The Governing Council consists of at least 15 and no more than 24 members, of whom a majority shall be independent and shall include, but not be limited to, the following:

Register of Interests and Related Parties

The Governance Office compiles and maintains a register of interests and related parties for Directors and members of the Governing Council. This is reviewed on a quarterly basis. View the up-to-date Register of Interests.

Diversity and Inclusion 

We collect statistics on the composition of our Directors and members of the Governing Council. This is reviewed on an annual basis. Download the latest diversity statistics for Governing Council and its co-opted members below. 

Governing Council and co-opted members diversity statistics.

Manal Al Sarraf BSc, Chair of Audit & Risk Committee

Manal Al Sarraf - governor

Manal was appointed as an independent member of the Governing Council in August 2022. She is an audit, risk and compliance professional in Bahrain’s telecom and fintech sectors. She has advised the board and senior management for over 15 years on audit matters, governance, balancing risks, and controls while achieving their strategy. She was also the founding member of the Parent Community Committee for the British School of Bahrain for eight years. She was the treasurer for three of those years, representing the parents of the school and helping raise funds for the community.

Manal is the Director of Compliance at Batelco, headquartered in Bahrain. She is a Certified Public Accountant from the USA and Certified Internal Auditor from the Institute of Internal Auditors (USA).

Mahad Ali MSc, Vice-Chair of Skills Committee

Mahad Ali - governor

Mahad was appointed as an Independent Member of Governing Council in June 2023 following his appointment as a co-opted member of the Skills Committee in August 2021. He is the Executive Director of Grant Giving at independent charity the Commercial Education Trust. Prior to this, Mahad was the Director of Programmes at Career Ready, a national social mobility charity, where he managed a team of twenty regional managers overseeing the delivery of 11-19 programmes to 69,000 young people every year.

Mahad has also worked as Head of Education and Research at WorldSkills UK and was a Trustee of the De Paul Trust, a youth homelessness charity. He also used to help lead and implement strategic youth employment whilst working at the Greater London Authority.

Sue Bennett BA FCIPD, Chair of Student Affairs Committee

Sue Bennett, governor co-optee

Sue was appointed as an independent member of Governing Council in February 2020. She had been co-opted to Governing Council to join the University’s Student Affairs Committee in April 2019, which she now co-chairs. Sue is also the Governing Council member of the University Court Advisory Group and sits on the Business School Governors' Reference Group. She has held a number of senior leadership roles in higher education, most recently as Director of Student Careers and Skills at the University of Warwick. Prior to that Sue was Director of the Learning and Development Centre at that university.

Between 2015 and 2018 Sue also held the roles of Vice President, Trustee and Board Member of the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS), a membership organisation for higher education students’ career development and graduate employment professionals.

Sue left the University of Warwick in 2018 to pursue a portfolio career. Sue is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (FCIPD).

Simone Bolshaw MA

Simone was appointed as an independent governor in July 2023. She is a Deputy Director at the Department for Education (DfE) leading in Digital, Data, Comms and User Achievement for Post 16 Education. Simone brings nearly 15 years of expertise in developing system-level strategies and overseeing large-scale policy programmes and delivery.

She led a strategic review of the Student Loans Company; co-ordinated Covid-19 emergency responses in the HE sector; oversaw the implementation of a Change Programme for DfE’s Skills Group; and developed elements of the HE reform consultation and Lifelong Loan Entitlement policy. She recently completed a Masters degree with a specialist interest in AI-human reasoning and is passionate about transformational policy design and the ethical use of technology.

Simon Bolton

Simon Bolton, governor

Simon was appointed as an Independent Member of Governing Council in April 2019 and as Chair of the Audit and Risk Committee in April 2020. He has spent his whole career working in digital technology, most recently as the Chief Executive Officer at NHS Digital. NHS Digital supplies information and data to the health service, provides vital technological infrastructure for the NHS, and helps different parts of health and care work together.  

Prior to joining NHS Digital, Simon was the Chief Information Officer at NHS Test & Trace, and has held a number of executive technology leadership roles at companies including Jaguar Land Rover and Rolls-Royce plc.

In addition to his role at the University of Derby, Simon is also an Independent Non-Executive Director at MCPS.

