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Home > News and views > The ESU welcomes Charles Byrne as new Director-General/CEO

The ESU welcomes Charles Byrne as new Director-General/CEO

Charles Byrne ESU CEO


The English-Speaking Union has appointed Charles Byrne, former Director General at the Royal British Legion, as its Director-General/Chief Executive Officer following an extensive search process. Charles, who stepped down from the RBL last November after 10 years at the charity, takes up his role at the ESU in March.

Charles brings with him a wealth of experience and commercial acumen developed over a uniquely broad career, encompassing retail and sponsorship roles at BAA, partnerships and events roles at Macmillan Cancer Support as well as fundraising and CEO roles at the British Legion. In this latter role, he reshaped and set a new strategic purpose for this nationally significant institution, driving changes across its governance, services, and culture.

As Director-General/CEO of the ESU, Charles will lead the membership organisation to continue bringing together a community that values the power of shared language and global friendship. He will also drive its continued growth to support young people to build the speaking and listening skills they need to thrive.

Miles Young, Chair of the ESU, said:

‘We look forward to welcoming Charles to the ESU. His strategic thinking and experience of working in complex organisations which need to be commercially sustainable while expanding their impact will be invaluable in this role. The interviewing board was impressed by Charles’ strong leadership and ability to deliver transformative change, as well as his clear commitment to oracy and its importance in the world today.’

Charles Byrne, incoming Director-General/CEO of the ESU, said:

‘I am absolutely delighted to be joining the English-Speaking Union. The ESU is one of those rare organisations which has huge potential to make a positive difference for people and communities across the world as we seek better answers to today’s global challenges. The English language can be a powerful, shared tool for building strong relationships between people and nations, and the skills of listening and constructive debate have never been more needed.’

‘Oracy has been a passion and a valuable skill developed throughout my life. I am so pleased to be able to bring my experience, those skills and that passion to the ESU as we deliver on that extraordinary opportunity to generate a positive impact for people and nations across our world.’

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