The NLA team comprises a diverse skill set with a breadth of experience from in and beyond the Blue Economy. The founding directors Nick, Andy and Jonathan identified the skills, experience and behaviour that they knew would deliver the best solutions. We come from different sectors, disciplines and geographies but a few things bind us.
Scientists, operators, mariners, navigators, engineers, lawyers, accountants, designers, hydrographers, researchers, writers – all experts in their fields, all excited about what we do and who we do it for.
On a project by project basis we bring the right people together at every stage to ensure the greatest value is delivered.
A journalist, researcher and expert fundraiser, Andy is a storyteller who helps organisations to articulate their needs and aspirations so they can set about meeting them. He has a particular penchant for fundraising and has raised several million pounds for socially responsible projects and organisations.
Andy also leads innovative research projects exploring the emerging potential of digital and data tools for social impact. He applies rigorous foresight research to immediate organisational challenges to inspire teams to develop solutions fit for the future.
A master mariner and a committed proponent of the maritime users’ perspective, Rear Admiral Nick Lambert concluded a long naval operational career as the UK National Hydrographer in December 2012. Globally connected, Nick is a key thought leader on Blue Economy potential and tech innovation in associated domains.
He advises on a wide range of marine and maritime issues, including: the importance of spatial data infrastructures and hydrography for maritime economies; the evolution of eNavigation and GNSS vulnerability; near or real time situational awareness (especially from space based assets and applications), and maritime training and education for capacity building.
Jonathan is a creative problem solver and leader of organisational transformation. Jonathan is a Co-founding Director (with Andy and Nick) of NLA International. Driven by a shared passion for the natural world and by a recognition that sustainable environments enable cultural and economic development NLA International has become an established and trusted brand.
With a strong foundation in customer-focussed organisational design, transformation and performance Jonathan has a proven track recored of delivering measurable benefits, business growth and positive sustainable impacts. Drawing on his cross sector senior leadership experience Jonathan is an advocate of ‘evolution at pace’. He uses engagement and data to understand complex scenarios and to develop and implement solutions and services across marine and maritime domains.
A professional naval officer, master mariner and Category A hydrographer, Captain Gary Hesling concluded a successful 33-year career in the Royal Navy in the summer of 2019. He commanded the Royal Navy’s hydrographic ships in his final role as Hydrographer of the Navy, was head of branch for some 450 environmental and geospatial specialists and was a non-executive director on the UK Hydrographic Office Board.
Gary vigorously promotes the utility of advanced sensors, autonomous technologies and automated information systems to collect, collate, fuse, analyse and display marine and maritime data in game changing formats and services. He is also a passionate advocate of the natural marine environment, understanding that modern, accurate datasets underpin every facet of maritime operations to enhance environmental sustainability, safety, marine resource management, energy, tourism and trade across the burgeoning international blue economy. Gary is a Senior Visiting Fellow at the National Oceanography Centre and is qualified as an APAEWE Expert Witness.
An experienced senior executive officer and master mariner, Captain Al Wilson completed a 27-year career in the Royal Navy in February 2021. He has commanded four warships, contributing to peacekeeping and maritime operations worldwide, as well as employment in a broad range of senior management roles in national and NATO strategic headquarters. A specialist in water column acoustics and underwater operations, he has significant experience in the maritime domain, particularly in maritime situational awareness and risk, the integration of complex deployable systems, the development of emergent and disruptive technology, and the identification introduction of innovative capabilities. More broadly, he has overseen strategic policy and capability development, and is experienced in financial oversight and governance and NATO transformation.
Since leaving the Royal Navy, Al has deployed his knowledge of maritime operations and safety at sea to lead a number of client facing projects with NLA International. Delivering navigational risk assessments and working with innovators to apply emerging technologies to improve understanding of maritime traffic and human activity at sea.
