Alan Cook CBE

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Chairman, Highways Agency & Irish Life

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After turning round NS&I and introducing changes at the Post Office, Alan is now improving efficiency and cost controls within the body running England’s road network. He also chairs a small university. Alan believes it’s defeatist to assume that less necessarily means less; even in the face of continuing spending cuts, there’s always a way of increasing productivity. He underlines the difference between competent management and outstanding leadership.


In his role as Chairman of the Permanent TSB Group (previously Irish Life & Permanent) and as head of England’s road network, Alan’s focus is on efficiency and cost control. It’s the latest in a series of senior public and private sector appointments, where he has experienced and led large scale change.

Alan was previously Managing Director of the Post Office, appointed when it was losing £3.5m each week and there was no clear government policy on its future. Alan implemented a five-year plan and a bold refinancing programme; at the time he stepped down in 2010 the plan remained on schedule and the organisation was generating a £73m operating profit.

Now charged with overseeing the Permanent TSB Group, Ireland’s third largest retail bank, Alan sees himself again leading a sensitive, sometimes controversial organisation subject to significant public scrutiny.

Alan has also served as Chief Executive of NS&I, and COO of Prudential UK & Europe. He remains a non-Executive at the Office of Fair Trading and the Department of Transport.

In presentations Alan argues that the popular tendency to expect ‘less for less’ is too defeatist. Even in the face of severe cuts, with ambition it is possible to achieve ‘more for less.’

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