The Council is the University's governing body. It comprises lay members (who make up the majority of the membership), staff members, and student members.
Chair of Council – Alastair Da Costa
Alastair has extensive leadership experience in the professional services sector and in the further and higher education sectors.
In addition to his role as Chair of Council at the University of Leeds, Alastair is Chair of Capital City College Group, one of the largest further education providers in the UK, he was recently Chair of digital education business 01Founders Limited and has served on the Councils of the London School of Economics and the University of Sussex.
Alastair has been a partner and shareholder in a number of professional services organisations and is currently Executive Chair of specialist legal search and recruitment firm, Fox Rodney. Alastair qualified and practised as a corporate lawyer. He had a long career with international law firm DLA Piper, where he was a Partner, Managing Director (for Asia Pacific and Middle East), Global Board and Executive member.
Between 2018 and 2021, Alastair served as a Commissioner to the UK Government’s Social Mobility Commission and was lead commissioner for further education and adult skills. Alastair has a Law degree from the University of Leeds, an MSc in Development Management from The London School of Economics.
Alastair can be contacted through the Secretary's office by emailing the University Secretary via University-Secretary@leeds.ac.uk.
With a keen passion for improving the student experience, Jess has worked in higher education since 2014, joining the University of Leeds in 2017. Jess is the Curriculum Records Operational Manager in the Student Education Service (SES). She also specialises in timetabling and has worked across several teams in the SES. Jess won a Faculty Partnership Award in Engineering & Physical Sciences in 2021 for innovation.
Jess has a degree in journalism and keeps up with current affairs. Outside of work Jess enjoys antipasti and has a collection of over 50 scarves.
Tom joined the Council in 2019. With over 30 years’ experience in technology, he has held a variety of leadership roles in multiple countries, and is currently Chief Technology Officer in The Ardonagh Group and a member of Council for the British Computer Society.
He was previously Group Chief Architect and Chief Information Officer, Lowell Group, Chief Information Officer at Leeds Building Society, IT Director for HSBC Global IT Operations and Vice President for IT for HSBC Global Software Delivery in Chicago. He has experience in the full range of IT-related services expected at a senior level, including cyber security and risks, digital, IT strategy, and infrastructure and asset management. He has previously been a non-executive director of Ongo Homes, Scunthorpe.
Qualified with a Bachelor degree in Business Studies and a Masters degree in IT Management, he is also a Chartered Fellow of the British Computer Society.
Bethan is a graduate of Leeds from the School of Performance and Cultural Industries, graduating in Theatre and Performance with Enterprise in 2022.
She is the elected officer for Education within Leeds University Union’s Student Executive. Bethan took up this role in 2022 and has now been elected for her second term for the 2023/2024 academic year. Her responsibilities lie in the undergraduate student experience within their academic studies. She leads the school representatives alongside our other academic student leaders.
Seb has been a lay member of the Council since 2016. He graduated from the University in 2004 with joint honours in History and Philosophy.
Since 2015, Seb has been chief executive of Access – The Foundation for Social Investment, which supports charities and social enterprises across England to be more financially resilient through developing enterprise activity and providing blended finance.
Seb’s previous roles have been within the charity sector covering policy, strategy and funding. Following his graduation, he held two consecutive terms on the executive of Leeds University Union, during the latter of which he also served on the Council as a student representative.
Seb was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2022 for services to Social Investment.
Helen joined the Council in 2019. She studied her law degree at the University of Leeds and qualified as a solicitor at Hammond Suddards (now part of Squire Patton Boggs).
She has spent the majority of her career as General Counsel and Company Secretary of listed companies across a range of industries – retail, building materials, security and leisure. She stepped down as General Counsel and Group Secretary at the Co-Op Group in 2022 where she led their legal and secretarial functions and is a member of the Executive Team. She is currently Chair of the Yorkshire and North East Advisory Board at the Canal and River Trust.
She participates in the School of Law mentoring scheme.
Peter Goldsbrough is an experienced board member and chair. He is a trustee of the Fidelity UK Foundation, trustee of Dartington Trust, and Senior Advisor to The Boston Consulting Group, where he advises CEO and board-level executives of FTSE 100 companies and their equivalents around the world.
He previously chaired The Boston Consulting Group UK Partnership. He was also previously a non-executive director with Imperial College Healthcare. He is a Visiting Professor at the Institute of Global Health Innovation, Imperial College. He was previously a member of the Education Endowment Foundation advisory board.
Dr Kendi Guantai
Kendi is the co-Dean for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, and an Associate Professor of Corporate Communication Practice in the marketing department of the Leeds University Business School (LUBS).
She joined LUBS in 2005 as a postgraduate student, after seven years in industry in Kenya. Following completion of her Masters in Advertising and Marketing, she went on to successfully complete her PhD studies at Leeds in 2011 before joining LUBS as a Senior Teaching Fellow.
