Please upgrade your browser

For the best experience, you should upgrade your browser. Visit our accessibility page to view a list of supported browsers along with links to download the latest version.

Council: Lay Member Biographies

Michael Birshan

Michael Birshan is a Senior Partner at McKinsey & Company, where he advises and supports the leaders of private, public and social sector institutions on their management challenges. Michael leads the firm’s Strategy & Corporate Finance Practice across Europe, the Middle East and Africa and previously managed McKinsey’s Governance Task Force to ensure the governance of the firm was fit for the future. Based in London, he has also lived and worked in San Francisco and Mumbai. Michael studied Philosophy, Politics & Economics at Balliol College, University of Oxford, and earned an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Passionate about education, Michael has been a trustee of the World Schools’ Debating Championships, a governor of Brentford School for Girls, a commissioner of the Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission that stewards the Marshall Scholarships, and serves on the advisory board for King’s Business School. He is a fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce. Other trusteeships: none

Professor Rachel Cooper OBE

Professor Rachel Cooper is Distinguished Professor of Design Management and Policy at Lancaster University and Director of ImaginationLancaster, where her research interests include design thinking, design management, design policy, design for wellbeing and socially responsible design. Publications include Designing Sustainable Cities, Constructing Futures and Handbook of Wellbeing and the Environment (Wiley Blackwell). She is also series editor of the Ashgate series Design for Social Responsibility covering topics such as designing for sustainability, inclusivity, service design, sport, health, transport and policy. 

Professor Cooper is currently working on Liveable Cities, an Engineering Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)-funded six-year research programme working to identify design and engineering solutions that will lead to low-carbon, resource-secure, future cities in which societal well-being is prioritised. Also The Creative Exchange, an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Knowledge Exchange hub partnership with the Royal College of Art, looking at the growth of the creative industries through exploring the ‘digital public space’. She is also Co-Investigator of an AHRC project on Design Value in Innovation, co-Director of HighWire (Digital Economies Innovation Doctoral Training Centre), non-executive Director of the Future Cities Catapult and a member of the EPSRC Strategic Advisory Network. She has recently been a Lead Expert for the UK Government Foresight programme on the Future of Cities, and is on the Academy of Medical Sciences Working group addressing ‘the health of the public 2040’ and the 2014 Blackett review on the Internet of Things, founding and past president of the European Academy of Design, founding editor of The Design Journal, and a trustee of the Research and Development Management Association (RADMA). She was a member of the EU Design and Innovation Leadership Board, and has undertaken several other advisory roles to national and international universities, government and non-governmental organisations.  Professor Cooper is a governor at Manchester High School for Girls. Other trusteeships: none. 

Jennifer Duvalier 

Jennifer Duvalier is a non-executive director and Chair of the Remuneration Committee of Guardian Media Group plc, a non-executive director of Mitie and a trustee of Restless Development. 

Until March 2017 Jennifer was Executive Vice-President of People at ARM Holdings, responsible for People and Internal Communications activity. Prior to that, she was Group People & Culture Director for six years at UBM plc, and Group Human Resources Director for international media and marketing services group Emap plc. Her earlier career was in management consultancy and banking. Other trusteeships: none. 

Mike Forster

Mike has extensive experience in the Airports and Aviation sector, particularly at BAA where sat on the Executive Committee and led the design of Terminal 5 and the third runway projects. He now leads Forster Associates, a consultancy advising organisations with large infrastructure developments on their strategy, master planning and project briefing. Mike is also a qualified architect and before BAA was a partner at Sheppard Robson, a large London practice. He is an Adjunct Professor at Imperial College, the Deputy Chairman of the British Aviation Group and a member of the Acumen 7 Business Leaders Network. Other trusteeships: none. 

Dr Tristram Hunt 

Dr Tristram Hunt became Director of the V&A in February 2017.  Formerly the Member of Parliament for Stoke-on-Trent Central, he served as the Labour Party’s Shadow Secretary of State for Education. He has a First Class degree in history from Trinity College, Cambridge (1995), and served as an Exchange Fellow at the University of Chicago (1996). Tristram has a PhD from the University of Cambridge, on ‘Civic Thought in Britain, 1820–1860’ (2000).  In 1997, he became a Special Adviser to Science Minister Lord Sainsbury (1997–2000), Associate Fellow at the Centre for History and Economics, King’s College, Cambridge and Senior Fellow at the Institute for Public Policy Research.

