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Our Senior Team Members

Gerry McDonald,
Group Principal & CEO

Gerry became Principal of Tower Hamlets College in April 2013 following almost four years as the college’s Vice Principal. Following mergers with Hackney Community College and Redbridge College, he became Group Principal and CEO of the combined New City College in April 2017. He subsequently led the Group’s mergers with Epping Forest College, Havering College of Higher and Further Education and Havering Sixth Form College.

Gerry is a qualified business studies teacher who has worked in the sector since 1993. He holds business degrees from the University of West of England and Aston and a PGCE from Manchester Metropolitan University. Gerry has worked in sixth form and further education colleges in Birmingham and London, leading on business development, mergers, curriculum improvement, inspection and culture change.

Gerry is a co-opted committee member of Association of Colleges London following his election to the main AoC board in December 2014. He also serves on the AoC’s national Employment and Audit Committees.

Suri Araniyasundaran,
Deputy CEO

Suri joined New City College in November 2018 taking on the role of Deputy CEO, after 5 years at City, University of London.

He is a qualified accountant with over 31 years’ experience and has an MBA from the University of Brighton. He has worked in the private and public sector, with over 27 years’ experience in the education sector, both in HE and FE.

Suri has led corporate services within different organisations for over 14 years and worked at Board level for over 20 years. His 22 years of experience within the FE sector has seen him lead on Finance, IT, Property, MIS, Risk & Audit, Health & Safety and Business Development. He passionately believes in the value of teams and the collective achievement that they can bring.

Paul Wakeling,
Group Deputy Principal, & Principal of the Havering Colleges.

Paul was Principal & CEO of Havering Sixth Form College for 13 years and alongside this was also interim Principal of Havering College of Further & Higher Education from October 2018 to July 2019.

Paul has completed the Aspiring Principals Programme, the Principal’s Qualification Programme and the recent ETF CEO Programme at Oxford Said Business School. He also completed the 'Chaos, Conflict and Crisis' programme at the Kennedy School of Government in Harvard.

Havering Sixth Form College was inspected in October 2018, and achieved a Grade 2.

Under Paul’s leadership Havering Sixth Form College had outstanding financial Health for 12 years.

Paul is a member of the Sixth Form College Association National Council, and is a contributory author to eReflective Teaching in Further, Adult & Vocational Learning and Challenging Professional Learning.

Alison Arnaud,
Principal: Hackney & Tower Hamlets

Alison has 30 years’ experience in education and has been with the College group since 2015. She has extensive knowledge of the further education sector and has also worked in schools, private training providers and universities. She joined Tower Hamlets College, from LSEC, working in various curriculum areas and eventually co-leading the Quality team.

Alison became Principal at Tower Hamlets in August 2016 and added Hackney to her responsibilities in January of 2019. Within the Group she has responsibility for a significant range of curriculum areas and has oversight of the A level provision in the Attlee Academy.

Alison has undertaken the Strategic Leadership Programme for Principals and CEOs at the Said School of Business, University of Oxford.

Janet Smith,
Principal: Epping Forest & Redbridge

Janet has 30 years’ experience of working in the FE sector, starting her career teaching dance and fitness as an hourly paid lecturer. She has worked at every level of FE management to her current post as Principal at NCC.

Having managed provision in a wide range of contexts, she has in-depth knowledge of the Further, Adult and 6th Form Education sectors as well as Higher Education and FE Teacher Education. She has worked in colleges across London for her entire career, including most recently at South Thames College.

For the wider sector, Janet was a member of the Institute of Education Expert Panel informing the development of Study Programmes.

Peter Armah,
Group Director: Human Resources

Peter has over 20 years’ experience heading up human resources, organisational development and change management functions from inception to conclusion in a variety of diverse and challenging public sector environments.

Prior to his current role, Peter was Director of Human Resources at Tower Hamlets College before the college merged to form New City College. His previous roles included several other senior roles in further education and in local authorities. His proven leadership skills complement a practical approach and keen commercial awareness.

Peter is a Chartered Fellow of the CIPD and also possesses a Masters in Human Resources Management and BSC in Chemistry.

Ruth Lomax,
Group Director: Communications

Ruth has worked in a number of London colleges since 1996 and has held roles on colleges’ senior management teams since 2006. She is a trained solutions-focused coach and holds the professional accreditation of Chartered Marketer.

Over the years, Ruth has contributed to countless regional and national initiatives with a clear focus on creating opportunity for individuals and communities. She is a Trustee of the Hoxton Trust, a charity that works to build people’s skills, knowledge and confidence and pride in their community.

Her responsibilities at NCC include management of the learner journey from first point of contact to enrolment. She also plays a key role working alongside the CEO to deliver effective internal and external communications.

Jamie Stevenson,
Group Director: Apprenticeships & Business Development

Jamie joined New City College April 2019. He has a wealth of experience in apprenticeships and employer responsive curriculum. Jamie joined the further education sector in 2002 and has operated at Director level since 2008. Jamie started his career working in the private sector and joined the college sector in 2011. He also established one of the largest provider networks in the country and set up one of the pilot Apprenticeship Training Agencies (ATA), which continues to offer opportunities to apprentices today.

Jamie's main focus at NCC is establishing and monitoring the delivery of all employer responsive provision, ensuring a holistic employer for employers. Including pre-employment training, upskilling and reskilling the workforce, apprenticeships and developing or industry placements for 16-18 year olds.

Richard Surtees,
Group Director: International

Richard started his teaching career teaching English in Italy in 1990, then moved into UK Further Education, teaching ESOL, in 1999. Then, after 7 years as Head of Faculty for ESOL at Tower Hamlets College, he became Director of International.

Richard's role now includes managing New City College's language school in Bournemouth, broadening 16-18 students' study and work horizons through international work experience and partnerships projects, and the recruitment of overseas students.

Richard holds a Diploma in English Language Teaching and an MA in Applied Linguistics from King's College, University of London.

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