Director Team


Oliver Lee OBE

Chief Executive

Oliver is responsible for the executive leadership of The Challenge. He joined the organisation in 2014 following twenty years in the Royal Marines, serving in Bosnia, Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan, including in command of the coalition forces in Nad-e-Ali District, Helmand Province. He also worked on the personal staffs of the Chief of Defence Staff and Ministers. His final military job was as a colonel, leading one of the courses at the UK’s Defence Academy.

Oliver is married with two sons aged 12 and 9. He has a degree in geography from Jesus College, Cambridge.

Rebecca Carter

Strategy, Operational Effectiveness, Brand and External Affairs Director

Rebecca leads on The Challenge’s strategic direction, corporate branding, organisation-wide projects that increase our effectiveness and efficiency, and raising awareness of our mission and social integration more broadly with policy makers, politicans and the media. She joined the organisation in September 2012 following nine years in the pharmaceutical industry with Bristol Myers Squibb, where she held sales and marketing and scientific communication positions at both the national (in the UK, Belgium and Netherlands) and pan-European level. Rebecca has also worked in strategy and finance with the management consultancy Marakon Associates, where she worked with a variety of clients in the UK, Switzerland and the US.

Rebecca has a degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Manchester, a PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Cambridge, and an MBA from London Business School.

Patrick Cooper

IT Director

Patrick joined The Challenge as IT Director at the start of 2017 in a new role to the organisation and is responsible for IT and Facilities.

Before arriving here he had a career traversing the private, public and social sectors. He’s held a variety of roles, most of them centred on technology, in a rather diverse sequence of organisations, ranging in size from a large multinational (Reuters) down to his own small consultancy in the City. He’s just finished a period of fourteen years as a school governor in the primary and secondary sectors and was a National Leader of Governance for the final four of those years.

Patrick moved to the UK from Canada in the late 80s, got married, had four children and has somehow retained an accent. He has a degree in Actuarial Science and Computer Science from the University of Toronto and an MBA from London Business School.

Deirdre Evans

Chief Financial Officer

Deirdre joined The Challenge as Chief Financial Officer in March 2017, with responsibility for Finance, Legal, IT and Facilities. Deirdre leads her teams in partnering the business to ensure strong financial management is core, whilst delivering commercial value aligned with the strategy. Additionally, the teams ensure that the organisation has the tools (e.g. technology, legal, facilities & advice) to support our day-to-day business and embed a culture of continuous improvement. 

Previously, Deirdre operated as a strategic partner within a range of organisations from the National Trust to BHP Billiton, a leading multi-national natural resources company.

Karen Forde

HR and Organisational Development Director

Karen is the Director for HR and Organisational Development and joined The Challenge in March 2016. This is a relatively new Directorship which is focused on strengthening all elements of our employee proposition. Prior to joining The Challenge Karen worked in Food and Automotive retail.

Karen lives near Colchester and when she isn’t working she enjoys keeping herself fit and watching live football with her husband.

Benny Goodman

Director of NCS

Benny is one of the founders of The Challenge and is the organisation’s Director of NCS. He therefore leads the delivery of our National Citizen Service (NCS) programme. Previously he was Director of Operations and therefore responsible for the NCS Staffing and Programmes teams.

Benny joined The Challenge during the R&D phase in December 2008 from Deloitte, where he had qualified as a Chartered Accountant working within the Enterprise Risk Services group. Benny was keen to return to the non-profit sector, having spent a year in Hong Kong with Crossroads International, a fast-growing charity who re-distribute quality superseded goods globally to those in need. Prior to his work with The Challenge, Benny was also involved in leading various residential programmes for young people, giving him insight into the significant benefits of such opportunities.

Benny is married to Claire, has three children under 5, and is normally tired by the end of the weekend. He has a degree in Engineering Science from the University of Oxford.

Dominic May MBE

Operations and Performance Director

Dominic is responsible for The Challenge’s three current operational business units, namely: NCS, Step Forward and HeadStart. He joined in February 2017 from Amazon where he was employed as a senior operations manager responsible for all delivery operations in the South West of England and Wales. Prior to that he served for thirty years in the Royal Marines, including operational tours of duty in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan. His final military appointment was as a colonel, in command of the Commando Logistic Regiment.

Dominic is married with two adult children. He enjoys fly-fishing, golf and supporting Exeter Chiefs Rugby Club. He has a Masters degree from Cranfield University.