Meet the Executive team

Our Executive team is responsible for day-to-day management and decision-making, and our Chief Executive Helen Brand OBE reports directly to Council.

The team is made up of seven high-performing people whose experience combines accountancy and strategic leadership.

The Executive team is:

Chief Executive - Helen Brand OBE

Executive Director, strategy and development - Alan Hatfield

Executive Director, people and transformation 
- Julie Hotchkiss

Executive Director, finance and operations - Raymond Jack

Executive Director, governance - Maggie McGhee

Executive Director, markets - Lucia Real Martin

Executive Director, markets - Leong Soo Yee

  • Nigel Spencer

    Nigel Spencer

    Lay member of Qualifications Board

    Dr Nigel Spencer is Professor of Education Innovation and Professional Practice at Queen Mary University of London’s Law School.

    Following an early academic career leading international, inter-disciplinary research projects exploring cultural change, identity and group dynamics, Nigel worked in professional services firms for 20 years, initially in a client-facing role at PricewaterhouseCoopers. For 13 years, he then held senior talent development roles at two international law firms.

    In these law firms Nigel was Global Director of Learning and Development and was responsible for designing and implementing firm-wide talent development strategies. A qualified Executive Coach, one major focus for Nigel was associate and partner development and assessment.

    In 2017, Nigel moved to Saïd Business School Oxford, to join the Executive Education team (where he is still an Associate Fellow). At Oxford, Nigel designed executive leadership programmes and created the School’s award-winning practitioner research series on how the strategic use of learning can create competitive advantage in professional services.

    More broadly, Nigel co-chaired the UK’s national body of Legal Education professionals and now sits on its Advisory Panel. Nigel has also held Board roles at international Higher Education Research Institutes, and is a member of Oxford University’s Saïd Business School Coaching Community, coaching on the Saïd Business School’s MBA and executive development programmes.

  • James Walker

    James Walker

    Lay member of Appointments Board

    James held senior level HR appointments within the energy and education sectors up to 1999 when he started to work independently.

    His recent roles include:

    • Independent assessor for non-executive roles – the Scottish Parliament
    • External Interview Panel Member – NHS Trust Development Agency
    • Senior Teaching Fellow, Leeds University Business School
    • Lay Member of Leeds University Medical School Health and Conduct Committee.
    • Independent Appointments Expert, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

    James has been a Member of the ACCA Appointments Board since September 2016 and has previously served on the Appointments Boards of the General Dental Council and the RICS.

    He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, the Chartered Institute of Secretaries and Administrators and a Member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.  He lives in Harrogate.

  • Keith Brumfitt

    Keith Brumfitt

    Lay member of Qualifications Board

    Keith Brumfitt works as an international consultant for the European Commission, its agencies and contractors. He is currently advising the European networks for quality assurance in vocational training and the implementation of graduate tracking in vocational and higher education. He is a member of Ireland’s national accreditation committee for vocational and higher education; the evaluation team reviewing the French Centres of Vocational Excellence, and the advisory team developing a quality assurance framework for early years education in Bulgaria.

    Before working as a consultant, Keith was a senior manager in three UK agencies - he was the Director of a Sector Skills Council; a National Manager in the government’s agency for teacher training, and the Principal Advisor for Vocational Qualifications in the government’s regulatory body for qualifications. He has taught in universities, vocational colleges, a young offenders’ centre and secondary schools.

  • Antony Townsend

    Antony Townsend

    Lay member of Appointments Board

    Antony has wide ranging experience as a chief executive and board chair of regulatory organisations, and in complaints handling. He is Chair of the Determinations Panel of the Pensions Regulator, Deputy Chair of the Board of the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care where he is also Chair of the Scrutiny Committee, an Independent Review Chair for NHS England (Continuing Healthcare reviews), an Independent Investigator for the House of Commons, Chair of the Strategic Advisory Board of the Bar Tribunals and Adjudication Service, Chair of the SME Liaison Panel of the Business Banking Resolution Service, and a Trustee and Director of Citizens Advice South Warwickshire.

