Meet the Teams

Meet The Data Lab team

We are a group of people passionate about helping Scotland get the most value from data.

Brian Hills - Deputy CEO

Brian Hills

Chief Executive Officer of The Data Lab

Brian has 17 years experience in analytics and software engineering, across domains including Telecoms, IT and Digital. He joins the Data Lab from Skyscanner where he launched and grew the Business Intelligence team. Prior to Skyscanner, Brian held analytics and engineering roles with Sumerian and HP.


In addition to our core team at The Data Lab, we have several advisory boards:


Please get in touch if you want to find out more about us.

Leadership Team

Manolo Perez TDL

Manolo Perez

Head of Operations and Finance

Manolo is a qualified Chartered Accountant with over 12 years financial experience in the University Sector. He joined The Data Lab in January 2015 having previously worked at various departments within the University of Edinburgh.

Mark Wilkinson

Mark Wilkinson

Head of Business Development

Mark has more than 25 years’ experience in global data and analytics sector, he has managed business teams which include start-ups and established organisations; with an aim to support clients in achieving strategic business objectives by maximising value from data and analytics. Mark is focused on helping The Data Lab deliver their mission to maximise the value of data for Scotland. His role includes identifying future strategic funding opportunities from both public and private sector and spearheading collaborations with external partners across industry; public sector and academia.

Heather Thomson TDL

Heather Thomson

Head of Skills

Heather has 12 years experience in project and programme management roles, in both the public and private sector with extensive experience in the development and delivery of training.  Prior to joining The Data Lab, she managed a £5 million research programme at the University of Edinburgh with a strong focus on training and capacity building in data skills.

Business Development Team

Adam Turner

Business Development Executive

Adam is an experienced Commercial Development professional who joins The Data Lab from IBM where he was a specialist in the Watson Cognitive Platform, providing support to organisations embarking on their Artificial Intelligence transformation projects. Drawing on his experience, Adam’s focus will be assisting organisations through their data driven innovation projects.

Darran Gardner

Business Development Executive

Darran Gardner is an experienced business development manager and management consultant whose most recent role was with the Energy Technology Partnership, where he developed and managed a wide range of collaborative academia/industry projects focused on the energy sector. 

Cameron Gordon

Cameron Gordon

Business Development Executive

I graduated in 2018, with my fourth year dissertation being focused on practical research into advanced composite materials.  I joined IFB and got my first taste of the technology sector at Scotsoft 2018. I am now the Business Development lead for The Data Lab in Aberdeen. Responsible for supporting companies with their funding applications I hope to grow awareness of the Data Lab throughout Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire as a focus for Data Science across multiple industries.

Sandra Ripley

Sandra Ripley

Business Development Executive

Sandra believes strongly in the power of a good data strategy and supporting skill set in driving business success.  She is delighted to be part of the team at The Data Lab working with Scottish businesses to support growth of their data skills set.  She has extensive cross-industry experience working in business development and marketing roles.

Max Baczynski

Max Baczynski

Business Development Officer

Max joined The Data Lab in November 2021 to oversee the MSc Industrial Placements Programme and help connect business with emerging Data Science and AI talent. With over 6 years’ experience in the tech education space, he previously worked for the coding bootcamp Makers and built partnerships with companies from Deloitte to Deliveroo. Max will build on this experience to help scope out suitable short data science projects for organisations across Scotland.

Data Science Team

Joanna McKenzie

Principal Data Scientist

Joanna is a data scientist with ten years’ experience as an analyst and team leader in the energy and renewables sector. She has considerable experience performing analytics projects in a large organisation, working with stakeholders and experts to identify and deliver value-add opportunities. She also has experience in analytics software development using mySQL, Matlab, python and R amongst other tools. A particle physicist and qualified secondary school teacher, she has a particular interest in knowledge sharing and building expertise.

Anselma Dobson-McKittrick

Anselma Foxton

Data Scientist

Anselma has joined The Data Lab from Virgin Money, where she worked across the bank to provide valuable data insight, predictive analytics and data visualisation. Before this, Anselma worked in the Data Science team at Welsh Water focusing on Customer Strategy. Anselma has an academic background in Mathematics with an MSc in Operational Research and Applied Statistics. During her studies, she completed a placement year at the Office for National Statistics and an MSc dissertation with NHS Wales. 

Vyron Christodoulou

Data Scientist

Vyron is a data scientist with both academic and industry experience. He is interested in Machine Learning, Open Source Software, automation and Machine Learning and Operations (MLOps). He has joined The Data Lab from the British Geological Survey (BGS), where he worked with multiple groups and types of data, applying software engineering practices and ML methods to make publicly accessible and reproducible research and science. He holds an MSc and a PhD in Artificial Intelligence where he worked with satellite data in anomaly detection and data drift.