Between 2001–2010, Tristram combined his post as Senior Lecturer in History at Queen Mary, University of London, with work as a history broadcaster, presenting a range of radio and television programmes for the BBC and Channel 4. He is the author of several books, most recently Ten Cities That Made an Empire (2014). He has lectured on British and international culture at the Centre for European Studies, University of California Berkeley; the Centre for European Studies, Harvard; Princeton University and the National University of Singapore. Tristram has served as a Trustee of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the Heritage Lottery Fund, and the History of Parliament Trust.  He played a key role in helping to save the Wedgwood Collection from dispersal and is President of the British Ceramics Biennial. Other trusteeships: Gilbert Trust, Stoke-on-Trent Literary Festival.

Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE

One of the youngest ever to be awarded a Masters’ degree in Mathematics & Computer Science by the University of Oxford at age 20, Anne-Marie, unsurprisingly, continued to soar. In 2018 alone, she was listed among the top 50 women in tech in the world by Forbes, voted the fifth most influential woman in IT by Computer Weekly and was the recipient of the prestigious Barclays UK ‘Woman of the Year’ award.

2017 saw her featured among the top 50 most inspiring women in tech by Inspiring Fifty (an accolade she received for a second time in 2018). In recognition of her significant influence and achievements, Anne-Marie was awarded an MBE in the 2017 New Year’s Honours for services to young women and STEM sectors. In June of the same year she was also made an Honorary Fellow at Keble College, Oxford.

Not only a champion of getting women into STEM positions, Anne-Marie has previously worked with Goldman Sachs, Hewlett-Packard, Deutsche Bank and Lehman Brothers, amassing a wealth of experience. She is also a recognised thought-leader in the tech space, regularly appearing in the media as a talking head, and giving talks at tech giants such as SXSW and Founders Forum. Other trusteeships: Urban Development Music Foundation, The Institute for the Future of Work,     

Alan Leibowitz

Alan Leibowitz is Joint Managing Director of Dorrington Plc, a long established property investment and development company active in both the commercial and residential sectors, mainly in London. Alan is an executive director of Hanover Acceptances Limited, Dorrington's parent company, and sits on the boards of other Hanover companies. Alan is a director of the British Property Federation; of JW3, the Jewish Community Centre, and a non-executive director of Alta Advisors Limited. He was a Trustee of The Architectural Association Foundation for many years and was previously the Chair of Trustees of SPACE, the fine arts charity. He is a member of the London Advisory Committee of Historic England, was a long-standing member of CABE's Design Review Panel and has been a member of the property committees of the National Theatre and the Wiener Library, advising on their redevelopment projects. Other trusteeships: The Wigmore Hall Trust.  

Caragh Merrick (Treasurer)

Caragh Merrick was an audit partner in PricewaterhouseCoopers from 1990 to 2002, during which time she also fulfilled a number of practice leadership roles including senior audit partner for the Midlands region and member of the UK audit board. On retiring from PwC, she worked with Chairmen and Chief Executives, principally in the public sector, to develop effective corporate governance processes. As Treasurer of the College she chairs the Finance Committee. Other trusteeships: Member of Council and Treasurer of the University of Birmingham, Trustee and Chairman of the Finance Committee UCAS.

Professor Magdalene Odundo OBE

Professor Odundo is an international ceramic artist known for her distinct hand-built anthropomorphic vessel forms. In 2008 she received an OBE in the Queen’s birthday honours in recognition for her contribution to education and the arts and was the recipient of the African Art Recognition Award from Detroit Institute of Art in the same year. In 2012 she was awarded the African Heritage outstanding achievement in the arts and in 2013 an honorary doctorate from the University of Florida, Gainesville, USA, for her global contribution to education and research in the ceramics arts. Magdalene's work has been exhibited globally and is included in national and international public and private collections. 

Magdalene studied at West Surrey College of Art & Design, Farnham, 1973–76, and is an alumna of the Royal College of Art (1982). 

Magdalene works from her studio in Surrey. She was artist in residence at the National Glass Centre, University of Sunderland 2012–14. Magdalene is Emerita Professor of Ceramics at the University for the Creative Arts. She lectures, demonstrates and is an active participant in artists' residencies in the UK, Africa, Dubai, USA, Korea, China and Japan. In 2016 she was awarded The Montgomery Fellow residency at Dartmouth College, US. She is a member of the Art Workers' Guild. Other trusteeships: Trustee National Society for Education and Design (NSEAD) and a member of the British Council Art Advisory Panel.