    Antony was formerly Financial Regulators Complaints Commissioner, Chair of the UK and Ireland Regulatory Board of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, and Chair of the Regulatory Board of the ACCA. He was the first chief executive of the Solicitors Regulation Authority from its establishment in 2006 until January 2014. He was also the General Dental Council’s chief executive from 2001 to 2006. In the 1990s, Antony held a number of senior roles at the General Medical Council, including Director of Standards and Education, and head of Conduct.

    His earlier career was with the Home Office, where he worked primarily on criminal justice issues.

  • Sharon Critchlow

    Sharon Critchlow

    Council member of the Regulatory Board.

    Sharon has been an ACCA member since 1996 and she was elected to Council in 2016. After 8 years as a public practice accountant Sharon held the role of Operations and Compliance Director with regulatory responsibilities in the Financial Services sector for 17 years. She is a Chartered member of the Chartered Institute of Securities and Investments and a Chartered Financial Planner. 

    In her commercial life Sharon has a business which specialises in governance and cyber security, and a second enterprise which focuses on workplace culture strategies and wellbeing. She has an interest in Environmental Social Governance, is a frequent speaker on diversity and inclusion and advocates for better mental health awareness in the construction sector.

  • Richard Cooper

    Richard Cooper

    Lay member of Regulatory Board and Chair of the Standards Board

    Richard Cooper has extensive experience of leading business transformation and operating at board level within complex organisations.

    He had worked with BT for more than 10 years, leading business transformation and engaging in face-to-face dealings with the UK telecoms regulator and other communication providers.

    Since leaving BT (in March 2018) he has taken up roles including:

    Member of the NHS Pay Review Body - The NHSPRB provides independent recommendations on the remuneration of all staff paid under Agenda for Change employed in the NHS. The NHSPRB’s recommendations apply to all staff in the NHS, with the exception of doctors, dentists and very senior managers. The remit group accounts for just under 1.5 million NHS staff (paybill c.£43bn).

    Non-Executive Director and Audit Committee Chair, Health Research Authority - The HRA is an arm’s-length body in the Department of Health & Social Care that protects and promotes the interests of patients and the public in health and social care research.

    Chair of West Suffolk Council Remuneration Panel - The Independent Remuneration Panel plays an important role in advising the Council on the remuneration and expenses of its Councillors.

    Non-Executive Director at Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust (stood down February 2019).

  • Bill Matthews

    Bill Matthews

    Lay member of Regulatory Board and lay member of Appointments Board.

    Bill is a Chartered Engineer who began his career as a Test Engineer with Motorola in Scotland, before a number of years running technology businesses. He subsequently developed a portfolio of non-executive interests in a variety of areas, including seven years as Chair of the BBC Pension Fund.

    Bill’s current roles include chairmanship of the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission and sitting as a lay panellist for the Nursing and Midwifery Council on fitness to practice hearings. He is a member of the British Transport Police Authority and sits on the board of the Scottish Futures Trust – an infrastructure centre of excellence owned by the Scottish Government. Bill holds an MBA alongside first degrees in Electrical Engineering, Psychology, and Humanities with Creative Writing.

  • Nora Nanayakkara

    Nora Nanayakkara

    Lay member of the Regulatory Board and Chair of the Appointments Board.

    Nora holds a number of independent governance roles, including Chair of the Audit & Risk Committee and Non Executive Director on the Board of the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA), which oversees the production and regulation of the UK’s official statistics system.

    Nora’s executive career in the private sector included several years of international experience and successfully launching a German digital tech start-up’s UK presence.  Having achieved an MBA, she then developed a portfolio of governance roles with her appointment as a Non Executive Director (NED) to the Board of Nominet, which runs a critical piece of the UK’s digital infrastructure; the .uk domain name register. She was subsequently appointed by Nominet as Senior Independent Trustee and Chair of the Audit Committee to the board of its corporate social investment foundation, Nominet Trust, which awarded multimillion pound funding to entrepreneurial organizations with innovative technology-enabled missions.  She has also served as a NED and Audit Committee member on the Board of the UK trading fund, The IPO, which is responsible for the UK’s intellectual property rights.

