Current non-executive and executive members of the company board.

Non-Executive Chair


Christian Brodie

Non-Executive Chair

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

He read law at Magdalen College, Oxford. He graduated in 1978. Whilst at university, he represented British Universities at cross country running and won silver and bronze medals at the British Universities Championships in that sport. He also represented Oxford University against Cambridge and was therefore awarded blues in athletics, cross country running and modern pentathlon.

He passed the solicitors’ professional exams with distinction in 1979 and then worked for Herbert Smith & Co. as a corporate finance lawyer in the City of London and New York.

In 1985 he joined S.G. Warburg & Co. Ltd. This firm was ultimately acquired by UBS which became the largest financial services organisation in the world in terms of client funds under management. He retired from UBS in 2013. At UBS he served in a variety of senior management positions including as a member of the Group Management Board, Vice Chairman of the Investment Bank, head of Investment Banking in Europe, Middle East and Africa and head of Investment Banking in Australia and New Zealand. He was ranked the top adviser in Europe in the Industrial Sector by value of transactions in 2000 by Thomson Financial, the league table compilers.

Following his retirement from UBS, he has taken on a number of non executive roles. He chairs or has chaired a number of organisations including: the Chelsea & Westminster Health Charity, Greensage Limited, the Council of the University of Sussex (as well as being the Pro Chancellor), the South East Local Enterprise Partnership, the Student Loans Company, Pentathlon GB, the Public Chairs Forum, the BIS Partnership Organisations Chairs Forum, the Regulatory Partnership Group for Higher Education and the Council of UCAS. He has served on the board of the Universities and Colleges Employers Association. He was a member of the Financial Sustainability Strategy Group of HEFCE, the Higher Education Funding Council of England

He has been a member of the finance and grants committees of the Wates Foundation, his family foundation that has donated more than £100 million to charitable causes mainly in London and the South East. He has served on the Public Leaders Editorial Board of the Guardian and on the Executive Committee of the Committee of University Chairs.

He is a member of the UK Government’s Sports Business Council and Co-Chairs the working group on the Sports Economy. He has also served as a Governor of Tonbridge School and on the Finance and Judd Foundation Committees of the Skinners Company. Finally he is or has been a member of the West Anglia Taskforce, the Governor Development Advisory Forum of the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education and the Greater Anglia Stakeholders’ Board.

His publications include contributing to the chapter on corporate governance of Gore Brown, the leading corporate law practitioners’ text book and editing the text book on the law and practice on Mergers and Acquisitions in Europe.


Mary Curnock Cook OBE

Non-Executive Director

Mary Curnock Cook holds a number of non-executive roles in the education sector.

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

She is Chair of Trustees of the Access Project and a Trustee at multi-academy Trust, United Learning, and Founders4Schools. She is also a Council member at the Open University and on the Board of Education and Youth Think Tank, LKMco. She Chairs an advisory Board for EdTech in HE and FE and is also an investor and advisor to a number of EdTech start-ups. She is on the Advisory Board for the Higher Education Policy Institute.

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


Simon Devonshire

Non-Executive Director

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

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

Simon has a portfolio of business interests including being the Entrepreneur in Residence for the National Physical Laboratory.


Natalie Elphicke

Non-Executive Director

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

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

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


David Gravells

Non-Executive Director

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

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


Professor Andrew Wathey CBE FRHistS FRSA FSA

Non-Executive Director

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

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

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

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

Chief Executive


Paula Sussex

Chief Executive and Accounting Officer

Paula Sussex joined the Company as Chief Executive and Accounting Officer in September 2018.

Prior to joining SLC Paula was Chief Executive of the Charity Commission for England and Wales.

A graduate of the London Business School, she originally trained as a barrister before working in the private sector. Her 25 year career has been primarily in consultancy, but also in the service delivery of large scale IT, latterly working as a Senior Vice President with Logica.

Executive Leadership Team


David Wallace

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

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

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

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

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


Jacqui Smillie

Chief Financial Officer / Executive Director for Finance, Commercial and Estates

Jacqui Smillie is a qualified Chartered Accountant and joined the Student Loans Company as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Executive Director for Finance, Commercial and Estates in July 2018.

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

Before joining SLC, Jacqui held a number of senior positions including, Director in the UK National Audit Office, with roles in external and internal audit, and strategy & planning. She has also worked in the United Nations and, most recently, in the Department for Education where she had responsibility for a team providing data analysis on provider risk as well as assurance for over £60 billion of funds to providers of learning and skills.

As CFO, Jacqui is a member of the SLC Board and the Executive Leadership Team, working closely with senior officials within DFE and the Devolved Administrations.


Bernice McNaught

Executive Director Repayments and Counter Fraud Services

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

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

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


Derek Ross

Executive Director Operations

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

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

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


Adrian Tucker

Chief Information Officer (interim)

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

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

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

Company Secretary


Gary Womersley

Company Secretary & SIRO

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

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

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