CEO hall of fame

2023 Winner: Lee Davies, Chief Executive, CIPA

Lee Davies is the Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA). Lee joined CIPA in February 2012, having previously been the Deputy Chief Executive of the Institute for Learning (IfL), the professional body for further education teachers and trainers. Lee has a background in further and higher education, having led the Thames & Solent District of the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA), a voluntary membership body providing adult education, and before that having held senior roles at Highbury College, in Portsmouth. Lee describes his career path as somewhat unconventional, having started his working life as an apprentice plumber in Portsmouth. Lee was given the chance to try his hand at part-time plumbing teaching in the late 80s and the rest, as the saying goes, is history. Lee freely admits that coming to work in membership associations was a complete accident. He says that he hadn’t really identified the importance of membership to the WEA when he joined it in 1999 (despite the giveaway name), but he was soon hooked on working with volunteer members and has considered himself to be a membership professional ever since. Lee also has experience of volunteering as a member and holding elected office, having been the 2011–12 President of the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE). Lee is a frequent speaker at events in the membership sector, covering topics such as association leadership and governance, professionalism and the future of professional identity. Lee is a keen (though no longer very good) squash player and a sea fishing enthusiast. He says he is most at home walking his whippet, Indy, across the south downs for several miles each morning before work, whilst setting the world to rights. On receiving the Memcom CEO Leadership Award, Lee says ‘it was an extraordinary night, I genuinely had no idea that I was in with a chance of receiving the award. Anyone who has seen the clips on social media of me taking the stage will know that I was totally dumbstruck. This accolade is so important to me. I am passionate about the Memcom membership community. It has helped to make me the leader I am today and I am forever indebted to every person I have been fortunate to meet and learn from, not least Louis Armstrong, who received the first of these awards posthumously. I am so looking forward to giving my lecture at the Memcom winter party and I dedicate this to every leader who has helped to shape me and who is no longer with us’.

2022 Winner: Noorzaman Rashid, Chief Executive, CEME

Noorzaman won the CEO Leadership awards while he was the CEO of the Chartered Institute for Ergonomics and Human Factors. He is now the Chief Executive of CEME. He has a successful track record of leading professional services firms, public sector agencies and working with membership bodies at board level. He has worked in South Africa, Japan, the US and Russia. Noorzaman is chair of several organisations including the Foundation for Social Improvement, which has 8,000 organisational members, the Centre for Management Consultancy Excellence and Play Action International.

2021 Winner: Simon Thompson, CEO of the British Institute of Radiology

Since his appointment in 2017, Simon has led on the transformation of the British Institute of Radiology, an organisation that was facing serious financial challenges, to one with record levels of income, a healthy surplus, record membership, and growing domestic and international influence. Simon ensured that the BIR demonstrated its value during the pandemic, producing the first global conference on COVID-19 imaging in March 2020, whilst also successfully campaigning for better PPE for radiographers and sonographers, and in 2021 for vaccinations for non-NHS staff working in high risk areas of hospitals. In late 2020, 77% of BIR volunteers said that the organisation’s overall reputation had improved, and 90% said the quality of its education provision had been enhanced.

2020 Winner: Paul Rees, CEO the Royal College of Psychiatrists

Paul Rees joined the Royal College of Psychiatrists as Chief Executive in November 2016, from the Royal College of GPs – where he was Executive Director of Policy and Engagement. Paul has led the modernisation of the RCPsych – leading to the transformation of College IT, stronger membership communication, more effective stakeholder engagement and a dynamic employee relations strategy. In collaboration with the College Officers, Paul led the introduction of a values-based approach to the way the organisation works with both its members and staff team – based on the organisational values of Courage, Innovation, Respect, Collaboration, Learning and Excellence, which were introduced in 2018. Among other things, this new approach saw the College celebrate Pride and Black History Month for the first time ever in 2019, and International Women’s Day for the first time in 2020. The values-based approach led to the College being awarded Charity of the Year in the European Diversity Awards in 2019. In 2020, Paul won the Louis Armstrong CEO Leadership Award in the memcom Awards.  The judges felt that Paul has demonstrated achievement in the all-important areas of profile, profit, and professionalism. There was clear demonstration of effectiveness across the full range of capabilities required from a CEO, with great strategic execution and member engagement and clear evidence of impact. His leadership has seen significant change in processes, communications and engagement, but most significantly in culture. He clearly lives the values of the organisation. Paul has demonstrated all-round success and is especially strong on diversity and equality.  Paul Rees: "I feel truly honoured to have won this award. As a College, we have worked very hard over the last year to deliver an excellent member experience and assist psychiatrists, and mental health services, globally, to deliver excellent patient care, at a time of unprecedented challenge. During this time, we have further embedded our values-based culture, and delivered our services and activities in full alignment with equality and diversity. I see this award as a reflection on the incredible work done by our amazing staff team, who have done so much, over the last 12 months, to rapidly migrate all of our services online and ensure that our virtual college is just as focussed on excellence, as was the real face-to-face one.”