Project Managers

Malcolm Price TDL

Malcolm Price

Project Development Manager

Malcolm started his career as a software engineer before moving into project management. He has over 20 years managing technology development projects in various sectors. Malcolm is a great believer in collaboration and the ‘power of together’ to bring success.

Skills Team

Anna Scott TDL

Anna Scott

Programme Manager- Professional Development

Anna has worked in the higher education sector for more than 15 years in external relations roles. Anna joins The Data Lab from the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science , where she led on programmes of activity designed to connect doctoral research with policy and practice, working with the Scottish Government, Skills Development Scotland and others on the delivery of national industry-focused skills training initiatives.

Marian Dunbar

Marian Dunbar

Programme Manager - The Data Lab Academy

Marian has more than 20 years of experience as a University Administrator working with students and academics in a variety of roles. She joins The Data Lab from the Cyber Academy, Edinburgh Napier University, where she supported a range of training, education and dissemination activities on cyber security.

Cheryl Stewart

Doctoral Programme Lead

Cheryl joined The Data Lab in 2016 and now leads the Doctoral Programme which includes Industrial Doctorates and PhD Placements. Previously she has worked for the University of Edinburgh for over 10 years primarily in an HR capacity.


Jacqueline Huynh

Skills Administrator

Jacqueline has ten years of experience teaching abroad (South Korea, Uruguay, Spain). She has a passion for learning, innovation, and championing accessibility for marginal groups. Her recent work with library services (Edinburgh Council) and interest in coding has brought her to The Data Lab with ambitious goals. In her spare time, Jacqueline enjoys pottery, knitting, and gardening.


Hannah Gordon

Hannah Gordon

Project Manager

Hannah has worked in the education sector for a number of years, starting out originally in the arts before joining the public sector. She joins The Data Lab from British Council, where she got her first taste of working with data through monitoring and evaluating a multi-million pound foreign aid schools programme. She is a qualified Project Manager with extensive events management experience and loves planning things in general.

Nuria Fraile-Diaz

Nuria Fraile-Diaz

Product Manager for the
DDI Skills Gateway (Data Skills for Work)

Nuria has been working in the University of Edinburgh for the last 17 years and has a vast experience managing projects across different schools. Predominately related to Online Learning Environments and worked as coordinator for the University of Edinburgh MOOC team. In her last role, based in CSE, she interconnected learning technology tools to research projects, linking knowledge exchange among research and development teams.

Sonia Hadj Said

Sonia Hadj Said

Programme Administrator for the DDI Skills Gateway (Data Skills for Work) – Maternity Cover

Sonia has joined The Data Lab from a private equity firm where she worked across FOH, Events and Finance departments. She graduated from City, University of London with MA in International Journalism specialising in print publishing with focus on Humanitarian Reporting. Sonia is a passionate writer and spends her free time working on (always unfinished) books and poems.

Katie Grimmond

Katie Thomson

Programme Administrator for the
DDI Skills Gateway (Data Skills for Work)
- on maternity leave

Katie is an experienced administrator and joined us from the Clyde River Foundation where she carried out eco-education projects and river based fieldwork. She graduated from the University of Aberdeen with a first class MSci Biological Sciences, where her research focused on using models to explore cognition in a wild population of birds. 

Sara Orr-Saiz

Sara Orr-Saiz

Placement Programme Coordinator

Sara joined The Data Lab in October 2021 to oversee the MSc Industrial Placements Programme and help students develop their knowledge and expertise and build their confidence. She joins us from Equate Scotland where for seven years she supported and promoted women in STEM in Scotland, through their Student Network and training and consultancy. Sara has a background in education and gender and has worked in the third sector in four countries for over 15 years.

Craig Paterson​

Executive Education Advisor

Craig has 25 year of industry experience working in Utilities and Financial Services and specialises in Business, IT and Digital strategy development and execution. Craig is developing Executive Education for The Data Lab.

Scottish AI Alliance

Steph Wright

Steph Wright

Head of Scottish AI Alliance Support Circle

Steph is a data science enthusiast with specific experience of the healthcare domain. She has been extensively involved in developing and building collaborations across organisations as well as experience in project and programme management. Steph has a diverse background ranging from astrophysics to genomics in academia and film & TV to dance in the arts and the third sector. Recently Steph led on Data Lab’s efforts in support of the Scottish Government in developing Scotland’s AI Strategy and going forward will be working on delivering its vision for Scotland. She is also the Director of Health & Wellbeing Engagement as part of the Business Development team.