    As well as her cross sectoral non-executive portfolio and governance roles, Nora brings valuable experience of professional regulation through her role as a lay fitness to practice Chair at the General Dental Council (GDC), as a lay panellist and Chair at the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC), an independent member of the Bar Council’s audit committee and the ACCA’s Regulation Board. Nora holds a Ministerial NED appointment in Ireland on the Board of the Digital Hub in Dublin, which provides incubator space and support to international tech start-ups. She is also a member of the Pay Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration (DDRB) and holds a Diploma in Legal Medicine (DLM).

  • Dr Dinusha Weerawardane

    Dr Dinusha Weerawardane

    Council member of the Regulatory Board.

    Dinusha has been an ACCA member since 2015 and was elected to Council in 2018. She is a Senior Lecturer in Accounting and Finance at the Claude Littner Business School of the University of West London with oversight for the Accounting and Finance courses at undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

    Having led multiple course validation and re-validation events both within and beyond her institution, chaired assessment boards, and engaged in external examining for a number of institutions such as Ulster University, Coventry University, Pearson Edexcel, Cambridge Assessments and formerly for ACCA, she has substantial experience with UK QA processes and TNE provisions. Originally from Sri Lanka, Dinusha also has experience in the HE sector in Sri Lanka, and the MESA region.

    In addition to ACCA, Dinusha holds a PhD in Consumer Behaviour, an MSc. In International Business Management, a BSc. (Hons) in Applied Accounting and an LLB (Hons) in Business Law; she is also a Chartered Manager (CMI) and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

  • Geoffrey Podger

    Geoffrey Podger

    Lay member of the Regulatory Board.

    Geoffrey Podger is currently Senior Visiting Research Fellow at the Centre for Risk Management, King's College, London. He also acts in a number of non-executive roles and undertakes consultancy work.

    He has been Chair of the Board of the Government Actuary's Department since November 2015 His main professional interests lie in the fields of risk and regulation, workplace health and safety and management of healthcare.

    In his previous public service career, he managed four regulatory related agencies in the UK, the European Union and New Zealand. He has also worked in three UK Government Departments including the Department of Health. Geoffrey was awarded the CB in 2003.

  • Lucy Winskell

    Lucy Winskell

    Chair of the Regulatory Board.

    Lucy is Pro Vice-Chancellor (Employability & Partnerships) at Northumbria University, a full-time role where she leads the development of Northumbria’s relationships with local government and public bodies, shaping its contribution to regional economic, cultural and social development and graduate employment. She is currently establishing a small campus in Amsterdam as part of Northumbria’s Internationalisation Strategy.

    Prior to joining Northumbria University in 2010, Lucy was a litigation lawyer for 28 years. During that time as a lawyer Lucy gained a very deep and rich experience of membership organisations and the regulation of professionals, sitting on the Council of the Law Society of England and Wales, on the board of the Solicitors Regulation Authority and President of Newcastle Law Society.

    She has extensive non-executive director experience. Appointments have included Government Office North East, Darlington Building Society, the British Chambers of Commerce, the North East Industrial Development Board and the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the last two being Ministerial appointments.

    Currently she is Chair of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership and a non-executive Director of North East Access to Finance.

    Lucy has international experience as a former UK President of the Union Internationale des Avocats, and served as UK chair of the British-American Project, the think-tank and international network for Anglo-US business and cultural relations.

    She is Chairman of Live Theatre and a Trustee of Live Theatre and International Centre for Life, both in Newcastle upon Tyne, and became Chairman of the Heritage Lottery Fund North East Committee in June 2017. She is a Board Member of The Community Foundation, Tyne and Wear and Northumberland.

    Lucy was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday 2014 Honours List in recognition for her services to Higher Education and the regional economy in the North East. She was appointed as Deputy Lieutenant of Tyne and Wear in 2014 and was High Sheriff of Tyne and Wear 2015/16.

  • Ronnie Patton

    Ronnie Patton

    Council member of Standards Board.

    Ronnie initially chose to study for the ACCA qualification due to the flexibility it afforded. Prior to moving into education, he was employed in professional practice, consultancy and a variety of industries including distribution, retailing and financial services. He's been a senior lecturer in Professional Accounting Practice at Ulster University since 2003.