Dr. Mercedes Rosello is an international law and policy expert with a specialism in fisheries management, the control of illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, and broader aspects of marine environment protection. Mercedes was awarded a PhD in public international law by the University of Hull in April 2019 – her doctoral thesis evaluated the effectiveness, legitimacy and legality of the IUU fishing regulatory paradigm in the context of high seas fisheries, and formulated a procedural accountability framework to ensure its reform and enhance the effectiveness of international fisheries law.
Mercedes has delivered numerous presentations on diverse marine fisheries regulation topics, and has authored several book chapters and academic papers in leading law and policy journals. She has a background as a researcher and project manager for public and private entities, as well as non-governmental organisations. She is frequently invited as a guest lecturer at Queen Mary University of London, where she has imparted several seminars and tutorials in international fisheries law, and in European Union and international environmental law.
In a naval career spanning thirty six years, Lee Hardy is an acknowledged and highly regarded maritime warfare specialist. Qualified as a watch keeper, to navigate out of sight of land and ultimately to command, his experience was gained in operational frontline and staff appointments at sea and further exploited ashore. In the training environment he led the training and qualification of bridge watch keeping officers, and authored the initial specification for Royal Navy compliance with STCW.
Subsequently he managed the development of capability requirements and procurement, ran specialist intelligence both in the UK and overseas, and exercised Command. He also led a UK Overseas Territory on behalf of the British Government. Upon retiring from the military in 2015 he was contracted by the Overseas Territories Directorate of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office as the Maritime Adviser which saw him define, source and deliver to the British Indian Ocean Territory an ocean going patrol vessel. He now advises widely on enforcement and surveillance matters in the maritime domain and is committed to countering the scourge of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing on the high seas.
A Chartered Engineer and Master of Business Administration, Mike has enjoyed a diverse naval career with a focus on acquisition management, ranging from initial programme definition through to project delivery and support. This has provided him with a broad range of skills and experience from securing maritime C4I through to planning, coordinating and delivering the military security force for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Sailing Venue.
In recent years, Mike has concentrated on how Science, Technology and Innovation can bring benefit to the maritime domain, exploring opportunities across a range of UK and European initiatives. Based on the Jurassic Coast, he is acutely aware of the impact humanity is having on our unique ocean environment and keen to safeguard its future for generations to come.
Alex is a marine ecologist who is interested in how biodiversity is distributed in the ocean, especially in the deep sea and on tropical coral reefs. He is also interested in human impacts on the ocean and how to manage human activities to mitigate or reduce degradation of marine ecosystems. His work has taken him to the Atlantic, Indian and Southern Oceans and to the Caribbean investigating coral reef ecosystems, seamounts and deep-sea hydrothermal vents. Alex has worked with governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations in publicising human impacts, especially those from deep-sea fishing and climate change, and on the development of policy solutions to such problems.
He is Scientific Director of REV Ocean a foundation aimed at finding solutions to problems affecting the ocean. Alex is also a Visiting Professor, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford.
With over 30 years’ experience in business administration and management, Shah has worked across a broad range of sectors from the steel industry to coaching and from healthcare to the Blue Economy. Shah has covered a diverse set of roles including purchasing and shipping, IT, training, HR and finance.
Shah is NLA International's Business Manager, drawing on her diverse experience and strong interpersonal skills to support the team in successful operational delivery.
Phil is a master mariner with comprehensive maritime experience including Royal Navy sea command. He has proven leadership experience in port marine operations in government, municipal, trust and commercial ports. He has also worked in government policy, fleet capability management, and training. He advises on a wide range of strategic maritime issues including the growing potential of spatial data for maritime economies, the evolution of eNavigation and GNSS vulnerability, maritime connectivity and human factors, training and education in the maritime sector. He has a particular interest in decarbonisation and digitalisation of the maritime sector including the growth of marine autonomous systems and port and vessel efficiency projects.
