The Executive Board comprises the Chief Executive and four Executive Directors. Its purpose is to assist the Chief Executive in discharging his responsibilities as delegated to him by the Board. The Executive Board therefore provides overall strategic leadership to the organisation, in setting plans, reviewing performance and ensuring resources are allocated accordingly.
Executive Directors also each have a portfolio of particular responsibilities described below.
Dave Webster - Chief Executive
Dave has been Chief Executive since March 2012 and joined Natural England as a founding Executive Board member in September 2006. He has over 20 years experience in the environment sector in senior leadership roles.
At Natural England Dave has led efficiency and performance improvements across financial and corporate services, implementing substantial reform that has enabled Natural England to make back office efficiencies of over 30% that have been re-invested in its front line delivery. The focus of his work has been on developing staff and building the organisation’s capability to deliver monitored and measured improvements for the natural environment. Alongside this Dave has instilled rigorous performance management, governance and financial control across the business. This is exemplified by leading the achievement of an organisational wide reduction in carbon emissions by 50%, saving in excess of £1.75m every year as a result.
Dave is a qualified accountant and has a career spanning 30 years in financial and corporate services in large Non-Departmental Public Bodies. Prior to joining Natural England, Dave worked as the Finance Manager for the Environment Agency, Wales, where he led the transformation of business delivery at both a national and regional level. Dave’s career includes leadership roles in District and County Councils as well as the National Rivers Authority.
Dave is married with two children, lives in South Wales and enjoys running and trail-walking in his spare time.
Guy Thompson - Executive Director, Customers and Land Management
Guy was a founding member of Natural England’s Executive Board in June 2006, joining as Executive Director, External Affairs, responsible for its internal and external communications and stakeholder relations during a formative stage in the organisation’s development.
In 2010, he was appointed Executive Director, Customers to provide strategic leadership of our customer service excellence across the organisation. In this role, he leads our customer services team – which was recently accredited to the Cabinet Office Customer Service Excellence Standard - and integration team, responsible for our local partnerships and the integration of our local delivery.
Since June 2012, he has also been responsible for the delivery of our advice and incentive schemes to land managers, encompassing our largest customer group and our principal local delivery function. In this role, he advises Defra on the implementation of the next CAP reform and the design of the new Rural Development Programme and leads our work to improve our uplands delivery.
Guy has over fifteen years’ experience of providing thought leadership and influencing public policy on the environment. Prior to joining Natural England, he had worked in the voluntary sector, latterly as Director of Green Alliance where he collaborated with business leaders, government and NGOs at the highest levels. Previously he held senior policy and advocacy roles at Forum for the Future and the RSPB.
Guy is married and lives in rural Hampshire where he enjoys the great outdoors with his family.
Jim Smyllie, Executive Director - People, Landscape and Biodiversity
Jim joined Natural England from Defra in January 2006 as Transition Director. In 2007 he was appointed Executive Director for Regional Delivery, and then in 2010 Executive Director, Delivering with Communities, responsible for the delivery of land use functions, land management schemes and local biodiversity and access.
In June 2012 he became Executive Director - People, Landscape and Biodiversity. He is responsible for delivery of Natural England’s work on access, engagement, landscape and biodiversity; the development of our work around national standards, growth and innovation and the ecosystems approach; and for the organisation’s internal and external communications.
In Defra, Jim founded and led the Delivery Strategy Team which created the framework for the department’s relationships with all its delivery bodies. Prior to this, he was Head of Planning at the then Lord Chancellor’s Department, and Director of Corporate Strategy in the MOD’s Defence Secondary Care Agency, where he led major programmes to transfer military hospitals into partnership with the NHS. His earlier career included a decade in the NHS in a variety of senior service management and commissioning roles, several years in the independent sector, and work in the arts.
Andrew Wood, Executive Director - Science, Evidence and Advice
Andrew has worked for Natural England since the organisation was vested in 2006, most recently as Executive Director for Science & Evidence and from 1 June as Executive Director for Science, Evidence and Advice.
He is responsible for Natural England’s advice to Government, planning authorities and developers on land use, sustainable development and contribution to the conservation of the marine environment as well as for their role as a regulator, in granting wildlife licences and statutory consents for works on protected sites. Andrew’s responsibilities also include the strategic leadership of science in Natural England and of the evidence base that underpins Natural England’s advice and regulation.
Andrew has worked in the public sector for 30 years in a variety of roles. He was Director of Finance for the NHS in Wales from 1996 to 1998, Director of the Audit Commission in Wales from 1998 to 2002, Director of Policy for the Audit Commission from 2002, and was Director of Landscape, Access and Recreation for the Countryside Agency prior to the creation of Natural England.
Paul Lambert – Executive Director, Corporate Services
Paul joined Natural England in April 2007 as Director Finance and joined the Executive Board in March 2012. He is the Executive Director responsible for Performance, Finance, Organisational Development, Systems and Knowledge Information and all of the Corporate Services.
Paul is a qualified accountant who has spent over 20 years working in the private sector for Ernst & Young and as a Finance Manager with Powergen in the electricity industry. Prior to joining Natural England he was Chief Financial and Systems Officer at South Yorkshire Passenger Transport.