Introduction to the board

The Corporation Board (“the Board”) currently comprises a maximum of 15 members of whom one is the Chief Executive and two Staff and Student Members.
The remaining “independent” Board members come from a wide variety of backgrounds to ensure the College can draw on experience from the business community, including the rail sector, professions and the wider public sector from the communities it serves in Birmingham, Doncaster, Widnes and nationally.


The Board sets the College’s strategic vision and direction and is responsible for ensuring the College delivers on it.  This includes determining the educational character and mission of the College and establishing and maintaining the framework of policies within which the College operates.  It also has responsibility for the effective and efficient use of resources, including setting the budget and safeguarding the College’s assets, and for approving the quality of the services provided to learners.   The Board plays a vital role in supporting and challenging the College’s Executive Team and overseeing the overall health of the organisation to ensure it will be competitive, outcomes driven and place the needs of its students and employers at the heart of everything it does.


The role of Board member is a voluntary one and is comparable with that of a non-executive director on the board of a public company.  However instead of being accountable to shareholders the Board is accountable to its students and the employers who send apprentices to it as well as to the public and is responsible for ensuring the funds it receives are used appropriately.  In so doing the College and the Board must have regard to government education policies and regulations.


Alison Munro, CBE - Chair

As CEO of HS2 Ltd from its inception in January 2009 to September 2014, and thereafter as MD Development/Phase 2 until her retirement in August 2017, Alison led the £50 billion HS2 project leading all aspects of the route proposals and strategy for the high speed network, meeting extremely challenging deadlines and achieving very high quality. She successfully prepared and delivered the largest hybrid bill ever, with record levels of public engagement, and secured support, approvals and funding from Government, to reach the point of starting construction. Alison built a high performing organisation from nothing to over 600 people, and made a full contribution as an Executive and Board member to the direction and management of the company whilst being a successful ambassador for the project through the full range of channels and audiences.

Since April 2016, and currently, Alison is a Non-Executive Director at OFWAT (Office of Water Regulation), where she is engaged, in particular, in shaping the strategy for the next price review, and as Chair of the Audit and Risk Committee providing assurance to the Board on the effective operation of the OFWAT organisation.

Previously Alison has held roles with the Department for Transport, Roads and National Networks, (2007-09) where she delivered a major change programme for the sponsorship and control of Highways Agency major projects and led the strategy and implementation plans for a £6 billion programme for advanced management of motorways; the Department for Transport, Local and Regional Transport, (2004-07) including overhauling the approval process for local authority major projects to ensure cost control and effective project management and leading on the provision of advice to Ministers on approvals for highly sensitive tram schemes;  the Department for Transport, Rail, (1999-2004) where Alison secured the key deals for completing HS1 (Channel Tunnel Rail Link), and all aspects of the new financial and regulatory regime for Network Rail after Railtrack went into administration; the Government Office for London (1996-99) where she led the development of transport strategy with London boroughs and stakeholders, including congestion charging proposals and provisions in the GLA Act which provided the basis for the current scheme in London, and new Thames crossings and the Department for Transport, Aviation, (1992-96) where Alison led the policy for additional runway capacity in the south east and was the lead policy witness for the Heathrow Terminal 5 public inquiry.

Alison chairs the Budget Task & Finish Group.

Alison Munro, CBE

Alex Stephenson. B Eng, CBE - Vice Chair

Alex was appointed to the board in November 2016. He believes that a long career in transport, including 10 years in the rail industry, combined with his extensive non-executive experience on the boards of an FE College and University will help to deliver the high-quality Apprentice training essential to construct and operate our future railways. He sees NCATI and HS2 as a unique opportunity to equip new and existing rail students with the knowhow and skills demanded by the technology and quality systems of UK’s high speed and future railways.

Alex’s professional career covered 30 years in the motor industry with Perkins Engines, Land Rover and BMW UK, primarily in engineering and manufacturing, followed by 10 years as Engineering and Safety director at Alstom Transport UK.

Outside his professional career, he had held several senior non-executive roles. In 1999 he was appointed Chair of Advantage West Midlands (The RDA); from 2008 to 2014 he was Pro Chancellor and Chair of Council at Birmingham City University and he is now Chair at The Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry.

