Civil Service Commission names four new members

Latest appointments include “serial entrepreneur”, former oil-industry chief, asset manager and consultant
Photo: Howard Lake/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

By Jim Dunton

04 Oct 2022

Cabinet Office minister Nadhim Zahawi has announced the appointment of four new members of the Civil Service Commission, who will serve five-year fixed terms starting from this week.

They are “serial entrepreneur” Atul Devani; former npower chief HR officer and ExxonMobil senior staff member Christopher Pilgrim; asset manager Stephen Cohen; and consultant and former ICI, 3i and Praesta Partners senior staff member Elizabeth Walmsley.

Zahawi said the four would “bring a variety of expertise” to help ensure that senior civil servants are recruited on merit after fair and open competitions.

The new commissioners will also assist with the organisation’s work investigating alleged breaches of the civil service code, under first civil service commissioner – and former Labour MP and Vote Leave chair – Baroness Gisela Stuart.

Stuart said she was “delighted” that Devani, Pilgrim, Cohen and Walmsley were joining the commission’s board.

“I look forward to working with them as commissioners, helping to ensure we have an effective civil service, appointed on merit, to develop and deliver government services across the country,” she said.

Biographies of the four new commissioners described Devani as a “serial entrepreneur who founded and sold several successful software technology ventures in finance, mobile, telecoms, telemedicine and pharmacy”. Devani is currently chairman of a Maven Capital venture capital trust and an investor in a number of private companies. He is also a member of Bangor University Council.

In addition to his previous roles at Npower and ExxonMobil, Pilgrim has also worked for British Steel, Dutch nutrition-products manufacturer Royal Numico and food manufacturer Uniq plc. He is currently chair of the Doctors and Dentists Pay Review Body, a board member of the Civil Nuclear Police Authority, and a governor of Cardiff Metropolitan University.

Cohen is described as having more than 40 years’ experience in asset management in Asia, Europe and the USA.  He is a council member at the Health & Care Professions Council, a commissioner at the Gambling Commission and chair of audit for both the JPMorgan Japan Investment Trust plc and the Schroder UK Public Private Trust plc.

Walmsley has held senior roles at chemicals firm ICI, private-equity and venture-capital business 3i, and executive-coaching firm Praesta Partners. She currently divides her time between consultancy work and voluntary roles, which include being a trustee of the Woodsmith Foundation and president of the Stokesley Rotary Club.

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