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Our Team

Joanna

Joanna Woolf
Chief Executive

Joanna has led the evolution of Cogent Skills to become the leading training and skills service provider in the UK for science-based industries.

Joanna started her career as an engineering apprentice at Simon Engineering, Cheadle, where she studied for an OND. She is a firm advocate of the apprenticeship route to develop jobs and careers and is now proud to lead a company that is at the forefront of developing Apprenticeships throughout the science-based industries.

After graduating with a First in Mechanical Engineering from UMIST in 1982, Joanna entered BP’s graduate programme, spending 12 months establishing the oil terminal at Sullom Voe in the Shetlands; her career at BP culminated in a head office role working on speculative oil finds for potential sites around the globe.

Moving to ICI, Joanna began at the Wilton site as plant manager in Advanced Business Materials, and then moved to the Runcorn site to set up turnaround programmes. At the age of 29 she was promoted to Engineering Manager, holding responsibility for 600 people across all trades and disciplines, and tasked with establishing a site training organisation and training to NVQ standards with TTE at Ellesmere Port. After switching to global business management within the ICI Chlor chemicals downstream business, Joanna moved into strategic supply chain global logistics.

She studied for her MBA at Manchester Business School, before joining Hays Chemicals as Manufacturing Director in 2000. The Hays business was acquired by Albion Inorganic Chemicals where Joanna fulfilled the role of Operations Director. She joines Cogent Skills as CEO in 2005.
Karl

Karl Gorge
Director of Finance, Business Functions and Company Secretary

Karl graduated with a BA honours in Accounting and qualified as an accountant (FCCA) whilst working in Industry. He has over 19 years experience of working within commercial manufacturing organisations with 13 of those years being within the Polymer Industry.

Karl came from The Vita group (the largest global Foaming operator with over 140 operational sites in 22 countries, employing over 14,500 employees) where he was the UK Financial Director for the Technical Foams Division. In this role he was responsible for the financial control and commercial insight into the UK’s performance and the implications of its commercial and strategic decisions.

Prior to this he was the European Financial Controller within the group covering operations in France, Germany and the Netherlands.

Karl has a proven track record of managing and delivering change and has an in depth knowledge and experience of working within SME, PLC and Private Equity environments.

Key experiences have included consolidating operations, IT implementations and the building of efficient teams, whilst improving the quality of management information and integrating finance within the wider business community.

Karl joined Cogent as Finance Director in 2008.
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James Murdock
Director of Strategy, Cogent Skills

James graduated with a BEng in Chemical Engineering and joined the nuclear industry working for BNFL as an engineering planner on capital refurbishment and new build projects.

He moved into Further Education at Blackpool College of Further and Higher Education lecturing in Industrial Sciences and Process Plant Operations. James then joined Wirral College as a Senior Lecturer in Chemical engineering and Environmental Management.

James returned to industry in the South West working in Training and Development before returning to Further Education undertaking a number of Senior Management Roles including Director of Curriculum and Student Services and Director of Strategic Planning.

In 2006 James joined Cogent as Education and Qualifications Director at a time when the national priority for education and skills was placing employers at the heart of the agenda. James leads on skills product and standards development marrying together government initiatives, employer needs and developments in the skills products, qualifications and standards landscape to ensure employers in the science industries are well served by the supply side of the skills partnerships.

James is currently the Director of SIAS (a company in the Cogent group) delivering Assessment Services, Product Development Services, Quality Services and Science Careers Services.
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