2019 Winner: Anne Godfrey, Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute Of Environmental Health

Anne Godfrey CCMI FCIM, was appointed Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute Of Environmental Health (CIEH) in January 2016. Specialising in change management within the not-for-profit space, she has a proven track record of delivering challenging targets while harnessing the skills, knowledge and passion of members, staff and external stakeholders. Anne has previously held leadership roles in a diverse range of membership organisations including CIM, where she was Chief Executive, the Law Society, where she was Director of Commercial and Membership Services, and the CBI where she was Commercial & Marketing Director. She has a first class honours degree from Glasgow University and a postgraduate diploma in law from Nottingham Law School. Following her appointment at CIEH in 2016, Anne has spent three years refocussing and balancing CIEH’s revenue generation streams leading to an 18% increase in commercial income and an annual budget deficit reduction from £2.8m to break-even. Staff costs were reduced from £5.7m to £3m and a new strategy developed to deliver far more with less. Membership engagement increased with participation in trustee elections growing from 6% to 18%. The judges were especially impressed with the integration of activity and portfolio of change leading to a fast and effective turn around, demonstrating strong leadership and communication across all areas. Anne Godfrey: “It was amazing to be recognised by my peers at a gathering of like-minded souls which always feels like family. This is an incredible sector and one I’m proud to be part of”.

2018 Winner: Mark Downs, CEO Royal Society of Biology

Mark Downs, Royal Society of Biology (RSB). Mark joined the Royal Society of Biology as CEO from the major charity for hearing health and deafness, RNID, where he was the Executive director for Science and Enterprise (2004-2009) leading a major retail operation, service deliver social enterprise and the biomedical and technology research programme. Mark joined RNID after spending three years as the UK’s lead policy official for negotiating and implementing a range of far reaching, EU driven, business related environmental legislation at the Department of Trade and Industry. He previously spent five years in the Diplomatic Service based at the British Embassy in Tokyo as First Secretary (Trade Policy) with responsibility for all UK-Japan bilateral and multilateral trade relations.  He focused, in particular, on the medical, environmental, telecommunications and legal services markets. Earlier in his career, Mark managed and undertook biosensor research, managed Government LINK programmes, and worked on innovation and S&T and space policy.  He was responsible for setting up the Government’s Faraday Partnership Programme, the £30m environmental body WRAP and worked on the 1993 Science & Technology White Paper. He has a PhD from Cranfield University where he worked on the development of DNA sensors for rapid gene identification and a BSc in Biotechnology from the University of London. The Royal Society of Biology is a unifying voice for biology, representing over 60,000 biologists through its individual and organisational membership. Membership includes individuals from all stages of their career and spans all the bioscience disciplines from molecular to whole organisms to ecosystems.

2017 Winner: Chris Blythe, CEO, Chartered Institute of Building

Chris Blythe, Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB). Chris is an inspirational, modernising leader who exerts a positive influence inside and outside the CIOB. During his 17 years as Chief Executive, he has made the CIOB more dynamic, resilient and responsive. His collaborative style and focus on inclusivity, professional standards and serving the public good has brought the institute closer to other professional bodies, industry and government. CIOB membership has grown to 46,851 members since Chris joined the organisation making it the largest professional construction management network in the world. Chris’ campaigning to raise awareness of modern slavery must also be applauded, recently earning him an OBE for his work. Chris Blythe: "It is especially significant for me to win the Louis Armstrong Award. Louis was an unofficial mentor for me when I joined the CIOB 17 years ago and was very supportive. While I take great personal pride it is actually a statement of how far the CIOB has come and its promise for the future. The real stars are the members and staff I have worked with over the years. Professional bodies play an important role both in the industry and in wider society. More often than not these organisations go about their work without fanfare and yet their impact can be felt across the globe. They raise standards, promote professional values and tackle uncomfortable truths. They are social enterprises for the public good.” We have focussed on ethics in construction which is an environment vulnerable to modern slavery and the abuse of migrant workers, poor payment practices and money laundering; so it is particularly pleasing that the work of the CIOB Academy has been recognised at these awards.”

2016 Winner: Ann Francke, Chief Executive of the Chartered Management Institute

Ann Francke, Chief Executive of the Chartered Management Institute (CMI). The panel decided Ann had achieved what Henry Kissinger described as the task of the leader – “to get his people from where they are to where they have not been”. Under Ann’s leadership, the CMI developed and executed a strategy to turn around five years of decline, engaging staff and giving them a real sense of ownership in the process. With Ann at the helm, CMI has achieved the Investors in People (IIP) gold standard, grown its membership, built up reserves, set up degree apprenticeships and influenced the government on issues such as gender pay equality. Ann Francke: "I believe professional bodies are a huge influence for good and for change, not just in the UK but the world. At CMI we are stronger together. We have achieved what we have because we did it in partnership.”

2015 Winner: Louis Armstrong

Louis Armstrong, former Chief Executive of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. The award was presented posthumously to Louis’s widow. It was decided that from 2016 and annually thereafter the award will be presented as ‘The Louis Armstrong CEO Leadership Award’ based on the decision by a panel of chief executives who will consider all nominations. RICS Chief Executive, Dr Sean Tompkins: "Louis’ service as CEO of RICS from 1998 to 2010 was marked with unprecedented progress. Under his inspirational leadership RICS made significant steps in the transition from a national organisation to an international profession. It is wholly fitting that this new award should be created in his name. After leaving RICS, Louis continued to live our values when he founded Professions for Good, a consortium of the CEOs of leading professional bodies across all business sectors promoting the value and virtues of professionalism for business, the economy and society."