Alumni Leadership Mentors - the roll call 


Twelve lucky final year undergraduate sudents from the University of Birmingham will get a once in a lifetime opportunity to gain first hand career insight and guidance from the following high profile Birmingham alumni through the Alumni Leadership Mentoring Programme.

Health and social care

Sir Liam Donaldson 

Former Chief Medical Officer (MSc, Anatomy 1976; DSc, Honorary Degree, 2005)

LiamDonaldsonChairman of the World Health Organisation’s patient safety initiative, Sir Liam Donaldson graduated from the University of Birmingham with an MSc in Anatomy and went on to pursue a career as a surgeon before being appointed as Chief Medical Officer in 1998. During his 12 year tenure, he helped shape groundbreaking legislation into stem cell research, infectious disease control and organ and tissue retention and it was his vision that influenced the 2007 smoking ban. Knighted in 2002 for his service to healthcare, Sir Liam stepped down as the UK’s chief medical advisor in May 2010 and is currently the Chancellor of the University of Newcastle and a visiting lecturer at the University of Leicester.

Baroness Doreen Massey

Chair, The National Treatment Agency For Substance Misuse (PGCE, Education, 1962; BA, French Language & Literature, 1961)

DoreenMasseyHealth education specialist Baroness Doreen Massey has been a Labour member of the House of Lords since 1999 and is a former teacher and education advisor, graduating from the University of Birmingham with a BA in French Language and Literature and a PGCE in Education. She was the Director of Family Planning Association from 1989-1994 and has published a range of books and training resources on health and sex education. She is currently Chair of The National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse, a board member of UNICEF, a member of the national Advisory Council for Alcohol and Drug Education and President of the Brook Advisory Centres.  Baroness Massey has campaigned for statutory PSHE and sex and relationships education, and chaired the all party group on children. 

Sir Charles George

Chairman, The Stroke Association (Interc BSc, Anatomy, 1962; MBChB 1965; MD, Medicine, 1974; DSc Honorary Degree, 2003)


Native Brummie, Professor Sir Charles George has had a distinguished career in medical education and public health, graduating from Birmingham with an Intercalated BSc in Anatomy in 1962 and MBChB in Medicine in 1965. He spent four years at Hammersmith Hospital and tutoring at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School. He then joined the University of Southampton as Professor of Clinical Pharmacology and served six years as Dean of Medicine and three years as Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Health and Biological Sciences. Professor Sir Charles was knighted for his services to medicine and medical education in 1998, was formerly Chairman of the Board of Science and Education at the British Medical Association.  and is currently Chairman of The Stroke Association, Emeritus Professor of Clinical Pharmacology at Southampton University and He is also the former Medical Director of the British Heart Foundation where he campaigned strongly to improve the health of the nation working on the prevention of heart disease.

Andrew Vallance-Owen 

Bupa Group Medical Director and Bupa Foundation Deputy Chair (MB ChB, Medicine, 1976)

Andrew Vallance-Owen

Recently appointed as Chair of the Guild Trustee Board, Dr Andrew Vallance-Owen graduated from the Birmingham Medical School in 1976  and is now accountable for the safety and quality of care of Bupa’s 11 million customers. During his time at the University of Birmingham, Dr Vallance-Owen was President of the Guild of Students (1974/1975). A trained surgeon, he then joined the staff of the British Medical Association - he was Scottish Secretary and then became Head of Policy and a spokesman for both the BMA and the medical profession. At Bupa he has maintained his external profile; he is a keen advocate of improved doctor-patient communications, measurement of clinical performance and shared decision making.

Business, financial and consumer

Martin Devenish

Managing Director, Goldman Sachs International (BCom, Industrial Economics & Business Studies, 1986)


Partner and Managing Director at the global investment bank, Goldman Sachs, Martin Devenish was awarded his Bachelors of Commerce in Industrial Economics and Business Studies from the University of Birmingham  in 1986 where he went on to spend four years at HSBC Asset Management, before joining Goldman Sachs in 1992. Martin is an active member of the University’s Development Advisory Council and a great supporter of the Access to Birmingham (A2B) scheme which offers scholarships and support to ensure fair access for the brightest and best potential students regarding their personal circumstances. He is also a ‘lay’ member of the University’s Council.

Mike Welton

Chairman, Premier Oil Plc (BSc, Civil Engineering, 1968; Deng, Honorary Degree, 2008)  


Chartered Civil Engineer and Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Institution of Civil Engineers, Mike Welton graduated from the University of Birmingham with a Civil Engineering degree in 1968. He is currently the Chairman of Premier Oil Plc, an independent oil company founded in the Caribbean in 1934. Mike was previously Chairman of construction materials group Hanson plc, Chairman of support services provider Global Solutions Ltd and Chief Executive of international engineering and construction services group Balfour Beatty plc. Mike is also a non-executive director of High Speed Two (HS2) Ltd, a government organisation established to examine high speed rail to the West Midlands and beyond which will revolutionise rail travel in the local area.

