About our executive team

The learndirect Group comprises two business units – Adult skills, employability & e-Assessment and Apprenticeships. These are led by:

Chief Executive, learndirect Group: Andy Palmer
Chief Financial Officer, learndirect Group: John Dewhirst
Chief Operating Officer, Adult skills & Employability: Pamela Rae-Welsh
Chief Executive, Apprenticeships: Iain Salisbury
Chief Operating Officer, e-Assessment: Paul Kilgour

With clear lines of responsibility and accountability, the executive teams for the two business units comprise:

Adult skills, employability and eAssessment executive team:

Andy Palmer, CEO learndirect Group
Andy has been involved in the learning and skills development world for almost 20 years. He started working for a global HR consultancy right out of university before joining the Sector Skills Council, e-skills UK. Andy moved into  a new role as Director of Education and Skills at BT seven years later, with responsibility for BT’s Apprenticeship, Graduate and MBA schemes. During his time at BT, Andy was also a Board Member at Ofsted.
Since his time at BT, Andy has led two large-scale Apprenticeship providers.  The first was the largest provider of Apprenticeships in the Automotive sector and the second grew to become the largest provider of Apprenticeships for young people aged 16-18 operating from more than 40 locations across the country.  Andy joined learndirect in early 2016.

Paul Kilgour, Chief Operating Officer of e-Assessment
Paul was appointed COO of our e-Assessment Division in 2015 to deliver upon existing contractual requirements and drive further growth across the UK and Overseas.  Between 2012 and 2015 Paul led learndirect’s Apprenticeship division through a significant period of growth which saw learndirect become the largest provider of Apprenticeship across the UK.  Prior to joining learndirect, Paul was a Partner with EC Harris where he was instrumental in preparing Heathrow Airport for the London 2012 Olympic Games as Programme Director. Paul spent six years in Australia running a number of operations for BIS Industries, an industrial service provider owned by KKR. Paul’s industry knowledge and experience spans a number of different sectors from mining, steel, rail, aerospace and defence.

Pamela Rae-Welsh, Chief Operating Officer, Adult Skills
After studying Management at Reading University, Pamela joined the competitive Aldi Graduate Scheme, where she spent 6 years as an Area Manager.
Pamela moved on from Aldi to take up a leadership positions at retail giants Dixons and subsequently B & Q for two years each before joining the learndirect team in 2014. Pamela is responsible for the operational delivery of our Skills Funding Agency, Adult Education Budget and Welfare to Work contracts across a national network of owned centres supply chain partners. Pamela is focused on delivering high quality customer experience and value for stakeholders and commissioners.

Dereth Wood, Director of Learning, Policy and Strategy
Dereth joined learndirect in 2004 .  She has been involved in education and training for her whole career, as a secondary school mathematics teacher, Vocational Training Manager, TEC Education Manager and has run many social enterprises in the voluntary sector.  She joined learndirect as the Director of Operations and in her current role leads on the strategy, design and development of our learning and service delivery in line with our customers’ and market expectations. She ensures learndirect influences and promotes policy and practices which give customers the flexible, personalised, high quality service they require, making the best use of technology. She focuses on improving the customer experience and customer service across the whole company. Dereth has been a BiS appointed Commissioner on the Commission for Adult Vocational Teaching and Learning (CAVTL) and chaired the review of the Teaching and Learning Standards on behalf of the Education and Training Foundation.

Jenny Parkes, Corporate Services Director
Jenny is a Chartered Fellow of the CIPD and joined learndirect in 2014. She leads the corporate services support teams which include Human Resources and Health & Safety. She also oversees the Information Technology and Learning & Content Design teams within our Apprenticeship business unit. Prior to joining learndirect, Jenny was Head of HR at Intraining for six years. She has also worked in HR roles at a national law firm and a not for profit organisation. Jenny attended university in Leicester and now lives in Rotherham, South Yorkshire.

