For the first time in its 108 year history the WEA has appointed a woman as its new Chief Executive. Ruth Spellman will take over from Richard Bolsin who is stepping down at the end of March 2012.
Ruth’s career is marked by a commitment to lifelong learning - she was awarded an OBE in 2007 for services to workplace learning and an Honorary Doctorate from Cranfield in 2010. Ruth was formerly Chief Executive of the Chartered Management Institute (CMI), and has previously been CEO of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and Investors in People (IIP) UK. She has also been HR Director of the NSPCC.
Having previously worked in the private, public and voluntary sectors, Ruth has a track record for implementing, managing and driving forward major changes in organisations, as well as influencing public policies. Her early experience was in the public sector, but she then developed her influencing and consulting skills through leading the HR consulting practice at Coopers and Lybrand. After undertaking voluntary work with the NSPCC she became HR Director, playing a key role in modernising the organisation and leading it through change, winning the Employer of the Year Award in 1996. From the NSPCC Ruth went to Investors in People where she established IIP as a leading brand, setting new standards of best practice in people development in the UK. She went on to become the first female Chief Executive of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers taking it through a strategic review and increasing the membership, before moving to the Chartered Management Institute in 2008. At the CMI Ruth led the organisation’s drive to address the high level skills our economy needs to compete in the global economy. She strengthened the influence of the CMI, developed the brand and introduced a range of new products and services to support employers and members.
Ruth’s non-Executive roles include being the Chair of the Careers Professional Alliance, and a Council Member of the Open University.
Ruth is looking forward to her new challenge and says that the WEA is in her genes. Both her grandfather and father lectured for the WEA in the 1930s and 1950s, and she, too, was a part-time lecturer for the WEA in the 1970s.
“I am a long term supporter of the WEA”, she says “and am delighted to have this opportunity to lead an organisation which has transformed so many lives and communities. I am very keen to help the WEA build on the increasing strength and influence it has rightly earned in recent years. It has never been more relevant than it is today.”
As part of its process of restructuring, the WEA has also appointed Ann Walker as its Director for Education and deputy to Ruth Spellman. Ann is currently the WEA’s Director for the Yorkshire and Humber region.