Governance and Leadership

Meet our leadership and governance teams and learn about how we operate.

Meet our leadership team

Mike James - Chief Executive, CAVC Group

Kay Martin – Group Principal

Mark Roberts – Group Chief Operating Officer

Sharon James – Deputy Principal, CAVC

Emil Evans – Vice Principal, Curriculum

Richard Pugsley – Deputy Chief Operating Officer


Cardiff and Vale College’s Board of Governors works with the College to steer all aspects of the College, as the Cardiff and Vale College Corporation.
The Governors are drawn from many areas of the community and from local government, education and business sectors.

Governors provide their services to the College in a voluntary capacity, taking no salary, and attend committees on a regular basis to scrutinise Cardiff and Vale College’s plans, performance and activities, providing valuable expertise and experience to help the College achieve its mission and strategic objectives.

Chair of Corporation

Geraint Evans MBE
is a lawyer who spent more than 20 years working as a Managing Director for a retail company. Alongside running several successful businesses, Geraint holds a number of voluntary positions in the business and education sectors serving local communities across Cardiff and the Vale.

These include, Chair of Business in Focus (the business support and enterprise company), Vice Chair of Governors at Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Morgannwg, having spent the previous 12 years as its' Chair; plus two Trusteeships in the education sector. Geraint has been the Corporation Chair of Cardiff and Vale College since its formation in 2011, which followed on from his service of 10 years as a Governor at the pre-merged Barry College.

Geraint is an avid sports fan, particularly of rugby and cricket having played for the MCC in his younger days.


Vice Chair 

Danny Saunders OBE has developed educational development and lifelong learning partnerships with universities, colleges, schools, employers and community groups throughout the UK. Between 2006-2014 he engaged in Government advisory work, and his research has been published in peer reviewed journals and books. Books include The Complete Student Handbook (Blackwell), Key Concepts in Communication Studies (Methuen), Communication and Simulation (Multilingual Matters), and The Learning Coaches of Wales (Welsh Government). He has an international reputation for developing innovation through curriculum design and student centred learning. Specialisms include widening participation in higher education, quality enhancement, and the advancement of peer tutoring where undergraduates help students in schools plan their learning journeys into universities. His recent academic activity has involved writing case studies, work based learning, coaching, and designing new progression pathways into higher education. Danny is an Emeritus Professor at the University of South Wales. He is a governor and the Vice Chair of Cardiff and Vale College, and continues his involvement in higher education through quality assurance reviews for the QAA, impact studies, and external examining.

Danny is a Chartered Psychologist and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. In 2010 he received the OBE for Services to Higher Education in Wales.


Chief Executive

Mike James

Mike James is Chief Executive of Cardiff and Vale College (CAVC) Group, the largest College group in Wales and in the top five in the UK with over 1,100 staff and circa 30,000 learners each year.

Starting in post in August 2011 as the first Chief Executive of Cardiff and Vale College, Mike set out a clear and simple vision to transform education and training across the Capital Region of Wales, establishing a focus on three key priorities of improving quality, creating sensible efficiency and driving commercial growth. Under his leadership the College has seen significant year-on-year increases across each of these priorities – with success rates soaring from 77% - 89% (FE) and hitting 95% (HE) and 87% (Work-Based Learning), one of the of the best records in the sector. Commercial growth has also increased annually with the College working with thousands of employers, opening successful retail outlets and working on projects internationally. This has seen Cardiff and Vale College grow to a leading educational business with a turnover of over £77m. During this time, CAVC has also won national awards covering these areas including the AoC Beacon Award for the Promotion and Delivery of Apprenticeships; Business Insider College of the Year for Business and Education Partnership and College of the Year from the National Centre for Diversity.

Mike’s ambitious vision for ensuring sector leading education and training facilities across the Capital Region has also seen CAVC build a brand new award-winning £45m City Centre Campus; the establishment of the impressive Cardiff International Sports Campus as the dedicated home for CAVC Sport and the development of an innovative multi-million pound shared learning campus for a school and the College in one of the most deprived areas of the city.

Mike is an Engineer with over 22 years of experience in the FE sector, including holding senior posts in both City of Bristol and London College prior to CAVC. He lives in Raglan, Wales with his wife Julie, accompanied by Izzy and Alfie their two cats.