Dawn Hunter

Dawn Hunter

Project Manager

Dawn is a Project Manager with over a decade’s experience in managing a diverse range of digital, civic society, events and marketing projects. She is an accredited PRINCE2 Practitioner and APMG Agile Project Management Practitioner. Dawn holds an MSc with Distinction in Digital Marketing, where her research examined the effects of digitalisation of SMEs in Scotland. A lifelong AI enthusiast, Dawn believes that people should be at the centre of digital transformation and is an ardent believer in the power of AI for good.

Will Millership TDL

Will Millership

Communications & Events Manager

Will is a communications professional with over 8 years of experience with a number of organisations across different industries. He spent 4 years in Prague where he worked as Communications Manager for artificial intelligence research and development company GoodAI and was the Director of the $5 million General AI Challenge. With a background in Human Geography, Will is particularly interested in the ways in which AI  influences people, culture and society.

Katie Garden

Katie Garden

Administrative Support Officer

Katie is an experienced administrator who joins us as the Scottish AI Alliance Administrative Support Officer. She graduated from The University of Arts London with a first class BA in Costume Design for Theatre and Film.

Marketing Team

Alison Orr

Alison Orr

Marketing and Communications Manager

Alison has over sixteen years’ experience in marketing and communications, in both public and private sector roles. Prior to working at the Data Lab, Alison managed the marketing and communications at the Scotland 5G Centre. She has worked in a variety of sectors including innovation centres, higher education and tourism. As a marketing and communications expert, she is passionate about audience engagement, customer experience and developing relevant and engaging content.

Gordon J headshot

Gordon Johnstone

Head of DataFest

Gordon has almost a decade of experience working in marketing, PR and digital media and holds an MSc in Media and Communications and a BA in Politics and Sociology. He currently heads up DataFest, Scotland’s premier festival of data, AI and innovation. When he’s not at work he’s probably making music or coffee.

Sarah MacKenzie TDL

Sarah Mackenzie

Digital Platforms and Content Lead

Sarah is an experienced digital marketing professional with a focus on analytics and strategy development. She establishes and manages The Data Lab’s digital and content strategy across all digital channels. Outside of work, she runs her own travel blog and loves exploring the world.

Isabella Melking TDL

Isabella Melking

Communications and Marketing Officer

Isabella is a digital communications and engagement professional with almost a decade of experience in designing and implementing projects and activities to engage a variety of audiences. Prior to the Data Lab, Isabella coordinated research communications in the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences at the University of Edinburgh and delivered the communications and engagement strategy for the ESRC funded Understanding Inequalities project.

Sula Kirkpatrick

Sula Kirkpatrick

Marketing & Communications Assistant

Sula has joined us from NHS Healthcare Improvement Scotland, where she worked on social media accounts and graphic design before joining The Data Lab in 2021. Now working with the Marketing team, Sula manages TDL social media channels, updates our Community platform, and supports events.

Operations Team

Moira Stewart

Moira Stewart

Finance Administrator

Moira has a wealth of experience in the area of finance. Her last role was as a Finance Officer in Chemistry at the University. Her main experience comes from being a Secondary School Bursar for 26 years in a large Edinburgh Community school, and she is keen to develop important links with schools about Data Science.

Samantha Penn

PA & Office Manager

Sam has extensive experience in higher education administration, having previously worked for QMU, the University of Edinburgh & Edinburgh Napier University, in various PA, finance, HR & secretarial roles. She has supported both senior central services and academic staff and also students at all levels & managed a variety of events including workshops, conferences & seminars.

Kristina Mutch TDL

Kristina Mutch


 Kristina deals with drafting and negotiating contracts and providing legal advice in respect of all aspects of The Data Lab’s activities. Prior to joining The Data Lab, Kristina worked for a commercial law firm, providing specialist advice to a wide range of private, public and third sector clients.

HR Team

Amy Lippock

Amy Lippok

HR Coordinator

Amy is a HR professional with a strong background in Higher Education. Amy joined The Data Lab in 2021 from The University of Edinburgh after having worked with many HR Departments in various Schools and Colleges. Before joining The University of Edinburgh, Amy specialised in Compliance within the IT Recruitment sector.


Margery McConnell

Margery McConnell

Senior Solutions Architect

Margery’s experience spans many roles, from global and UK businesses to a scaling-up FinTech. A passionate Data evangelist, she recognises that for every business, real transformation depends on effectively combining the potential of advanced technology with the capabilities and enthusiasm of individuals. She brings this approach to her work with clients in both the TORCH Programme and Executive Education at the DataLab.

Iain Henderson

Senior Solutions Architect

Iain is an experienced solutions architect with in-depth experience in data management and use. He has worked in Financial Services, Utilities, Retail and Data Services in both enterprises and start-ups. His particular focus and specialism is CRM, Analytics, Privacy Management and Data Empowerment from the individual/ customer perspective.