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Our Board – Cogent Skills

Our Board

The Cogent Skills Board comprises highly experienced science and nuclear industry professionals who hold senior positions in Sector-based employers and Trade Bodies. The Board normally meets four times a year and ad hoc as is required.

The Cogent Skills Board oversees our strategy, approves our business plans and any key companywide decisions, and monitors our performance.

Tony Burke

Unite Assistant General Secretary

Tony Burke is an Assistant General Secretary at Unite. A trade unionist for over 45 years. Tony was previously the Deputy General Secretary of the GPMU.

He is a member of the General Council and Executive Committee of the TUC, a member of the Labour Party NPF and represents the TUC on Cogent and represents Unite within the international Trade Union movement.

He is a member of the Board of the Peoples Press Printing Society and is the Trade Union    coordinator for the Morning Star newspaper.


Joanna Woolf


Joanna Woolf was born in Bollington and went to Macclesfield High School for girls in Cheshire.   During her engineering apprenticeship at Simon Engineering, Cheadle, she studied for an OND.   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 attained her MBA at Manchester Business School, before joining Hays Chemicals as Manufacturing Director in 2000.   The Hays business has since been acquired by Albion Inorganic Chemicals where Joanna fulfilled the role of Operations Director, which she held until accepting the post of Chief Executive with Cogent.


Stephen Marcos Jones

Director-General of the UK Petroleum Industry Association (UKPIA)

Stephen Marcos Jones was appointed Director-General of the UK Petroleum Industry Association (UKPIA) in December 2017. As Director-General, Stephen is responsible for the overall management and effectiveness of UKPIA as the UK’s principal advocate for the downstream oil sector.

Stephen has over 15 years’ experience in a range of diverse advocacy and stakeholder engagement roles representing the diverse interests of operators and supply chain companies across the oil and gas industry in the UK and overseas. Prior to joining UKPIA, Stephen established and led the UK upstream industry’s Efficiency Task Force.

He has also worked on projects for the UK Government’s Department for Education and spent five years leading the communications team of a European scientific organisation in Barcelona. Stephen is a non-executive Board member of OPITO and Cogent, skills bodies for the energy industry.


Corhyn Parr

Director, UK Waste Operations, Nuclear Decommissioning Authority

Corhyn recently joined the NDA as Director of UK Waste Operations, a role that will provide oversight of LLWR and RWM but also includes creating a national integrated waste programme to improve how waste is retrieved, treated, transported, stored and to reduce the cost of waste management across the NDA estate.

She has worked within the nuclear industry for 20 years since graduating as a mechanical engineer, and has previously delivered decommissioning, operations, and new build projects at Sellafield, AWE and Dungeness B before moving into business development and management. In 2007 she established a consultancy business, Nuclear Enterprise, specializing in creating business improvement and development plans for an international client base.

More recently she was Managing Director of Cavendish Nuclear UK Projects Business before joining AECOM in 2016 as Vice President of the Nuclear and Environment International Projects business.

A perpetual advocate and supporter of the nuclear industry through the Nuclear Institute, she has had the pleasure to chair the Young Generation Network, been a Board Member of the Nuclear Institute and Technical Editor of the Nuclear Future Journal. She has also served as Chair of the Nuclear Power Committee of the IMechE.


Katie Woods-Ruddick

Head of Human Resources, px group

Katie Woods-Ruddick is Head of HR at px which provides operations management, engineering services and energy management solutions to partners in highly regulated industries, has been appointed to the Board of Cogent Skills.

She represents the skills interests of members of The Tank Storage Association (TSA) who are engaged in the storage of bulk liquids such as crude oil, petroleum and chemicals and the provision of related products and services to a range of industrial sectors.

Katie’s position with the px group means that she brings insight into key focus areas across the sector including includes apprenticeships, process safety, engineering skills, and competence management.

Before joining px, Katie held senior HR positions in the travel industry and she holds a BA Hons in Education. She is a member of the px Executive Team, providing HR direction to the business in line with its strategy.


Steve Elliott

Chief Executive, Chemical Industries Association

Steve Elliott joined the Chemical Industries Association in 1997, spending four and half years as Head, International Trade with additional responsibility for Sustainable Development. In April 2002, he was promoted to the position of Director, Trade & Competitiveness and subsequently Director, Business Environment. Steve was appointed Chief Executive of the CIA in February 2006.

Steve possesses a First class BA (Hons) degree from Nottingham Trent University, and is an Associate Fellow of the IChemE. Prior to his career with CIA, he spent fifteen years working with the DTI, a South African trade advisory body and Crown Agents as an international trade policy and promotion specialist, as well as in general consultancy with Price Waterhouse.

Steve currently sits on the Board of the Involvement and Participation Association (an employee relations think-tank), is a Trustee of CogentSkills, a member of the Process Safety Management Competence Board, Chair of the Energy Intensive Users’ Group, and is involved with a number of committees within Cefic (the European Chemical Industry Council). Former roles include President of the European Chemical Employers Group.

Married with two children, Steve is manager of a local youth football team and a supporter of Manchester City Football Club.


Simon Earp

Deputy Director Pre-Operations, Hinkley Point C, United Kingdom

Simon is currently the EDF Energy Deputy Pre-Operations Director at Hinkley Point C, responsible for establishing and implementing the operational capability for Hinkley Point C leading to initial commercial operation of the Hinkley Point C Nuclear Power Station.

Simon is the UK expert representative on the IAEA Human Resources Training Working Group, a Board member of Cogent Skills, and a member of the Nuclear Training Standards Accreditation Board.

Simon had 35 years’ industry experience in Operations, Maintenance and Training fields including authorisations as a senior reactor operator in the UK and USA on AGR and PWR reactor plants.

He is a Chartered Engineer and Member of the Institution of Electrical Technology: BSc (Hons.) CEng MIET


Nick Gardiner

Chief Operations Officer, BioIndustry Association

Nick joined the BIA as COO in October 2014, bringing with him extensive industry and not-for-profit management experience. Nick is responsible for overseeing the BIA’s operations, with specific responsibility for financial systems, office management, governance issues and human resources.

Prior to his current role he ran the Clinical Laboratory Division of Lab21. This involved providing specialist laboratory services to the healthcare, pharmaceutical and clinical trials markets. He also has extensive experience of diagnostic testing within the HIV and HCV disease areas. This was gained through being a member of the senior management team and building Delphic Diagnostics into a one-stop-shop for NHS clinicians, enabling more effective patient monitoring and subsequent treatment options in these diseases.

Nick also has extensive management experience within the not-for-profit sector, working for a trade body representing and building the profile of the business communication industry.