Head of Group Corporate Governance & Clerk to the Corporation

Louise Thomas

Prior to joining Cardiff and Vale College in May 2012 as Clerk to the Corporation, Louise worked as a senior HR and Business Development Manager at several corporate organisations including Marks & Spencer, Allen & Overy and Ernst & Young, all whilst based in London.  On returning to her home town of Penarth, Louise was employed as the Business Development Manager at the Park House Club, a role where she greatly increased her network of local contacts.  Louise has also worked as a local volunteer for Breast Cancer Care and has been a Board member of Bombastic Dance.  However, Louise’s most recent non-executive appointment is as a Trustee/Director of the Penarth Pier Pavilion (PACL), where she perfectly combines her passion for the Arts, education and her home town.


David Austin

Graduated with a Law Degree from Warwick University and qualified as an accountant with KPMG in Cardiff, becoming Senior Manager responsible for audit and advisory services.  He joined Hodge Bank in 1990 as Finance Director and became Managing Director in 1997 with responsibility for the development and delivery of group strategy and has overseen significant growth of the Cardiff-based privately-owned financial services group. David also had responsibility for managing the group’s property investments and relocation to One Central Square.  David interests include golf, and in fact sport in general, reading, cinema, theatre and travel.


Dr Marlene Davies

Dr Marlene Davies is a qualified chartered accountant and chartered auditor with 27 years experience as an academic within the University sector. Her areas of expertise and research include audit committees, forensic accounting, and corporate governance. Prior to her retirement she was Deputy Head of the School Law Accounting and Finance, having previosuly been the head of the Accounting and Finance group within the Business School at the University of Glamorgan. Even though retired from full time work she is an Associate of the University of South Wales and is employed as a tutor and lecturer for postgraduate and professional programmes on a part time basis. She retains her links with both academia and the professional accountancy bodies by undertaking external examiner roles within the UK and Europe. She has co-authored a textbook on auditing and presented [and published] research papers at conferences both nationally and internationally to academics and professional accountants. Her interested include Welsh traditional music and singing as a member of a community choir, Côr y Gleision.


David James

A chartered accountant, who has spent the past 27 years specialising in Financial Services in South Wales. David worked initially for the Bank of Wales, before becoming the Finance Director at Julian Hodge Bank and then the CFO for the fast growing car finance company, MotoNovo Finance (owned by First Rand Bank Ltd, SA).  David was responsible for the Finance function as well as Project Office, IT, Facilities, Procurement, Risk and Compliance and oversaw the successful move to One Central Square.  He was one of the two “Senior Managers” in the Cardiff Office under the FCA authorisation regime, and worked closely with First Rand staff in London, Johannesburg and Capetown in many areas of the business - financial performance and forecasting, regulatory compliance, funding and securitisation, and attended audit and risk committees across the group. He has lived in Cardiff for 38 years, and has recently retired.


Iestyn Morris

Iestyn Morrisis Head of Legal for S4C, having previously been a Partner at Capital Law LLP since 2005, where he specialised in Employment Law. In August 2014 Iestyn was chosen as one of the Western Mail's '35 under 35' top young business and professional men in Wales. Iestyn is also a non-Executive Board member of ColegauCymru and manages to combine his roles with the demands of a young family.


Councillor Ben Gray

Ben lives in Penarth and is the Cabinet Member for Social Care and Health for the Vale of Glamorgan Council, he was first elected as a Councillor in May 2017, prior to becoming a Councillor Ben has had a varied career in the field of Education and the Arts. Ben became involved with Student Politics whilst at Aberystwyth University staying on for two years after graduation, one of those as President of the Students’ Union – following this Ben was elected for two years as President of NUS Wales. Ben moved from Student Politics to working in Higher Education with roles at the University of Wales in Student Engagement as well as Cardiff University working on Student Finance/Financial Assistance. Further to some postgraduate study at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in 2016, Ben now works as a Freelance Stage/Event Manager across South Wales and the South West of England.


Shameem Nawaz

Shameem Nawaz Project and Partnerships Manager, Women's Aid Federation England. I manage a Big Lottery funded project to pilot a range of interventions in different geographical areas to better support survivors and children experiencing domestic abuse.

