Governance

Governing Council

The Board of Governors is responsible for determining the educational nature and mission of the university, as well as for the overall supervision of its activities.

Mike Gifford
Chairman of the Board of Governors

Mike is a former senior British diplomat with many years of experience leading various teams in foreign positions in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Most recently, he served as the British Ambassador to Kazakhstan from 2018 to 2021, based in Nur-Sultan.

In 2012-15, he was the British Ambassador to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea), and in 2004-2007, the British Ambassador to Yemen. Mike has also worked in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. In his career, he has dealt with trade and export promotion, political and security issues, property asset management, and studied Russian, Arabic and French.

He has been a consistent and passionate advocate for British education and study abroad, working closely with the British Council on many projects. He is married to Patricia and they have two grown children.

Chris Campbell-Holt
Registrar and Executive Director of the Court and the International Arbitration Center AIFC

Mr. Campbell-Holt is the Registrar and Chief Executive Officer of the AIFC Court and the International Arbitration Center ("IAC"). He is also a judge for the enforcement of court decisions of the AIFC Court. He oversaw the creation of the AIFC and IAC Courts, and has been and remains a member of numerous boards of directors and advisory bodies. In the Republic of Kazakhstan, he is a member of the AIFC Legal Advisory Council, which reviews and approves AIFC legislation. He is a member of the Working Group on Judicial and Legal Reform of the Supreme Council for Reforms under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan. He is a member of the International Council of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Kazakhstan, which advises on the reform of Kazakhstan's courts and dispute resolution. He is an Honorary Professor at KAZGUU University, Republic of Kazakhstan, as well as a member of the AIFC Academic Council and the AIFC Academy of Law Advisory Board, which advise the AIFC Bureau of Continuing Professional Development and the AIFC Academy of Law.

He is a commercial lawyer with many years of international legal experience gained while living and working in the UK, USA, the Middle East and Central Asia. He was a secretary at the Commercial Court of the International Financial Center and the Alternative Dispute Resolution Center in Qatar, chaired by Lord Woolf, the former Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales. He has also worked at the international law firm Norton Rose Fulbright in London, UK, and at the Middle East law firm partnering with the international law firm Covington & Burling LLP, in Doha, Qatar.

He was educated at University College London, where he taught an LLB course in law and graduated in 2003. He is admitted to the New York State Bar. He is a CEDR accredited mediator and has many years of experience as a mediator. Has the status of a member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. He is a member of the Chartered Institute of Directors. In 2020, he was awarded the Jubilee Medal of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan for "significant contribution to the formation of statehood, strengthening of sovereignty and socio-economic development of the Republic of Kazakhstan". In 2021, for his "contribution to the development of international cooperation", he was awarded the "Medal of the Chief Judge of the Republic of Kazakhstan" by Chairman Z. Assanov.

Eric Lawrie

Director for Kazakhstan and Central Asia, British Council

Eric Lowry has worked for the British Council in more than nine countries. He is convinced that education is as important for international relations as politics, economics, trade and development. It is thanks to the cooperation between our education systems and the spaces that we create for joint dialogue and exchange of experience that we develop mutual understanding and understanding of what makes us similar and what makes us different. And it is in this space that English is unique as a truly global language that benefits both native speakers and non-native speakers." He believes that access to English gives young people the opportunity to expand their educational opportunities and create new aspirations for a country like Kazakhstan, as it plays an increasingly prominent role at the international level.

During his career, Eric has led a number of joint educational programs of the UK Government and the host country aimed at ensuring the quality of secondary and higher education in order to ensure that graduates are prepared for the needs of the labor market and have the necessary skills for employment.

He works in Nur-Sultan and heads the work of the British Council in Kazakhstan and Central Asia.

Professor Heather McLaughlin

Vice-Rector and Dean of the Faculty of Business and Law, De Montfort University

Heather is Vice-Rector and Dean of the Faculty of Business and Law at De Montfort University. She has also held senior positions at other universities and had a professional career as a chartered accountant.

