Professor Karen Holford is Chief Executive and Vice-Chancellor at Cranfield University. She was previously Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Cardiff University.

In 2018, Karen received a CBE for services to engineering and the advancement of women in engineering, and in 2019 received the Suffrage Science award in Physical Sciences and Engineering. Karen has served as a Council member for UKRI STFC and a member of the ESPRC Strategic Advisory Network, having previously served as the external Chair of the EPSRC Engineering Strategic Advisory Team. In 2020, Karen took up the role of Chair of the Royal Academy of Engineering Research Committee.

Professor Karen Holford

Educated at Cardiff University, Karen was elected to Fellowship of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2015 and in 2016 she was named as one of the top 50 most influential women engineers in the UK.

Karen’s engineering career spans industry and academia; beginning at Rolls-Royce (Aero) as an undergraduate engineering apprentice, followed by a role as graduate engineer at AB Electronic Products Ltd., culminating in a position as senior engineer with technical responsibility for all projects and leadership of a large mechanical design team, before pursuing an academic career where, during 31 years at Cardiff University, she engaged in research with industrial impact and research-led learning and teaching together with a significant administrative and leadership profile. She served as DVC from 2017 – 2021, led the College of Physical Sciences and Engineering as the founding Pro Vice-Chancellor 2012 -2017 and prior to this she was Head of the School of Engineering.

As Chief Executive and Vice-Chancellor at Cranfield University, Karen serves on the Oxford-Cambridge Arc Leaders Group and the Midlands Innovation University Partnership Board.