Meet the team

Meet the team

We’re powered by people: those we care for, those we work for and, of course, those who work for us. We credit much of our success to a consistent approach in managing our business, and to the character of our people. Find out more about the leaders of our qualified, dedicated and experienced team.

Mike Barnard

Chief Executive Officer

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Mike was appointed CEO of Acacium Group in September 2019 to lead the Group through its next phase of growth across workforce solutions, life sciences and health and social care managed services. Mike has led high-growth technology and services businesses over the last 15 years, working across a range of sectors, both public and private. Mike is passionate about the opportunity to combine a highly skilled healthcare workforce, technology and process management in enabling Acacium Group to improve the experience for the people we work with, the clients we work for and the patients we look after.

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Alex Ryan

Group Service Development Director

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Alex joined the organisation in May 2021 to support the group’s growth and ensure that new and existing propositions provide appropriate and effective support to the UK health economy. Beginning her career as a lawyer, Alex moved into Healthcare over 10 years ago to work in the mental health space, working closely with both the NHS and insurance providers to provide patient-focused care and solutions. Alex is passionate about building excellent relationships with customers to enable the co-creation of innovative solutions.

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Mark Underwood

Chief Operating Officer

Diversified healthcare

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Mark has 22 years of staffing sectors experience ranging from fast-growth start-ups to leading a publicly listed business providing the country’s largest temporary workforce of over 50,000. His broad staffing sector experience has been obtained through partnerships with 1750 of the UK’s best known and respected brands providing each with bespoke, innovative workforce solutions. Mark cares passionately about servant leadership, enabling the future of work and creating working environments that are conducive to a high-performance culture. He is also greatly experienced at helping leaders implement new technology and ‘always on’ transformation programmes.

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Sunna van Loo

Chief Operating Officer

Health and Community Services

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Sunna van Loo is Chief Operating Officer for Health and Community Services which offers community based services and capacity solutions to support the NHS in its ambition to deliver the Long Term Plan. She is passionate about delivering health care solutions that have a direct and positive impact on people’s lives which is why she joined Acacium Group in 2018. Sunna joined from Capita where she worked for 12 years in a variety of senior roles predominantly focused on delivery of complex managed services.

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Paul Strouts

Chief Operating Officer

Life Sciences

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Paul is the CEO for the life sciences division of Acacium Group which incorporates both the Proclinical and Hobson Prior brands. He looks after nine countries within the division’s portfolio, spanning from San Francisco in the US to Sydney in Australia and from his base in the flagship London office. He oversees all operations and sales for life sciences, driving both businesses forward on a strategic level, having joined the Acacium Group one year ago from a leading competitor.  Paul has now been working in the sector for 19 years, which has afforded him the opportunity to travel and operate on a global scale.

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Sara James

Chief Operating Officer

Rapid Nurse Mobilisation

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Sara, a Registered Nurse originally, joined the Scottish Nursing Guild (SNG) in 1999 and has run the combined SNG and Thornbury Nursing Service’s (TNS) businesses since 2000. In the years since, Sara has grown the business to be the only national last-minute nursing brand operating across the UK and the Republic of Ireland. An early adopter of technology, including launching the first app allowing nurses and clients to book shifts, Sara utilises deep analytics to drive efficiencies. This means clients have the quickest access to nurses and nurses have unrivalled access to work, wherever they are. The NHS and the private sector rely on Sara’s team to deliver critical nurses when no one else can.

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Fran Currie

Chief Operating Officer

Managed Workforce

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Fran Currie is our Chief Operating Officer for the Managed Workforce division, Fran joined the company in 2018 and leads on all our managed workforce services including our RPOs and Banks; and nursing permanent recruitment including international roles. Fran has worked more than 30 years in the outsourcing arena leading global and domestic teams across a range of market sectors including Insurance, financial services and both private and public services.

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Tom Richards

Chief Finance Officer

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Tom joined Acacium Group as deputy CFO in March 2017 and has been CFO since September 2017. Tom previously spent six years in Divisional Finance Director roles within Capita and eight years at the BPO business Xchanging. Tom qualified as an accountant at Arthur Andersen and holds a Master of Arts degree from the University of Oxford in PPE.

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Karen Matthews-Shard

Group Clinical Director

Clinical Governance

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Karen joined the organisation in March 2010 and has over 40 years nursing experience across the acute and primary NHS, private sector and Armed Forces and in both provider and commissioning organisations. She has 20 years’ experience operating at a strategic board level and leads on clinical governance and risk across the group ensuring high standards of care and the safety and quality of the organisation. Karen has the role of liaison between external regulatory bodies, insurers and legal teams and is the CQC Responsible Individual for the Group.

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Sara Andrews

Chief People Officer

HR Functions, Career Proposition, Colleague Engagement

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Sara is a qualified engineer starting her career as a Technical Apprentice with Jaguar Cars, then extending her experience from automotive into the aerospace and power solutions industries before moving into financial services. During this time she has worked internationally in the USA, Europe and China for large global organisations and has moved between operational, programme and people leadership roles with a more recent focus on harnessing the synergy of people, process and technology. Sara is professionally accredited as a Fellow of the CIPD, ILM and CMI. She is married with two teenage boys, lives in the Midlands, and spends her spare time cleaning rugby boots and washing kit!

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Ian Cohen

Chief Product & Information Officer

Product, Process & Digital Transformation, Development, Infrastructure and Security

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Ian Cohen is Chief Product & Information Officer and leads all our technology and transformation activities – ranging from product, digital and data through to development, support and service delivery. He joined Acacium Group in May 2020 and has been C-suite/ board executive for over 20 years with experience that spans the financial services, technology, media, broking, transport and logistics and now healthcare sectors.

Outside work, Ian’s passions are his family – he is married with three daughters, music – he was a session musician in a previous life and supporting Chelsea FC – the team he has followed since 1967.

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Damian Biswell

Transformation Director

Data, Digital and Transformation

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Damian joined Acacium Group in October 2018 to create and deliver our Transformation proposition encompassing insight, experience, process, automation, innovation and operational excellence.  He has always wanted to work in healthcare and feels lucky to do so at Acacium Group.  Previously he has held senior positions across transformation, finance, procurement and programme delivery in global leading telecoms, aviation, outsourcing (across multiple clients), retail and military organisations.

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Andrew Taylor

Corporate Development Director

Corporate Development and Acquisitions

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Andrew joined Acacium Group in May 2020 to support the group’s international growth and further diversification into services in the UK and abroad. He was previously Group Acquisitions Director at Capita plc., and before that an investment banker at Quayle Munro and Bear Stearns. He started his career as a theatre producer, working on 70 shows in the West End and across Europe.

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