Governance and Leadership
Meet our leadership team
Mike James - Chief Executive, CAVC Group
Kay Martin – Principal, CAVC
Mark Roberts – Chief Operating Officer, CAVC
Sharon James – Deputy Principal, CAVC
Emil Evans – Vice Principal, Curriculum
Mary Kent – Vice Principal, Commercial Business Development
Richard Pugsley – Vice Principal, Corporate Resources
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.
Vice Chair of Corporation
Bart Haines has spent 25 years working internationally in Brussels and the US with Dow Corning in the roles of European Vice President and UK Managing Director. His public sector service includes more than a decade as a Governor of the former Barry College, and since merger in 2011, as Governor at Cardiff and Vale College. Other voluntary roles have previously included the Chairmanship of the South East Wales Training & Enterprise Council, and to date, Bart has been an independent member of the Audit Committee at Techniquest since 2001.
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.
Clerk to the Corporation
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.
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.
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 is a Partner at Capital Law LLP. Having graduated with first class honours in law he trained at Bond Pearce (now Bond Dickinson), before joining Capital Law in 2005. Iestyn specialises in employment law and has a particular interest and expertise in education law and practice. In August 2014 Iestyn was chosen as one of the Western Mail's '35 under 35' top young business and professional men in Wales.
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 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 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.
Professor Danny Saunders, OBE
Professor Danny Saunders, OBE, retired from the University of Glamorgan in 2012 where he was Head of the Centre for Lifelong Learning. Danny's current activity involves writing case studies about widening access projects, developing work based learning, identifying lifelong learning catalysts amongst older age groups, and developing new learning pathways into higher education. Danny is an Emeritus Professor at the University of South Wales Trinity Saint David. He also continues his involvement in Higher Education through managing QAA reviews, external examining, conference organising, and PhD supervision. Danny is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and in 2010 received the OBE for services to Higher Education in Wales.
Staff and Student Governors
Rhianwen Davies - Business Support Staff Governor
Rhianwen Davies has been with the College for more than seven years. During her time at the College she has taken on a variety of roles, from Learning Support Assistant to Essential Skills Tutor to her current role as Welsh Language Officer. She is responsible for the College’s compliance to the Welsh Language Standards. Prior to her time at the College she was a Primary School Teacher and then an Education Officer at the National Assembly for Wales.
Silviana Rizea - Student Governor
Silviana Rizea is the Sabbatical Officer for the Cardiff Sites and is studying BTEC Science Level 2. Silviana first came to the UK from Romania when she was 13 years old and speaks 3 languages. Silviana is an IT specialist, and has used her skills to set up a Club in The Parade to help her peers to develop their IT skills. This year, Silviana became a Student Digital Leader, and because of this opportunity, has to date, passed two out of three Microsoft Office Specialist Exams.
Kevin Robinson - Academic Staff Governor
Kevin Robinson has been with the College for approximately 17 years, starting as a part time teacher in the construction department. Kevin is currently Head of Building Services. He has a positive and realistic personality providing support for all the staff he manages.
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 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.
Donna Merrick is a dynamic, engaging and enterprising business management professional with 20 plus years' management experience in senior roles including Capital Law and Smart Solutions, and is currently working as a freelance consultant. Her experience lies in relationship management, delivery of impcatful coaching and training, sales and business development and people management across all sectors. Donna has provided career advice for unemployed professionals for DWP plus delivered guest lectures at Cardiff Metropolitan on HR consulting services and career management.
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.
Claire Morgan took on the role of Dean for Learning and Teaching at Cardiff Metropolitan University in August 2015, where she is responsible for the delivery of the University's learning, teaching and assessment strategy. She held previous positions for Cardiff University, as Associate Dean for Quality for the College of Biomedical and Life Sciences, and Associate Dean of Cardiff Business School. Claire's background is in Economics, with over 20 years' experience in higher education, with a specific interest in assessment policy and practice. Claire has been appointed to work for the Quality Assurance Agency as an academic Higher Education Reviewer and is also a Non-Executive Member of the Board for Qualifications Wales, which regulates non-degree qualifications in Wales.
