Meet our Executive Committee

Meet the members of our Executive Committee

Mark Phillips - Chief Executive Officer

Mark was appointed Chief Executive Officer in 2016. He is deputy chair at British Transport Police Authority and member of the Transport for London Board. He is a member of the Department for Transport’s Transport Research and Innovation Board.

After graduating with a B.A. (Hons) in Economics from the University of York, Mark joined British Rail later joining the privatisation team. He worked for Railtrack as Head of Operational Planning and Engineering, for Network Rail as Regional Director Anglia, and Deputy Managing Director for London Eastern Railway (Anglia).

Mark is a Fellow of the Institute of Railway Operators and a Fellow of the Institute of Logistics and Transport.

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Paul Marchant - Chief Financial Officer

Paul joined RSSB in 2014, was appointed Chief Financial Officer in February 2018 and joined RSSB’s Board as an Executive Director in November 2019.

Paul’s immediate challenges are to ensure RSSB remains financially sustainable and to shape RSSB’s long term financial strategy in order to meet the changing needs of its membership and key stakeholders. Paul is also leading the work to reform RSSB’s business performance measures. 

Paul gained a BSc in Accounting and Finance from the University of Warwick and qualified as a chartered accountant (ACA) with Clement Keys (now PKF Cooper Parry) in Birmingham. Paul was also Management Accountant at the Conservative Party Campaigning Headquarters in Westminster before joining RSSB. 


Johnny Schute - Chief Operating Officer

Johnny joined RSSB in May 2018 as Chief Operating Officer and leads our Chief Operating Group. He was formally the Deputy Chief Inspector of Railways and Deputy Director, Railway Safety at the Office of Rail and Road, having assumed the appointment in January 2017. He had responsibility for health and safety regulation of the mainline rail network, all operating companies (both train and freight), light rail, metros (including TfL) and heritage. Prior to this, he was Deputy Director, Policy, Strategy and Planning within the Rail Safety Directorate of ORR. 

Before joining ORR in October 2015, he served for 34 years in the British Army as an infantry soldier, undertaking operational tours in Northern Ireland, Southern Arabia, the Balkans and Iraq. In his final appointment as Chief Environmental and Safety officer for the army - and responsible to the head of the army for all health and safety matters - he introduced a new safety management system derived from lessons learned from the Nimrod disaster (RSSB member report available). He was also closely involved in setting up the first defence safety regulator, the Defence Safety Authority. 

Johnny has a MBA from the Open University and a MSc in Design of Information Systems from Cranfield University. He was appointed OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2005.


Keith Hanlon-Smith - Human Resources Director

Keith joined RSSB as Head of HR in April 2017 with responsibility for the HR, Company Secretariat and Facilities teams. Keith heads up the team that is responsible for ensuring that RSSB’s people are able to provide the very best service to its members.

Keith has over 20 years’ experience in Human Resource Management gained in both the commercial and not-for-profit sectors. He was worked for the Carbon Trust, Norland Managed Services (now CBRE Global Workplace Solutions) and prior to that the media and retail sectors. 

Keith is a Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, a graduate of Brighton University and a business mentor for Teach a Man to Fish. 


Nizar Awad - Director of Projects

Nizar joined RSSB as Director of Projects in November 2017. He is responsible for leading the Projects team to ensure RSSB members and stakeholders benefit from timely delivery of high quality, ‘fit for purpose’ outputs within the critical budgetary and time constraints.

With almost 30 years experience developing and delivering complex major infrastructure projects and programmes, Nizar has held various senior roles within the rail industry, working with both contractors and consultants in the UK and overseas. Most recently, he was a member of the Executive at London Rail, accountable for all project delivery as well as transforming the constituent businesses into a coherent and high performing delivery unit. Nizar enjoys developing the capability of organisations to continuously improve their project delivery and actively encourages collaborative working across the industry. 

Nizar is a Chartered Engineer with a BEng in Civil Engineering, MSc in Construction Management, DIC and MBA from Imperial College; and is a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers, the British Tunnelling Society and the Association for Project Management.

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Paul McLaughlin - Business Development & Engagement Director

Paul joined RSSB in February 2018 from BESA, a trade association within the construction industry. As its chief executive he led the organisation to deliver value and benefit to members. Prior to this he was managing director at Scotty Brand and the first chief executive of Scotland Food & Drink. At the latter, an industry membership organisation, he developed sector-wide strategies focussed on commercial results. He lobbied and influenced government and established Scotland Food & Drink as the industry’s main leadership body.

Before joining Scotland Food & Drink, Paul worked at Mars and then The Coca-Cola Company, most recently as commercialisation director responsible for North West Europe.

Paul gained a first-class honours degree in electronic engineering from the University of Glasgow, and also holds a diploma in company direction from Durham University Business School.

Paul is a member of the Executive Committee at RSSB which is led by Mark Phillips, our Chief Executive Officer.

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