Alex chairs the Search, Governance & Remuneration Committee and is a member of the Audit Committee and a member of the Budget Task & Finish Group and the Ofsted Task & Finish Group.

Alex Stephenson. B Eng, CBE

Clair Mowbray - Chief Executive & Principal

Clair was appointed as Chief Executive & Principal, National College for Advanced Transport & Infrastructure, in September 2016.  Her involvement with the National College started in 2014 when she joined HS2 Ltd to lead on its development.

Since then she has been instrumental in taking the project from concept through to its current stage of development working across stakeholders to achieve buy-in and support for the project.

Clair’s career has been varied working in both the public and private sector.   Her roles have included being a Management Consultant at PwC, Project Director at Tribal Education and running her own business.

The common thread throughout has been working with organisations dedicated to supporting people through skills development.  Her wide experience is an excellent platform for successfully implementing the National College, given its clear mandate to closely link skills development with the economy.

Clair is passionate about promoting the opportunities that the high speed rail sector affords to a wide range of learners through an innovative teaching model.

Clair is a member of the Search, Governance, & Remuneration Committee and the Industry Advisory Board.

Clair Mowbray

Naomi Connell - Independent Board Member

Naomi is the Chief Finance Officer of VolkerWessels UK, a civil engineering group with a strong presence in the rail industry and a local employer in both Birmingham and Doncaster.

Naomi qualified as a Chartered Accountant in the early 1990s with Deloitte in the UK and then in both France and the UK, she led international engagements for Ernst & Young Lyon in audit, business risk management and transaction support.

After ten years in practice, she joined industry as a senior finance manager and set up and led the provision of back office support to the regional offices of an energy company across Europe and Asia as well as overseeing the outsourced internal audit function. In 2003 she was appointed as Finance Director of London Underground where she led major transformation and change programmes across Transport for London including systems implementations and the integration of Metronet.

She joined VolkerWessels UK in 2010 with a mandate to enable the development of VolkerWessels UK as a significant player in the UK infrastructure market, bringing together a number of subsidiaries to work together as a united group.

Naomi is Chair of the Audit Committee and also a member of the Search, Governance & Remuneration Committee.

Naomi Connell

Marcus Dunn - Student Board Member (Doncaster Campus)

Marcus writes, “Beginning my Level 4 Advanced Technician Apprenticeship has been the best move I’ve ever made. I’m now in my second year and I’ve learned a lot in the past year, including being trained in Personal Track Safety and Magnetic Particle Inspection.

I’m currently training to operate the wheel lathe, which is critical to our depot for 3rd party work.

It has been an incredibly exciting journey so far and I’m eager to see where it can take me.”

Marcus Dunn

Carl Garrud - Independent Board Member

Carl Garrud is Managing Director of Rhomberg Sersa UK Ltd, a position he has held since the company was formed in 2013, prior to which he was Managing Director of Sersa Rail UK Ltd.  Carl entered the rail industry in 1992 as a Technical Engineer with British Rail and following privatisation worked within technical disciplines for major contractors such as Balfour Beatty, Amey Seco and Jarvis.   Having spent many years in the rail industry, Carl recognises the skills shortage across the industry and believes investment in the engineers of the future is the key to the success of the UK rail network over the coming years, including HS2.

Rhomberg Sersa UK Ltd fully supports the Apprenticeship initiative as a route to engineering qualifications.  As a local engineering company in Doncaster, Rhomberg Sersa UK Ltd championed Doncaster’s bid to host the National College for High Speed Rail. Following the successful bid, Carl was invited to sit on the board in 2015.  Carl regards his involvement with NCHSR as a fantastic opportunity to be influential in the formation of two world class facilities: Birmingham and Doncaster.

Before moving into rail, Carl worked in the construction industry on major civil engineering projects including Canary Wharf, Barcelona Olympic Village and Disney World Paris, as well as spending nine years in the armed forces as a Royal Marine Commando.

Carl is a member of the Ofsted Task & Finish Group.

Carl Garrud

Kirsti Lord - Independent Board Member

Kirsti joined the Association of Colleges as Deputy Chief Executive, Member Services in August 2017.  The AoC is the national voice for colleges and exists to support and promote their interests, set up for the sector by the sector.

