Executive Recruitment

Our Board

Non-Executive Chair


Peter Lauener, Non-Executive Chair

Peter Lauener was appointed as SLC Chair on 1 April 2020. Peter brings to this role a wealth of experience in the education and skills sectors in executive and now in non-executive roles.

He was previously Chief Executive of the Education and Skills Funding Agency until his retirement in November 2017 and in this role he was also a main Board member of the Department for Education. He also held the roles of interim Chief Executive of the Institute for Apprenticeships from September 2016 to October 2017, and interim Chief Executive of the Student Loans Company from November 2017 to October 2018.

Along with his work on the SLC Board, Peter currently holds a number of other non-Executive roles. He is Chair of the Construction Industry Training Board, originally set up under the Industry Training Act 1964 to administer a levy of employers in the three nations of England, Wales and Scotland to fund training in the construction industry. Peter has also since March 2018 been Chair of Newcastle College Group, a corporation in the Further Education sector comprising a group of seven colleges across England. He is also the Chair of Orchard Hill College which is an independent special needs college based in Sutton, England and with a number of sites across London and the South East. This college is sponsor of a special needs academy trust with a number of academies in the same area.

In addition to these roles, Peter is also a non-Executive Director of Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, one of a small number of specialist children’s trusts in the NHS, providing clinical and community services in Sheffield and the surrounding area.

Chief Executive


Paula Sussex, Chief Executive

Paula Sussex joined the Student Loans Company (SLC) in September 2018. Paula has extensive leadership experience, particularly in delivering large-scale transformation and change programmes and services in the public, private and voluntary sectors.

A graduate of the London Business School, she originally trained as a barrister before working in the private sector. Her 25 year career has been primarily in consultancy, but also in the service delivery of large scale IT, latterly working as Senior Vice President with Logica.

Executive Leadership Team


David Wallace, Deputy Chief Executive and Chief Customer Officer, Executive Director Product Development and Digital Customer

David was appointed Deputy Chief Executive of the Student Loans Company (SLC) in 2011 and has twice operated as Interim/Acting Chief Executive during periods of change. Before joining SLC, David held a number of senior positions within Abbey National plc and was Chief Operating Officer for Santander’s Insurance and Asset Management Division. A Chartered Accountant, David served as a Governor of Court at Glasgow Caledonian University and Chair of its Finance and General Purpose Committee.


Derek Ross, Executive Director Operations

Derek Ross joined the Student Loans Company (SLC) in 1999. He was appointed to the Executive Board in 2001 and since then has held a number of executive roles. He became Director of Operations in 2010. Before joining SLC, Derek was a practising solicitor for 15 years.

He holds a law degree from the University of Strathclyde, and an MBA with distinction from the University of Glasgow. 


Bernice McNaught, Repayments and Customer Compliance

Bernice became Executive Director for Repayments and Customer Compliance in March 2018. She joined the Student Loans Company (SLC) in February 2016 as Director of Change and Programme Management.

Previously, Bernice was a management consultant working in the private sector delivering technology based transformations.


Jacqui Smillie, Chief Financial Officer / Executive Director for Finance, Commercial, Estates and Enterprise Risk & Compliance

Jacqui Smillie is a qualified Chartered Accountant and joined the Student Loans Company (SLC) as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Executive Director, Finance, Commercial and Estates in July 2018. Before joining SLC, Jacqui held a number of senior positions, including Director in the UK National Audit Office, with roles in external and internal audit, and strategy and planning. She has also worked in the United Nations and, most recently, in the Department for Education where she had responsibility for a team providing data analysis on provider risk as well as assurance for over £60 billion of funds to providers of learning and skills.


Stephen Campbell, Chief Information Officer

Stephen Campbell joined the Student Loans Company as Chief Information Officer (CIO) in August 2019. Before joining SLC, Stephen held a number of senior IT and management positions at HBoS, Lloyds and most recently Aegon where he was CIO of their Digital Solutions Practice.

At Aegon, Stephen was accountable for all technology delivery and transformation activities as well as for the delivery of the technology supporting the organisation’s new digital proposition, Retiready. He has also been COO of Aegon’s business in Ireland.

Morven Spalding, Executive Director, People

Morven was appointed Executive Director of People at the Student Loans Company in November 2019 following a 12-month interim period in the post. She joined SLC from Aberdeen City Council, where she was Interim Chief Officer for People and Organisation, with responsibility for overseeing significant transformational change to modernise the organisation’s working practices. Prior to that, she was Skills Development Director for OPITO, an oil and gas industry skills organisation based in Aberdeen, where she was responsible for re-positioning the industry to attract staff from other sectors during a time of severe skills shortages.


Gary Womersley, Company Secretary & SIRO

Gary was appointed as Company Secretary in December 2015, having previously carried out the roles of Senior Manager - Legal and Compliance and Head of Legal and Corporate Services. Prior to joining the Student Loans Company (SLC), Gary held various senior legal and management roles, in both public and private sectors. He has also held various senior non-executive roles, including Ministerial appointments, always with an emphasis on governance, scrutiny, regulation and compliance. 

Gary is an enrolled Solicitor, Notary Public and Writer to Her Majesty’s Signet.

Non-Executive Directors


Mary Curnock Cook OBE

Non-Executive Director

Mary Curnock Cook holds a number of non-executive roles in the education sector.

From 2010 to 2017, Mary was Chief Executive of UCAS, the universities and colleges admissions service. Earlier in her career she held executive and non-executive positions in the education, hospitality, food and biotech sectors.