Belinda is an independent consultant working on SDG14: Life Below Water, with particular focus on building the enabling conditions for enduring marine protection and sustained nature-based solutions within the Blue Economy. Belinda is an environmentally focused chartered accountant with experience developing and leading programmes and projects, having served as Head of Impact for Nekton Foundation and CFO for the Global Canopy Programme. Conducting research and analysis, synthesising and sharing knowledge, and connecting people and initiatives are her strong suits.
Belinda is an associate of NLA International; an advisor to Blue Green Future LLC, thought leaders in valuing natural capital and designing tools and policies to secure a future that is both environmentally and economically sustainable; and a trustee of Postcode Planet, Earth and Green Trusts.
For over two decades Chris has worked on developing and bringing to market software and digital solutions for maritime industries. He has a broad knowledge of different maritime segments having worked in the leisure, workboat, fishing, cruise, shipping and military sectors.
Throughout his career, he has gained experience in software development, user interface design, product management, marketing, business development, product management and bringing new innovative technology products to market.
Chris is passionate about the sea and the use of new technologies to afford maritime businesses greater opportunities to grow, offer stronger value propositions and become more efficient.
Bianca Ulan is an expert in market research with a strong background in quantitative and qualitative studies. With a degree in Applied Mathematics and an ongoing Masters of Business Administration, Bianca has extensive experience in researching various verticals, including the Blue Economy, FMCG, and technology industries such as FinTech, HealthTech and more.
Bianca's passion lies in using her research skills to support socially responsible projects and businesses that align with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. With her dedication and enthusiasm, Bianca is a catalyst for change in the business world, encouraging companies to prioritize social impact alongside profitability.
After graduating in physics at Imperial College London, Kevin joined the Royal Navy as a maritime aviator. He operated helicopters from warships deployed in many of the world’s seas and oceans and has extensive experience as a flying instructor. In the UK Ministry of Defence, he audited Defence capabilities and advised the Defence Chiefs on strategic and operational lessons from UK military operations. In the UK Defence Academy, he developed Naval and Military officers’ skills in leadership, contextual analysis, critical thinking, and evidence-based decision making. To end over three decades of Service, Kevin was UK Defence Attaché to Brazil. His excellent diplomatic and linguistic skills, saw him successfully advance the UK-Brazil relationship in this uniquely challenging and beautiful country. Throughout his career he led people in many challenging contexts and at many different levels.
Kevin is a Maritime Situational Awareness & International Engagement expert. Passionate about safeguarding the seas and oceans, he engages worldwide, concentrating on using data to increase understanding, to enable the development of Blue Economies. He focuses on the benefits of fused any-source data, to better understand the marine space, allowing better policy decisions, leading to coherent and sustainable use whilst delivering maximum socio-economic benefit. He is a Visiting Senior Research Fellow at King’s College London, in both the Corbett Centre for Maritime Policy Studies and the King’s Brazil Institute.
Dr Kieran Bjergstrom is an expert in strategic technology transformation, especially of the Blue Economy, marine and maritime sectors. With a background in quantum technologies and a PhD in Quantum System Engineering he has developed principles and approaches for low technology readiness level (TRL) technology development and maturation, bridging "valley-of-death issues", and managing the risk of cutting-edge technology adoption.
He has worked nationally and internationally with governments, large business, defence, investors and technologists to inform and guide strategic decision making, investment and analysis. Amongst a wide variety of technologies he has worked on, Kieran retains a keen personal interest in Quantum Technologies, resilient Position, Navigation and Timing (PNT) and large-scale artificial intelligence and machine learning systems for situational awareness and governance, especially of the oceans.
David is an Emmy and Bafta award winning cinematographer who pioneered aerial filming of marine wildlife for the Attenborough series Planet Earth, Life, and Frozen Planet. His experience in this field led him to develop the technology for scientific wildlife surveying for the offshore renewable industry. The company he founded, HiDef Surveying, is now one of the two principal providers of such aerial services. Since he left HiDef he has been working with colleagues in NLA International and RVL-Aviation to develop a more advanced technology based on radar which can be employed irrespective of daylight or cloud cover.