Catherine Parry

Catherine Parry joined HSBC plc in April 2015 and is the Chief Financial Officer for the Global Functions of HSBC (including Risk, Finance, HR, Legal etc.) with costs of approximately $5 billion in over 70 countries. Prior to joining HSBC, Catherine was Head of Finance at London Stock Exchange plc and Head of Finance at Schroders plc where she was a director on the boards of two of the lead operating companies.  Catherine is a chartered accountant and has nearly 20 years’ experience in financial accounting, finance transformation and strategy.  She graduated with a BSc in Mathematics from the University of Bath. Other trusteeships: none. 

Richard Petrie

Richard’s substantial career has focussed on performance improvement challenges for clients or contractors involved in the procurement and operation of high-value physical assets. Richard’s industry sector experience is grounded in main-stream engineering and construction contracting and as a construction client. He has broad experience across a range on capital intensive sectors, including oil and gas equipment and services, marine charter services and ship construction, airport infrastructure, building services, civil engineering and most recently the provision of independent assurance and expert advice to companies operating high-risk, capital-intensive assets. Richard is currently Chief Executive of buildingSMART International. Previous roles include Chief Operating Officer at Lloyds Register, Chief Executive in Marine and Oil Service companies and Technical Director at BAA plc. He is an international businessman who respects and enjoys working across cultures. Richard has worked in Algeria, China, Finland, Germany, Indonesia, Norway, Singapore, UK, Ukraine and USA. Richard is a Chartered Engineer, Fellow of the IET and has an MBA from INSEAD, France. Other trusteeships: none

Patrick Plant

Patrick Plant is a commercial real estate lawyer with 30 years experience with the global law firm, Linklaters. Patrick is now a partner consultant with Linklaters, having previously served eight years as its Global Head of Real Estate. Patrick has been a Board Member of the British Library since May 2012. He is a trustee of The Royal Society for Blind Children (RSBC) and was previously a non-Executive Director of Falcon Property Trust. Patrick is also an Honorary Lecturer in Law with the Faculty of Humanities of Manchester University, from where he graduated in 1983. Other trusteeships: none. 

Baroness Rebuck DBE (Pro-Chancellor and Chair of Council)

Baroness Rebuck is Chair of Penguin Random House UK and sits on the company’s global Board of Representatives as well as the Group Management Committee of the Board of Bertelsmann, the international media group. She was Chairman and Chief Executive of Random House Publishers 1991–2013 and a Non-Executive Director of BSkyB 2002–12. She is currently a Non-Executive Director of Koovs, an Indian fashion e-tailer start-up, the Belmond Ltd hotel group and the Guardian Media Group.  She was a Trustee of the Institute for Public Policy Research from 1993 to 2003, a Trustee of the Work Foundation from 2001 to 2008 and was, for three years, a member of the Government's Creative Industries Task Force. She founded the book charity World Book Day and Quick Reads for adult literacy and is a Patron of the National Literacy Trust. Baroness Rebuck graduated in Intellectual History from the University of Sussex and has a number of honorary doctorates. She was awarded a CBE in the 2000 New Year's Honours List, was made a Dame in the 2009 Queen's Birthday Honours List and became a Labour Life Peer in September 2014. Other trusteeships: none. 

Sigrid Rausing

Sigrid Rausing is the Publisher of Granta Publications and the Editor of Granta Magazine. She has a PhD in Social Anthropology from University College London, and her first book, History, Memory and Identity in Post Soviet Estonia: the End of a Collective Farm, was published in 2004 by Oxford University Press. In 2015 her second book, Everything is Wonderful, was short-listed for the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize. Her third book, Mayhem, was published in 2017, and is forthcoming in a number of translations. It was short-listed for the Wellcome Prize in spring 2018. 

In 2004 Rausing was the joint winner of the International Service Human Rights Award, in the Global Human Rights Defender category. In 2005 she won a Beacon Special Award for philanthropy. In 2006 she was awarded the Women’s Funding Network's ‘Changing the Face of Philanthropy’ Award. She is an Emeritus member of the International Board of Human Rights Watch, and of the Advisory Board of the Coalition for the International Criminal Court, and has served on numerous other boards including Charleston, the museum home of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, and Sevenoaks School, where she was Governor. She was a member of the Cultural Council of Lund University, and is an Ambassador Council member of the Scholars at Risk Network. Rausing has received Honorary Doctorates from the Open University, and the University of Kent for services to publishing and human rights, and was honoured with the Morrell Fellowship from the University of York. She is an Honorary Fellow of the London School of Economics and of St Antony's College, Oxford. Other Trusteeships: Chair of Granta Publications and SRT, a grant-giving trust.

