Our Central Team

Mark Hamblett, CEO

Mark Hamblett, Chief Executive Officer

Mark started his teaching career in 2002.  Originally from Bolton, Mark began teaching in rural Cumbria.  He has taught in schools throughout Cumbria and Lancashire, before becoming Deputy Headteacher & SENCo at Bolton-le-Sands CE School in 2009.  Mark took up post as Headteacher of Kirkland & Catterall St. Helen’s, Garstang in 2012 and remained in post for three years before moving to a two-form entry school in Bolton in 2015.  Throughout these two headships, Mark also inspected schools under Section 48 (SIAMS) on behalf of  the Church of England throughout the Blackburn Diocese.  Mark was appointed as Headteacher of Waterloo Primary Academy, Blackpool and CEO of Zest Academy Trust in 2017.  In September 2022, Mark took up the position of CEO on a full-time basis.

Mark is also the Vice Chair of Governors at Bay Leadership Academy (11-16), Morecambe and is the Chair of Governors (Foundation appointed) at St. Patrick’s CofE Primary School, Kendal.

Outside of the world of education, Mark is an ordained Elder and worship leader at Kendal United Reformed Church where he is an active member.  He preaches regularly at Kendal URC and in other URCs around Lancashire and Cumbria and is Kendal URCs coordinator of the Open Table Network.

Nicola Lea, COO

Nicola Lea, Chief Operations Officer

Nicola was a civil servant with over 20 years’ experience before moving into the education sector.  Nicola joined Waterloo in 2012, working initially as part of the admin team.  She completed the Level 4 Diploma in School Business Management and it was whilst completing this, that it became apparent she wanted to develop her knowledge and expertise in HR.  She successfully brought the HR function in-house, providing a professional yet personal service for all current and potential employees.  By working closely with other academies, listening to their needs and developing positive relationships, she was then able to offer an SLA to other schools.  Nicola has visited a number of schools on an advisory/consultancy basis, offering ways to improve their current processes and procedures and carrying out HR audits.

In November 2019, Nicola was promoted to Chief Operating Officer and is continually working alongside the CEO and CFO to develop the operations area within the Trust.  Further to this, Nicola is currently undertaking a year-long executive leadership programme.

Nicola is committed to adding value through delivering a professional HR and Payroll function along with the central team, with the aim of supporting the Trust to continually improve outcomes for all pupils and ensuring Zest remains an employer of choice.

Kelly Salisbury, CFO

Kelly Salisbury, Chief Finance Officer

Kelly Salisbury, CFO

Natasha White, Head of Governance