    Ronnie has broad experience in curriculum and course design, developing and delivering courses and assessment. He's been an ACCA examiner and coordinator in the past and he is a past president of ACCA Ireland. 

  • Hilary Mundella

    Hilary Mundella

    Lay member of Standards Board.

    Hilary Mundella was one of the inaugural lay-members on the ACCA Standards Board, appointed in 2014.

    Whilst her early career was in health care management in the public and private sectors, she subsequently became chief executive of a progressive barristers’ chambers in London before various managerial roles and appointments as director and chief executive officer in UK and international law firms.

    She was a lay-member of the Bar Standards Board, Professional Conduct Committee from 2010 for a six-years tenure.

    She has an MBA in Legal Practice; diploma of the Institute of Healthcare Management; diplomas and membership of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and Chartered Institute of Marketing; membership of the Institute of Directors and associate membership of the Legal Practice Management Association of which she is a previous chairman.

  • Dr Suzy Walton

    Dr Suzy Walton

    Lay member of the Regulatory Board and Chair of Qualifications Board.

    Dr Suzy Walton is a former Senior Civil Servant from the Cabinet Office and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) with a Ph.D. from classified research in the MoD. She is a Chartered Director, Chartered Scientist and a Chartered Occupational Psychologist.

    Suzy serves on various boards. She is currently the Vice-President of the UK’s Royal Society of Medicine and is the longest standing board member of the Institute of Directors. She is the former Deputy Chairman of the University of Westminster and has also served as the Deputy Chairman of the Internet Watch Foundation – an organisation which seeks to eradicate child abuse from the on-line world. She has also been on the board of Birmingham Children’s Hospital and Combat Stress. In total Suzy has sat on around 15 boards.

    For the Ministry of Justice Suzy is on the disciplinary panel of the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office and is a former member of the State Honours Committee making nominations to the Prime Minister and the Queen.

    Previously, Suzy was a producer, presenter and editor in radio and television. She also had a three-year stint as a West End actress and she is the mother of seven children.

  • Elaine Darby

    Elaine Darby

    Lay member of Qualifications Board and Chief Examiner.

    Elaine is a Chartered Accountant, Senior Lecturer in Accounting, and Director of Undergraduate Education for the School of Business & Management at Royal Holloway University of London. She is also a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

    After leaving professional practice in 2008, Elaine became a Tutor with BPP Professional Education before embarking on a career in academia, initially with Henley Business School at the University of Reading, where she was Programme Area Director for Accounting, and later at Royal Holloway.

    In her current role, Elaine has responsibility for the academic quality of the undergraduate degree programmes offered by the School of Business & Management and contributes to the education strategy of Royal Holloway.

    In the last 10 years, Elaine has held the posts of Exams Officer, Professional Accreditation Officer, Programme Director, and Senior Tutor and has been an External Examiner for Liverpool University.

  • Cristina Gutu


    Cristina Gutu

    Council member of Qualifications Board.

    Cristina is the head of the KPMG Training Academy in Romania, and has been a professional ACCA trainer for more than 10 years and in multiple countries.

    Prior to this, Cristina gained valuable practical international experience in auditing and consultancy, both in a large firm and also in a smaller accountancy practice.

    Cristina was a member of ACCA’s International Assembly between 2010 and 2016, serving three consecutive terms, and is also an active supporter of ACCA in Romania. She is a member of the ACCA Global Forum for Corporate Reporting.

    Read our interview with Cristina.

    Joined ACCA: 2006
    Job title: Advisory manager, Head of KPMG Training Academy, KPMG Advisory Romania
  • Michelle Hourican


    Michelle Hourican

    Council member of Qualifications Board.

    Michelle Hourican first became involved with ACCA in her local student society, and has since served as president of the Members' Network in Dublin, on the ACCA Ireland Executive Committee, and led the working group that reviewed and updated the ACCA Ireland constitution and governance arrangements in 2012.

