New operational arrangements for NERC

3 March 2020

Today, it was announced that Victoria McMyn will take up the role of NERC Chief Operating Officer with Nigel Bird stepping into the role of NERC Director of Major Programmes from 5 March 2020.  The new arrangement reflects the importance and ongoing complexity of NERC operations. It will ensure that NERC continues to place central importance on ensuring our organisation is effective, efficient, grasps new opportunities and continues to work in partnership with our research centres, UKRI colleagues and external stakeholders. 

Victoria joined NERC last summer to lead the GRO Programme and prior to that held a number of senior leadership roles in the Research Councils and UKRI centre. Victoria’s role as COO will ensure that the professional services supporting NERC’s expert teams are as efficient and effective as possible, whether delivered by UKRI Corporate Services or NERC’s own teams. Victoria will have oversight of NERC’s finances, lead NERC’s governance and assurance processes, chairing the Centre Assurance Boards and Operations Group, and will lead and support organisational transformation in NERC.  Victoria will also continue in her role as GRO Programme Director, overseeing transitional arrangements following the successful establishment of NOC and UKCEH as independent research centres. 

Nigel will use his extensive experience of large and complex programmes to ensure NERC is world-leading in the delivery of key capital projects, including the RRS Sir David Attenborough and the renewal and replacement of our Antarctic bases, and with a new focus on delivering the operational changes required for NERC to lead the way in meeting the new UKRI environmental sustainability strategy.

Announcing the appointment, NERC Executive Chair Professor Duncan Wingham said:

”I am delighted that Victoria and Nigel will take up these key roles within NERC.  Each of them brings valuable and extensive operational experience that will ensure NERC is well placed to meet future operational challenges and ensure we are able to run an effective organisation and deliver the capability required to support world-class environmental science.” 


  1. NERC is the UK’s main agency for funding and managing research, training and knowledge exchange in the environmental sciences. Our work covers the full range of atmospheric, Earth, biological, terrestrial and aquatic science, from the deep oceans to the upper atmosphere and from the poles to the equator. We coordinate some of the world’s most exciting research projects, tackling major issues such as climate change, environmental influences on human health, the genetic make-up of life on Earth, and much more. NERC is a part of the non-departmental public body, UK Research and Innovation. NERC has an annual budget of around £330 million of annual funding from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
  2. Victoria started her career in central Government, holding a range of strategy and policy roles in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and HM Treasury, notably leading work to intervene in and restructure failing financial institutions during the financial crisis of 2007-2009.

    Victoria has held a number of senior leadership roles in the Research Councils and UKRI over the last nine years, including BBSRC Deputy Director of Finance; RCUK Finance Transformation Director; UKRI Interim Director of Governance, Assurance and Risk; and most recently Programme Director for NERC’s GRO Programme, establishing the National Oceanography Centre and UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology as independent research organisations. Victoria is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and a mother to three young children.

  3. Nigel Bird is SRO for the Antarctic Infrastructure Modernisation Programme at the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). NERC is part of UK Research and Innovation. Prior to his current role Nigel has served as the Programme Director of the RRS Sir David Attenborough and the finance director of ESRC and NERC.

    Nigel Bird is a Fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, has a degree in Biology and an MBA in Global Business Strategy. Nigel has worked in senior leadership positions within the Research Councils for almost twenty years.

    Alongside finance leadership roles Nigel’s key project achievements to date include leading teams delivering: the successful design, build and operations of RRS James Cook and RRS Discovery; purchase and operation of BAE 146 Atmospheric Research Aircraft; creation and operation of the finance elements of UK SBS, reconfiguration of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Understanding Society the UK Household longitudinal study and a handful of large research buildings and facilities.

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