Catherine Ward’s career has covered strategic HR leadership, transformation and communications, in roles in the public, private and private equity sectors, and as a consultant.
Catherine joined the British Council in September 2018 to lead its people strategy and operations as Global People Director, reporting to the Chief Executive. She is a member of the Senior Leadership Team, which is responsible for the overall strategy, direction and management of the organisation.
Catherine was previously Group HR Director for Interserve, one of the world’s foremost support services companies. She led the transformation of the HR agenda, developing the group HR strategy, and defining direction in areas including culture change, leadership, early career talent, and diversity and inclusion. Interserve was the largest company to have achieved accreditation under the National Equality Standard.
Before joining Interserve, Catherine was Group People and Communications Director at BMI Healthcare, the UK’s largest private hospital group, developing HR capability in anticipation of IPO. Before that she held senior HR roles at BAA, the BBC, Sotheby’s and Aviva. She has worked as an HR and change management consultant with KPMG and SHL Group, and has run her own consultancy business supporting organisation change post mergers and acquisitions.
Catherine holds a BSc in biology, an MSc in organisational behaviour, and postgraduate qualifications both in HR and executive coaching. She regularly speaks at conferences in the UK and Europe on leadership development and culture change. She is a governor of The Place, the UK's leading centre for contemporary dance performance and education, and a board director at Global Fund for Women, one of the world’s leading foundations for gender equality, standing up for the human rights of women and girls.
Catherine has lived and worked in Africa, South America and Budapest. Through travelling, Catherine has understood the critical difference English language skills has to work opportunities and economic empowerment for people across the world. The scale that the British Council brings to giving access to this development is extremely impressive, and its role in fostering cultural understanding between countries exceptional. Catherine is proud to be a key part of delivering that vision.