Meet the team
To ensure we are able to deliver great apprenticeships – working alongside some of the UK’s best businesses – as well as providing a variety of business solutions, we have brought together a team which brings with it a wealth of experience and creativity across a number of key areas.
* = Board member
# = Member of the executive team
Our board and executive team
Rory joined our Board as Chairman in May 2015. He has been a Bursar at Magdalen College since March 2014. He previously was a Partner and CFO of Bridges Ventures, a private equity firm specialising in social impact investment, and an investment banker at Schroders and Morgan Stanley.
Rory graduated in Economics from Trinity College, Cambridge, and qualified as a Chartered Accountant. For eight years to 2013, he was a non-executive director of Guy’s & St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, latterly as Vice-Chairman, and chaired the hospital’s Finance and Investment Committee.
Rory continues to serve as a Trustee and a member of the Investment Committee of Guy’s & St Thomas’ Charity, which manages an endowment of over £500m and supports innovative healthcare in South East London. Until March 2014, Rory was also Chairman of TEG Group, an AIM-listed environmental technology company.
Chief Executive * #
Pablo is our co-founder and Chief Executive since January 2014, having created our vision and plans as an adviser to the Activate Learning group.
He saw the opportunity to create a new kind of training provider, combining the the best of Activate Learning’s educational pedigree with exceptional flexibility for business, clients and learners.
Pablo has previously specialised in leading successful transformations, including two start-ups and a merger. He was a founding director of learndirect, where - over 12 years - he helped transform the government idea of accessible and rigorous online learning into the UK’s largest training company, which is now in private ownership.
He is also a non-executive director at Ixion Holdings and Deputy Chair at WorldSkills UK - the national flagship for excellence in apprenticeships and vocational careers.
He is a Cambridge University graduate and Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants.
Non-executive director *
Sally Dicketts has spent her whole working life in education. The first eight years were spent in schools, holding the posts of Head of Business Studies, Head of Careers and Head of Fifth Form.
Subsequently, she has worked continuously in the further education sector, spending four years at Hackney College and then joining Milton Keynes College as Director of Curriculum and Learning Strategies. Sally progressed to become Director of Marketing and Development and then Principal and Chief Executive of the College between 1996 and 2003.
In October 2003 she became Principal of Oxford and Cherwell Valley College and in 2013 Chief Executive of Activate Learning.
Sally is a member of the City & Guilds Learning and Assessment Policy Committee. She is a Board Member of ACM and AoC. She chairs the Communications Gateway Practitioners Panel and the Women’s Leadership Network, is a member of the Oxfordshire Management Club, All Souls group and is a leading thinker for the National Education Trust. She sits on the Oxfordshire Business First, Oxford & Cherwell Strategic Partnerships and 14-19 Strategic Partnership.
Julia von Klonowski
Non-executive director *
Julia works as the Oracle Director of Education for Europe, Middle East and Africa. Her role is to concentrate on Ministries of Education and K-12 (Kindergarten to 19).
She has over 30 years experience in the IT industry and has spent the last 15 years concentrating on the effective use of technology in education. She spent the first 15 years of her working life in South Africa, where she ran her own business with over 100 employees delivering IT solutions into the business market.
Julia returned to this country in 2001 when she joined Sun Microsystems as a senior Project Manager. Her first project was delivering the first global e-learning solution. Her experience stretches from programming, software support, large project delivery and consultancy. Her passion is education, particularly for children who are disadvantaged either by poverty, special needs, gender or family situation. The majority of her time is spent advising Ministries of Education on how to use technology to improve education and skills. The advancement and equality of women is also a passion and she believes that education is a key to allowing women to be where they "want" to be rather than where they "have" to be.
Julia is married to a South African and has two grown-up children. Among her interests are reading, gardening, travelling and meeting people.
She sits in various advisory boards and spends as much time as possible mentoring and up-skilling students on interviewing skills and e-safety.
Director of Operations #
Fiona leads the planning and delivery of work-based training across Activate Apprenticeships, utilising the complex funding requirements to deliver apprenticeship programmes, alongside seeking alternative bespoke employer-led training schemes.
Fiona has spent over 15 years within the work-based learning arena, working in a variety of operational roles, most recently as Head of Operations within Babcock International. Her experience includes managing delivery within a variety of employment sectors where she has utilised resources to bid for, win and deliver innovative projects.
Examples include Future Jobs fund, bespoke training for external businesses and delivery to the unemployed, demonstrating experience in engaging national, local, private and public sector businesses.
Commercial Director #
Mark Eighteen joined us in 2015 as Commercial Director to drive apprenticeships and training solutions in the Thames Valley and London.
Mark has worked in learning and development for 15 years. Prior to Activate Apprenticeships, he managed the south region at Key Training providing apprenticeships. In 2010, Key Training placed less than 200 apprentices but by 2014, they were placing 1,000 young people into apprenticeships per year.
In addition, Mark also ran WWP (the commercial division of Key), delivering a variety of IT and leadership and management training solutions to the corporate market.