She has 17 years’ experience working in Further Education from Part-Time Lecturer to Acting Principal in 2017.  The focus of her work since 2008 has been around quality improvement and curriculum design, leading a large department from inadequate to outstanding between 2010 and 2012 and maintained outcomes and student experience at this level until she progressed in 2015.  In her most recent college leadership role, Kirsti worked with colleagues to liaise with ESFA, the FE Commissioner’s team and Ofsted to secure removal of both financial and quality notices of concern and to successfully complete a merger in 2017.

Kirsti is a member of the Ofsted Task & Finish Group.

Kirsti Lord

Jo Matthews - Independent Board Member

An experienced leader, executive coach, trainer, sustainable development specialist and facilitator of organisational change, with 34 years working in the Further and Higher Education sector. Previously a senior post holder in a General College of Further Education, she set up her own business 11 years ago to work with strategic leadership teams, using coaching and appreciative inquiry as a foundation. She has a strategic and systemic understanding of all aspects of education, refreshed recently as a chair of a college corporation supporting a college turnaround.

Coach executives, CEO’s and Board members, both as one to one, and in small teams. The clients tend to focus around whole organisational change, and the leadership requirements for success. Facilitates governor residentials and  executive away days, particularly around Corporate Responsibility and using Appreciative Inquiry in leadership.

Serves on several boards, both for educational establishments and charities. Currently a Leadership and Governance  associate with the Education and Training Foundation.

Exercised at the moment by  unconscious bias and how it impacts on board effectiveness, and increasing diversity in the sector.

Jo chairs the Ofsted Task & Finish Group.

Jo Matthews

Chris Pike - Co-opted Member of the Ofsted Task & Finish Group and a member of the Industry Advisory Board

Chris is the Sector Director of UK Rail at Arcadis.

Chris Pike

Laura Shoaf - Independent Board Member

Laura is the Managing Director of Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) – part of the West Midlands Combined Authority. Laura has more than 20 years international experience in delivering integrated economic and spatial regeneration.

In her native USA, Laura held positions in the New York City Department of City Planning and the Institute of Public Administration, before overseeing several high-level projects both in the UK and America in her role as Principal Consultant for GVA Grimley.

Laura is a member of the Audit Commitee.

Laura Shoaf

Dani Thompson - Staff Board Member (Doncaster Campus)

Dani’s role within the National College for Advanced Transport & Infrastructure is Recruitment Executive. She is responsible for recruiting and onboarding learners for both our full-time provisions and any apprenticeship vacancies that arise. I also liaise with and attend careers events within local schools in order to discuss The National College for High Speed Rail’s offer with potential future students.

Dani Thompson

Mark Thurston - Independent Board Member

Mark joined High Speed Two (HS2) as Chief Executive Officer in March 2017. With more than 25 years’ experience in project and programme management, Mark has worked in both the public and private sectors on some of the UK’s largest infrastructure projects. Mark is also an HS2 Limited Board Member.

Previously, Mark was Managing Director for Europe at CH2M and was with the company from June 2008. During his career with CH2M Mark spent a significant amount of time in leadership roles on major programmes, including three years as Strategic Projects Director on Crossrail, leading the Programme Partner joint venture Transcend.

Prior to this Mark was Programme Delivery Manager on the London 2012 Olympic & Paralympic Games, where he led the Power Lines Under Grounding project and the £500 million Structures, Bridges and Highways programme on behalf of the CLM delivery partner consortium.

Mark has a Master’s Degree in Engineering Project Management from Loughborough University. He is also a Visiting Professor at the Bartlett School of Construction and Project Management at University College London and is an honorary Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers and the Association for Project Management.

Mark is a Member of the Budget Task & Finish Group.

Mark Thurston

Reza Zolfaghari - Staff Board Member (Birmingham Campus)

Reza is the senior curriculum lead for railway systems engineering and integration. He is in charge of design, plan and delivery of various bespoke courses and modules for full-time/part-time students and apprentices. The main purpose of the courses he designs is to train future railway systems engineers who will be able to understand the complexity and functionality of different railway subsystems and be capable to integrate those subsystems and create a safe, punctual and reliable  high speed rail systems and manage interfaces between high speed and conventional networks.

