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Our leadership team

Meet the Senior Leadership Team at WorldSkills UK


Dr Neil Bentley-Gockmann OBE, Chief Executive, WorldSkills UK

Neil is responsible for overseeing all WorldSkills UK’s activities, working closely with our board of trustees and our stakeholders across the UK and internationally – in governments, employers and education -  to help deliver our business plan goals.

Background and experience

Neil has been at WorldSkills UK since November 2015.

Before joining WorldSkills UK, Neil was previously Deputy Director-General and Chief Operating Officer at the CBI, the UK’s premier business organisation. He worked for 12 years at the highest level of the business and government interface nationally and internationally on issues such as trade and investment, diversity, skills and employment, public service reform and energy, climate change and infrastructure development.

Prior to his time at the CBI, Neil worked at global IT services provider EDS (now part of HP) advising on the employee relations implications of outsourcing, trade union relations, training and diversity across EMEA.

Neil was also the former CE of OUTstanding, a business network for LGBT leaders and their allies, and deputy chair of Stonewall, the LGBT equality charity. He holds a PhD in race equality in the workplace and was awarded his OBE for services to equality in business in the 2019 New Year’s Honours List.

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Ben Blackledge - Deputy CEO 

Having held senior policy roles within government and not for profit organisations, Ben is responsible for driving WorldSkills UK’s programme of work both in the UK and internationally. Working in partnership with representatives from government, industry and education, he leads on the UK-wide initiative to embed skills competitions methodology into apprenticeship and training programmes, raising standards and ensuring more young people are being equipped with the right skills to help businesses better compete globally.    

Overseeing the programme of national skills competitions, Ben also ensures that the UK remains at the forefront of international skills development in his role of Technical Delegate at WorldSkills Europe and WorldSkills.   

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Mark Smallman - Director of Operations

Mark is responsible for the management of all venues, production elements and logistics, as well as delegate requirements for all WorldSkills UK events, including delivery of the flagship event WorldSkills UK LIVE. He is also responsible to overseeing WorldSkills UK’s data and digital policies.

Background and experience

Mark joined the team in November 2010 and played a key role in delivering WorldSkills London in 2011. Taking place in the O2 Arena and ExCel London, the event welcomed over 3,000 international delegates from 53 member countries, along with 250,000 visitors. He has a range of experience in delivering conferences, exhibitions, road shows and live entertainment throughout the UK and Europe.

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Stephen Crampton-Hayward - Director of Finance & Corporate Services

Stephen is responsible for financial planning, monitoring and reporting. His role includes ensuring that WorldSkills UK complies with all statutory and external requirements and regulations. He oversees all human resources, legal and administrative, and office services functions.

Background and experience

Stephen joined WorldSkills UK in 2014. He has a wealth of experience in the charity sector, including working as Treasurer for Paintings in Hospitals and Managing Director at the Whitechapel Gallery.

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