Our executive team

Find out more about the people in First Great Western’s executive team and their backgrounds, from our managing director to the people leading our rail improvements.

Our Directors 

 Mark Hopwood Managing Director
 Andy Mellors Engineering Director
 Ben Caswell Finance Director
 Sue Evans Director of Communications
 Matthew Golton Projects and Planning Director
 Diane Burke Sales and Marketing Director
 Sharon Johnston HR Director
 Ben Rule Operations Director
 Paul Williams
Head of Safety

Mark Hopwood, Managing Director

Mark joined First Great Western as Performance Director in January 2008 and became Managing Director the following December. Before this he was National Express’ Managing Director for train operators; Silverlink, C2C and Gatwick Express. Since joining us he has worked on our senior management team to successfully improve performance across the network.

Andy Mellors, Engineering Director

Andy joined First Great Western as Engineering Director in 2007 having held similar roles at both First North Western and First ScotRail since joining First Group in 2002. He is also Deputy Managing Director.

Ben Caswell, Finance Director

Ben joined First Great Western in 2004. Before that he was UK Finance Director at Dell Computers.

He is responsible for setting and meeting clear financial targets, together with responsibility for First Great Western's IT, Property and Procurement functions.

Sue Evans, Director of Communications

Sue Evans is Director of Communications for first Great Western. She joined the business in early 2008, having previously worked as Government Relations Manager, Head of Communications and latterly Director of Communications for freight rail operator, EWS, over a 12 year period.

She managed the transition from EWS to Deutsche Bahn ownership during 2007, developing an integrated communications strategy as part of that process. She has worked in the rail industry for 30 years.

Matthew Golton, Projects and Planning Director

Matthew joined First Great Western as Projects Director in September 2007. He previously worked for the FirstGroup rail bid team as Bid Director. Matthew took up his current post as Projects and Planning Director back in February 2009.

Diane Burke, Sales and Marketing Director

Diane moved from Scotland to London to join the new Gatwick Express team in 1999. She was a key player in creating the marketing alliance ‘Airport Express’ to gain greater dominance and efficiencies within the business and leisure markets for Gatwick Express, Heathrow Express and Stansted Express.

She is now Sales & Marketing Director at First Great Western Railway where she has led a transformation of the sales and marketing directorate. Diane is currently leading a new strategic vision for the business that includes a new brand purpose and identity that will be translated in the hearts and minds of colleagues and across the end to end customer experience.

Sharon Johnston, HR Director

Sharon joined First Great Western in January 2010, having previously worked in the railway since 1994 in HR and as Head of Drivers. She is responsible for the Business Partners and the Regional Resourcing Manager within FGW.

Executive responsibility & Leadership of the HR team within FGW, accountable for the delivery of all aspects of HR including Recruitment, Employee Relations, Training and Development, Employee Engagement and Reward and Well-being.

Ben Rule, Operations Director

Ben Rule, First Great Western Operations Director has a wide and varied experience in all areas of rail industry, most recently as operations lead on Great Western and Crossrail bidding for the National Express Bid team. 
 
He was also Deputy Operations Director for National Express East Anglia, responsible for Control, Performance, Train Planning and Train Crew, and has been both Autumn Programme Manager for Network Rail and an Inspector for the Rail Accident Investigation Branch.

Ben started his railway career in 1997 with signalling and operational management roles in Railtrack and Network Rail including Area Operations Manager, Great Eastern. 

Paul Williams, Head of Safety

Paul joined First Great Western as the Head of Safety in September 2013. Prior to this he worked for TfL for 14 years, primarily in safety audit, operation safety and construction safety. Starting there as a HSE Auditor and rising to a HSE Senior Manager.

 Paul has also worked for British Telecom and the Jubilee Line Extension Project.