New ZSL Director General appointed

ZSL (The Zoological Society of London) is pleased to announce it has appointed its new Director General - Matthew Gould, a former Ambassador and senior civil servant, who has spent the past three years in the NHS. 

Matthew Gould in Gorilla Kingdom

About the new Director General

Matthew joins ZSL on Monday 12 September 2022 to lead the organisation, reporting to the Council of Trustees.  

Matthew has enjoyed an interesting and varied career. As CEO of NHSX Matthew led the digital transformation of health and care. His team helped the NHS through the pandemic by developing the NHS Datastore, allowing the crisis to be managed using real-time data, and built the award-winning NHS Covid Pass.

He was previously the Government’s first Director General for Digital and Media at DCMS, the Government’s cyber security director, and Britain’s Ambassador to Israel, where he built an ambitious programme of scientific collaboration on regenerative medicine.

As well as Israel he has had postings in Tehran, Islamabad, Washington and Manila; he has taught in Zimbabwe; done ecological research in Tanzania; and has published research on the feeding preferences of termites.   

Matthew said: “The work of ZSL has never been more necessary or important.  Every day, more than a hundred species go extinct.  Saving species is not a luxury, it is critical to humanity’s own health and survival. 

“ZSL is an extraordinary and wonderful organisation, with brilliant and expert staff, committed volunteers, and fabulous supporters.  My predecessor, Dominic Jermey, and the senior team have done an outstanding job getting the organisation through the pandemic, and into strong shape for the future. My mission will be to give it a laser-like focus on saving species – through its zoos, its advocacy, its science and its conservation projects around the world.”

“There is no job I would rather have than this. It is a special responsibility to lead ZSL at any time, but as we  head towards ZSL’s 200th anniversary, it  is a particular privilege.”   

Matthew is a Visiting Professor at Leeds University, has an Honorary Doctorate from Ben Gurion University, a CMG for services to the scientific and tech partnership between Britain and Israel, and an MBE for services to child protection in the Philippines.


Looking to the future

Sharing the news, Professor Sir John Beddington, President of ZSL, said: “We are very excited about the appointment of Matthew as the next Director General of ZSL.

“The challenges faced by the world cannot be underestimated. We are losing biodiversity at an alarming pace. ZSL is in a unique position to make a real difference – our scientific research helps further understanding of the natural world, and our work connecting people with nature inspires the change needed to recover the world’s biodiversity. Emerging from the challenges of the pandemic, we moved into a transformative phase for ZSL as we began to develop plans from our ZSL 200 strategy. 

“With Matthew’s vision, leadership and creativity, I’m looking forward to everyone at ZSL working together to realise these plans we have been working so hard on.”


Joining at an exciting time

Matthew will start on 12 September 2022 but has already spent time meeting members of the Senior Leadership Team ensuring a seamless transition with the current Acting Director General, Jo Keaney. ZSL extends enormous thanks to Jo for her work leading the organisation after the departure of Dominic Jermey in June after five years at ZSL. 

Sir John finishes: “Matthew arrives at an exciting time at ZSL. We are changing the way we engage with audiences and setting ambitious targets to reverse species decline. Our focus on restoring ecosystems, protecting species, and working with communities will allow us to lead a journey of recovery for nature. In our Zoos we will connect more people with nature in shared spaces of wonder and unique centre of learning, advancing knowledge to better protect wildlife today while inspiring a lifelong love of animals in the conservationists of tomorrow.

“Families built new connections with nature during the pandemic and our growing membership reflects this; we now have more than 155,000 members, but there is still plenty to do to nurture this connection and translate it to change.”

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