Diane Betts, Chief Executive
A warm welcome to First Rung
We believe that good education and training can and do make a difference and that we owe it to our learners to do our very best by them. To this end we take very seriously to develop and provide high quality training, support and opportunities to young people to fulfil their potential within both the formal and informal curriculum that will prepare our learners for life in the widest sense.
• Firstly, highly qualified, caring and committed staff who enjoy their work and are good at it;
• High expectations across the board;
• Clear boundaries set so that learners know exactly where the lines are drawn;
• A disciplined environment so that learners can get on and learn and a
• commitment that we will do all we can to ensure that our learners are safe.
We are a training provider where every young person matters regardless of their ability and we value their learner’s voice to become a learner responsive organisation.
We believe at First Rung that learners are happiest, work hard and achieve most if relationships are right and they have trainers they like and respect, who encourage and challenge them to do their best.
Our reputation is based on our ability to produce self-confident, successful and ambitious young people ready for the next step into further training or the world of work which permeates through our motto of building future skills through innovation.
First Rung is a company limited by guarantee (Registered Number: 02171777 and a Registered Charity Number 800614).
Senior Management Team:
Diane Betts, CEO
Denis Dillon, Deputy CEO and Operations Manager
Beverley Jones-Leka, Head of Independent School and Programmes
Donna Clark, Finance and Performance Manager
Rashmi Joshi, Development Manager
Our Board members are:
Amit Chitnis, Chair of the Board of Trustees. His career spans strategy, commercial and leadership roles in the private sector across eight countries. Amit currently works with Tesco and previously was a management consultant. A snapshot of his professional career is available at https://www.linkedin.com/in/amitchitnis/
Contact Address: Amit Chitnis, Chair of Trustees, First Rung, 197-205 High Road, Ponders End, London, EN3 4DZ
Frank Longsworth, Chair of Quality & Personnel Working Party - Frank has worked in customs for 37 years through its various stages of evolution from HM Customs and Excise to HM Revenue and Customs and now United Kingdom Border Agency; the majority of his time has been spent managing teams investigating customs, excise and VAT offences. He is currently working part time on various projects for UKBA. Prior to becoming a trustee at First Rung he was a mentor for the Prince's Trust, he regularly undertakes mock interviews for students in year 11 at a school in Leytonstone.
Michael Johns, Board Member. His main career was as a civil servant in the Inland Revenue, where his final position was from 1997-2004 as a member of the Board of Inland Revenue and Chief Executive of the Valuation Office Agency (the Inland Revenue Agency responsible for valuing land and property for business rates and council tax). He joined First Rung as a trustee in 2004 after retiring from the Civil Service and served as a member of the Quality and Personnel Committee and Chair of the Strategy Working Group. He is Chair of the Friends of Abbeyfield and a member of the Committee of the Friends of Queen’s Wood in Muswell Hill.
Suzanne Ralton, Board Member - after graduating with a BSc(Econ) from the LSE, Suzanne Ralton began her career working in a large London advertising agency before joining a City stockbroker where she worked as a researcher. She then spent some years in her family’s textile business and in 1997 set up her own business specialising in providing technical fabrics to commercial customers, both in the UK and overseas. Almost from the beginning, the company has regularly worked with First Rung, employing learners and helping them achieve qualifications.
Michael Kutner, Board Member Michael retired as a solicitor in 2013 after spending 40 years in practice specialising in commercial property development. Since retirement, in addition to joining the board of First Rung, Michael has become a governor in a new special needs primary school which he has helped to set up, he is a mentor at an academy school and assists another charity by sitting on its welfare committee which provides grants to impoverished university students.
Alan Warner, Board Member. Treasurer of First Rung and Chair of the Finance and Premises Committee. After qualification as a Chartered Management Accountant and a financial career in industry with Unilever and Associated British Foods, Alan entered management education with Ashridge Business School, first as Director of Administration and later Director of Studies. He then formed his own management training business, designing and running courses in finance and business for managers from a range of international companies. Since his recent retirement he has taken Trustee positions at First Rung and two other charitable organisations.
Omar Ahmed, Board Member. After graduating as an engineer, Omar pursued a commercial career initially within the IT industry but quickly moving on to business strategy and change management. Over the years he has steadily completed more and more significant roles across blue chip energy companies, investment houses, information providers and media companies. Along the way, picking up a CIMA qualification. Omar now runs his own strategic change and business development consultancy where he balances the needs of a targeted client base with his ever increasing responsibilities as a trustee of a number of varied charities.
Nigel Hathway, Board Member. After graduating from UCL, Nigel worked at an advertising agency advising blue-chip companies on how to use data to make their marketing campaigns more cost-effective. This work led to him setting up a business which he sold in 2001. Since then he has combined some
consultancy work with a variety of other activities, including a spell of teaching numeracy to adults
at Barnet College.
Hilary Robinson, Board Member. After qualifying with a BSc at University College London, Hilary worked at Middlesex University as a lecturer and administrator, moving to the Further Education Sector as a lecturer and later in senior management positions at colleges across North London. After a career of over 30 years, Hilary left full time employment in 2010 and spent 2 years based in Tajikistan as a VSO volunteer working in the education sector returning to the UK and qualifying to work as a study skills support tutor for students with specific learning disabilities in the HE Sector.
Nick Wyatt, Board Member. Nick started his early career in Brewing with Halls Oxford and West and then Morland of Abingdon, the brewer of Old Speckled Hen working in their Human Resources and training departments. He then moved to RoadChef Motorways a service provider and supported the growth of the company from eight to fifteen service stations with HR and training. Nick then moved on the Hotel industry and was the HR Director for von Essen hotels, a collection of thirty country house hotels in the UK and France. This was in the four and five red star sector which including a number of Michelin star restaurants, this also included Cliveden House Hotel. Latterly he has been working internationally within Hospitality in Dubai and also Italy as the Chief Operating Officer of an investment company based in Belgravia London working on people strategies
Natasha Da Costa, Board Member. Natasha is an experienced educational and people resource professional and has been a First Rung trustee since February 2018.
Having begun her career as an English teacher before transitioning into Human Resources, she not only offers an understanding of the national and international educational sector, but also provides a people-centric approach to her work as well as fresh insight into workplace best practice. Natasha currently forms part of our Quality and Personnel committee and is passionate about supporting the work undertaken at First Rung
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