Reza Zolfaghari

Denise Cheng-Carter - Co-opted Member of the Audit Committee and a member of the Budget Task & Finish Group

Denise is the Deputy Principal – Finance & Resources at Calderdale College. Denise has the commercial expertise, business acumen and academic background to strategically direct, shape and deliver organizational change. Denise is a determined and goal oriented individual with proven leadership and motivational skills within challenging environments.

Denise Cheng-Carter

Richard Cooper - Co-opted Member of the Budget Task & Finish Group

Richard Cooper is Finance Director and Company Secretary with overall responsibility for all financial, legal and HR matters for Rhomberg Sersa UK Ltd, the UK’s leading slab track specialist.  Richard is an Associate of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and a Chartered Global Management Accountant.

Prior to joining Rhomberg Sersa UK Ltd in 2009, Richard was Group Management Accountant and Corporate Planning Manager for payment industry experts VocaLink Ltd (formerly Link Interchange Network Ltd), and had also worked as an accountant for automation specialists Treves UK Ltd where he began his accountancy training.

He also holds a LL.B degree in law from the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne.

Richard is a member of the Budget Task & Finish Group and a Director of the College’s subsidiary company, NCHSR Ltd.

Richard Cooper

Chris Harrison - Co-opted Member of the Audit Committee

Chris Harrison is Chief Financial Officer of the infrastructure industry specialist, Munnelly Group PLC and non-executive who acts as co-opted member of the Audit Committee, a Board committee of the National College for High Speed Rail.

Recognised as one of the top finance professionals working within a finance function in UK industry, Chris is an entrepreneurial-thinking CFO who helps blue-chip listed organisations win and achieve optimal business performance, delivering sustained excellence and compounding growth, through winning strategy.

Chris has a clear insight into what the success drivers are for both financial and non-financial aspects of a business from his experiences gained working in two of the Big Four professional services firms, followed by UK PLC and French listed businesses and having spent eight years working with businesses involved in the Rail sector.

Chris Harrison

Neil Hayward - Co-opted Member of the Ofsted Task & Finish Group

Neil has a proven track record as a Board Level Executive and human resources (HR) professional across multiple sectors, both public and private, as well as internationally.

Before joining High Speed Two (HS2) Ltd, Neil was working as an independent management consultant. His most recent corporate role was at Post Office Ltd where, as Group People Director, he was part of the team that restored this business to profit, after several years of significant losses.

Neil had previously held senior level HR positions at BT plc, the Ministry of Justice, Standard Chartered Bank, and Serco Group plc amongst others.

Neil Hayward

Adam Mahmood - Co-opted Member of the Search, Governance & Remuneration Committee

Adam is a Partner for McLean Advisory, a leading consultancy with executive search, human capital advisory and economic research capabilities.

Adam personally leads the firm’s Cities Practice, a new search unit with a particular focus on urban development, transport & mobility and disruptive smart technology markets. He is a highly experienced adviser to boards, with a strong track record of facilitating Chair, Non-Executive Director and Group Executive Committee appointments for global enterprises, governments and high growth SMEs. Previously, Adam was responsible for all UK workstreams across the Private Sector for the executive search arm of a global FTSE talent services group.

Adam has strong interests in UK regeneration, infrastructure and new technology growth. He is also passionate about talent, learning and skills, and maintains an interest in support educational institutions on employability programmes.

Adam Mahmood

Sir Terry Morgan - Founding Patron

Sir Terry Morgan was the inaugural Chair of the College Board to July 2017 and a former Chair of HS2 Limited and Crossrail.

Prior to this, Terry was Chief Executive of Tube Lines, a PPP company that was contracted to maintain and upgrade the infrastructure of the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines. Terry’s employment record also includes Group Managing Director, Operations, BAE Systems, Group HR Director, BAE Systems, Managing Director (Royal Ordnance), Managing Director (Land Rover), Rover Group and Operations Director, Rover Group.

In addition, Terry led a skills review for the transport sector in support of the Government’s commitment to 30,000 apprentices by 2020.

Sir Terry Morgan