John Dewhirst, Chief Financial Officer

John Dewhirst joined LD as interim CFO in May and is overseeing the transition of the business.
John is a chartered accountant, self-employed as a business consultant since 2003. During that time he has worked with over 200 companies across a range of sectors. He has worked on assignments in the US, Western Europe and Saudi Arabia.

Sally Evans, Director of marketing and communications

Sally oversees the marketing and communications teams for learndirect, with responsibility for communications, marketing campaigns, research & insight, digital channels & comms and the brand. During Sally’s tenure, learndirect has been recognised as a Business Superbrand on the back of consistently high brand engagement across our audience groups. Prior to joining learndirect Sally worked at an international PR agency, leading multi-site, multi-national programmes for a range of clients across the healthcare, corporate and education sectors. She has a degree in Biology and a postgraduate diploma in Journalism Studies. Outside of work, Sally is a qualified athletics coach and loves walking, skiing and watching sport!

Simon Narraway, 

Details to follow


Apprenticeships executive team:

David Hughes – Chief Finance Officer, Apprenticeships
David is a graduate Chartered Accountant who trained with KPMG in Manchester. He joined learndirect in September 2016 as Chief Financial Officer for the Apprenticeships business. Prior to joining learndirect David spent the early part of his career in CFO roles in large corporations including Simon Engineering, ABB and Calor Gas. He has spent the last fourteen years in a number of substantial PE-backed businesses throughout the UK. David is married with five children and lives in the West Midlands.

Iain Salisbury, Chief Executive Officer of Apprenticeships
Iain joined learndirect in February 2013 from NCG Intraining, where he was Director of Employment Related Services. Iain is an established leader in the sector who brings many years of experience, and is seen as an industry expert on integrating employability and skills. Iain has a track record of successfully winning and implementing large-scale government contracts such as Work Programme, as well as improving operational performance and profitability.  Iain is also on the board of the Employment Related Services Association (ERSA).  Iain previously worked for Reed in Partnership, and prior to that, for the Dixons group for over 10 years. He has an MBA from the Open University.

Jenny Parkes, Corporate Services Director
Jenny is a Chartered Fellow of the CIPD and joined learndirect in 2014. She leads the corporate services support teams which include Human Resources and Health & Safety. She also oversees the Information Technology and Learning & Content Design teams within our Apprenticeship business unit. Prior to joining learndirect, Jenny was Head of HR at Intraining for six years. She has also worked in HR roles at a national law firm and a not for profit organisation. Jenny attended university in Leicester and now lives in Rotherham, South Yorkshire.

Jon-Paul Rimington, National Operations Director, Apprenticeships
Jon-Paul has 20 years’ experience in the work-based learning sector having managed regional and national teams in both delivery and learner attraction roles within JHP and learndirect. In his current role Jon-Paul manages our National Operational teams for Direct Delivery Apprenticeships, subcontractors, Traineeships, Scottish Apprenticeships and Employability fund and corporate delivery teams.

Mary Mamik – Director of Quality, Apprenticeships

Mary joined learndirect Apprenticeships as Director of Quality in 2016. Mary has worked in FE and Skills for more than 15 years in a range of quality roles, supporting providers to reach outstanding status in their Ofsted Inspections.  Since 2014, Mary has been working as a consultant for a wide range of colleges and training providers throughout the UK, supporting them with projects such as inspection planning, teaching learning & assessment improvement, and strategies to improve outcomes for learners.  Mary also worked as an Ofsted Inspector, inspecting private providers against various Common Inspection Frameworks.   In 2010, Mary was awarded a Post Graduate Diploma in Professional and Work Related Learning at the University of Hertfordshire and after 20 years living in and around London, has recently returned to her East Midlands roots.

Steve Morris – Sales & Marketing Director, Apprenticeships

With more than 20 years’ experience gained in the world’s largest and most successful recruitment, training and HR consultancies, Steve has acquired a deep expertise within the world of work and learning. His experience encompasses starting and building successful multi-disciplinary recruitment and training businesses in both specialist and volume markets within both the private and public sector. Accomplished at leading business development and account management teams, he has extensive experience of advising clients on both current and future issues affecting their businesses.