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.
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.
Mohammed Alamgir Ahmed
Mohammed Alamgir Ahmed is an alumni of CAVC, having initially studied at Coleg Glan Hafren, and following this, subsequently obtained a Degree in Business Studies from the University of Glamorgan. Mo is currently a Division Director of IT and Sales at Yolk Recruitment, a 'Fast Growth 50' company, having progressed from his initial role as a Technology Recruitment Consultant. Mo is a committed family man with two young children, however, he manages to combine this with being a highly active member of the local community and dedicates much of his spare time to a number of voluntary roles including; mentoring youths from the local BME communities; Director of Projects for the Muslim Council of Wales; Parent Governor at Allensbank Primary School, and Wales Board Trustee for 'Remembering Srebrenica'. Mo also co-founded Haya Fitness with his wife, Shahina, which is a women-only gym specifically aimed at women from the BME community.
Shameem Nawaz is the Project Manager for the Marie Curie 'Improvinaccess to Palliative Care Services for Minority Ethnic Communities' in Cardiff which aims to improve access to palliative care services for patients and their families from Minority Ethnic Communities. For more than ten years Shameem has worked with Statutory and Third Sector Services across the UK around the subject of 'Including Diverse Families in Services'. This includes work with Disabled Children's Services, Social Services around adoption and fostering, Drug and Alcohol Services and young offenders. Shameem has co-authored several publications and articles and presented at conferences including at an international conference. Shameem is deeply committed to achieving equal access to services for diverse communities.
Aliya Mohammed is the Chief Executive of Race Equality First. Before this Aliya worked in social care for Reach Supported Living, a support provider for people with learning disabilities and part of the Seren Group. Aliya has worked in the women's equality sector and also as a journalist for radio, newspaper and for a PR company reporting on the economic development of global companies. Recently Aliya travelled to the United Nations in Geneva with colleagues from Runnymede Trust and other race equality NGO's to give evidence to the CERD committee about the UK Government's commitment to racial equality. CERD (Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination) is the United Nations body monitors compliance by UN countries to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. After hearing evidence from Race Equality First, Runnymede Trust and other race equality organisations, the UN, CERD committee concluded that there has been an outbreak of xenophobia and discrimination against ethnic minorities in the UKm particularly since the referendum campaign. In response to the report, the Government has announced a race equality audit of publiv services and Aliya has been asked by the UK Cabinet to advise on methods for collating data for their Race Disparity Audit.
Azza Ali is a busy working mother of 3. Azza is a Financial Services Professional for Legal & General and until April 2015, the Head of the Management Committee of the Sudanese Community Supplementary School. Prior to this, Azza was the school's academic secretary for two years. Azza hopes to put her life experience as a parent, ties to an ever-growing Sudanese community in the locale, and links with one of the biggest employers in Cardiff, to serve and support CAVC in its aim to transform education and training across the capital region of Wales, in the community and in the workplace.
Heather Ferguson currently works as 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 partnerships between educators, students' unions and students across Wales. Heather 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 was focussed on clinical perfectionism and performance anxiety. Heather is very proud to be a member of the Community Board at CAVC. She believes that the College plays a pivotal role in the local community and is excited to be part of supporting this ongoing partnership.
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
Capt Cat Burton FRAeS joined British Airways as a cadet pilot in 1971, and became a First Officer on Viscounts in 1972. That made her British Airways most senior woman pilot when she retired in 2018, but she makes no claim to any pioneering woman pilot status. That’s because Cat is a transgender woman, having transitioned at work after the Equality Act 2010. As well as her Community Governorship, she is on the boards of three diversity charities, works for several others and chairs The Vale of Glamorgan Community Cohesion Group. She is a flying instructor at Aeros Flight Training at Cardiff Wales Airport and a Civilian Instructor with 372 (Barry) Squadron Royal Air Force Air Cadets. Cat was born and grew up in The Vale of Glamorgan and attended Barry Grammar Technical School and Barry Comprehensive.