The BBC has appointed its first woman finance director in the latest senior management change following a raft of departures and executive upheavals.

Zarin Patel, a former KPMG accountant and the BBC's head of revenue management, is to succeed John Smith as finance director in charge of the group's annual ?4bn operating expenditure.

Mr Smith was promoted to chief operating officer in a shake-up this summer orchestrated by Mark Thompson, the former Channel 4 chief executive who replaced Greg Dyke as director-general following publication of the Hutton report.

Of the 16 executives who previously reported to Mr Dyke, six have either left the corporation or moved to new roles since his departure.

The changes coincide with the BBC's bid for a new 10-year royal charter, in which the broadcaster has pledged to restate its public service values and review its commercial operations.

The BBC board of governors has also undergone a shake-up following the arrival of Michael Grade as chairman.

Mr Grade, who replaced Gavyn Davies in the wake of Lord Hutton's damning verdict on BBC management and governance procedures, this week vowed to increase transparency and independence of the governors.

His comments, to a Commons select committee, coincided with news that Dame Pauline Neville-Jones, the former diplomat and chair of the joint intelligence committee, would resign as a governor at the end of this year 12 months earlier than expected.

Dame Pauline is one of four governors to stand down this year, the others being Mr Davies, Lord Ryder, the former Tory chief whip, and Baroness Hogg. Sir Robert Smith, the governor for Scotland, is also standing down at the end of the year.

Mr Grade, a former chairman of Camelot and director of programmes at LWT, told the Commons culture committee: ?All the reforms we are implementing are designed to bring in independent evidential support to enable governors to make judgments about what management are proposing.?

At the executive level, the BBC has appointed headhunters to find a successor to Andy Duncan, who quit as marketing director to become chief executive of Channel 4. But Rupert Gavin, who this month resigned as chief executive of BBC Worldwide, might not be replaced following a possible break-up of the division. Roger Flynn, who left in March as head of BBC Ventures, the technology and services arm, has also not been replaced.

A former director, who declined to be named, said: ?The people who have left were all outsiders. It's a retrenchment of the old BBC.?

The BBC said Ms Patel, its latest appointment, would lead financial strategy, planning and corporate reporting under the new management regime.

Mr Smith, her predecessor, said: ?I believe she will make a vital contribution in this new post.?

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