Jonathan Kestenbaum, Baron Kestenbaum
Jonathan Andrew Kestenbaum, Baron Kestenbaum (born 5 August 1959) is the Chief Operating Officer of RIT Capital Partners plc. He is also Chairman of Five Arrows Ltd - and a member of the House of Lords. He is a former Chief Executive of the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA). In December 2013, Kestenbaum was also installed as the Chancellor of the University of Plymouth.
Early life and education
Jonathan Kestenbaum was born on 5 August 1959 in Tokyo, Japan, the second child of Ralph Kestenbaum and Gaby Goldblatt (née Schwalbe), who were descendants of Ashkenazi Jewish families. Both his parents' families fled Nazi Germany – first to the United States, then Japan. The family moved to the UK in 1964 when he was five years old.
Kestenbaum graduated from the London School of Economics where he read Economics and Anthropology and then pursued postgraduate study at Cambridge University in the Department of Anthropology. He then completed an MA in Education at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He was subsequently awarded a research scholarship in Education at the Hebrew University. Whilst in Jerusalem he was conscripted to the Israel Defense Forces. On his return to the UK, Kestenbaum earned an MBA with distinction from the Cass Business School. He is a graduate of the Cabinet Office Top Management Programme and is a graduate of the Strategic Agility Programme at Harvard Business School. He has an Honorary Doctorate in Technology from The University of Plymouth and is an Honorary Fellow of The Royal College of Art.
Before becoming active in business, he started his career in education, building an international training programme for young educators.
Subsequently, Kestenbaum was Chief Executive of the Office of the Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks and then Chief Executive of the United Jewish Israel Appeal (UJIA), where he was responsible for initiating an extensive round of staff cuts. Following a restructure which involved a merger with another UK charity, the UJIA won the National Charity Award. in 2001. He has also worked as Chief of Staff to Sir Ronald Cohen, the Chairman of Apax Partners and was founding Chief Executive of The Portland Trust.
In 2005 he became Chief Executive of the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA). Whilst at NESTA he highlighted the importance of innovation to economic growth and was an advocate for UK technology start-ups.
Kestenbaum has served in a number of non-executive roles. He was on the Board of the Design Council and Enterprise Insight, and was Non-Executive Chairman of Quest, a large accounting business. He was a Commissioner of the Manchester Independent Economic Review and also Chairman of the City of Manchester Science Review. He has recently completed his term of office on the Innovation Advisory Group at Imperial College and is now Adjunct Professor at the Imperial College Business School.
He sits on the Board of The Royal Shakespeare Company and Profero, a digital marketing company. In January 2014 Profero was sold to Lowe, a subsidiary of Interpublic Group (IPG). He is also on the Governing Body of the Technology Strategy Board.
House of Lords
Kestenbaum was created a life peer on 24 January 2011 as Baron Kestenbaum of Foxcote in the County of Somerset. He was introduced in the House of Lords on 26 January 2011, and sits on the Labour benches.
- The London Gazette: . 27 January 2011.
- House of Lords Minute of Proceedings for Wednesday, 26 January 2011