Trustees' biographies

Trustees' biographies

Rupert Gavin, Chairman

Rupert Gavin is a British business leader and theatre impresario. He is currently Chairman of Historic Royal Palaces, Chairman of the Honours Committee for Arts and Media and Chairman of the Living Room Cinemas Ltd. Rupert is a former CEO of BBC Worldwide and of Odeon & UCI Cinemas Group. As a producer he is notable for a long series of successful plays and musicals over 30 years, principally through his company Incidental Colman. His productions/co-productions have won nineteen Olivier awards and five Tony awards. He is a director of the theatre industry body, SOLT.

Rupert has previously been Chairman of DNeg plc and Contender Media, and was a Non-Executive Director of Wyevale Garden Centres, Countrywide plc and Virgin Mobile plc. He was director and shareholder in the Ambassador Theatre Group until 2013, helping its founders develop the group from small beginnings to the largest theatre operation in the world today.

Rupert read economics at Magdalene College, University of Cambridge. After graduation he took a copywriting role at Sharps advertising agency, becoming an equity partner in the firm before it was sold to Saatchi & Saatchi. While working at Sharps he established close links with Dixons Store Group, and would eventually go on to become Deputy Managing Director. In 1994, Rupert joined British Telecom to work on its internet and multimedia strategy; he went on to become Managing Director of the firm’s consumer division. In 1998 Rupert was appointed Chief Executive of BBC Worldwide and was a member of the BBC Executive Committee for seven years.

Professor Michael Wood OBE

Michael Wood is a historian and film maker who for forty years has brought history alive for viewers and readers in Britain, the US and worldwide. He is the author of highly praised and bestselling books on English history including number one best sellers In Search of the Dark Ages, Domesday, and The Story of England. He has made 120 documentary films, among them In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great and The Story of India, which the Wall Street Journal described as ‘the gold standard’ of documentary history making’.

Michael has written widely on British history. His special academic interest is in Anglo-Saxon history, and the origins of the English monarchy and state in the tenth century. He also has a long-term interest in Shakespeare – his many films include a highly praised four-part series for BBC 2: In Search of Shakespeare

Michael is currently Professor of Public History at the University of Manchester. He is a recipient of the Historical Association’s Medlicott Medal for ‘Outstanding Services and current contributions to History.’ He recently received the British Academy President’s Medal for services to History and outreach.

Born in Manchester, Michael lives in North London with his partner the producer/director Rebecca Dobbs: they have two daughters.

Robert Swannell CBE

Robert Swannell CBE is Chairman of UK Government Investments, which is responsible for corporate finance and corporate governance for HMG. Robert is also Chairman of the LP Advisory Committee of Ahren, an investment company based on deep, transformational science at Cambridge University, a Director of the Investor Forum and a member of The Takeover Panel Appeal Board. Robert is Chairman of The Royal National Children’s SpringBoard Foundation, a Trustee of Teach First and a visiting Fellow at the Oxford University, Said Business School.

Robert was previously Chairman of Marks & Spencer (2010-2017), senior independent director of The British Land Company PLC (1999-2010) and of 3i Group PLC (2006-2010) and Chairman of HMV (2009-2011). He was also Chairman and a member of the Governing Body of Rugby School from 2004-2014, a Trustee of Career Ready from 2003-2012, Trustee of the Kew Foundation from 2011-2017 and a member of the Advisory Board of The Sutton Trust from 2014-17.

Until 2010, Robert spent a career of over 30 years in investment banking with Schroders/Citigroup. He was formerly Vice-Chairman of Citi Europe and Chairman of Citi’s European Investment Bank. Robert qualified both as a chartered accountant and a barrister. He was appointed CBE in the 2018 New Years’ Honours for services to Business, Finance and Retail.

General the Lord Houghton of Richmond GCB CBE DL

Lord Houghton is a former United Kingdom Chief of Defence Staff - the professional Head of the UK’s Armed Forces. He stood down in July 2016 and is now the Constable of The Tower of London and a Cross-Bench Peer in the House of Lords.