Mike Coupe

Director, J Sainsbury’s (BSc, Physics, 1982)


Group Commercial Director of J Sainsbury’s, Physics graduate Mike Coupe has worked for many of the country’s biggest supermarket chains in senior management roles, including ASDA, Tesco and Iceland, before his appointment as Board Director of the Big Food Group. He was made a member of the Operating Board at J Sainsbury’s in 2004, Executive Director in 2007 and began his new role in 2010 where he is responsible for trading, marketing, IT and online.

Media and the arts

Cilla Snowball CBE

Group Chairman and Group CEO, AMV BBDO (BA, French, 1981) 


Group Chairman and Group Chief Executive of advertising and communications company AMV BBDO.  French graduate Cilla Snowball has worked in advertising roles since leaving the University of Birmingham in 1981. Her career began as a trainee with Allen Brady & Marsh, before moving to Ogilvy & Mather as an Account Manager. She then joined AMV in 1992 and has held a senior management position for the past nine years at AMV BBDO, the largest advertising and communications Group in the UK. Named as the 50th most influential person in the media sector by The Guardian, Cilla was awarded a CBE for services to the advertising industry in January 2009. As well as sitting on the board of Business in the Community, Cilla became a ‘lay’ member of Council in 2010 and is on the Remuneration Committee.

Phyllida Lloyd CBE

Director of plays, opera and film including Mamma Mia! on stage and screen (BA, English, 1979; DLitt, Honorary Degree, 2009)


A leading British director and an English graduate from the University of Birmingham, Phyllida Lloyd directed the UK’s highest ever grossing film, Mamma Mia, transforming her stage version, seen by a global audience of more than 45 million, to the silver screen. Phyllida spent five years working in BBC television drama after graduation before winning a bursary from the Arts Council of Great Britain to be a Trainee Director at the Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich and a flourishing directing career followed, including staging the English National Opera’s production of Wagner’s Valkyrie at Glastonbury music festival. Awarded a CBE in the 2010 New Year’s Honours for services to drama, Phyllida is currently directing The Iron Lady, a biopic of Margaret Thatcher and is also a supporter of the University’s new auditorium build.

Tamsin Greig

Actress (BA, Drama & Theatre Arts, 1988)


Household name and Laurence Olivier Award winner for Best Actress in Much Ado About Nothing, Tamsin Greig graduated from the University of Birmingham with a degree in Drama and Theatre Arts in 1988. Her professional career began as an administrator for The Family Planning Association, before acting roles in Green Wing, Black Books and Love Soup followed. She is best known as the voice of Debbie Aldridge in the BBC radio series, The Archers, although her character spends a lot of time living in Hungary due to Tamsin’s other work commitments.

Simon Halsey

Chorus Director, City of Birmingham Symphony Choruses (DMus, Honorary Degree, 2008)


Simon Halsey is one of the world's leading conductors of choral repertoire, regularly conducting prestigious orchestras and choirs worldwide. Halsey holds the position of Chief Conductor of the Berlin Radio Choir, frequently collaborating with such conductors as Sir Simon Rattle, Claudio Abbado and Marek Janowski. He has been Chorus Director of the CBSO Chorus for over 25 years, and works closely there with the orchestra's Music Director Andris Nelsons. He is in his seventh season as Principal Conductor, Choral Programme for The Sage Gateshead and works on numerous choral projects each season at the venue, including regular concerts conducting the Northern Sinfonia.

Alan Davey

Chief Executive, Arts Council England (BA, English, 1982)


Chief Executive of the Arts Council, English graduate Alan Davey is well known for his passionate advocacy of the arts and has worked at the Department of Health, the Department of National Heritage and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. He is responsible for designing the National Lottery which has created more than 2,600 UK millionaires since it began in 1994. The Arts Council England invests in artistic experiences, including theatre, music, literature, dance and photography, to enrich people’s lives. He is also a visiting scholar at the University of Maryland.

Baroness Patience Wheatcroft

Former Editor of the Wall Street Journal Europe (LLB, Law, 1972)


Former journalist and successful businesswoman, Baroness Wheatcroft graduated from the University of Birmingham with an LLB Law degree and has since worked on several national newspapers, most recently as the Editor-in-Chief at Wall Street Journal Europe. A prize winning reporter, winner of the Wincott Award for Senior Financial Journalism and London Press Club Business Journalist of the Year, Baroness Wheatcroft launched Retail Week, a specialist trade magazine in 1988, is a former Business Editor of The Times and a former Sunday Telegraph Editor. She has recently been appointed as a Conservative life peer and is a visiting fellow at Oxford University’s Centre for Corporate Reputation and a member of the British Olympic Association Advisory Board.