He continues to work as a cinematographer with a particular specialism in maritime locations involving stabilised cameras on vessels. He has filmed on the British Antarctic Survey’s ships, the RRS "Ernest Shackleton" and the RRS "Sir David Attenborough", as well as on naval vessels of the Royal Navy, the Royal Norwegian Navy and the Norwegian Coastguard. His specialised skills have recently been employed to assist the development of aerial spraying approaches for the dispersant of maritime oil slicks.
Jess is a marine social scientist who is interested in the management and governance of oceans and marine resources, especially in promoting and achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in coastal communities. She has a keen interest in ocean literacy and furthering understanding about marine ecosystems.
Qualified as marine mammal observer, Jess has a deep-seated passion for marine wildlife and has worked with industry and research partners in documenting and reporting the abundance of cetaceans in Ireland and the Azores. Her sense of curiosity and her enthusiasm for marine science enabled her to travel the world conducting research in Portugal, the United States, Norway, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, and Scotland. These experiences have moulded her approach to delivering practicable and innovative solutions to complex issues through design thinking and using creative processes in the development and communication of the findings.
Jess has managed the EU Interreg-funded project ProtoAtlantic collaborating with industry partners, academia, and policymakers on developing Blue Economy strategies; and the EU Interreg-funded project COAST focusing on future challenges and development in coastal areas. She is a PhD Scholar at University College Cork.
Guled sits on the advisory board at several companies in the UK & Africa and chairs an advisory board, formed of a range of political, private, public sector and vertical sector individuals all of whom have expertise in emerging markets.
He has a decade of experience in leading the trade and investment promotion & facilitation firm Guul Group (GG). Guled has established a growing network of investors, experts, leaders, and innovators across diverse sectors from the UK, Middle East, and Africa. He has a track record of raising investment capital. Guled has provided consulting to a UK fisheries PLC and project managed a large hospitality and tourism business with over 200 international executive clientele including Ministers, Ambassadors, as well as Head of Missions from the UK, USA, UN, EU, IGAD and World Bank/IFC.
Guled's work is recognised by the Department for Business and Trade, he has organised many trade and investment summits, bridging the trade and investment gap between British businesses and opportunities in Africa. A Blue Economy roundtable was delivered with DMA and NLAI on baseline assessment prospects in the Horn of Africa. Guled played a notable role in the inaugural UK-Francophone West and Central Africa Trade and Investment Forum; a major intergovernmental and private sector summit convened by DMA, DIT and UKEF, which had led to signed investments deals in excess of £170million into Benin and Togo.
Carl is a gifted designer, artist and creative brand expert, with the ability to capture an organisation’s ‘brand truth’ in visual form. With a career spanning more than 25 years, he has developed powerful brands for large and small companies, including Adidas, Virgin, Lockheed Martin, Esso, Crewsaver, Powergen and The University of Surrey.
He has also led design projects for blue chip ad agencies like McCanns, Saatchis, Publicis, CDP and more. Carl studied design and illustration at St Martin’s School of Art in London.
His work with NLA International has seen him rebrand a number of Blue Economy businesses. Carl is also the curator of NLAI's own brand design.
Atam has a deep and practical understanding of international trade and investment having worked in the field for over 15 years. He has designed and run many ground-breaking investment fora for over 50 countries and has a unique understanding of the investment process from the perspective of government, donors and business.
Atam is a keen advocate of Blue Economies, recognising the increasing importance of ocean assets and the role they play in the sustainable prosperity of nations.
Among a number of honorary positions, Atam regularly advises governments around the globe on trade and investment. Atam is a Knight of the Order of Merit of Niger and is General Secretary of the UK-Nepal Trade and Investment Forum.
An experienced commercial lawyer with over 20 years’ experience at international Magic Circle firms and major global financial institutions, such as UBS, Barclays and HSBC, Victoria has a track record of advising international projects on commercial frameworks, sustainable investment initiatives, corporate governance as well as managing legal and regulatory risk.