Lady Ritblat OBE

Jill Ritblat has a long association with the Tate Gallery, including involvement in acquisitions, international relations and events organisation. She was executive producer of the film Normal Conservative Rebels: Gilbert & George in China (Edinburgh Film Festival, 1996; Gold Medal at Chicago Film Festival, 1996). She was on the Development Committee of the Royal Academy of Music from 2002–2010, HonFRAM 2011, was a Turner Prize judge in 1988, a RIBA Regional Award recipient for building commission in 2001 and was awarded an honorary FRIBA in 2012. She has been a member of the Tate International Council since 1995 and Vice-Chair from 1996–2001, Trustee of the Tate Foundation 2006–13, Honorary Member 2013-, a board member of the British Architectural Trust Board (formerly RIBA Trust Board) from 2006 to 2012 and a Wallace Collection International Council member since 2008. She has been a New Contemporaries Board member since 1991 and Vice-Chairman since 1992. Lady Ritblat has given a large collection of contemporary dress to the Victoria and Albert Museum, some of which was displayed from 1998–99 at the V&A in a display entitled One Woman’s Wardrobe, which she co-curated. The catalogue won the 1999 Design and Art Direction (DAAD) Silver Award for Graphic Design. She has also given a large donation of contemporary fashion to the Design Museum. Other trusteeships: Design Museum, the Garden Museum.

John Studzinski CBE

John J Studzinski CBE is Vice Chairman and a Senior Managing Director of Blackstone where he holds special responsibility for a number of sovereign and institutional relationships, as well as ultra-high-net-worth families. John joined Blackstone in 2006 as Global Head of Blackstone Advisory Partners, which he ran for nearly a decade. A graduate of Bowdoin College, he also has an MBA from the University of Chicago. He joined Morgan Stanley in New York in 1980 and since then has spent much of his career in London, where he served as Head of European Investment Banking and Deputy Chairman of Morgan Stanley International before moving to HSBC in 2003 as a member of the Group Management Board and CoHead of the Investment Banking Division. In 2007 he was voted Banker of the Year by The Bank of England. 

John received the Prince of Wales Medal for Arts Philanthropy, and the Prince of Wales Ambassador Award for his work with the homeless. He is Founder and Chairman of the Genesis Foundation, a UK-based charitable foundation that nurtures the careers of outstanding young artists, developing their talents and giving them access to influential mentors and valuable networks. He is Vice Chair of Human Rights Watch and is actively involved with various initiatives and organisations to address the issue of human trafficking and modern-day slavery. He serves on the US boards of the J Paul Getty Trust, Signature Theatre and the Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies; and in the UK, American Patrons of Tate. He is also a member of The Atlantic Council, The Council on Foreign Relations and The Peterson Institute. John holds the Papal honours of Knight of the Order of St Gregory and Knight Commander of Saint Sylvester, and in 2004 was awarded the Beacon Prize for Philanthropy. In 2008, the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List named him Commander of the British Empire (CBE) for services to the Arts. Other trusteeships: none.

Tom Van Oss

Tom Van Oss is an investment banker. He has run his own practice advising on mergers and acquisitions in the financial services sector since 1998. Before that he was at Kleinwort Benson and Phoenix Securities. He was a governor of Falmouth University, the specialist arts university in Cornwall, from 2007 to 2015, where he was successively chair of the finance and audit committees. He was a governor of James Allen’s Girls’ School from 2003 to 2013, where he chaired the development committee. He is now a member of the audit committee of The Courtauld Institute. Other trusteeships: Cornwall Community Foundation.

Ed Williams

Ed Williams is CEO of Edelman UK and Ireland, the largest communications consultancy in the UK with over 500 staff. He joined the firm in late 2011 from the BBC where he had been Director of Communications since the beginning of 2008 and a member of the BBC’s management board. At the BBC he led the group communications division and acted as a senior adviser to the Director-General, Mark Thompson. 

Prior to the BBC, Williams was Group Director of Communications at Reuters working to the CEO, Tom Glocer. He was an adviser to Glocer during the Thomson-Reuters transaction. He spent five years at financial public relations firm, Brunswick, specialising in corporate advisory work and campaigns. During that time he also worked on a number of public affairs projects including advising General Wesley Clark during his evidence giving in the Milosevic trial in the Hague and acting as a pro bono adviser to the International Crisis Group and other NGOs.

Ed started his career in journalism, including five years in network television at GMTV where he was News Editor. He has also worked as a national newspaper reporter. He is a graduate of Harvard Business School's Advanced Management Programme (AMP 180). Ed is a Board Member of the PRCA, a trustee of the Woolf Institute at Cambridge a member of the Arthur Page Society and serves on the international advisory council of the International Crisis Group. Other trusteeships: none.