Habibunnisha Patel

Cancer Research UK

In her first full calendar at Cancer Research, Habibunnisha Patel has achieved an enormous amount. Last year was all about strategic transformation with a laser-sharp focus on beating cancer. For Patel, that meant building a team and a structure that would enable decisions to be made responsibly, and always trying to maximise the value of every penny. Patel’s remit at Cancer Research is wide, encompassing legal, governance and company secretariat, risk, assurance, and ESG/sustainability. To some, a remit involving that many of a business’s most vital functions would seem daunting but the panoramic view, Patel insists, is what enables her to knit everything together and find the best ways of improving the charity’s crucial endeavours.

This year, Cancer Research is taking two big steps forward. Patel is playing a key role in work in sustainability – and refreshing its equality, diversity and inclusion strategy. To do that, she will need help from across the sector. Her entire team numbers around 45, but a core legal team of 10 means the charity’s external counsel remain pivotal in its success. Expect more transformation and on an even grander scale from Patel and her team as the passion to defeat cancer remains core to all of her guiding principles.