Kendi also designs and delivers entrepreneurship courses on the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women's Programme, which is run in partnership with the University of Leeds.
Outside the University, she is a Trustee and Chair of the Board for ActionAid UK and Vice-Chair of the Chartered Association for Business School's Race Equality Action Group. She has held several board leadership roles both in the corporate and the third sector and is a co-founding trustee and former Chair of the Leeds African Communities Trust (LACT).
In 2020, Kendi was recognised as a Local Hero by Leeds City Council for ‘outstanding and tireless services within the local community during the COVID-19 pandemic’.
Lauren joined the University of Leeds in 2013 to study BA Theatre and Performance followed by an MA in Applied Theatre and Intervention and has remained a member of the University community since.
She previously held the positions of Activities Officer and Union Affairs Officer at Leeds University Union before taking up her current role as Student Experience Officer in the Lifelong Learning Centre.
In this role she supports mature, part-time and foundation-level learners at the University and works to develop a sense of belonging among students from widening participation backgrounds.
Professor Peter Jimack
Peter is a Professor of Scientific Computing in the School of Computing, and Director of the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Fluid Dynamics. He joined the University in 1990 as a Lecturer in Mathematical Software.
Peter has since undertaken a wide range of leadership positions at school, faculty and University level, and roles across many parts of the organisation including School Director of Research, Faculty Pro-Dean for Research, and Executive Dean of the Faculty of Engineering between 2010 and 2019.
Most recently, he was interim Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Student Education. As Executive Dean he played a key role in establishing the Joint School with Southwest Jiatong University.
Professor Simon Kelley
Professor Simon Kelley has been Head of the School of Earth and Environment since April 2021. He joined Leeds from the University of Edinburgh, where he was Head of Geosciences. Prior to this, he was a Head of Department and Associate Dean at the Open University. Professor Kelley is also a member of Senate.
His research interests cover a wide range of Earth Sciences, with a specialism in geochronology, or the measurement of the rates and timescales of geological processes. He has been closely involved with the development of innovative laser and mass spectrometer-based techniques for measurement of noble gases. This work has been augmented by research in the use of Technology Enhanced Learning, arising from his leadership of the internationally successful Virtual Microscope for Earth Sciences at the Open University.
Iain joined the Council in 2019 and is a chartered accountant by profession.
He retired from KPMG in September 2019 after 22 years as a partner, for the last seven heading KPMG’s UK national business, and prior to that, he was the senior partner in Leeds. During that time he has worked with most of Yorkshire’s leading businesses and institutions.
He is now a non-executive director of two companies, and is a governor of Barnard Castle School. When he is not doing this, he’s following most sports and playing some.
Dr Yvette Oade CBE DL
Yvette has been a lay member of the Council since 2015 and until recently the Chair of the University Research Ethics Committee.
She joined Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust as Chief Medical Officer in June 2013, retiring in 2020 to become Medical Director at Nightingale Hospital Yorkshire and Humber. Yvette is currently the acting Regional Medical Director for NHS England, North East and Yorkshire.
Her portfolio includes responsibility for quality improvement and patient safety, and leading medical education and research.
Originally trained as a doctor in Leeds, Yvette became a Consultant Paediatrician in Calderdale and Huddersfield Foundation NHS Trust. On moving into clinical management, she held a number of senior managerial roles before being appointed Executive Medical Director.
Yvette served for two years as the Chief Medical Officer of Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust and Deputy Chief Executive, focusing on quality improvement and patient safety. She was also involved in the development of the Yorkshire and Humber Academic Health Science Network.
Yvette is a trustee of Yorkshire Cancer Research and Vice Chair of Leeds Hospitals Charity.
Professor Alice O’Grady
Alice is a Professor of Applied Performance and currently Dean for Student Education with responsibility for Quality and Standards. She is a Leeds graduate, having completed her undergraduate and PhD studies at the University.
Alice took up her post at Leeds in 2003 and has held various leadership positions in the School of Performance and Cultural Industries including Admissions Tutor, MA Programme Leader and Director of Student Education. She served a five-year term as Head of School from 2015 to 2020. In her current role she leads the University's assessment strategy and chairs a number of key committees, including the Quality and Standards Committee and the Digital Assessment at Leeds Project Board.
Leyla is the Director of Diverse Minds UK Ltd, providing workplaces with training, and consultancy on mental health, wellbeing and inclusion and is a Trustee for the charity Serendipity Arts. Previously, Leyla was the Head of Centre for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at Imperial College London for five years.
Before joining Imperial College, Leyla worked at the University of Oxford for six years, firstly in student recruitment, specialising in increasing applications from underrepresented BAME young people, then becoming Oxford University’s first specific advisor for race and religion.
She is a Leeds alumna and was Leeds University Union’s Welfare Executive Officer from 2003 to 2004.
