Ruth Spellman, Chief Executive of the WEA
For the first time in its 108 year history, the Workers’ Educational Association ( WEA ) has appointed a woman as its new Chief Executive. Ruth’s career is marked by a commitment to lifelong learning – she was awarded an OBE in 2007 for services to workplace learning and an Honorary Doctorate from Cranfield in 2010.
Ruth’s early experience was in the public sector, but she then developed her influencing and consulting skills through leading the HR consulting practice at Coopers and Lybrand. After undertaking voluntary work with the NSPCC she became HR Director, playing a key role in modernising the organisation and leading it through change, winning the Employer of the Year Award in 1996. From the NSPCC Ruth went to Investors in People where she established IIP as a leading brand, setting new standards of best practice in people development in the UK. She went on to become the first female chief Executive of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers taking it through a strategic review and increasing the membership, before moving to the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) in 2008. At the CMI Ruth led the organisation’s drive to address the high level skills our economy needs to compete in the global economy. She strengthened the influence of the CMI, developed the brand and introduced a range of new products and services to support employers and members.
The WEA is in Ruth’s genes. Both her grandfather and father lectured for the WEA in the 1930’s and 1950’s, and she, too, was a part-time lecturer for the WEA in the 1970’s.