New CEO reinforces pledge to make student life exceptional

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De Montfort Students’ Union (DSU)’s new CEO has reaffirmed our mission to create an exceptional student experience for everyone at De Montfort University (DMU).

Jo Bradley-Fortune started her new role in March this year after an extensive search for DSU’s new Chief Executive Officer, headed by President Dan Winney.

“I see my job as being really quite clear,” Jo explained. “It’s about supporting the President to be the best leader that they can be and working with the Officer Team to enable them to fulfil their manifesto pledges.

“That’s my job; to take the day-to-day running of the organisation away from the strategy that the President and Officer Team are involved in.”

Jo, whose background lies in the charity sector, was previously Executive Director of Groundwork, an organisation dedicated to improving the lives of people in Nottinghamshire.

“I have a real passion for making things work,” she continued. “Particularly when it involves people; I like to put people at the centre of my work.

“I am driven by quality, but also compassion as well because I do care about people. I recognise that the goal for us here is going to be a challenge but I don’t think it’s insurmountable.”

But what makes our new CEO ‘tick’? “I am very political,” she said (with a wry smile). “I have also got loads of outside hobbies and am quite an active individual.”

As well as being the chair of a local allotment association in Nottingham and sitting on the board of another local cause, Jo plays football twice a week and is a keen runner, raising money for charities like Equation, who support those affected by domestic abuse.

“I also care on Fridays – my non-working day – for an elderly woman with Alzheimer’s because I want to, and I like her, and I think it’s the right thing to do,” she said.


Jo moves to DSU after an eight-year stint as Executive Director of the Groundwork trust in Nottingham.

The appointment comes as part of Dan’s goal of finding the new head of DSU’s staff team, after former CEO Max Mcloughlin moved to Aston Students’ Union in Birmingham last summer after four and a half years at the helm.

Dan said: “It’s huge to finally have someone in as our full-time Chief Executive Officer. It has been a really busy time not having a full-time CEO because there has been so much change within the students’ union, but now Jo has come in and relieved a lot of the pressure on myself and the rest of the Officer Team.

“She has really quickly established her view on the students’ union, what we need to do and change moving forward, and we’ve already started putting together our new strategic plan which will take us through to 2020.

“Just to have that head of the organisation who can manage the staff, have a look at our finances and all of those important things, to have someone with such experience within the charity sector is just amazing.

“I remember the first time I met Jo, I was giving her a tour of the students’ union and I was really impressed by the questions she was asking and the knowledge and research of our fantastic students’ union that she was showing, and I think that gives us an edge.

“She’s a really good motivator; we meet every day and she motivates me to get things done, and she was just a natural fit for myself and the rest of the Trustee Board. We felt that she would be perfect for our organisation and for the current changes that we are going through.”

But both Dan and Jo are keen to reassure DMU students that there won’t be any radical changes – at least not straight away.

“I’m not quite sure [students] should notice me. My job is to guide, support and advise and ensure that there is a smooth-running students’ union.

“I’m not the figurehead, as the President has that job; mine is to make sure things happen smoothly and quietly behind them and to make sure we are constantly looking to adapt and continuously improve.

“If students start to see subtle differences, that will be from the President, Officer Team and Trustee Board looking to see their strategy realised.

“The staff team should be kind of invisible, but in a nice way because we’re all really lovely…and that would be a bit weird if we all disappeared.”

You can read more about Dan’s search for a new CEO with stories about Max and interim boss Ed Marsh-Rowbotham.


Jo's appointment sees the end of Dan's extensive search for a new CEO, led on behalf of our Trustee Board.

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