John Taylor CBE DLit CCMI

John was appointed to the Electrotechnical Joint Industry Board in 2016 where he serves as the Chair of their Major Contractors’ Committee. He had been the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of ACAS for 12 years. His previous posts include CEO of the South Wales Training and Enterprise Council, the Development Board for Rural Wales, and the Rural Development Commission. He also worked for the former Department of Employment and its agencies in several roles, including Director for the Midlands Employment Service and Private Secretary to the Minister of State for Employment. A former German Marshall Fellowship Scholar to the USA, his previous Non-Executive appointments include a Legacy Adviser to the Rio Olympics, Chair of the Careers Service for Wales, Chair of the Workers’ Educational Association for England and Scotland, Deputy Chair of the University of West London, and independent member of the NHS Partnership Board.

Dr Francis Cowe

Dr Francis Cowe works for the University of South Wales. He has worked in Higher Education since 1999. He is responsible for HE in FE partnerships and represents higher education on the South East Wales Learning Skills and Innovation Partnership. He has previously worked in the Probation Service and a range of voluntary and community roles. He has been involved in developing HE in FE, designing and delivering professional awards, widening access (UHOVI) and has taught and published in the applied social sciences.


Councillor Sarah Merry

Councillor Sarah Merry is currently Cardiff Council's Cabinet Membher for Education, having had a lengthy political career spent working with several AMs and MPs. Councillor Merry came to Cardiff as a student and never left, subsequently raising her three children whilst combining this with being a School Governor for three different schools within Cardiff and also holding the Chair of Governors position. Councillor Merry has previously represented Cardiff Council on the Board of the Sherman Theatre and Cardiff Bus.

David Reeves

David Reeves has worked for Ford, Black and Decker and GEC Hotpoint and managed three manufacturing companies. David is a past-president of Cardiff Bay Rotary Club, has been a Parent Governor in Primary and Secondary Education and a Governor in Coleg Glan Hafren for five years.

Richard Thomas

Richard Thomas is the Head of Digital and Marketing at BBC Wales and has responsibility for the development of a range of innovative digital and interactive products for the BBC's audiences in Wales, the UK and further afield, as well as helping audiences navigate BBC Wales content across TV, radio and online.  Working with multi-skilled teams, he leads the development of integrated campaigns, on-screen creative, digital content production, brand strategy, audience insight, communications and scheduling. Richard is a Welsh speaker, originally from the Swansea Valley but now living in Penarth. Before joining the BBC in March 2012 as Head of Marketing, Communications & Audiences, he was the Managing Director of Cardiff & Co, the public private partnership charged with promoting Cardiff to the world as an ideal place to live, work, invest, study, meet, visit and play. Before joining Cardiff & Co in 2008, he was Director of Marketing and Communications for the South West of England Regional Development Agency where he was responsible for the promotion of the region as a tourism and business investment destination. Richard has also worked in the fields of education and training, inward investment, economic development and government relations.

Ali Abdi

Ali Abdi has recently been appointed Community Gateway Partnership Manager at Cardiff University overseeing an exciting new project taking place at Grange Gardens Bowls Pavilion. After serving 14 years as a Youth Support Worker for Cardiff Council Youth Services, a core part of his work was supporting young people that were NEET into education, employment and training opportunities, of which many of his target clients were assisted into becoming learners at CAVC. Ali is also a leader with Cardiff Citizens - an emerging alliance of churches, schools, mosques, trade unions, charities and other civil society organisations who act together for social justice and the common good. Ali is a member of the Leadership Team for Cardiff Citizens, and has a strong track record of leading young people from Somali, BME and other young people from disadvantaged background in Butetown and Grangetown into non-partisan political action. Since 2011, Ali has played a leading role in successful Cardiff Citizens campaigns to persuade Cardiff Council to pay the Living Wage and to persuade Nando's to open the first mainstream halal-compliant restaurant in Cardiff city centre.