As a professor of management and international transportation, she has published extensively in various international scientific journals and maintains excellent contacts with the maritime and wider logistics industry. In the past, she was the Master of Livery of Worshipful Company of World Traders and maintains good ties with the international trade and business community. She worked as a specialist adviser in a Separate Committee on Transport of the House of Commons and was a member of a number of international expert groups on maritime transport. Currently, she is a member of the editorial board of the journals "Maritime Policy and Management" and "Research in the field of transport business and Management".

Heather is an elected member of the Board of the Charter Association of Business Schools and Chairman of the Committee on Learning, Teaching and Student Experience. She has also published a number of articles in the field of business education.

Hugh Hegarty

CEO of NPCAT, Chairman of EdPeritus UK

Hugh is the founding CEO of NPCAT, one of the largest multi-academic trusts in the UK, with more than 9,000 students and more than 1,350 employees.

Hugh quickly created a successful and highly effective trust with 27 academies, which, according to the Ministry of Education, rank 6th in England.

Hugh has more than 29 years of experience in a variety of leadership positions in education around the world. He consistently demonstrates his ability to lead and improve the life chances of young people, as well as create effective structures that allow employees to develop.

In his previous position as Director of Academic Programs and Operations, he led a number of education reform programs, as well as developing and opening new schools around the world. Hugh played a key role in the development of one of the leading educational improvement agencies in the Middle East, and his teams of educational improvement consultants provided support to educational institutions in the region.

Hugh is invited to mentor both new and promising CEOs across the UK, as well as mentor young leaders. As an NPCAT director and accountant, Hugh has extensive knowledge and experience in financial management and strategic oversight.

Professor James Pounder

Rector, De Montfort University, Kazakhstan

A leader in the field of education with significant international experience. Professor Pounder has experience in helping students adapt to education and has a large number of research papers, including published journals and articles.

He studied at the London School of Economics and Political Science and the Henley Business School, and most recently was Deputy Rector of the National University of Fiji, which has about 26,000 students and 2,000 employees.

He is also a principal member of the prestigious UK Academy of Higher Education, which is awarded to those who have made outstanding contributions to learning and teaching.

Professor Nigel Healy

Deputy President/Vice-Rector (Temporary), University of Limerick

Nigel Healy is a professor of international higher education. Currently, his research interests are related to the internationalization of higher education, transnational education, policy and management in the field of higher education. Prior to his appointment to the University of Limerick, he held senior academic positions at the National University of Fiji, the University of Nottingham Trent, the University of Canterbury (New Zealand) and Manchester Metropolitan University, and also taught at the University of Leicester and Leeds Beckett University.

He is the Chairman of the QS-APPLE Academic Conference Committee and until recently was a member of the Council of the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU). He is a member of the Chartered Institute of Management and the New Zealand Institute of Management and Leadership, and a principal member of the Academy of Higher Education.

He holds a Bachelor's degree in Economics (honours) from the University of Nottingham, a Master's degree in Economics from the University of Leeds, an MBA from the University of Warwick, a DBA in Higher Education Management from the University of Bath and a PhD in Management from Nottingham Trent University.

Marc Payne

Deputy Managing Director of Chevron

Marc Payne has over 25 years’ experience in international Oil, Gas, Utilities and general energy in major international oil companies. Marc has experience in leading successful companies, international business development, and has managed successful transactions and commercial negotiations in Upstream, Midstream (gas and LNG) and Downstream. His technical expertise includes Upstream operations (assets, reservoir, production and rig operations), and Corp & Asset M&A.

Marc has worked and travelled extensively across Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and Latin America in various sectors of the Energy industry.

Marc is the founder of the T. Alan Payne Engineering Scholarship at Penn State University. His philanthropic activities have supported renewable and clean energy technologies, environment, economic empowerment, workforce development, STEM education and individual mentoring.

Sakina Zafar

Managing Director, EdPeritus UK

Former Deputy Director General, Academic Director and Project Director in a number of educational projects and institutions both in the UK and abroad.

Sakina has more than 25 years of experience in managing improvement programs, as well as improving activities and management in the field of education. Her experience covers both government initiatives to reform education and the implementation of programs led by private investors.

Sakina worked as a senior adviser in the regional public education authorities of Great Britain and was a member of the board of directors of a large private university. She also served as a member of the steering group for the improvement of university education in Central Asia.

Sakina has a master's degree in international, commercial and European law.

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