A Big Announcement: We have a New Executive Director

Dr. Gavin Hayman · May 2019

I’ve big news for everyone, everywhere working on ending impunity and financial crime.

Over the past two months, I’ve been leading the search for an awesome Executive Director for Open Ownership to take the organisation’s work to the next level of global scale and impact. This big news is that we’ve found someone amazing…

After an extensive search and grilling several amazing candidates, we selected someone superb: no less than Thom Townsend. We are delighted to be stealing him from under the nose of the British Government where he led on open government and digital innovation in the Cabinet Office, Government Digital Service and most recently, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Pretty cool, right!

As Thom explains, “I’m thrilled to be joining the amazing team at OpenOwnership. It’s more critical now than ever before that we end the abuse of anonymous companies and build the right data and data architecture to make accurate, reusable information about the true owners of companies available around the world.

While our mission isn’t a panacea for ending corruption, as part of a broader transparency movement, it’s a critical step towards creating a world with greater trust between companies, governments and citizens, where businesses are efficient, serve a public good and operate on a more level playing field.”

Thom is an excellent fit for the organisation’s fast-moving culture and for our ambitions to change the world: he’s a dynamic leader with an entrepreneurial approach and has deep expertise on data, policy and politics. As the COO of a start-up in a past life, he’s used to being agile and thinking how to scale. In short, he encapsulates the ambition and the smarts required to lead OO to our next level of scale and impact and to drive change at the highest levels of national and international government.

He was also a death metal fan but weren’t we all (those of you above a certain age!). If you ask him nicely, he might show you a striking picture of him as a rock god.

He officially joins OpenOwnership on 17th June but his first outing for OO will be at the OGP Summit in Ottawa at the end of the month. This is perfect timing as we partner with the UK Government which will announce the launch of the Beneficial Ownership Leadership Group.

The group brings together vanguard countries that will both drive a global policy shift towards free, open source publicly accessible beneficial ownership data for companies, and set ambitious international best practice on beneficial ownership transparency. A report from Global Witness last week shows that the battle on this issue is far from won and that we need to jump from laws to data to enforcement to create real change.

I’d also like to thank the fabulous Zosia Sztykowski who’s driven OO forwards from the start as our Project Lead and who worked so closely with me and the Steering Committee in selecting Thom. Zosia is now becoming OO’s Head of Policy to help drive that change in global norms.

So, awesome job Zosia and congratulations to Thom. We can’t wait to see them hit the ground running and drive company ownership out of the shadows and into the light.


Dr. Gavin Hayman is the Executive Director of the Open Contracting Partnership and Chair of the OpenOwnership’s Steering Group.

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