Dr Cordelia Rogerson
Dr Cordelia Rogerson joined the Council in 2022 and is the Clothworkers' Company nominee and a member of Clothworkers' Court (board).
In her professional career, she is Director of Collection Management at the British Library, leading the care and preservation of the library's physical (books, archives, artefacts) and digital collections, as well as being responsible for major digital transformation programmes.
Previously she held an academic post at Southampton University in Textile Conservation.
She is also a trustee for the British Library Collections Trust and non-executive director of Book Industry Communications. With an enduring passion for heritage and conservation, she is also a member of Winchester Cathedral Fabric Advisory Committee and Salisbury Cathedral Library and Archive Advisory Committee.
Ken has had a portfolio career. Originally from Sheffield, he started work as an apprentice in the steel industry before becoming a mature, non-traditional entry university student. During his studies, education and skills became his career focus following his belief in the power of education making a difference to individual lives and economies. He developed his career in education progressing from lecturer to senior post holder and then for over 25 years, in professional services working for KPMG and Deloitte, in which he became a Partner in the UK and then Australian Firms. His area of focus is building consulting business, delivering public sector transformation, education and skills engagements in the UK, Middle East, Far East and Australia.
In 2020, he retired from the Deloitte Australia Partnership, having been a part of the national leadership teams of the Public Sector Transformation, Human Capital, and Education businesses. He had also been a member of the board of the Queensland office with oversight of the regional strategy, business growth and how the office made an impact that mattered both internally and externally.
He returned to the UK and is now the founding partner of a boutique consultancy business that operates globally.
Janet is CEO of the Collaborative Learning Trust and a National Leader of Education. Janet has worked in school leadership, including several inner-city schools, for nearly 30 years. In 2009 she was the first BME secondary headteacher to be appointed in the city of Leeds and the first female headteacher in the 400+ year history of Prince Henry’s Grammar School (a comprehensive, non-selective school).
In 2018 Janet led the development of the Collaborative Learning Trust, a multi-academy trust with Prince Henry’s Grammar School as the founding school. The Trust has subsequently grown to include diverse schools across the Leeds and Bradford area.
Janet is passionate about increasing diversity in school leadership and has led a range of initiatives and activities (often in partnership with the DfE) to make a difference in this area. In 2021 she was awarded an OBE for services to education.
Kavita is a lawyer of thirty years standing. She read Law at the University of Cambridge and subsequently completed further management studies at Cambridge University’s Judge Business School and Oxford University’s Said Business School.
Kavita’s legal career started at international law firm Clifford Chance where she worked within the firm’s International Finance team. She then served for a number of years as Vice President /Executive Director and Counsel with Goldman Sachs. Following this, Kavita has served as International General Counsel in the energy sector and is now International General Counsel in a US-listed Global Healthcare corporation where she leads legal services across 12 jurisdictions. Kavita has over a decade of C-Suite experience at International Chief Legal Officer level within multinational listed corporations.
Passionate about sport, she also serves on the Board of the Yorkshire County Cricket Club and as a Board Trustee of Huddersfield Town AFCs Foundation.
Tim joined the Council in 2019 and is currently Chairman of the Trade and Agriculture Commission and an independent adviser and non-executive director. He has advised Pret a Manger on consumer protection and Tesco on food policy, including health, agriculture and food waste. Tim graduated from the University of Leeds with a degree in Microbiology and Zoology.
In October 2012, Tim joined Tesco as the Group Quality Director where he led a team responsible for product development, responsible sourcing, standards, quality and food policy. He stepped down in 2017. Prior to this he was the Chief Executive of the UK’s Food Standards Agency for five years.
He is now a Non-Executive Director and Chairman of Cranswick Plc and Pret a Manger, and holds a number of external advisory and charity roles.
Tim was named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to agriculture, food, and drink trade policy in the 2022 New Year Honours.
Heather joined the Council in September 2023 and is a chartered accountant and chartered tax professional who has been operating in the restructuring and change management space for the last 25+ years.
She retired from PwC in May 2023 after 21 years as a partner, having led the Global Restructuring Services business for her last four years and the UK Restructuring and Refinancing business for six years prior to that.
She has spent significant periods of time living and working overseas, most recently returning from Japan in February 2023, and is passionate about the development of teams and supporting diversity, inclusion and equity in the workplace.
When not working, Heather is an adventurer, travelling widely with her husband Mark and her now older children. Both she and her son, Harry, studied at the University of Leeds, and her daughter Lydia is currently in her final year studying Primary Education.
Emily has been a member of the University community since 2018 when she began her studies in BA English Literature and Creative Writing, followed by MA International Communication which she continues to pursue.
She currently holds the position of Union Affairs and Communications Officer at Leeds University Union, having previously spent a term in office as Wellbeing Officer, during which time she also served as a student trustee on the board of Unipol Student Homes.
You can read more about the Council on our Secretariat website.