She is Chair of Trustees of the Access Project and a Trustee at multi-academy Trust, United Learning, and Founders4Schools. She is also a Council member at the Open University and on the Board of Education and Youth Think Tank, LKMco. She Chairs an advisory Board for EdTech in HE and FE and is also an investor and advisor to a number of EdTech start-ups. She is on the Advisory Board for the Higher Education Policy Institute.

Mary has an MSc from London Business School and she was awarded an OBE in 2000 and CBE in 2020. She is an honorary Fellow of Birkbeck College and Goldsmiths, and has an honorary doctorate from the University of Gloucestershire.


Simon Devonshire

Non-Executive Director

Simon Devonshire joined the Student Loans Company in March 2016. He has worked for a number of prestigious corporate businesses across a diverse range of industries – from fmcg (Heinz, Spillers); travel (Thomas Cook) retail (The Post Office, Total petrol); and telco (Virgin Media, O2).

He ran the B2B division of O2 UK for five years; leading a team of more than 1,000 people; accountable for over €1bn revenue pa. Simon also helped create several start-ups, including www.zopa.com the world’s first lending and borrowing exchange, and the social enterprise One Water.

Simon has a portfolio of business interests including being the Entrepreneur in Residence for the National Physical Laboratory.


Charlotte Moar

Non-Executive Director

Charlotte Moar joined the Student Loans Company in May 2019.  She is a qualified accountant and a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants.

Charlotte held Director of Finance and Deputy Chief Executive posts in NHS Trusts and commissioners for over fifteen years, with executive responsibility for financial planning and management of budgets of £1bn plus, estates, facilities and capital projects, digital and information governance, planning and performance. More recently she has worked at NHS England, working closely with the Department of Health and Social Care around policy development on continuing health care and, subsequently, capital planning. 

Charlotte now focuses on Non Executive Director and Trustee roles.  She is currently a Non Executive Director of NHS Resolution where she chairs the Audit & Risk Committee.  She also sits as an Independent Member on the Audit and RIsk Committees of the National Community Lottery Fund, UK Research and Innovation and the Equalities and Human Rights Commission.  Charlotte also holds voluntary roles as a Council Member of the University of Bath, the Chair of Trustees of Bristol Zoological Society and a Trustee of Comic Relief. 

Charlotte has an MA from the University of Cambridge, where she held an organ scholarship and has since studied with the Open University and the University of Bath.  Throughout her career she has taken a particular interest in how public services can ensure that they are truly customer focused.


Rona Ruthen

Non-Executive Director

As VP of Customer Operations at Monzo Bank Rona is responsible for the design and delivery of the award winning customer service and customer operations, supporting the fast growth of the Bank.

Rona has 15 years’ experience in fintech, Financial services and Payment solutions, in companies in Israel and the UK. She has led Operations at UK fintech Curve, and has previously led business units and processes at Online freelance marketplace Fiverr and Global payment company Payoneer.

Rona holds a BA in Economics and an MBA from Tel Aviv University.

Gary Page

Non-Executive Director

Gary has a BA in History from Cambridge University. He worked in the banking industry for over 20 years, predominantly with ABN AMRO where he held a number of positions including Global Head of Markets and Global Head of Commercial Banking.

More recently, Gary has focused on Non Executive roles in the public, private and Not for Profit sectors with a particular focus on positions which facilitate greater social inclusion. These roles have included Chairing a Charity supporting adults with Autism and also a school providing secondary education to boys with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties in Tower Hamlets. Gary also chaired one of the largest NHS Mental Health Foundation Trusts in the UK for almost 6 years.

In addition to his role with the Student Loans Company, Gary is currently the Chair of Triodos Bank UK Limited, the UK subsidiary of Triodos Bank N.V. and a Lay Member of the South East Employment Tribunal. He is also a Trustee of a Suffolk based charity working with families bereaved by suicide.

Stephen Tetlow MBE CEng FIET FIMechE

Non-Executive Director

Stephen Tetlow joined the Planning Inspectorate Board in July 2019. He is a qualified Chartered Engineer, a founding partner of Fibonacci Partners and advisor to a number of company boards and start-ups. He is also a Non-Executive Director of The Student Loan Company.

Stephen has a wealth of Board experience and has held Executive and Non-Executive positions across both the Public and Private Sectors. These have included the former Defence Logistics Organization, the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, the National Skills Academy for Rail, PEP Ltd, Engineering UK and the Driver and Vehicle Operator Group of the Department for Transport. He has substantial experience of large-scale IT delivery, including the award-winning computerization of the National MoT system. Stephen has an Honorary Doctorate from Plymouth University and lives in Devon on a County Wild-life Site in a self-built sustainable home.


Professor Andrew Wathey CBE FRHistS FRSA FSA

Non-Executive Director

Andrew Wathey joined the Student Loans Company Board in January 2018. He became Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Northumbria University in 2008. Previously, he was Senior Vice-Principal at Royal Holloway, University of London 2006-8, and Vice-Principal from 2003.

He was appointed Professor of Music History at Royal Holloway, University of London in 1999, where he was also Head of Department and Dean of the Faculty of Arts. He graduated from Oxford in 1979 and held posts in the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Lancaster before moving to Royal Holloway in 1989. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and of the Society of Antiquaries, and was a Visiting Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford in 1998.

Professor Wathey chairs the UK Standing Committee for Quality Assessment. He is a Board member of the Quality Assurance Agency, and a member of the Council of the All Party Parliamentary Universities Group. He chaired the Student Loans Company Stakeholder Forum from 2010 to 2017. He has also served as chair of Universities for the North East, and was Deputy Chair of the University Alliance 2009-12.

Regionally, he is an elected Member of the CBI North East Regional Council and a Governor of Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.