Margaret Foster, OBE

Margaret joined the NHS in 1974 as a Graduate Management Trainee, and worked in a number of Health Authorities and trusts in South Wales for 38 years. Margaret was appointed Chief Executive of the East Glamorgan Trust in 1995 and led the organisation through three mergers until her retirement from her role as Chief Executive of Cwm Taf Health Board, a provider of integrated health services to the local population.

Currently, Margaret chairs the NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership, which provides an extensive portfolio of back office functions for NHS Wales on a collaborative basis, including education commissioning for NHS Wales.

Margaret previously held the role of NHS Equality Commissioner for Wales. She has held a number of non-executive roles on boards including Skills for Health, Career Choices Wales, University of South Wales and the Principality Building Society.

Staff and Student Governors

Rhianwen Davies - Business Support Staff Governor

Rhianwen Davies has been with the College for ten years. During her time at the College she has taken on a variety of roles, from Learning Support Assistant to Welsh Language Officer to her current role as Additional Learning Needs Co-ordinator. She is passionate about helping and supporting learners. Prior to her time at the College she was a Primary School Teacher and then an Education Officer at the National Assembly for Wales.

Rhi Davies

Marta Floris - Student Governor

Marta Floris is the Diversity Sabbatical Officer of Cardiff and Vale College and she has been studying ESOL Level 2 Health and Social Care & Childcare. She is from Italy and she took a degree in Cultural Heritage. During her university experience she also took part at three archaeological excavations in Sardinia (Italy). She came in Cardiff three years ago and in 2019 she became an ESOL student at CAVC.

Marta Floris

Naomi Hodkinson - Academic Staff Governor

Naomi Hodkinson has been with the College for 17 years, teaching Media, English and Welsh Baccalaureate in the A level department. She was previously a professional chef with a real passion and love of food! Her interest in education started when she was a Parent Governor at her son’s primary school, and then a Student Governor during her Cardiff University PGCE. She has further developed her knowledge and understanding by studying for a Master’s degree in Leadership and Management whilst being supported fully by the College to do so.

Sudhuf Khan - Student Governor

I joined Cardiff and Vale College in 2013 when I enrolled on the Adult Foundation course. My time at the college helped me gain the key skills needed to continue onto the Access pathway and study a Sociology and Education degree at Cardiff University. The support that I received in my time at the college made realise the importance of student support and student voices in the FE and HE setting. I am currently doing my PgCE and teaching on the same courses that gave me the skills to establish my space in higher education.

Sudhuf Khan

Co-opted Governors

Vivienne Compton

Vivienne Compton joined the new executive board of Cardiff and Vale College in 2010 and brings many years' commercial and marketing experience gained in the manufacturing industry (Exxon Chemical), telecoms approvals sector (Telcordia); and the adult education sector (Bridgewater College) developing and strengthening FE's link with business. Vivienne is Head of Business Development for a national training provider achieving Fast Growth 50 status for 2 consecutive years and works collaboratively with a range of colleges and large employers across the UK. She holds a Masters' Degree in Leadership and Management (FE) and is also a Local Community Councillor.

Brenig Davies

Brenig Davies On completing his apprenticeship as a motor mechanic, Brenig worked for the motor car division of Rolls Royce. There followed a decade teaching in Further Education, before working for the UK Government's Further Education Unit. He then lectured and tutored on PGCE and vocational education degree programmes at Cardiff University. He retired as a further education vice principal, having served on several national policy groups, coupled with considerable engagement with European vocational education curriculum development projects. He remains active in the further education sector through being a lead assessor for the AoC Beacon Awards and the Queen's Awards for FHE, board positions in primary, secondary sectors and a qualification body.

Brenig Davies

James Harper

James Harper is the Corporate Social Responsibility Manager at Principality Building Society, Wales's Largest Building Society.

He joined Principality in 2014 and leads on educational and charity partnerships, working with community partners including Business in the Community and Money Advice Service, and lots of other responsible business activities. Principality have a proud reputation for helping local communities and earlier in 2018 were named as Education Award winners at the Wales Responsible Business Awards, for their work in supporting schools and boosting financial skills.

Before joining Principality, he carried out numerous marketing and communication roles at South Wales Police, and also worked at Cynnal Cymru supporting the Welsh Government on sustainability projects and the Climate Change Commission. He's a Business Studies graduate from Swansea Metropolitan University and completed his Chartered Institute of Marketing Post Graduate Diploma at the University of South Wales.