Ann Carter-Gray MRICS

Ann Carter-Gray, governor

Ann is the Head of Places for the Cabinet Office. She leads the Locations Programme which is responsible for moving roles out of London to the regions. She also leads the strategic management of the Estate to meet the accommodation needs of the department and the delivery of the Environmental Sustainability Strategy.

Ann previously worked in the Government Property Agency (GPA) where she worked on a range of programmes including conceiving and developing the Government Hubs and Whitehall Campus Programmes. She has also worked in the Government Property Unit, playing a major role in the development of the early Government Estates Strategies. She started out in the civil service in the Department for Trade and Industry, working to support enterprises and enterprise education. 

Before entering the Civil Service, Ann spent many years in the private sector, working for the Boots Group Plc in a variety of property and strategic asset management roles. She is a member of the RICS. 

Dr Sarah Charles BA MA Ed.D FHEA

Dr Sarah Charles - governor

Sarah was appointed as an Academic Board member representative on Governing Council in September 2021. She is the Head of the Institute of Education (ITE) and leads a team of academic staff and managers in the field of Education. The Institute offers a range of courses and has collaborative working arrangements with schools and colleges locally, nationally and internationally.

Sarah teaches a range of modules, supervises Doctoral students and is an active researcher. Her work focuses on motivating the next generation of educators to strive for excellence in their chosen profession. Her current research explores ITE student preparedness to address homophobic bullying in primary and secondary schools. She also has a keen interest in gender issues.

Gurpreet Dehal BA MSc MRes, Chair of Governing Council

Gurpreet Dehal, new incoming Chair of the University of Derby's Governing Council, pictured smiling

Gurpreet was appointed as an independent member of the Governing Council and as Chair-Elect in September 2021. He became Pro-Chancellor and Chair of the Governing Council in August 2023, having previously held the roles of Vice-Chair of the Governing Council and Chair of the Remuneration Committee. He has been involved in Higher Education since 2010, first as a Council Member at Royal Holloway, University of London, and then in a national regulatory role. This was initially as a Board member of the Higher Education Funding Council for England and then subsequently with the Office for Students from its inception in 2018.

His non-executive experience includes trusteeships with multi-academy trusts and with a counselling charity, as well as Board roles in defence, infrastructure and finance. He has also advised the government on improving access to dormant assets for the public good.

Gurpreet's earlier career was in risk management, financial planning and business leadership for global trading and lending businesses. These included organisations such as Merrill Lynch and Credit Suisse, where he was a Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer.

Tony Edwards BA ACA, Chair of Performance, People & Resources Committee

Tony Edwards, governor

Tony was appointed as an Independent Member of Governing Council in April 2019. Until April 2022 he was Vice President and General Manager of the European gas cylinder business unit of Luxfer Holdings plc, headquartered in the East Midlands. Before joining Luxfer, Tony spent two years as Corporate Development Director for Renold plc and 11 years as a Managing Director in international B2B manufacturing groups headquartered in the East Midlands.

Tony is a chartered accountant, having qualified whilst at Price Waterhouse, then spending 14 years in a variety of increasingly senior group, divisional and operational financial roles with Rio Tinto plc, Norcros plc and the Filtrona division of Bunzl plc. Tony has a degree in Accounting and Finance from Nottingham Trent University and served as a Governor there for 11 years up to July 2016. He joined Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust as a non-executive director in August 2022 and is currently Deputy Chair of the Board of Directors and Chair of the Finance & Performance Committee.

Dr Ruth Larsen PhD

Dr Ruth Larsen - governor

Ruth was appointed to Governing Council as teaching staff governor in April 2021. Since joining the University of Derby in 2005, she has held a series of roles within the department of Humanities. She is currently a senior lecturer in History and the programme leader for the undergraduate History programmes. Ruth teaches a number of modules at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, covering a wide range of topics, including the history of the body, material culture studies and research methodologies. Her research expertise is in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British history and she has published widely on gender history, the history of the aristocracy and the country house.

Ruth is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, a member of the Royal Historical Society and is part of the editorial board for the journal Midland History. She is committed to excellence in learning and teaching and was named the University Lecturer of the Year in 2010; she is especially dedicated to supporting undergraduate students to develop their distinct academic voice, in pedagogies of engagement, and championing students as co-creators. She has experience of being a school governor at both primary and secondary schools and is currently an active member of the East Midlands Centre for History Learning and Teaching.

