is on developing scalable and resilient cloud first technology required to support the Company’s operations and objectives.

With responsibility for the technology systems and services across the Student Loans Company, Adrian’s directorate ensures that the organisation’s IT exploits new technology as it becomes available to add value and facilitate achievement of the company goals.

Adrian joined the civil service from the retail technology sector in 2013. He worked with the Education Funding Agency for a year before moving to the Department of Education where, as CTO, he delivered a major IT transformation programme

Gary Womersley, Company Secretary & SIRO

Gary Womersley was appointed as Company Secretary in December 2015, having previously carried out the roles of Senior Manager - Legal & Compliance and Head of Legal & Corporate Services. As well as being SLC's Governance lead, Gary's role also includes responsibility for Legal & Compliance, Internal Audit, Corporate Risk, Pensions and Information Security Assurance. As Company Secretary, Gary is also a member of the SLC Board.

Prior to joining SLC, Gary has held various senior legal and management roles, in both public and private sectors, including SEPA Corporate Solicitor, Head of Public & Regulatory Law at Legal 500 leading firm Bellwether Green and Chief Executive Officer at Waterwatch Scotland, the customer service regulator and ombudsman for the water industry in Scotland. Gary has also held various senior non-executive roles, including Ministerial appointments, always with an emphasis on governance, scrutiny, regulation and compliance.

Gary is an enrolled Solicitor, Notary Public and Writer to Her Majesty's Signet.

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