The people make QA

Ask anyone that works here, and they'll tell you. The people make QA.

The people behind QA make great things happen every day. We all bring our own strengths to the table – but share the same values. We're all passionate about transforming people's careers. It makes QA a fun and rewarding place to work. 

Discover more about the people leading our business, or meet a few of our learning experts.

QA's Executive Team

Chief Executive Officer

Paul Geddes

Paul Geddes

Paul joined as our CEO in September 2019. It was digital transformation and developing talent (two of his personal passions) which attracted Paul to QA – having built a career in both service and people-led businesses. Another passion of Paul's is playing the violin.  

Prior to QA, Paul was CEO of Direct Line Group (DLG), where he led the successful IPO of the business, delivering strong customer and business performance. Under his leadership, DLG was recognised in the top three of the Sunday Times Best Big Companies To Work For ranking. Prior to Direct Line Group, Paul was CEO of RBS Group’s mainland UK retail banking business, following a successful career in multichannel retailing and marketing at leading companies such as Kingfisher, GUS and Procter & Gamble.

Paul is a Non-Executive Director of Channel 4 Television Corporation and Trustee of Teach First, an education charity fighting to make the education system work for every child. He read PPE at Oxford.

 

Chief Financial Officer

Nathan Runnicles

Nathan Runnicles

Nathan is our numbers man. As CFO he takes care of everything finance-related plus our Legal, Property and Technology services. He’s been our CFO since May 2018.

Prior to QA, Nathan was CFO at Tes Global and Research Now Group Inc. Before that, EMEA Finance Director of Fitch (that’s part of WPP Group plc). He’s got experience in group finance, corporate development, legal and investor relations. At Research Now Group Inc., he oversaw the development of the business from a UK public company, through two private equity transactions in 2009 and 2015.

Nathan’s roots in finance started when he became a qualified chartered accountant at PricewaterhouseCoopers in 1998. He has a BSc in Economics and Accounting from the University of Bristol.

Group Chief Technology Officer

Katie Nykanen

Katie Nykanen

Katie Nykanen joins from Adstream, a leading digital asset management platform used by brands and agencies, where she spent 9 years managing the global technology function. She has over 20 years’ industry experience, was named female CTO of the Year in 2019 and placed #16 on the CIO 100 list, a list which recognises transformational and disruptive CIOs. Katie will lead QA’s group technology function.

Managing Director Education Operations

Darren Bance

Darren Bance

Darren joined QA in January 2020 as Managing Director of Education Operations. He enjoys delighting customers and will be focused on ensuring operational rigour and excellence across the Learning, Consulting and Apprenticeships service lines.

Prior to QA, Darren was Executive Director of the Learning Services at Capita, leading the division that included the learning and training businesses; Apprenticeships, BlueSky, Brightwave, G2G3, Fire Service College and Knowledgepool. Darren spent 10 years in the Middle East creating operations and service management capabilities and delivering tech enabled business change programmes for private and public sector clients.

Darren has a degree in City & Regional Planning from University of Wales, Cardiff and is a member of the Institute of Collaborative Working.

Chief Executive Higher Education

Simon Nelson

Simon Nelson

Simon brings a wealth of experience in the global EdTech market. Founder and CEO of FutureLearn, the online learning platform launched by the Open University and used by world-renowned academic institutions, Simon was responsible for scaling the platform from start-up to reaching a global audience of more than 15 million students.

Prior to this, Simon played a key role at the BBC for more than a decade, leading the BBC Radio digital strategy and playing a major role in the development and launch of BBC iPlayer. Most recently Simon headed up the digital strategy at Nord Anglia Education, the world’s largest international schools group.

Chief Executive Circus Street

Richard Townsend

Richard Townsend

After graduating in business and statistics from Greenwich University, Richard started a career in media and advertising as a researcher for The Media Centre, part of the DMB&B advertising group. He later became a media planner for brands including the COI, Fiat and P&G. Early in his career he specialised in the emerging area of digital marketing, cutting some of the UK’s first deals with iconic digital brands such as Yahoo, AOL and later Google and Facebook. He set up the digital division of Starcom Mediavest growing it into one of the largest buyers of digital services in the UK. Richard left to set up a media consultancy called Circus Street, which he later pivoted into an online learning business in response to the desperate need for digital skills within his clients. Richard grew Circus Street to be one of the world’s most widely used and best-respected Ed-tech businesses in the corporate sector.

President, Cloud Academy

Ella Balagula

Ella Balagula

Ella is a well-recognised leader at the intersection of the EdTech and SaaS space, serving a wide variety of B2B customers. Her 25+ years of global general management and strategy consulting experience created a winning blend of strategy and execution. She is a visionary and technology-savvy P&L leader, with a proven track record of turnarounds and growing profitable businesses.

Most recently, Ella was President and GM of the Enterprise and Government business at General Assembly, a pioneer of the software bootcamp category. Before that, Ella was managing a portfolio of Education Publishing businesses at Wiley, with 1,500 global employees. There, she drove digital transformation and the turnaround of highly disrupted offerings and was named one of five leaders in education technology by ForbesWomen.

Prior to Wiley, Ella spent a decade at Elsevier, one of the world’s largest providers of scientific, medical, and technology information, where she was SVP and GM of Engineering Solutions managing a portfolio of SaaS information products for R&D professionals. She also served as CEO of Knovel – a company under Elsevier providing data-driven decision-support solutions for engineers.

Prior to Elsevier, Ella was a Principal for Kearney, a global management consultancy. Ella holds an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management and an MS in Mathematics from Odessa National University in the Ukraine. She lives in Miami with her husband and they have two adult children.

QA Managing Directors

Managing Director QA Talent

Charu Bjuvestig

Charu Bjuvestig

Charu has been with QA since December 2020 and is a Managing Director heading our Talent/Consultancy business globally.

Prior to joining QA, Charu was the UKI and European Head of the People and Transformation practice at Infosys Consulting. She is experienced in selling and delivering large-scale complex people and IT transformation programmes in the financial services, consumer goods, life sciences and telecommunication sectors.

Charu started her career working for Citibank and then JP Morgan Chase, building her expertise around IT transformation programmes. After completing her MBA, she joined KPMG as part of their Financial Services and later Strategic Change practices, before moving to Infosys.

Having lived and worked across three continents leading large, disparate and culturally diverse teams, Charu is passionate about building high-performing teams and positive, diverse and inclusive cultures. At QA, she gets to do just this, while creating value for our clients and our consultants – a win-win!

Managing Director Defence and HMG

Toby Barnard

Toby Barnard

After 12 years in the military as a Royal Navy Commando, Toby joined IBM as L&D European Lead, while also working as a client partner in Defence and Security.

More recently from Ernst & Young, where he was leading their Public Sector Digital HR Practice, Toby has moved to QA to lead Government Learning. He brings the best of his consultancy, learning and technology experience to support our public sector clients solve their learning problems, while providing advice on how to prepare for the Future of Work.

Managing Director Sales – Learning

Adam Jones

Adam Jones

Adam joined QA in 2008 and is a real internal mobility success story. Adam started as an Account Manager within our Leeds Sales office and is now responsible for Client Care across 3000 customers and strives to ensure that every problem faced by the clients is being addressed by our teams, fostering a customer-centric culture.

Adam has worked globally and his varied professional background, passion and focus on people have seen him lead teams and large-scale complex sales processes, leaning on a wealth of experience. Whilst leading teams all over the country Adam is a proud northerner and in his spare time loves Bradford City, running and exploring new places.