Holly Lloyd BA

Holly Lloyd, governor

Holly is a Student Representative Governor. She was elected Vice President of Education of the Union of Students for the academic year 2023/24. She completed her undergraduate degree in Creative Expressive Arts with Health and Wellbeing in 2023. She became involved with the Union of Students during her time as a student, first joining both Netball and Women’s Rugby sports clubs and then as a social media marketing rep for Sports Council and Raise & Give.

Holly is passionate about committing to enhancing the student experience, with her key manifesto points aimed at fostering greater engagement within the Union and ensuring that every student feels truly represented and supported. Her vision is to create a more inclusive and vibrant campus environment by bolstering Union engagement. This includes expanding the Union's presence to other campuses to ensure that no student feels left behind or unheard. Holly aspires to strengthen the academic community, amplify student voices, and enrich educational opportunities.


Dr Nicola Lynch, staff governor

Dr Nicola Lynch is Head of Derby Business School, a vibrant future focused School which excels in applied real-world learning, teaching, and research. Nicola’s academic background is in economics and over the years she has developed and delivered a number of economics modules at undergraduate and postgraduate levels; whilst she has also supervised seven PhD students and numerous MSc and MBA students over the years. She is an applied economist whose key research interests lie in business networks and evaluating their impact at micro and macro levels.

Nicola is passionate about nurturing learners and guiding them through their educational journey, empowering them to unlock their full potential. As leader of the business school, she is actively involved in creating, planning and delivering the right environment for our future learners, whilst also strategically engaging with external partnerships and opportunities.

Stephen Marston BA

Stephen Marston, Governor

Stephen was appointed an independent member of Governing Council in August 2023. He was Vice-Chancellor of the University of Gloucestershire from August 2011 to July 2023. He had previously been Director General, Universities and Skills, at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. Before then, he was Director General for Lifelong Learning and Skills in the former Department for Education and Skills (DfES) and prior to that he was Director of Skills Group at DfES.

Stephen joined the Department for Education and Science in 1983, where he worked on a range of schools, Further Education, Higher Education, and finance issues in various posts across the Department. He worked in the Cabinet Office Economic Secretariat in the early 1990s. Between 1998 and 2002, he worked in the Higher Education Funding Council for England as Director for Institutions.

Stephen won a scholarship to Cambridge University where he studied Classics, and was awarded the Chancellor’s Medal. He is a non-Executive member of the Care Quality Commission. Up until his retirement from the University of Gloucestershire, he served as Chair of AdvanceHE, and was elected Treasurer and Board member of UniversitiesUK.

Professor Kathryn Mitchell CBE DL BSc PhD CPsychol

Kath Mitchell

Professor Kathryn Mitchell is Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University of Derby.

Prior to joining the University in September 2015, she was Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of West London with special responsibility for academic provision and quality across the University. She has also held senior positions of Pro Vice-Chancellor Academic and Student Support Services and Dean of Students at West London.

Professor Mitchell was a Wellcome Fellow at the Institute of Psychiatry, London and has studied at the Universities of York and London. She has worked at the University of Chicago, the Rockefeller Institute, New York and the Friedrich Miescher Institute in Basel.

Kath is a Chartered Psychologist and played an active role within the Institute for Practice and Interdisciplinary Research (INSPIRE), supervising and directing a range of research programmes.

In April 2019, Kath was appointed one of five new Deputy Lieutenants of Derbyshire. She was awarded a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for her services to education in the 2022 New Year's Honours List. She is Chair of the Derby Priority Education Investment Area.

Marianne Neville-Rolfe CB, Vice-Chair of Governing Council and Chair of Remuneration Committee

Marianne Neville-Rolfe, independent governor

Marianne was appointed as an independent member and Vice-Chair of the Governing Council in August 2023. She is also Chair of the Remuneration Committee. She has extensive experience in non-executive leadership in higher education, first at the University of Bolton as an independent member and then as Chair of the Board, and subsequently at Middlesex University where she was the recent interim Chair of the Board, having previously chaired the Audit and Risk Committee. 

