The Council

As Aston University’s governing body, the Council, has a duty to oversee the University’s development and to assist it to fulfil its primary objectives of teaching and research. Comprising 17 members, with a majority of independent governors (at least one of whom is an Aston graduate), as well as five staff and one student members, it carries ultimate responsibility for the University’s strategic direction, finances, property and human resource and employment policy.

The Council has specific responsibility for approving the delivery and effectiveness of the University Strategy which sets out the institutional mission and vision, academic aims and objectives and identifies the financial, physical and staffing strategies necessary to achieve them.

Members of the Council are drawn from a variety of backgrounds including industry, commerce, public service and academia. Independent members of Council play a role similar to that of non-executive directors or trustees of charities, and bring to the University a wide range of commercial and professional skills and expertise, as well as experience of the wider community. They also form a useful sounding board for the Vice-Chancellor and members of the Executive Team and provide valuable advice and help in Aston’s development and management. By becoming a member of the Council whether in an ex officio, independent or academic capacity, the individual concerned agrees to play as full a part as possible in its affairs, including membership of its sub-committees, and to accept the corporate responsibility for the Council’s decisions.

The Council's Powers are set out in University Statute 5

Kathy Cooper CPA, CA, Consultant

Kathy started her career in Public Practice moving on to Finance Controller/Director roles in various Manufacturing/Distribution organisations in Canada. She moved to the UK and entered the IT Industry joining ICL as a Divisional Finance Director. She changed her focus to Change Management and started at Jaguar Land Rover as the Finance Change/Transformation Manager in 2001. In 2008, she was appointed to the position of Director of Corporate Audit to set up the Corporate Audit Department after Jaguar Land Rover was sold to Tata Motors Ltd. She retired from JLR in 2021 and is currently a Non-Executive Director for The Strive Group (TSG) Ltd. and a Visiting Lecturer at Birmingham City University.

She is also an accredited Business Executive Coach and NLP Practitioner, coaching and mentoring people throughout the years.

Amardeep Gill

Amardeep heads international law firm Trowers & Hamlins' Birmingham corporate commercial team. He is nationally recognised as an expert in his field and advises clients in relation to a range of transformation and business critical projects including commercial partnerships, joint ventures, supply chain arrangements,outsourcings and cross-border commercial transactions.He has spent time working in the in-house legal departments of both public and private sector clients and holds a number of non-executive directorships.

Professor Gill Nicholls, OBE

A graduate of the University of London, Gill has held the posts of Director of King’s Institute of Learning and Teaching (KILT) at King’s College University of London; Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Student Experience) at Durham University; Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Academic) at Salford University; Vice President and Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Academic Affairs at the University of Surrey; and Interim Provost at the University of Leicester responsible for planning and resource allocation, reviewing and restructuring of academic governance, creating and setting a realistic target approach to enhancement and improvement across the university.

Since her retirement in March 2016 from the University of Surrey Gill has had the opportunity to engage with over 15 Universities through her personal consultancy. This has substantially increased her knowledge and understanding of effective and efficient use of strategic planning and resource management to aid academic objective setting within ever stringent financial environments.

Gill has contributed to many national and international advisory committees including HEFCE Advisory Boards for: Widening Participation, Teaching, Quality and Student Experience, TRAC and financial sustainability, the QAA Degree Awarding Powers Board, Chair of Changing the Learning Landscape Advisory Board, and the EU Commission for University-Business engagement, and a member of Council for the All Parliamentary Committee for Higher Education. She was a member of the recent TEF panel and currently advises KPMG on Higher Education issues.

She received an OBE for services to Higher Education in December 2015

Dr Sue Noffke

After graduating from Aston University with a degree in Business Administration and Biochemistry in 1989, Sue Noffke joined Schroders (the British multinational asset management company) as a UK equity analyst. Sue spent the first three years of her investment career covering various sectors including insurance and general retail. Since 1993, Sue's role has been UK equity manager for a number of Schroders institutional clients. She has also been an Associate Member of the Institute of Investment Management and Research since 1992. Sue is co-manager of the both the Schroder Prime UK Equity Fund (since 2006) and the Schroder UK Core Fund (launched in March 2011). Sue became lead fund manager of the Schroder Income Growth Fund in July 2011.

The Telegraph referred to Sue as “The UK’s leading female Fund Manager”, in 2011. That same year, financial analysts Citywire said that “Sue Noffke is the best female fund manager in the business”.

Sue was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Aston University in April 2014.

Sue is Chair of the University’s Nominations and Governance Committee and a member of the Remuneration and Workforce Strategy Committee”.

Tim Pile

Tim is Chair of The Royal Orthopaedic Hospital and a Non-Executive Director at Marshalls Plc.

