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Department of Management

 Nicky Cunningham

Nicky Cunningham

Senior Lecturer


 Streatham Court 64


Streatham Court, University of Exeter, Rennes Drive, Exeter, EX4 4PU, UK


Nicky is a Senior Lecturer on our executive education programmes. She works closely with our business clients to develop new programmes and teaches sustainability-focussed modules, particularly those relating to water management.

Nicky’s background is in water and environmental management. Before joining the university in 2018 she worked at the Environment Agency in both local operational and national policy roles, most recently as Deputy Director for Waste Regulation. In these roles she worked with government, industry and NGOs to develop and implement new approaches to environmental protection, cementing her belief that cross-sector collaboration is vital if we are to tackle the challenges posed by climate change, demands on our natural resources and water scarcity. During this time she started her teaching career at the University of Bristol, as a Senior Associate Teacher on the Water and Environmental Management MSc programme.

Nicky joined the University of Exeter in 2018 as Programme Manager for the new Centre for Resilience in Environment, Water and Waste (CREWW), securing funding for this new research centre and establishing a new, strategic research partnership between the university and South West Water. She has established multiple, transdisciplinary research partnerships with local authorities and water companies across the country, looking at innovative, whole-system ways to manage water resources.

Nicky is a strategic advisor on the UKRI-funded Circular Economy Hub and leads policy-focussed activities and the cross-government Policy Cluster.  


BSc Oceanography with Chemistry (University of Southampton)

MSc Environmental Toxicology and Pollution Monitoring (University of Ulster)


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Research interests

  • Applying systems-level approaches, including the circular economy, to water and waste management
  • The barriers to cross-organisational collaboration on water management, and how to overcome these.

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External Engagement and Impact

External positions

  • Board Member of the Chartered Institution of Water and Environment Management (CIWEM)
  • Co-Director of the PraxisAuril Developing Strategic Partnerships programme.

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Nicky works with our business clients to develop bespoke executive education programmes. She teaches sustainability-focussed modules, with specific expertise in water management. Her teaching aims to convey the significance of the environmental emergencies we face, and helps organisations to understand the practical steps that they can take to become part of the solution.

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