Muriel Zingraff-Shariff from BAA and Mark Fisher from Merlin Entertainments are to begin working with the University of Warwick in a non-executive capacity. Using their extensive private sector experience, they will help to provide effective oversight of the University’s new ‘Campus and Commercial Services Group’.

The University of Warwick has over 23,000 students, 5,000 staff, and a turnover of £439 million. During the last five years some £220 million has been invested in its vibrant and cosmopolitan campus, which is home to staff and students from 140 different countries. The University is currently ranked 5th in the UK and has yet to celebrate its 50th birthday. Key to Warwick’s rapid rise has been its culture of innovation and entrepreneurship. Over £102 million of its annual income is generated through commercial activity led by a suite of wholly-owned businesses.

As student expectations continue to rise, and the external environment becomes increasingly competitive and challenging, the University’s commercial team has been tasked with dramatically enhancing its services and providing growth in surpluses of at least 10% per annum. In order to help the team achieve this goal, the University has committed to a significant review and investment that will, for the first time, create a unified Campus and Commercial Services Group capable of taking a holistic overview of the University’s commercial activities and driving quality, efficiency, and innovation across the board.

The new structure gathers together existing services and businesses into three interlinking divisions which should be mutually reinforcing.

As Lay Members of the Campus and Commercial Services Steering Group, Mark and Murial will work closely with the University’s Chief Operating Officer, provide effective critical oversight of the business units, help to set, and advise on, the strategic commercial framework for the Group’s business activities, and provide informal mentoring to key senior managers.

Mark Fisher (aka ‘Fish’) is Chief Development Officer for Merlin Entertainments, the world’s No 2 visitor attraction operator. He works alongside Merlin’s three operating groups – LEGOLAND Parks; Resort Theme Parks and Midway. A graduate in Recreation Management from Sheffield Polytechnic, he went to work for Tussauds Group in 1991, both at Group level and at Alton Towers, before joining Merlin in 1995. As Marketing and Sales Director, from 1998 he had full responsibility both for the marketing of all the group’s existing attractions, as well as its new business rollout across Europe focusing primarily on SEA LIFE and the Dungeons. Since the group restructured in 2002, Fish has held a succession of ever more senior roles.

Muriel Zingraff is currently the Retail Concessions Director at Heathrow, making her responsible for one of BAA’s largest revenue streams. She has previously been a Senior Advisor for Oaktree Capital Management and 3i Group. Her early career was with L’Oreal, Paris and Harrods. She was made CEO of Paco Rabanne in 2001 and Director of New Product Development and Licensing for Jimmy Choo in 2006.