Board of Governors

Members of the Board of Governors are selected on the basis of their skills, expertise and commitment to The Place. An audit of Board members is conducted approximately every two years and matched against a regularly reviewed list of requirements. Board members are subject to re-election every two to three years, but in exceptional circumstances the Board may vote to extend this if The Place would particularly benefit as a result. 

Alan Bishop (Chair)
Jane Alexander
Michael (Mikey J) Asante
Derek Hicks
Chris Rowland
Eva Sarma
John G Stewart
Elizabeth Varley

Catherine Ward
Liz Wilson
Rosalind Wynn

Alan Bishop (Chair) has a career spanning business, government and the arts. Working with high profile global clients he became Chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi, based in both London and New York. He was then appointed Chief Executive of the COI (Central Office of Information) the department responsible for the government’s major marketing and communication campaigns, the Government News Network and DirectGov (Now Gov.UK). Subsequently he pursued his passion for the arts as Chief Executive of Southbank Centre with the mission to open it up to all the people across all art forms. Most recently he has been able to apply all this experience as Chief Executive of the Creative Industries Federation, representing a creative economy now worth over £100 billion. He is now delighted to focus on the exciting future for The Place.

Jane Alexander (Vice Chair) has over 20 years’ experience as a corporate finance lawyer with Norton Rose and 3i Group plc. She joined The Royal College of Art, the world’s leading postgraduate art and design university, in 2011 as Pro-Rector (Operations) and was responsible for strategic planning, finance and estates, governance and risk management. At the RCA she was Chair of the Equality & Diversity Committee and a member of the Advisory Board of InnovationRCA, the student business incubator. Jane is currently an Independent Member of Council of The Royal Veterinary College and a member of the Finance & General Purposes Committee and the Staff Remuneration Committee. She was a trustee of The National Association of Youth Theatres, the sector development agency for youth theatre in England. She has a law degree from Brasenose College Oxford and more recently obtained an MA Culture, Policy & Management from City University, London.

Michael ‘Mikey J’ Asante was born in East London and is a renowned producer, composer, singer, dancer and DJ, whose 20-year career history is firmly etched in the UK urban music industry. He is Co-Founder and Co-Artistic Director of Boy Blue, founded in 2001 with Kenrick ‘H2O’ Sandy. After landing a publishing deal, Asante retired as a dancer to focus on creating longer pieces of music - taking hip-hop - and Boy Blues sonics - into a composer space. As a music producer, Mikey boasts a diverse catalogue within his discography; creating music for films Street Dance 3D and All Stars, enjoying session work and production for major label artists including Delilah, Raleigh Ritchie, Estelle, George The Poet and Kano. In 2019 Mikey’s work included composing the music for Tree, a Kwame Kwei-Armah and Idris Elba creation and a collaboration with Brian Eno for the soundtrack on Netflix’s Top Boy. Outside of the studio, Asante mentors and delivers master classes in directing, choreography and music and is a Professor of Electronic Music at Guildhall School of Music from where he was awarded an Honorary Fellowship (HonFGS) in 2018. In 2022, Asante was awarded an MBE for services to Hip-Hop Dance and Music in the Queen's New Years Honours list.

Derek Hicks  held a number of senior roles at HEFCE, the predecessor of the Office for Students (OfS). He is a Governor of the University of West London and an Honorary Fellow of Birkbeck, University of London. He joined the Board of The Place in July 2017 and is chair of the Academic Board. He is also the Nominated Governor for the Conservatoire for Dance and Drama.

Chris Rowland has recently retired after more than 35 years with PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. He has lived and worked in London and New York, working with a wide range of companies across a number of industries from start-ups to HM Treasury and brings extensive experience advising companies on corporate transactions, control frameworks, risk management, governance and regulatory issues. Despite an absence of any personal ability or talent, he has been an enthusiastic consumer and supporter of the arts, particularly music, theatre and dance, for very many years.

Eva Sarma brings nearly a decade of experience as a Non-Executive Director. She is currently an Investment Director for Bridges Evergreen, a long-term impact-focused equity fund. Previous Board positions include Level 20, a not-for-profit organisation with the aim of improving gender diversity in the private equity industry and Mayborn, owner of the global baby brand tommee tippee®. Eva has over 15 years’ experience in corporate finance and private equity with PwC, Merrill Lynch and 3i. She also served as Chief Operating Officer and Company Secretary of Level 20, responsible for finance, operations, legal, risk and compliance.