James grew up in Llanelli but now lives in Dinas Powys with his young family. He's thoroughly enjoys raising money for great charity causes and is a huge rugby fan of the Scarlets, Wales and the CAVC Rugby Academy. You might see him on the rugby field as he set-up and coaches the Principality Puffins Touch Rugby Team.

You can keep up to date with James' adventures on twitter @marketingQB

Laura Farrow

Laura Farrow (MSc FCA) graduated with First Class Honours from Aberystwyth University, and joined Broomfield & Alexander as a trainee in 2003. Laura subsequently qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 2006, and in the process, became a National Prize Winner as Best Performing Student in her ACA examinations. Laura is currently a Senior Audit Director, whose duties include advising on technical and compliance matters, alongside managing a large portfolio of clients. Laura is originally from Carmarthenshire but is now based in Cardiff with her young family.

Rhian Huws Williams

Rhian Huws Williams has spent the last 30 years in leadership roles within the Care Sector, most recently as the Chief Executive of the Care Council for Wales.

Rhian’s has had a long-term commitment to learning and development across the whole of the social care sector. She was instrumental in introducing vocational qualifications and the value of work-based learning in social care across the private and voluntary sector and local authorities. The focus was on collaboration, inclusion and partnership working.

Rhian's greatest achievement was to develop a national approach to workforce planning and a development strategy for the whole of the social work and social care sector in partnership with government and employers.
This was underpinned by occupational standards and qualifications; commissioned training; practice guidance; resources to support recruitment, retention, supervision, knowledge and skills; and, using the evidence to influence policy and strategy in skills, education and learning.

Her passion was to ensure the workforce is supported in becoming ‘the best they can be’ and proud of their role and achievements.

Rhian has sat on several Ministerial Task Groups for Welsh Government and is currently a member of the Ministerial Partnership Board on the Welsh Language. She is passionate about increasing the use of the Welsh Language in all aspects of life. Her other passions include the various other portfolio of prestigious Board roles at organisations such as City & Guilds, Menter Caerdydd, the Living Room and National Eisteddfod, to name but a few!

In her spare time, Rhian is very much into active pursuits such as running and climbing and also sings in a local choir.

Khushboo Patel

Khushboo studied economics in London, during which she worked at HM Treasury under Gordon Brown. Upon graduating with a First Class Honours degree, and being awarded Best Student in the Business School, Khushboo moved into banking.
In 2007, Khushboo joined Royal Bank of Scotland and NatWest where she undertook various roles, from relationship management to credit risk and senior leadership. After 12 years at RBS, Khushboo took on a new challenge with Metro Bank by launching a brand new bank in Wales, and is currently leading the banking revolution for Metro Bank in Wales.
In addition to this Khushboo champions education and employability skills amongst young people by mentoring and advocating the Cardiff 2030 initiative and the 21st Century Schools Programme. Khushboo is also a keen supporter of charities and volunteer work, especially with dogs!
When she’s not with her playful German Shepherd, in her spare time, you’ll find Khushboo crafting, cooking, and planning her next travels with her partner and family!

Heather Ferguson

Heather is the Community Board representative who currently works for Age Cymru and heads up a number of sector-leading projects. Prior to this role, she was a Student Partnership Consultant for National Union of Students Wales as part of the Wise Wales project.  Wise Wales is a collaboration of sector organisations working to develop meaningful partnership between educators, students’ unions and students across Wales.

Heather also previously worked at Cardiff and Vale College as the Learner Involvement and Inclusivity Coordinator, during which time she was the founding chair of the Learner Voice Practitioner Network in Wales.  She also served as the sabbatical President of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama Students’ Union.

In addition to her experience within the education sector in Wales, Heather is a qualified cognitive behavioural therapy counsellor.  She also recently completed a Masters research project at University of South Wales which focussed on clinical perfectionism and performance anxiety.


You can view our Board Structure and Committees here and the Code of Conduct we set out for all members here, along with our planned calendar of meetings.

You can also view other key reporting documents including our Annual Review, Annual Report from the Clerk to the Corporation and College Accounts.