Vice-Chancellor's Advisory Group

Professor John Latham 

Vice-Chancellor and CEO

John’s blend of business acumen and academic insight – as well as his passion for innovation in education – have, over the past decade, helped Coventry University to carve itself a reputation as the country’s top modern university, and one which is not afraid to do things differently.

His appointment as Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer of Coventry University in 2014 marked a milestone in an accomplished career which began when he graduated from the very same institution he now leads. It followed an eight-year tenure as Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Business Development at the University, and – prior to that – a diverse range of roles in an array of technology specialisms.

Testament to John’s successful leadership is a raft of recent awards for Coventry, most notably the 2015 ‘University of the Year’ accolade awarded by the Times Higher Education, which followed a trio of consecutive ‘Modern University of the Year’ titles in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide for 2014, 2015 and 2016.

John’s entrepreneurial approach has seen him forge connections and collaborations across the globe. The unprecedented reach and number of links Coventry University can now boast with a wide array of organisations – not just in the UK and Europe, but worldwide – continue to reflect his forward-thinking leadership.

A singular combination of business savvy and academic experience has seen him take an instrumental role in the establishment of several of Coventry University’s most ground-breaking initiatives, most notably its Technology Park and – more recently – the Institute for Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering in collaboration with Unipart Manufacturing Group.

High profile roles at regional, national and European level have enabled John to engage extensively with programmes such as the EU-funded Midlands Innovation Relay Centre and Advantage West Midlands. He retains his considerable influence at a regional level through a deep and wide-ranging involvement with the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership, for which, as a board member and sub-group chair, he played a key role in the successful City Deal submission. 

Ownership of a number of board-level, committee member and advisory posts at several eminent national organisations – including the Design Council, HEFCE, Universities UK and University Alliance mission group – provide John with invaluable insight and an influence for Coventry University at the highest levels.

Dr Andy Palmer

Aston Martin President & CEO

Dr Andy Palmer, CMG, is the Chief Executive Officer of Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd. He joined the business 2014.

Andy is a chartered engineer, chartered manager and businessman with over 35 years of automotive industry experience. He has an MSc in product engineering from Warwick University and a PhD in management from Cranfield University.

In 2010, Coventry University awarded Andy an Honorary Doctorate of Technology and in 2014 he was appointed Professor, advising the University in the automotive field.

Prior to joining Aston Martin, Andy was chief planning officer at Nissan Motor Co after holding a number of senior positions during a 24 year career with the firm.

Andy started his professional career in 1979 aged 16, as an apprentice at Automotive Products Limited (UK) and after six years with Austin Rover, he joined Nissan.

In the 2014 New Year’s Honours list Andy was named a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) in recognition of services to the British automotive industry.

Sir Ciarán Dervane

Chief executive, British Council

Sir Ciarán Devane took up the role of British Council chief executive in January 2015. Prior to this, Ciarán was chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support from 2007 to 2014. He transformed the scale and impact of the charity, leading to Macmillan being the UK's 'Brand of be Year' in 2014.

Ciarán was educated at University College, Dublin where he gained first-class honours in biochemical engineering. He then started his career as an engineer and manager for Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) before becoming a management consultant. A specialist in complex change programmes, he has also worked with companies such as AstraZeneca and Rolls Royce.

With MA in International Policy and Practice from George Washington University, Washington DC, Ciarán has also held non-executive roles on the board of organisations ranging from small local charities to NHS England and was awarded a knighthood in 2015 for his services to cancer patients.

Dr Brian Milington

Director, National Engineering Laboratory (NEL)

Brian has over 30 years diverse working experience in both the public sector, mainly and the oil and gas sector within the UK and overseas. 

He has worked very closely with the Dept for Trade and Industry (DTI) and now the Dept for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) in relation to the measurement science which the UK public sector supports through the three National Measurement Institutes:  NEL, LGC and NPL.

Brian also chairs numerous international conferences relating to research and development in the oil and gas sector and played a major role in transferring NEL from the public sector to the private sector, during a hugely challenging time for the business.

Dr Majid Alsadi

Eastern Investment Group Holding

Majid is founder and chairman of the Eastern Investment Group Holding, a British registered company with headquarters in Jordan and operating in the Middle East. The Company manages investments in the aviation, hospitality, training and security industry.

Majid has a wide reaching academic career, including a stint as a visiting Professor of Aerospace Engineering at Coventry University.

As the founder of a scholarship foundation and sponsor of several international educational foundations, offering support across the board, from the most talented to the most opportunity-deprived children and students, Majid is a devotee of the transformative power of education.

Involved as a trustee and sponsor in several different schemes, Majid also sponsors an initiative supporting young Iraqi architects in association with Coventry University.




Kathryn Chapman

Milner Therapeutics

Kathryn Chapman is executive manager of the Milner Therapeutics Consortium, a partnership between pharmaceutical companies and academics at the University of Cambridge and associated institutes. Its mission is to connect the intellectual know-how of academic institutions in Cambridge with the drug-developing capacity of the pharmaceutical industry.

Prior to joining the Milner Institute, Kathryn was Head of Innovation and Translation at the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research, (NC3Rs). There she spent 10 years working with over 40 pharmaceutical companies in the US and Europe to improve scientific and business processes in drug development. 

More recently Kathryn founded and directed a new challenge-led open innovation platform, to increase cross-discipline and cross-sector industry/academic partnerships in applied research.

