Ex-DfE minister named government’s lead non-executive director

Lord Nash to take over role from Sir Ian Cheshire, who has held the post since 2015
Lord Nash. Photo: Gov.UK

By Richard Johnstone

03 Aug 2020

A former minister who worked with Michael Gove in the Department for Education has been named the government’s lead non-executive director with a key role in building leadership and management skills across departments.

Lord Nash, who had two spells as schools minister – first from January 2013 to June 2017 and then again from June to September 2017 – will take over from Sir Ian Cheshire, who has held the role since April 2015.

The government’s lead non-executive works with cabinet ministers across government to improve governance across Whitehall by overseeing the cadre of NEDs that sit on departmental boards. The non-execs are intended to bring a commercial or independent perspective to the work of departments, as well as providing constructive scrutiny and internal challenge.

The lead non-exec is also responsible for ensuring shared issues and concerns highlighted by NEDs across government are being pursued.

And Lord Nash will help build leadership and management skills in the civil service and support the Cabinet Office and other departments to transform the way public services are delivered, according to an announcement.

He will work closely with Gove, now Cabinet Office minister, as well as civil service chief operating officer Alex Chisholm and the next cabinet secretary. Gove was education secretary until July 2014 during Nash’s first stint at the DfE, while Dominic Cummings, now prime minister Boris Johnson top adviser, was Gove’s special adviser in the department.

Announcing the appointment, Chisholm said non-execs “provide valuable external insight to help the government achieve its objectives and deliver for UK citizens".

He added: “Lord Nash brings a wealth of experience from business and government to the role, and I look forward to working with him on the government’s top priorities.”

As well as his time as a minister, where he played a role in the development of the academies and free schools programme, Nash also worked in venture capital for 30 years, having created his own firm Sovereign Capital in 1988.

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