Lord Houghton joined the Army in 1973. He was commissioned from Sandhurst into the Green Howards, a Yorkshire Infantry Regiment. In his early twenties he undertook an in-Service degree in Modern History at St Peter’s College, Oxford. In a 43-year military career he served seven times in Northern Ireland earning operational awards as both a Commanding Officer and a Brigade Commander in Belfast. He was the Deputy Commander of the Multi-National Force Iraq in 2005-6 for which he was awarded the US Legion of Merit. He was the Chief of Joint Operations from April 2006 to May 2009, in charge of all overseas operations of UK Forces, including the final extraction from Iraq. He was both Vice Chief of the Defence Staff then Chief of the Defence Staff over the period 2009-2016 during the time of two Strategic Defence Reviews and the end of combat operations in Afghanistan. He was the Colonel Commandant of the Intelligence Corps and the founding Colonel of the Yorkshire Regiment.

On leaving the Army, he established his own consultancy company, which specialises in giving strategic advice to multinational corporates. He also advises a number of technical start-ups. He is a Trustee of RUSI, the Royal Armouries and The HM Tower of London Chapels Royal Foundation. He is an Honorary Fellow of St Peter’s College, Oxford and a Deputy Lieutenant of Greater London.

Camilla Finlay

Camilla graduated with Honours degree and diploma in Architecture in 2001 from the Mackintosh School of Architecture. After completing her Masters she joined the London offices of Terry Farrell & Partners and worked on a range of architectural and masterplanning projects including the redevelopment of Regents Place.

Camilla moved to Oxfordshire in 2006 and joined Acanthus Clews Architects. She became a Company Director in 2008. Since joining ACA her focus has been on the conservation, repair, development and management of historic buildings, particularly places of worship and English Heritage sites. She is an Accredited Architect in Building Conservation (AABC).

Camilla was appointed to the post of Cathedral Architect to Exeter Cathedral in 2012 and Surveyor to the Fabric of Worcester Cathedral in 2014. She is a member of the Cathedral Fabric Commission for England (CFCE). Significant architectural projects include Mucknell Abbey, a sustainable monastery for the Anglican OSB Community, that received the 2011 EASA President’s Award and the conversion of the Undercroft at Worcester Cathedral into a Centre of Learning that received the 2021 Architects Journal Retrofit Award.

Camilla’s family life and work are closely linked. She is married to David, a fellow Director at ACA and they have two children Thomas and Isaac.

Tim Knox

Tim Knox was appointed Director of the Royal Collection by HM The Queen in 2018. Previous to that he was Director and Marlay Curator of the Fitzwilliam Museum between 2013 and 2018, where he made a number of important acquisitions and planned the Museum's masterplan, New Ways In. He was Director of Sir John Soane’s Museum in London between 2005 and 2013. Here he restored Sir John Soane’s glittering architectural treasury to its appearance in 1837, just as its founder wished, and converted the neighbouring houses to provide facilities for the museum.

Brought up in Nigeria and Fiji, he studied History of Art at the Courtauld Institute of Art. He was Assistant Curator at the Royal Institute of British Architects Drawings Collection 1989-95, and moved to the National Trust, first as its Architectural Historian, becoming its Head Curator in 2002. He is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London and a Member of the Society of Dilettanti. He is Co-Patron of the Mausolea and Monuments Trust, which he helped found and Chaired 2000-2004. He currently sits on the Advisory Committee of the NHMF and is a Director of Yale University Press.

He regularly lectures and writes on aspects of architecture, sculpture and the history of collecting. Publications include Sir John Soane’s Museum London (2010), and The British Ambassador’s Residence Paris (2011).

Carole Souter CBE

Carole Souter is Master of St Cross College, University of Oxford. She is the Chair of the Board of Visitors of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, and a Trustee of the Oxford Preservation Trust, the Horniman Museum and the London Emergencies Trust. She is also a Lay Canon of Salisbury Cathedral.

Carole was Chief Executive of the Heritage Lottery Fund from 2003 to 2016. She previously worked in the Departments of Health, Social Security and the Cabinet Office, before moving out of the civil service.

She was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London in 2014. In 2018 she became a Trustee of the Hung Cheng and Baroness Olga Knoop Trust for Ophthalmic Research.

Sir Michael Stevens CVO, Deputy Chairman

Sir Michael Stevens is Keeper of the Privy Purse, Receiver General of the Duchy of Lancaster. He is also a Trustee of The Royal Collection Trust and the Military Knights of Windsor.

Sir Michael was Finance Director of The Royal Collection Trust from 1995 to 2014. He was a Governor and Member of Council, King Edward VII Sister Agnes Hospital from 2010 - 2019 and Chairman of the hospital's Audit and Investment Committee 2013-2019.