Her earlier career was as a civil servant in the trade and industry departments, with responsibilities including industrial support and European policy. She had senior regional leadership roles in the North West and the South East, with wide responsibilities for regeneration and economic development. She in particular promoted and supported the involvement of universities working in partnership with business, local government and local communities to deliver a more equitable and sustainable future.

The Very Reverend Dr Peter Robinson

The Very Reverend Dr Peter Robinson

Peter was appointed as an Independent Member of Governing Council in April 2021 and is the Church of England nominee. He is Dean of Derby and moved to the city in 2020. Based at Derby Cathedral which he leads, Peter is a member of the Bishop of Derby’s senior staff team. Previously Peter served in suburban North Tyneside, the inner city of Newcastle upon Tyne and in Northumberland where from 2008 he held the post of Archdeacon of Lindisfarne, leading the Newcastle Diocesan Strategy for the rural church.

Peter is leading Derby Cathedral to engage with the communities of both Derby City and the County of Derbyshire by developing the Cathedral’s arts, culture and heritage offer alongside its existing choral excellence. Peter is committed to partnership working: he is the independent chair of the Derby City Poverty Commission and a member of the City’s Stronger Communities Board. He is developing strategic relationships with the faith sector across Derby and Derbyshire, and working closely with the Multi-Faith Centre which is based in the University. His educational interests include overseeing the Cathedral’s relationship with Derby Cathedral School. Peter holds a doctorate in Divinity from Durham University and is an experienced contributor to theological education and training within the church, both as a theological educator and as a leader of governance.

Hilary Stables FCIPD, Vice-Chair of Performance, People & Resources Committee

Hilary was appointed as an independent member of Governing Council in February 2020. She had been co-opted to Governing Council to join the University’s Strategy, Finance and Planning Committee in April 2019. She has held a number of senior leadership roles in a variety of industries including retail, communications, and healthcare services, and was most recently Chief People Officer for NHS Property Services Ltd. 

Prior to joining NHS Property Services as HR Director, Hilary held the role of HR, Talent and Communications Director at McKesson UK, part of the McKesson Company which owns brands including Lloyds Pharmacy and AAH Pharmaceuticals. She joined McKesson in 2015 from BT Facilities Services, where she was HR Director. Earlier in her career, Hilary spent 15 years in a variety of increasingly senior HR positions at Asda Wal-Mart UK.

Zhuofang Wei MSc

Fang Wei, governor

Fang was appointed as an Independent Member of Governing Council in August 2021. She has over 15 years of professional experience largely focused on risk management at sell-side institutions (companies that issue, sell or trade financial securities). In 2014, she built a 20-people London team for a financial technology start-up providing treasury and risk management platforms for multi-billion-dollar global hedge funds across all investment strategies which was later acquired by markets operator ICAP.

Fang began her career at Goldman Sachs FICC (Fixed Income, Currency and Commodities) division as a strategist on the commodities derivatives desk and worked in the high-tech consulting division at Accenture in Silicon Valley. She currently serves as the Chief Risk Officer for System Two Advisors LLC.

Fang received her BA in Mathematics from Princeton University and MS in Computer Science from Stanford University. She also sits on the board of Princeton Association UK. In addition, she has advised the board of trustees of London Air Ambulance on their digital transformation strategy.

Dominic White BA

Dominic White, governor

Dominic is a Student Representative Governor. He was elected President of the Union of Students for the academic year 2023/24 and was Vice President (Activities) of the Union in 2022/23. He completed his undergraduate degree in History in 2022. During his time as a student, Dominic was heavily involved with the Union of Students, first serving as a Programme Representative and then as the Part Time Officer (Humanities & Journalism) and having numerous committee posts within Sports and Societies, such as President of Rounders and Sports & Societies Councillor.

Dominic is highly passionate about creating an accessible and vibrant student community that supports growth and development. His key aims are increasing resource and facility provision as well as widening accessibility and development opportunities across the Union and University.

John Yarham BA, Chair of the Skills Committee

John Yarham, governor

John was appointed as an Independent Member of Governing Council in May 2021. He is Deputy Chief Executive of The Careers and Enterprise Company, the Government’s body for careers education in England.

