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QA adds industry heavyweight Simon Nelson as CEO of higher education offering

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@QA_Ltd momentum builds with 2 key executive hires 

Simon Nelson and Katie Nykanen strengthen QA’s executive team adding further digital and global experience.

QA, a world-leading provider of digital and tech skills, has further strengthened its executive team with the appointment of two digital heavyweights. 

Simon Nelson, who will become CEO of QA’s Higher Education business and Katie Nykanen, who is appointed as Group CTO, bring extensive experience of building market-shaping digital services for a global customer base. Their arrival will further boost QA’s ability to deliver a world-leading learning experience for its customers across the world. 

These appointments come hot on the heels of QA’s recent acquisition of Circus Street, a global leader in providing commercial digital skills including ecommerce, data analytics and digital marketing, through its subscription-based, proprietary digital platform. By bringing the two companies together QA can now also help organisations build their capabilities in the essential digital marketing and data analytics skills that commercial functions require to succeed. 

Together this completes what has been an impressive period for QA. Having enjoyed a robust financial performance during the last 12 months, despite the global pandemic, QA also saw several exciting new business wins, was awarded a contract to deliver the UK Department for Education’s Digital Skills Bootcamps to upskill hundreds of people in the most in-demand digital skills, and was accredited as an Advanced Partner by the AWS training team.  

Paul Geddes, CEO, QA said:

“Digital and tech skills are at the top of the boardroom agenda for every organisation in today’s climate. Without access to the right amount of digital skills and talent, organisations will struggle to win in today’s digital economy. I am delighted to welcome both Katie and Simon to the QA team. Their experience will be invaluable as we continue our mission to deliver world-class learning and talent development programmes, with proven workplace outcomes.” 

Simon Nelson will join to replace Julie Noone as CEO of the QA Higher Education business in September with Julie becoming Chair. Simon brings a wealth of experience in the global EdTech market. Founder and CEO of FutureLearn, the online learning platform launched by the Open University and used by world-renowned academic institutions, Simon was responsible for scaling the platform from start-up to reaching a global audience of more than 15 million students. 

Prior to this, Simon played a key role at the BBC for more than a decade, leading the BBC Radio digital strategy and playing a major role in the development and launch of BBC iPlayer. Most recently Simon headed up the digital strategy at Nord Anglia Education, the world’s largest international schools group.  

Simon Nelson said:

“I’m really excited to be joining the QA Higher Education team. They have done an amazing job, under Julie’s leadership, building a fast growing and profitable business that delivers exceptional outcomes for our students and is an excellent partner to the universities we work with.” 

Katie Nykanen joins from Adstream, a leading digital asset management platform used by brands and agencies, where she spent 9 years managing the global technology function. She has over 20 years’ industry experience, was named female CTO of the Year in 2019 and placed #16 on the CIO 100 list, a list which recognises transformational and disruptive CIOs. Katie will lead QA’s group technology function. 

Katie said:

“After just a few conversations it became clear that the digital and tech skills sector is a really exciting place to be right now. Having experienced the challenges of hiring and retaining a quality tech team for the past few years, I feel really excited by what QA can do to help organisations build a sustainable and diverse global technology workforce for the future.”  

Geddes concludes:

“Whether through apprenticeships, bootcamps or training programmes, QA is committed to continuously innovating the way that individuals learn, practise and – critically – apply, digital skills. As the UK’s largest digital and tech skills provider, our experience, boosted by the acquisition of Circus Street and together with our existing Cloud Academy business, uniquely positions us to help organisations tackle digital skills shortages across both tech teams and their wider commercial functions.” 

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