Formerly a Senior Manager with KPMG, his career included working in the UK and the Middle East between 1979 and 1995.

Sir Michael became Deputy Chairman of Trustees for Historic Royal Palaces in May 2019.

Sue Wilkinson OBE

Sue has held a number of prominent roles within the arts and education. She was Chief Executive of the Reading Agency from January 2014 to July 2019. Prior to this she was Director of UK Academic and Government Alliances at Elsevier.

Sue read history at Clare College Cambridge, trained as a teacher and did a post-graduate course in museum education at the University of Leicester. As Director of Policy at the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) she created the ground-breaking quality and impact framework, Inspiring Learning for All, which is now used in museums, archives and libraries all over the world.

While at MLA she worked with public libraries and their partners to deliver a wide range of programmes, and with local museums to establish, and secure funding for the Renaissance in the Regions programme.

She was awarded an MBE for services to museum education in 2014 and an OBE for services to literature and libraries in 2020. Sue was previously a Trustee of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and Handel House Museum.

Sarah Jenkins

Sarah is the incoming Managing Director of Saatchi and Saatchi London, one of the biggest and most successful agencies in the UK, clients include BT, HSBC, Direct Line Group, Visa and Proctor & Gamble

Previously she held the positions of Chief Marketing Officer and Head of Account Management at Grey London, where she was responsible for some of the agency’s flagship accounts - including the British Heart Foundation. Across her advertising career she has driven marketing activity for organisations as diverse as Mars, GlaxoSmithKline, Virgin Media and the Home Office, delivering campaigns across TV, print, PR, activation, direct marketing and tech.

A champion of creativity, in particular within schools, Sarah is also the co-founder of the Advertising Diversity Taskforce (ADT); a collective of the UK's most progressive advertising and media agencies. The ADT work together to create legacy initiatives to make advertising and marketing a more accessible place for people from diverse backgrounds and to drive greater diversity within campaigns.

Sarah is a regular speaker, news commentator and industry panellist. She has been recognised with numerous accolades including a Fellowship from the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA).

Dr Jo Twist OBE

Jo is CEO of Ukie, the trade body for UK games and interactive entertainment, making the UK the best place in the world to make, sell and play games. She is also Deputy Chair of the British Screen Advisory Council, London Tech Ambassador, Chair of the BAFTA Games Committee and BAFTA Trustee, an Ambassador on the Mayor of London’s Cultural Leadership Board, and Creative Industries Council member.

In 2016 she was awarded an OBE for services to the creative industries and won the MCV 30 Women in Games award for Outstanding Contribution. She won MCV Industry Hero in 2019 and Devcom Hero for Leadership in the European games industry in 2019. She is a VP for games and accessibility charity, SpecialEffect and the government’s Sector Champion for Disabilities.

Previously, Jo was Channel 4 Education Commissioning Editor where she commissioned Digital Emmy-winning Battlefront II (not the game), free to play browser and iOS games and social media projects. Jo was Multiplatform Commissioner for BBC Entertainment & Switch, BBC Three Multiplatform Channel Editor, and technology reporter for BBC News. 

Her doctorate in the late 1990s was an ethnography exploring identity and concepts of difference in place based and virtual communities. In 2018 Jo was awarded an Honorary Visiting Professorship by Ravensbourne University.

Lisa Burger

Lisa Burger is a leader of the UK theatre sector and theatre producer. She stepped down as Joint Chief Executive of the National Theatre in mid-April 2022 after a 20 year career during which she has been instrumental in expanding the NT’s reach. From establishing NT Live in 2009, the creation of NT at Home during the pandemic, reaching record levels of nationwide NT touring and founding the Theatre Nation Partnerships network, ensuring that the widest possible audience can engage with the highest quality theatre wherever they live has been a central focus for her.

Lisa played a key role in the growth of the National Theatre’s commercial work, including as producer of Broadway transfers such as the Tony Award-winning Angels in America, Network, and in October 2021 Lehman and Nationwide tours of War Horse and Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time.

Lisa read Music at Sheffield University and after graduating qualified as a chartered accountant in her home town of Cardiff. Lisa worked at the Royal Opera House from 1987 to 1997 and then moved to the National Gallery Company. Lisa was Chair of the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith from 2018-2022. Lisa has an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters from Sheffield University, was awarded a CBE in the 2021 New Years Honours and a Special Recognition Olivier Award by the Society of London Theatres in April 2022.