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Sir Harpal Kumar to leave Cancer Research UK next year

Sir Harpal Kumar to leave Cancer Research UK next year

Sir Harpal Kumar, Chief Executive of Cancer Research UK, has announced that he will be stepping down from the role in the spring of 2018.

He said that all organisations benefited from a fresh leadership every now and again.

Kumar, who joined CRUK 15 years ago and who has served as Chief Executive since 2007, has overseen substantial income growth and research investment at the charity.  

In addition he led the Independent NHS Cancer Taskforce for England and Cancer Research UK’s contribution to the development of the Francis Crick Institute in London.

He was CEO during the successful #Nomakeupselfie campaign when the charity’s staff astutely spotted the opportunity and helped guide participants to make donations to the charity. Sir Harpal thanked all of those who took part with his own selfie, highlighting the £8 million raised in six days.

Sir Harpal Kumar thanks donors for £8m raised in #nomakeupselfie campaign

Harpal Kumar says thank you for the £8m raised by the #nomakeupselfie campaign in March 2014.

Sir Harpal received a knighthood in the 2016 New Year’s Honours in recognition for his work in the fight against cancer.

He gained a Masters in Chemical Engineering from the University of Cambridge and an MBA as a Baker Scholar from Harvard Business School. He worked for the Atomic Energy Authority, McKinsey and Co, and was CEO of The Papworth Trust.

On announcing that he was to leave the charity, he said: “My passion and excitement for Cancer Research UK’s work is as high as it has ever been. But I have always believed that organisations benefit from refreshed leadership every so often and Cancer Research UK is no exception. Our progress is accelerating, and patients and the public are realising the benefit of our work in ever greater numbers.

“I am deeply grateful to every volunteer, scientist, member of staff and supporter for the outstanding contributions they have made since I’ve been Chief Executive. I look forward to using my remaining time with the organisation to continue to advance our critically important mission.”

Sir Harpal was clearly persuaded to stay on a little longer while the charity searched for his successor.

Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, Chairman of Cancer Research UK, thanked Sir Harpal for his “tremendous contribution” to the work of the charity. 

He added: “I am delighted that Harpal has agreed to stay on until the spring and we have commenced a search for his replacement.  We anticipate being able to make an appointment to coincide with Harpal’s departure and plan for a smooth transfer.”


Howard Lake is a digital fundraising entrepreneur. Publisher of UK Fundraising, the world's first web resource for professional fundraisers, since 1994. Trainer and consultant in digital fundraising. Founder of Fundraising Camp and co-founder of Research massive growth in giving.

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