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Joanna Woolf to step down as Cogent Skills CEO at the end of April 2020 – Cogent Skills

Joanna Woolf to step down as Cogent Skills CEO at the end of April 2020

Cogent Skills has announced that its CEO, Joanna Woolf, plans to step down at the end of  April, after fourteen years leading the organisation.

Joanna will take over as Cogent Skills Chair, in order to support the transition to a new leadership.

Current Chair, Jeremy Haigh, who will also step down at the end of April, said: “On behalf of the whole Board I would like to congratulate and thank Joanna for her many significant achievements while leading Cogent Skills.

“Her enthusiasm for our mission, knowledge of skills policy and commitment to staff are inspiring, and she has worked tirelessly to develop and maintain the external relationships which are so critical for success in the sector. I am delighted that her energy and experience will continue to benefit the company in the role of Chair and look forward to working with her for the rest of the year to ensure a seamless transition.”

Cogent Skills CEO Joanna Woolf said: “It has been a great privilege to serve as CEO for over a decade, leading the evolution of Cogent Skills to become the strategic body in the UK for the advancement of skills in the science-based industries. All this has been achieved thanks to the fantastic contribution of everyone in the Cogent Skills Group, many of whom have been on every step on this journey.

“I started my own career as an apprentice and I am a firm advocate of the apprenticeship route to develop jobs and careers. I have been very proud to lead a company that is at the forefront of developing the apprenticeship route, raising the numbers across the science industries.

“We are very much an employer-led organisation that has introduced a number of skills solutions in response to clear demand. We have also continued to ensure that our members have a strong voice to Government against a backdrop of an evolving skills policy landscape. I am excited to help ensure that our next leader is equipped to continue the momentum we need to be strong and sustainable in the skills landscape.”

The organisation has achieved numerous significant milestones during Joanna’s tenure. Joanna took up her role as CEO when the organisation was part of a Government funded network of Sector Skills Councils.

However, the beginning of the decade saw a move away from direct Government funding of skills to a system of project funding that was solutions-led so that the market delivered the outcomes. Joanna drove forward a challenging transition that saw employers become the “owners” of skills and competence programmes, working with Cogent Skills on their design and delivery. This would eventually see the organisation become entirely self-sufficient, underpinned by clear market-led propositions in the skills landscape.

During Joanna’s period as CEO, the organisation also began successfully facilitating two employer-led membership entities, the Science Industry Partnership (SIP) and the Nuclear Skills Strategy Group (NSSG) which are both now fully established and recognised by Government.

All of this represents a strong track record in delivering sector-led skills solutions to the science industries. A record which has seen all parts of the Cogent Skills Group respond to the skills challenges that the sector faces.

Prior to joining Cogent Skills Joanna had a career in industry, moving from BP’s downstream business on to ICI, where she was promoted to Engineering Manager, holding responsibility for 600 people across all trades and disciplines. 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 joined Cogent Skills as CEO in 2005.