John’s career in the skills sector over the last 25 years has been largely driven by his passion for promoting social mobility and providing excellent standards for career guidance and opportunities for young people and adults. Throughout his career, he has gained extensive knowledge of skills policy, from a central Government angle with the Learning and Skills Council, local Government from being Director of Economic Development at Nottingham City Council, and from a provider position through his role as CEO of the Futures Group. He has occupied chair and vice-chair roles in charities, schools, trade associations and awarding bodies.

John has been the Deputy CEO at The Careers and Enterprise Company since 2019, overseeing all delivery of the organisation's responsibilities.

Co-opted members

Richard Hulland BSc, MSc, MCIWM

Richard Hulland, ARC Co-optee

Richard was appointed as a co-opted member of the Audit & Risk Committee in April 2024. He is currently the Chief Risk & Assurance Officer for Veolia in Northern Europe and is a board member of Veolia Northern Europe Executive Committee (ExCo), setting the vision and strategy for the business to achieve a positive safety and risk culture. He is also trustee for the Veolia Environmental Trust in the UK.

Richard started his career as an apprentice at Rolls-Royce, studying at Derby. He actively worked with different industry sectors including manufacturing, construction, highways and railways, waste, recycling, water and energy in the UK and different regions across the world. 

He is a chartered member of Chartered Institute of Waste Management (CIWM) and has chaired a number of industry forums, including the Environmental Services Association (ESA) Strategic Health & Safety Forum.

Idris Abiodun Tayo Olufowobi

Idris Olufowobi - governor co-optee

Idris was appointed as a co-opted member of the Strategy, Finance and Planning Committee in August 2022. He is currently the Chief Financial Officer of Forte Upstream Services Ltd (FUSL), a company providing services to help oil exploration companies achieve their oil and gas production quota. He is a Chartered Accountant with over a decade of professional experience in financial reporting, procurement, treasury management and internal control/audit which cuts across Oil and Gas, Financial Services and Fast-Moving Consumer Goods sectors.

Prior to joining FUSL, he was the Group Treasurer of Forte Oil Plc (now Ardova Plc) managing the group’s investment portfolio and liquidity, including coordination of periodic review of foreign exchange policies to hedge exchange difference volatility. He is working on his Master of Business Administration (MBA) at Aston Business School and holds a degree in Accounting from the University of Lagos.

Nicola Swaney

Portrait photo of Nicola Swaney

Nicola was appointed as a co-opted member of the Skills Committee in July 2023. In her current role as Head of External Affairs at D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) in Nottingham, Nicola leads external public affairs, stakeholder engagement, marketing and communications across the Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham & Nottinghamshire region.

Nicola has over 30 years’ experience in education and skills. Prior to joining D2N2 LEP in March 2023, she worked at Rolls-Royce in Derby for over 18 years, leading the company’s global education outreach strategy and STEM Ambassador employee network to enthuse young people about STEM and diversify the talent pipeline. 

Before Rolls-Royce, Nicola worked at the Department for Education in London for 10 years, where she formulated and delivered national policy in international education relations, schools capital programmes, teacher development and professional qualifications. 

Social inclusion is a key priority and Nicola was a member of the Derby Opportunity Area Board from 2017 to 2022. As a Teach First Leadership Coach since 2015, she has supported many leaders in Teach First schools in disadvantaged areas across England.

Adrian Walters FCA CMIIA

Adrian Walters, ARC Co-optee

Adrian was appointed as a co-opted member of the Audit and Risk Committee in April 2024. He brings a wealth of experience in audit, accounting, risk management, governance, and regulation to the Committee.

Adrian is a Chartered Accountant with a background in data and financial services, and has an executive role as Chief Internal Auditor with Secure Trust Bank PLC. Before this he was Head of Internal Audit with Experian PLC, and prior to that he was a Director with PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. In an earlier career he was a secondary school maths teacher, and recently served as Chair of Governors in a Local Authority primary school.

Related links

Governing Council Diversity statistics (includes co-opted members as of 3 March 2024).

We collect statistics on the composition of our Directors and members of the Governing Council. This is reviewed on an annual basis.

The following data is collected by the Governance Services team as part of its requirements to report to HESA (Higher Education Statistical Authority).  

Gender Governing Council 2024 %
Male 48 
Female 52


Age %
20 or under 0
21 - 30 <10
31 - 40 <10
41 - 50 24
51 - 60 28
61 - 65 24
66 and above 8