    Michelle is a director of Datatrails, a start-up GDPR consulting firm focused on the SME market. She is also a director of Community Credit Union, where she is chair of the audit and risk committee and sits on the IT committee.

    Her work specialisms are data protection, business strategy, change management, project management, information technology, lecturing and corporate governance.

    In addition to ACCA qualification, Michelle holds a Masters in Science in the Management and Application of IT in Accounting from Dublin City University.

    She was awarded ACCA Accountant of the Year in 2015.

    Michelle is also involved with:

    • Irish Technology Group;
    • Irish SMP Working Group;
    • Governance Design Committee;
    • Leinster Student Panel and Leinster Panel (president in 2012);
    • Irish Executive Committee;
    • and is a lead member of the working group for the review and updating of the ACCA Ireland constitution and governance arrangements.

    Joined ACCA: 1998
    Job title: Director, Datatrails
  • Alastair Cannon

    Alastair Cannon

    Lay member of Standards Board.

    After a career in systems regulation, regulation policy and senior governance roles in a number of national regulators such as the Health & Safety Executive, The Food Standards Agency and the Care Quality Commission, Alastair pursued a portfolio career.

    This has included providing governance and regulatory consultancy to large public and private sector organisations, primarily in healthcare. More recently he has focussed upon the regulation of professionals.

    Alastair holds a number of fitness to practice and conduct committee lay chair and tribunal lay member roles in regulators of healthcare professionals – osteopaths, dentists and pharmacists - and the regulators of architects, the police and accountants.

  • Helen Brand

    Helen Brand

    Helen Brand is chief executive of ACCA, the global body for professional accountants, a post she has held since 2008.

    Helen has built her career within professional bodies and has considerable experience and knowledge of the 176 markets in which ACCA currently operates. She is a founding member of the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) and now serves as a co-Vice-Chair of the IIRC Board. A member of the UK’s government’s Professional and Business Service Council, she was also appointed to the UK DIT’s Trade Advisory Group on Professional Advisory Services in August 2020. 

    One of the few women to lead a global professional body, Helen is a regular media commentator on the role ethics and the delivery of public value play in business and society. In 2011, ACCA became the first international professional body to publish an integrated report on its performance and Helen remains a strong advocate for the power of wider corporate reporting. She has also driven ACCA’s pioneering work in supporting the development of the profession across Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, Europe and the Middle East.

    Helen holds a BA in Politics from the University of Exeter. She was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list in June 2011 for services to accountancy and received an honorary doctorate from the University of Exeter in December 2017.

    Job title: Chief Executive
  • Alan Hatfield

    Alan Hatfield

    Alan Hatfield is executive director of content, quality and innovation at ACCA.

    Alan leads our development of forward-thinking content and solutions across education, learning, professional insights research and brand. This includes responsibility for innovation in the ACCA Qualification, and supports the careers, professional development and studies of ACCA’s 227,000 members and 544,000 future members across 176 countries.

    Alan’s background is in professional education where he has over 20 years’ experience leading teams in creating and launching qualifications and development programs. These include a partnership with the University of London to design a Masters in Professional Accountancy.

    He is a member of the International Federation of Accountants’ (IFAC) International Panel for Accountancy Education.

    Alan is a graduate of Glasgow University and a member of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators. He holds an MBA (with distinction) from Oxford Brookes University and sits on the Dean's Advisory Group for its business school.

    Job title: Executive director - content, quality and innovation
  • Julie Hotchkiss

    Julie Hotchkiss

    Julie Hotchkiss was appointed to the ACCA executive team in November 2018 and now holds the role of Executive Director – People and Transformation.  In this role, Julie is responsible for ensuring the people agenda and major change activities are fully aligned to enable the organisation’s strategy.

    Prior to this, Julie was the director – Europe and Americas, where she had a key role in growing and maintaining ACCA’s international footprint and reputation. In this strategic leadership role, Julie played her part in developing the accountancy profession, working with members, students, employers and national professional accounting organisations in a wide range of countries.

    Julie joined ACCA in 2014 as director of customer service, where she ran ACCA’s 24-hours-a-day, 365-days-a-year customer service centre, ACCA Connect, and exam operations worldwide from the body’s global operational centre in Glasgow. Before joining ACCA, Julie had worked in local government, insurance and utilities.

