Introducing the HCT Group senior team, based at our Curtain Rd head office.


Dai Powell OBE, Chief Executive

Dai Powell is the Chief Executive of HCT Group, a large-scale, award-winning social enterprise in the transport industry, operating transport and training services from more than a dozen depots across London, Yorkshire, the southwest, the northwest and the Channel Islands. Dai has been Chief Executive since 1993, leading the organisation as it has grown by more than a hundredfold – from a small community transport provider into a national social enterprise.

Dai won the 2015 Ernst and Young UK Social Entrepreneur of the Year award and the 2012 SEUK Social Enterprise Leader of the Year award. He is a board member of Big Society Capital and a trustee of Power to Change. He holds a Level 3 Vocational Certificate in the use of Industrial Explosives and an honorary PhD in Social Entrepreneurship from the University of Northampton. Dai was awarded an OBE in 2006 for services to disabled people.

Jane Desmond, Chief Operating Officer

Jane is HCT Group’s Chief Operating Officer, with over-arching responsibility for all of the transport operations of the Group, ensuring they are efficient and effective – meeting the needs of passengers, service users and contracting authorities.

Jane brings a broad range of director-level experience gained across a wide variety of industries - in roles focussed on improving services and managing change. Most recently, Jane was Customer Service Director at CityLink - a £330m courier business offering next day deliveries.

Jane also brings extensive bus industry operations experience. Jane was UK Performance Director at First, supporting Managing Directors to improve the performance of the business. This role built on direct experience as Managing Director, East and Central Scotland at First Bus.

John Smart, Chief Finance Officer

John brings over 30 years of senior-level financial experience in the private and public sectors. He joined us from South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) – the organisation responsible for the development of public transport in South Yorkshire – where he served as Chief Financial Officer from 2007.

Prior to his time at SYPTE, John was European Chief Financial Officer for a subsidiary of ERG (now Vix), which developed smartcard and smart ticketing systems – building on his earlier finance career with large-scale UK technology success stories such as Misys and P&P.

Jon McColl, Performance Director

Jon is HCT Group’s Performance Director, responsible for the strategic development of our transport performance through analysis, planning and providing group-wide support. Jon brings over 30 years of experience in the passenger transport industry to the role, serving with HCT Group since 2000.

Before starting with HCT Group, Jon was a founder member, director, company secretary and transport manager of a bus and coach operator in Essex that was constituted as a workers’ co-operative. Outside work, Jon has been a trustee of Co-operative and Community Finance (CCF) for over 10 years and was chair for five.

Frank Villeneuve-Smith, Communications Director

Frank is HCT Group’s Communications Director. His role is to develop the organisation’s ability to tell its story, communicating to the widest possible set of stakeholders. His is the author of ‘Innovation in transport procurement: Seven big ideas to beat the public spending crunch’.

Frank has 15 years experience in business management, marketing and public relations in both the commercial and social enterprise sectors. He holds an MBA with distinction from the renowned full time programme at Warwick Business School and post-graduate diplomas in both public relations and marketing. He joined HCT Group from the Learning and Skills Network, an education charity, where he led the communications function for four years.

Darren Rees, Group Head of People and Talent

Darren is our Group Head of People and Talent – advising and supporting the senior team and depot/regional management on all HR activities. He is also responsible for the development and implementation of the HR strategy across the Group.

Darren brings a wealth of senior HR experience to the role, which includes working for Small to Medium Sized Enterprises and Multinationals across the UK and internationally.

Darren is a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and holds a degree in Human Resource Management.

Amanda Anderson, Director of Independent Travel

Amanda started at the beginning of February 2015 as our new Director of Independent Travel. Amanda joins us from Creative and Cultural Skills, a charity that supports jobs and skills in the creative industries – where she worked for the past nine years.  Her most recent role there has been as Operations Director, responsible for managing the delivery of major projects, governance and corporate services.

Prior to Creative and Cultural Skills, Amanda spent two years at the Home Office as a policy advisor on criminal justice reform and two years at Centrepoint – a charity supporting homeless young people, also in a public policy role.

Amanda will be taking forward our work on travel training and travel buddying for children and young people with Special Education Needs – an exciting potential area of growth and social impact for the organisation. 

Izaro Arbelaiz, Strategic Support Executive

Izaro started at HCT in February, in the role of Strategic Support Executive. She will be supporting our operations team to develop and innovate, helping us to grow – with an initial focus on our CT operations, but also working more broadly. 

She joins us from working with RBS, where she has recently served on the Advisory Board for their Innovation Gateway, providing expertise on how to scale up innovation.

Prior to moving to the UK, Izaro worked for 16 years at Mondragon – the world’s largest cooperative with operations across four continents. At Mondragon, she served in a range of senior operations and strategic roles – as Chief Executive of their central procurement unit, then Chief of Corporate Ventures in Energy and Sustainability and finally as Chief Innovation Officer for their telecoms business. 

Julia Meek, Head of Business Development

Julia started towards the end of 2014 as our new Head of Business Development and will be taking forward the work of the Business Development Unit, tendering for new business and delivering improvement projects for the organisation.

 Julia has spent most of her career working in senior roles in the social enterprise world, most recently as Chief of Staff at Wokai – a microfinance organisation in China supporting entrepreneurs in poor rural areas. Prior to that, she co-founded ClearlySo – an organisation that helps social enterprises (including us) raise the investment needed to grow.  She has recently completed her MBA on the renowned full time programme at London Business School. 

Tracey Vickers, Head of Chief Executive's Office

Tracey Vickers is our Head of the CEO’s Office – a new role at Curtain Road to ensure that fresh and innovative thinking is turned into practical projects that make a real difference to the Group.

Tracey joins us from McKinsey – a multinational management consulting firm – where she was a Practice Manager for the past 7 years, working on strategy, operations, recruitment, events, publications – and a huge range of other projects. Prior to that, she worked at Boston Consulting Group for nine years – another multinational management consulting firm – in a similar role that also included conducting business research. 

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