Senior team

Meet our senior team

UKSA is led by a senior team with a wealth of knowledge in both the charity sector and the world of sailing and watersports.

Ben Willows

Chief Executive Officer

Prior to his current role, Ben was UKSA’s Deputy Chief Executive and (previously) Director of Operations. He came to UKSA from a professional sailing background where he campaigned for the British Sailing Team and worked onboard various high-profile yachts. He has worked at UKSA for over 10 years. Throughout this time Ben has gained an unrivalled breadth of knowledge about the academy and its facilities. He has also graduated from Cranfield University with the Advanced Development Programme qualification.

“I continue to be inspired by our students, many of whom have come from challenging backgrounds. We have seen them turn their lives around and leave UKSA with renewed confidence and with the employment and life skills necessary for a long-term career in the maritime industry. It is a reminder for us all that with encouragement and training, anyone can begin a more positive chapter in their life and look ahead to a rewarding, long-term career.”

Julia Hutchison

Director of Sales & Marketing

Julia joined UKSA in 2018 after over 20 years of professional experience and achievements in the Advertising and Publishing Sector. She previously spent nine years as Chief Operating Officer of the Content Marketing Association (CMA). At the CMA she was responsible for delivering £60m of business to the content marketing sector, and driving it forward to become what it is now a £1bn industry. While there, she also worked directly with top brands such as Audi, John Lewis, RBS, Boden, Bang & Olufsen and Standard Life, providing a consultancy service to help them enter the world of content marketing. Prior to this she was head of new business at media agency Starcom, following senior commercial roles working with Associated Newspapers and Sunday Business. Her communication skills ensure that she builds lasting working relationships with clients, colleagues, senior stakeholders and board level management. Under her direction, objectives are met on time and within budget.

“I am passionate about motivating and developing people. Because I can recognise talent and maintain high standards, as demonstrated by the success of my career to date, I believe that I add value to UKSA through my people focused approach coupled with my drive for commercial success.”

Simon Hamilton

Director of Finance & Business Services

Simon joined UKSA in May 2018 after nearly 20 years spent as a Director in the residential property sector. Before that he worked in the City of London’s marine insurance sector, having trained as an accountant with Coopers & Lybrand. Simon worked for two seasons as a deckhand on sailing yachts in the Med after leaving University, and he has enjoyed sailing ever since.

“I came to UKSA on a course in the summer of 2017, and thought at the time that if they ever needed a Finance Director, it would be great to part of the future of this amazing organisation. Then they did, and here I am! I believe in what we do here, and that working together we can and will do so much more. The financials are important at UKSA insofar as they drive our ability to deliver outcomes, but I like that my role here is just as much about people, communication and making a difference.”

Chris Frisby

Director of Training and Operations

Chris is a high-level RYA coach who has worked in the maritime industry since training on UKSA’s WIT course over 20 years ago. After working for Neilson and Sunsail, he travelled the world running high-end watersports resorts. After this he used his qualifications to set up RYA training centres in Egypt, before running UKSA Australia for two years. He is still passionate about on-the-water activities such as surfing, and is a keen mountain biker.

“UKSA is an incredible organisation. I love to see the positive change that can happen between a child’s first visit here and when they return for a careers programme to train for employment in the maritime industry. UKSA offers such enormous benefits, both physical and psychological, and has such a strong and wide-reaching impact on people’s lives.”

Tanya Brookfield

Director of Fundraising & Development

Tanya’s fundraising and marketing experience spans both the charity and commercial sectors. She has worked with the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust and pioneering explorer yacht company Arksen, as well as co-founding Alex Thomson Racing and the military sailing charity Toe in the Water. With her communication skills and contacts, Tanya knows how to deliver meaningful, high-value campaigns and programmes that have a lasting impact.

“My greatest motivation at work has always been about making a difference. I loved working alongside UKSA when I was running Toe in the Water and have watched their transformation over the last few years. It’s a huge privilege to be part of UKSA at this exciting time in the charity’s development and am really looking forward to helping deliver the new build project and all this will make possible for future generations of young people.”

Ben-Willows-thumb

#SeaChangeStories

I continue to be inspired by our students, some of whom have come from challenging backgrounds, and we have seen them turn their lives around and leave UKSA with new work and life skills that will set them up for a long-term career in the maritime industry.

It is a good reminder for us all that with the right encouragement and training, anyone can begin a new chapter and look ahead to a rewarding, long-term career.

Ben Willows – UKSA Chief Executive

Read more