    Job title: Executive Director, people and transformation
  • Raymond Jack

    Raymond Jack

    Raymond Jack joined us in January 2013 as our Executive Director - finance and operations.

    He is a former executive director of Scottish Power Energy Retail, where he also held posts including sales and marketing director and business transformation director. Raymond began his career at Coopers & Lybrand (now PwC), where he spent 12 years largely specialising in corporate finance, recovery and consulting.

    A chartered accountant, he also has a degree in accountancy and a Master's degree from the University of Cambridge.  

    Job title: Executive Director, finance and operations
  • Maggie McGhee

    Maggie McGhee

    Maggie McGhee is the Executive Director, Strategy and Governance at ACCA. Maggie leads our development of strategy and ACCA’s corporate governance arrangements and the governance of ACCA members and students. 

    Our integrated thinking and integrated reporting reinforces that being a force for public good is at the heart of what we do.  ACCA’s corporate governance arrangements and the governance of ACCA members and students are fundamental in ensuring we actively support ethics and integrity in the profession.

    With a background in audit and technical accounting, Maggie was previously the Director of Professional Insights at ACCA, where she led a team of technical and policy experts to support ACCA’s global thought leadership agenda. 

    Before joining ACCA, Maggie worked for PwC in the advanced regulatory and compliance analytics area applying specialist analytics tool to clients in the banking and capital markets sector.

    A chartered accountant with a degree in law, Maggie trained with National Audit Office UK where she was the Director General of Audit.  With over 18 years’ experience of auditing central government bodies, Maggie has engaged extensively across the audit and accounting profession, both within the UK and internationally, to influence sector developments. As part of this work, Maggie has been a member of a number of working groups and committees including the Accountancy Europe’s Public Sector Working Group, the EU European Public Sector Accounting Standards (EPSAS) Working Group; HM Treasury’s Financial Reporting Advisory Board in the UK; and the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) Audit and Assurance Council.

    Job title: Executive Director, governance
  • Lucia Real Martin

    Lucia Real Martin

    Lucia Real-Martin is the Executive Director, Markets, leading Africa, Emerging Markets and China, as well ACCA’s market partnerships and recognition.

    Lucia joined ACCA in 2010, as Director, Emerging Markets Asia developing ACCA’s emerging markets strategy and footprint in Asia managing ACCA’s offices and new developments in South East Asia and South Asia emerging markets.

    In 2014 Lucia assumed a global role for ACCA’s growing emerging markets managing over 40 countries and 12 offices in Asia, Europe and Latin America, with a focus on India, Russia and Turkey contributing to the upskilling of finance and accounting professionals and developing the profession in emerging economies, bringing her extensive experience from previous roles in international development, specialising in the accounting and finance profession in the last 15 years. 

    Job title: Executive Director, Markets
  • Leong Soo Yee

    Leong Soo Yee

    Leong Soo Yee is the Executive Director overseeing ASEAN and ANZ, MESA and Europe and Americas, the sales and marketing function as well as the market planning and execution function at ACCA.

    Soo Yee joined ACCA in 2012 as head of its Singapore office where she was responsible for its day-to-day operations and strategy as well as for partnerships with employers, government agencies and policy makers. She joined at a time of exciting development for Singapore’s accounting sector as the country aimed toward becoming a global accountancy hub by 2020.

    In May 2015, Soo Yee assumed a new role of Director (Asia Pacific) where she was responsible for supporting the development of the accountancy profession in Asia Pacific and for building ACCA’s profile across Australia and New Zealand, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam. In 2018, Soo Yee took up the director role of the newly formed ASEAN and ANZ region, prior to assuming the lead market director role.

    Soo Yee has over 20 years’ business experience in sales, marketing and brand management for leading companies in the private sector prior to joining ACCA.  She has held notable leadership positions in financial services sector in AIA and Citibank, United States-based Fortune 500 corporation - Yum! Brands (then Tricon Restaurants) as well as with global energy and petrochemical company Shell.

    Job title: Executive Director, Markets