SFA staff shortlisted for top job

Staff at the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) have been informed that three members of its executive team are in line to replace Geoff Russell as the chief executive.

FE Week understands that the shortlisted candidates are Verity Bullough, Kim Thorneywork and Marinos Paphitis.

Mr Russell announced his decision to step down in January, having informed the SFA in August last year. It came just a month after the Agency was stripped of its statutory post holder status by the government. He agreed to remain in his position until the end of July to oversee the restructuring of the Agency.

The executive director of capacity and infrastructure, Ms Bullough, joined the organisation in 2000. Previously she had been working as a senior adviser at the North London Training and Enterprise Council (NLTEC).

She has held a number of senior positions within the SFA, including national director of funding, planning and performance, and has worked in education since gaining a law degree from Oxford University.

Ms Thorneywork was recently promoted to be the executive director of delivery in May 2011 and leads its work on funding policy, investment and provider performance. She moved to the Agency to be the area director for Coventry and Warwickshire in 2006, after having worked as an inspector for Ofsted and a science teacher in Walsall.

When the SFA replaced the Learning and Skills Council in April 2010 she became the senior account director for the west midlands, with a portfolio of 33 FE colleges and over 160 training organisations.

The executive director for the south, Mr Paphitis, has responsibility for all aspects of stakeholder and provider relationships in the south of England. Additionally, he has been responsible for the Wiltshire, Swindon and Gloucestershire area, as well as Somerset. During his time in the south west, Mr Paphitis led the development and performance of apprenticeships. Prior to joining the SFA in 2001 he worked as a director of the National Contracts Service, which later became the National Employer Service.

His brother is Theo Paphitis, best known for his starring role on the BBC’s Dragons’ Den.

On the same day in January that Mr Russell made his announcement, Simon Waugh said he was stepping down as the chief executive of the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) and he left at the end of March.

When the story broke, Gordon Marsden, the shadow minister for FE, skills and regional growth, criticised the department for Business Innovation and Skills for not having found a successor for Mr Russell, despite him having informed the government a few months beforehand.

A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) told FE Week: “We wont be make any comment while the recruitment process is ongoing but we will let you know when we are ready to make an announcement.”

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  1. Andy Smith

    Can you please stop referring to the SFA as “replaced the Learning and Skills Council”. The majority of the LSCs funding was 16-18, and these responsibilities passed to the YPLA (and now Education Funding Agency).

    The sector is confusing enough without FEWeek adding to it, and more to the point giving greater kudos to a lame duck agency with a small budget, massive staff numbers, and lessening political support.