John G Stewart is University Secretary and Director of Legal at the University of London, a degree-awarding federation of 17 leading higher education institutions in London. He is responsible for governance and legal services at the University, serving as secretary to the Board of Trustees. He was previously general counsel and company secretary at the Wellcome Trust, the world’s largest biomedical research charity. He has been a governor, and chair of the Audit Committee, of The Place from July 2017 to the present, having previously served in those roles from July 2005 to December 2014.

Elizabeth Varley is a serial entrepreneur building and operating businesses and creating communities. She’s helped large organisations with innovation, work with early-stage fast-growth companies, and is a trusted friend in an advisory role or a member of the board. She advises the UK Department for International Trade on entrepreneurship and contributes to international trade deals; advising entrepreneurs on expanding globally from the UK. Elizabeth advises Silicon Valley Bank, Incisive Edge performance marketing agency and other founders and boards. As founder & CEO of TechHub, Elizabeth lead the charge in building London’s technology ecosystem from 2009  to the success it is today, along with catalysing startup communities across Europe, India and the US. She also worked with tech giants including Google, Telefonica, BT and others to access the innovation ecosystem, and develop startup programmes. Previously Elizabeth founded Online Content editorial agency, advised Imperial College London’s Digital City Exchange, Data Pitch programme from the Open Data Institute and University of Southampton, and the Royal Society for the Arts and Etsy’s The Power of Small. 

Catherine Ward's career has been in strategic HR leadership, transformation and communications. She was the Chief People Officer for the British Council from 2018 to 2021, leading the people strategy in over 100 countries. Catherine’s previous roles include Chief Human Resources Officer for Interserve and BMI Healthcare, and HR Director roles with the BBC and Sotheby’s. She has worked in consultancy with KPMG, SHL Group, and currently runs her own HR consultancy business. She is chair of the Remuneration Committee for RIBA and is on the UK Board of the Global Fund for Women. Catherine holds a BSc in biology, MSc in organisational behaviour, and is an accredited coach with the ICF (International Coach Federation). She has a passion for all forms of dance, and has danced, in one way or another, most of her life.

Liz Wilson is a brand and communications expert. Currently Chief Operating Officer of creative agency, Karmarama, and Client Group Lead for Accenture’s digital marketing agency, Accenture Interactive, her work spans brand strategy, design, advertising, digital marketing and film and digital content. Her previous experience includes modern digitally integrated marketing services businesses, strategic brand consultancy and innovation, and leading creative communications agencies. Liz is a Fellow of professional association the IPA (Institute of Practitioners in Advertising), a Member of IPA Council and has previously Chaired both the IPA Commercial Leadership Group and the IPA Business Growth Conference. She is a member of WACL (Women in Advertising and Communications Leadership) the network of senior female leaders in marketing, media and communication, and Chair of the WACL Festival of Talent, WACL’s flagship annual learning and fund-raising event for women in the industry. She joined the governors of The Place in March 2022.

Rosalind Wynn has been working with Gecko since 2013 as a freelance producer on Missing, Institute and The Time of Your Life. She joined the company full time as executive producer in March 2016. Rosalind has always worked in contemporary performance, with a particular interest in devised and non-text based performance as well as international touring and partnerships. She previously worked for immersive events company A Taste of Space, National Portfolio Organisations Coney and Fuel, and the Belluard Festival in Switzerland, originally as recipient of an Arts Council Artist International Development Grant. Past projects with emerging artists include the house recommission tour of Enda Walsh’s Disco Pigs directed by Cathal Cleary, Unborn in America by Luke Styles and Peter Cant with Ensemble Amorpha and OperaUpClose and Claudia Dey’s Trout Stanley directed by Matthew Steinberg.

PHOTO: Top row (from left to right): Alan Bishop, Jane Alexander, Michael (Mikey J) Asante, Derek Hicks, Chris Rowland
Bottom row (from left to right):  Eva Sarma, John G Stewart, Elizabeth Varley, Catherine Ward, Liz Wilson, Rosalind Wynn