Until recently, he was also Chair of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP

He has worked in a number of different industries such as banking, retail, marketing, consumer goods, manufacturing, as well as in the charity and public sectors, serving in various roles at such organisations as Cogent, Sainsbury's, Alliance and Leicester and Lloyds TSB.

Tim has also served on the Board (and is a past President) of the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, was a trustee of the Library of Birmingham, a governor at Bromsgrove School and was on the Board of Cancer Research UK.

Tim has four children, all of whom are now "off the payroll" (if that can ever be the case!) and eight Grandchildren... and lives locally.

Interests include family, cycling (as much as possible but rather slowly!), walking (with the dog), skiing, theatre, music, sailing, various sports (vicariously) and all the usual pursuits.

Dr Phil Popham

Phil has led businesses and company start ups around the world in a career spanning over 30 years. He spent many of those years as an executive at Jaguar Land Rover,having joined as a graduate of Aston University in 1988. He spent time based in the UK,South Africa and North America and went on to take responsibility for the company’s worldwide commercial operations as a member of the global executive team that presided over the business’ most successful period.

In 2014, he joined the British luxury yacht manufacturer, Sunseeker as CEO and oversaw a notable period of growth and a return to profitability.

In 2018 he became CEO of Lotus and lead the development of a major turnaround and growth strategy which has already delivered the world’s first British all-electric hypercar, the Lotus Evija.

In April 2021 Phil decided to move out of his full time executive career to establish his own consultancy firm which is focussed on supporting businesses embarking on transformational change.

Dr Vij Randeniya, OBE

Vij graduated with a degree in Modern History in 1981. He joined London Fire Brigade and spent 15 years serving at some of the UK’s busiest fire stations including Brixton and Whitechapel. In 2000, Vij was promoted to West Midlands Fire Service as Assistant Chief Officer and in 2003 to Deputy Chief Fire Officer. He was appointed as Chief Fire Officer in March 2009. He served as Chief Fire Officer for West Midlands Fire Service from November 2008 – December 2013.

He has a Master’s Degree in Management and is a Member of the Institute of Fire Engineers.

He has been a visiting lecturer at both the Defence Academy at Shrivenham in Oxfordshire and the National Police Improvement Agency training centre at Ryton in Warwickshire. Vij was appointed to the Board of Governors of Birmingham Metropolitan College in July 2010 and became Chairman of the Board from September of the same year. Vij was elected to the Chief Fire Officers Association Presidential Team in August 2010, and served as President from September 2012-2013. He was appointed as Chairman of the Board of Trustees for Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice in June 2014. Vij is the Vice Chair of Birmingham Women and Children’s Hospital, he is a Non-Exec on The Dudley Group of Hospitals and is a DEFRA appointee chairing a committee for the Environment Agency. He has also been the Principal Fire consultant for KPMG.

Vij was awarded an OBE in 2006 and an honorary Doctorate of Science by Aston University in 2010.

Vij is Deputy Chair of the University Council, Chair of the University Remuneration and Workforce Strategy Committee and a member of the Nominations and Governance Committee.

Dr Jason Wouhra, OBE

Jason brings considerable experience of business and governance to the role of Council member, as well as a passion for developing opportunities to improve the employability of young people, seeing business as a force for social change.

He joined the family firm of East End Foods after completing his law degree in 1998. He was director and company secretary of East End Foods plc until its sale to Private Equity in 2019. The company had grown to be the country’s foremost brand of ethnic food ingredients, supplying multiple retailers such as Tesco, Asda, Waitrose and Morrisons and the majority of independent retailers in the market as well as restaurants and catering establishments.

Jason has recently established Lioncroft Wholesale Limited and re-purchased East End Foods’ wholesale division. This new business will continue to build on the already strong heritage under the “East End Wholesale Stores” name. Jason has ambitions to grow the wholesale division substantially over the next few years.

Jason has a degree and masters in commercial law, is an Institute of Directors (IoD) chartered director and became the youngest and first BAME chairman of the IoD in the West Midlands in 2013.

Other prominent positions include non-executive director of University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust as well as past and present chairmanships of the West Midlands India Partnership, Library of Birmingham Advisory Board, Birmingham Child Poverty Commission, Aston University Development Board and vice chair of the Black Country LEP.

His charitable work in the city and the region is considerable and Jason has supported and fundraised for many charities over the years. Jason has been a patron of Acorns Children’s Hospice charity since 2018.

He was awarded an honorary doctorate for his contribution to entrepreneurship and business development by Aston University in 2014. In addition, was awarded an OBE by Her Majesty the Queen in 2017 for services to business and international trade.

Jason is a member of the University Finance and Infrastructure Committee.

Council Sub-Committees