Royal Statistical Society appoints Stian Westlake as Chief Executive

Royal Statistical Society has announced the appointment of Stian Westlake as its new Chief Executive. Stian takes up the role in July 2020.

As an executive director at Nesta from 2009 to 2017, Stian ran the organisation’s think tank. Under his leadership, the team launched a range of initiatives on data and evidence, including the Alliance for Useful Evidence, the Innovation Growth Lab and the Innovation Index (in partnership with ONS), as well as significantly increasing its external income. After this, Stian served as policy advisor to three successive ministers for universities and science. He is co-author of Capitalism Without Capital, a book about intangible investment and the economy. He is also a governor of the National Institute for Economic and Social Research and advisory board member of the Institute for Community Studies.

At the RSS, Stian will lead on a programme of activities that take forward its strategic goals, including the Society’s Covid-19 Task ForceData Manifesto and National Lottery-funded initiative, Statisticians for Society.

He takes on the role from Nicola Emmerson, the Society’s director of membership and professional affairs, who has led the organisation on an interim basis since February. For the previous eight years the Society was steered by Hetan Shah, who is now CEO at the British Academy.

‘We are thrilled to appoint Stian as our new Chief Executive,’ said Professor Deborah Ashby, President of the RSS. ‘His experience in advising government on STEM and higher education issues, along with his work at Nesta on large policy and data projects, is extremely valuable. Statistics have never been so important as they are now, and I know Stian is the ideal person to lead on the fellowship’s work putting data at the heart of understanding and decision making.’

Commenting on the appointment, Stian said: ‘I’m delighted to have the opportunity to lead the Society, and to build on the superb work done by my predecessor Hetan Shah and acting CEO Nicola Emmerson, the staff and fellowship. I hope to be able to continue and deepen our impact.’

‘In an increasingly complex world, the role of the RSS is more crucial than ever. By promoting evidence, data and rigour in public life, and by supporting and advocating for statisticians and the discipline of statistics, the RSS is helping to push the frontiers of knowledge and change the world for the better.’