Kathryn has a PhD is in the genetics of osteoarthritis and she has previously carried out research at the University of Manchester, Harvard Medical School, Welcome Trust Sanger Institute and GlaxoSmithKline.

Kathryn has 40 publications and has been on a wide-ranging number of national and international review panels.  



Michael John Cook 

Chairman and senior partner, Buro Happold

Michael is a leading structural engineer who has made a significant contribution to the design of many innovative buildings, to the development of a thriving consultancy practice (Buro Happold) and to the reputation of his profession.

After graduating from Cambridge, Michael worked on a range of membrane and cable net structures. He then joined a newly–formed research group at Bath University, undertaking research and development and was awarded a PhD in 1983. Since that time, he has led the design of many award-winning construction projects in the UK, USA, Germany, Middle East and the Far East.

Beyond his design consultancy work, Michael spends much of his time spreading his passion for design across a wide, international field. He works with students, presents lectures and contributes to press, radio and television as a means of communicating the message that engineering design is about translating nature into the man-made world. 

Michael is particularly interested in the education of future engineers and chairs the Engineering Leadership Group of the Institution of Structural Engineers, where he also a Vice President. Closely involved in academia at a number of universities and institutions, Michael has always maintained connections with various University Schools of Architecture and Engineering, offering students every opportunity to make the most of his expertise.


Phil Smith 

Chairman of Innovate UK

Phil Smith is the Chairman of Innovate UK and Chairman of the Tech Partnership. He sits on the board of the National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB) and the Business Disability Forum.

In 2013, Computer Weekly hailed Phil as the 5th most influential person in UK IT in its UKTech50 awards and in 2012, Phil was voted Orange Business Leader of the Year in the National Business Awards, ranking number 29 in the Wired 100. Phil has a thirty-year track record in the technology industry, leading companies such as Philips Electronics and IBM.

Phil created Cisco’s British Innovation Gateway (BIG) programme, as a legacy of London 2012 to spark nationwide ingenuity, ambition and growth through technology entrepreneurship. With a particular interest in the transformational nature of our connected world, sustainability, ambition, inclusion and diversity, Phil works closely with government ministers, industrial leaders and top thinkers in business, politics, academia and society to orchestrate life-changing innovation.

Phil also has honorary degrees and doctorates from Birmingham City University and the University of Warwick and is the founder of ‘The Leaderboard,’ a cross industry team of around 40 UK CEOs who have raised more than £500,000 for Comic Relief and Sport Relief.

Philppa Snare 

EMEA Global Business Marketing, Facebook Inc.

Philippa has spent her entire career online. She began by helping to grow Scoot into a £100m classified ads business before it was taken over by Yell. By leading key partnerships for MSN with Virgin, Sky, VNU, Semantec, Times online, Philippa helped build UK MSN team culture and operation from 40 people to 130, and from $17M to $130M in advertising revenue over four years. 

Several other high profile services and companies have benefitted from her expertise, including Hotmail, Messenger, Saas, Windows 10, Surface, Office 365, Xbox One and MS Cloud Services.

While at Microsoft, Philippa spent over a decade building a modern marketing organisation before moving on to Facebook. 

Winner of the Sunday Times Top Women under 35 in Business Award in 2012, Philippa also won the Microsoft Chairman’s award for transforming the UK developer division in 2011.

Philippa became a board member and advisor to Coventry University in 2015, the same year she scooped an award from the Leadership Trust for Inspirational Leadership.

Professor Elizabeth Kucinich

Elizabeth is an independent trans-Atlantic organisational development, campaigns and government affairs consultant based in Washington.

Drawing from her extensive experience working from within the US political system, paired with a sincere desire and international reputation for working to bring social, economic, health, agricultural and ecological systems into balance, Elizabeth works to strengthen the institutional capacity of organisations that support these goals. 

Elizabeth is a champion for business as an agent of world benefit, social and environmental justice and animal welfare.

Professor Lisa Bayliss-Pratt 

Director of Nursing, Health Education England 

Lisa was appointed Director of Nursing at Health Education England (HEE) in 2012. In this role she has responsibility for leading national policy, workforce planning, and the commissioning of multi-professional education and training for the non-medical healthcare workforce.

Her achievements include the establishment of the Shape of Caring Review, development and piloting of pre-degree care experience for aspirant nurses and leading the ‘return to practice’ initiative. Lisa’s work also includes the creation of a three-tiered dementia education and training framework through which over 100,000 members of NHS personnel received dementia awareness training – achieving a key Government Mandate requirement.

Passionate about nurse improvement programmes, education, innovation and patient experience, Lisa was instrumental in the roll out of Flying Start, a national development programme for all newly qualified nurses, midwives and allied health professionals in England. Lisa’s work also resulted in national implementation of the Friends and Family Test in all acute hospitals.

Lisa, a trustee of the Foundation of Nursing Studies, has been awarded a number of honorary appointments and also holds a Doctorate of Clinical Practice from the University of Southampton and a Postgraduate Certificate in Education from the University of Wolverhampton.

Professor Mark RadfordMark-Radford

Director of Nursing (Improvement)

Mark Radford is Director of Nursing (Improvement) for NHS improvement with a portfolio that covers workforce and quality improvement. 

Mark has previously been a Chief Nurse of a University Teaching Hospital and Consultant Nurse in Emergency & Trauma care.  Mark is Professor of Nursing at Birmingham City and Coventry Universities.