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Director’s Update: Changes to the Wellcome Trust’s structure and leadership

1 Oct, 2014

Dr Jeremy Farrar, Wellcome TrustSince he joined us this time last year, Jeremy Farrar, Director of the Wellcome Trust, has been listening – to staff, to researchers, to members of the Wellcome community, and more. In this post he explains some changes to our organisational structure and leadership team…

A year ago today, I became Director of the Wellcome Trust. It has been a fantastic twelve months and a wonderful journey, in the course of which I have been listening to people’s views about this great organisation, and learning much about it, from within and from outside. I am very grateful to everyone who has come to talk to me, to share your ideas, your work and your thoughts for the future.

New leadership is always an opportunity to look afresh at an organisation’s direction and structure, and it has been my priority over the past year to think over how best to take forward our vision, together with colleagues from across the Trust and the Board of Governors. In July, I announced an evolution of our funding framework, with a focus on broadening our funding opportunities for younger researchers, for teams, for people with innovative ideas and to give us the space to act more strategically and all with a global perspective. We hope to be able to share further details of this next month.

Today, I am also delighted to announce some changes to the organisational structure and executive leadership of the Trust, which I believe will help us to achieve our goals and deliver our mission.

Following the decision by David Lynn to retire early, for personal reasons, from full-time work and the position of Director of Strategic Planning and Policy, we have created a new division of the Trust, Strategy. It will be tasked with refining and articulating the Trust’s ambitious vision of improving human and animal health, embedding our new strategic funding framework, and helping us to track our progress. It will nurture and develop our external relationships and influence (in the UK and globally), and sit at the heart of the Trust so it can draw on expertise from across the organisation. It will bring together the existing teams of Strategic Planning and Policy, Evaluation, Communications, Education and Grants Management, along with a new “Incubation Unit” for developing new projects. This last unit will include the Sustaining Health initiative led by Ted Bianco.

I am delighted that Clare Matterson has agreed to lead this new Division as Director of Strategy. Over the past decade, Clare has proved herself to be visionary leader as Director of Culture & Society, where she has overseen a significant expansion of the Trust’s investment in humanities, social science, public engagement and education, as well as launching the critically-acclaimed and much-visited Wellcome Collection.

We hope to appoint Clare’s successor as Director of Culture & Society soon, to continue to build on her inspiring work at a time when the resources available for it are increasing. Clare will look after both divisions until this process is complete. We are also beginning the search for a Director of Innovations to succeed Ted Bianco.

We will also be creating a second new division, People & Development. The greatest asset in any organisation is its people, and I want the development, careers, leadership and recruitment of individuals and teams to be central to discussions at the Executive Board. I also think the Trust could do more to support leadership and personal and team development in our wider research community. To that end, we will appoint a Director of People & Development, with a focus on finding and encouraging talent and leadership both internally and externally.

Finally, recruitment is now advanced for a Chief Financial Officer, to lead the Finance & IT division that has a crucial role in providing assurance and guidance on our spending, as well as bringing creative and resilient technological solutions to enable us in our work. The responsibilities previously held so ably by Simon Jeffreys, who stepped down as Chief Operating Officer earlier this year, will be divided between Finance & IT, People & Development, Strategy and Legal.

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