Victoria is a keen sailor with private involvement in marine wildlife conservation projects, she combines her legal expertise with a passion for driving change to promote ethical and sustainable commercial practices in the marine environment.
Following a PhD in Earth observation, Richard’s career centred on the use of sensor data for operational needs with a particular emphasis on the state of the marine environment; notably during his roles as the national data manager for the England and Wales Environment Agency and the head of applications market development for the British National Space Centre (now UK Space).
Richard is an ardent environmentalist committed to monitoring, understanding, sustaining and regenerating the marine environment with a track record of many projects where multi-source data streams were tamed, fused and transformed into operationally valuable information. Such projects include the specification, development and implementation of user driven systems and services, for example the glass cockpit of the RNLI Shannon class lifeboats and the use of augmented reality in bridge navigation systems.
After a full career in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, including command across most classes of Naval Support Vessels, Commodore Duncan Lamb retired as Head of Service in 2020. In this role, he was responsible for the safe delivery of operations for 13 ships operating worldwide, the recruitment, training and management of circa 2000 civilian mariners and the strategic direction of the RFA within the Royal Navy. He was the Senior Responsible owner for the offshore build programme for four Fleet Replenishment Tankers, brought into service between 2017 and 2019.
A graduate of Advanced Command and Staff Course and the UK Government’s Major Projects Leadership Academy run through Oxford University, he is now a Warden of the Honourable Company of Master Mariners and runs their Chartered Master Mariner programme. Well-connected, he retains a keen interest in maritime affairs, military and civilian.
Lauren is an experienced government affairs professional, with a strong background in both public and private sector communications. She advises governments on matters relating to public policy development, government and diplomatic affairs, and communications. Lauren is a regular commentator on UK national and regional media on matters relating to foreign policy and devolution.
Lauren has a particular interest in Large Ocean Nations (sometimes referred to as small island developing states). Her strong background in economic development and blue economy public policy has been successfully applied in the Caribbean and East African regions. She has also worked with the government of a British Overseas Territory, as well as multiple blue-chip and multinational corporations.
Lauren has been a consultant to the Kenyan Government on a nation-brand campaign, where she provided public sector management consultancy to relevant government agencies, to undertake informal diplomatic engagement with the diplomatic community in Nairobi on matters relating to travel advice and security concerns, and to provide general strategic advice on government affairs and communications activity.
Lauren was a Special Adviser to the UK Government in the coalition administration, in the Wales Office, where she was also a member of the departmental strategy board. She is also a member of the Advisory Board of the Developing Markets Associates and an Associate at NLAI.
With a background in Maritime Studies and serving as a Naval Officer, Mustapha has over 40 years of experience in the maritime world. He has built an impressive track record over the years – from Sea Captain, Shipping Management Expert, to serving as the advisor to the Minister of Equipment and Transportation of Morocco.
Mustapha’s passion for the maritime world began at a very early age, and he continues to be fully invested in promoting sustainability within the maritime sector. He is the founder of ABEC – Africa’s Blue Economy Consortium which promotes sustainable development of the Blue Economy sectors in African countries. He is also the founder and CEO of InCoRe, an international Consulting & Relations firm.
David is a highly experienced programme leader and naval engineer. He has led programmes across a range of maritime engineering disciplines, with a focus on technology development and deployment, understanding and integrating complex systems, and connectivity and digital transformation. Naturally collaborative, he seeks opportunities to integrate across broad factors and organisations to learn, share ideas and create an environment where everyone can flourish.
David has recently completed Postgraduate Study with the Open University in Environmental Decision Making and has an increasing interest in environmental sustainability and social value; positively joining the dots across social, economic and environmental factors. His focus now is to build on his 35 years of systems, integration and engineering experience through work on complex environmental opportunities and challenges in the Blue Economy. He is passionate about people and the natural environment, engaging diverse communities and young people from all backgrounds to positively impact lives and well-being.
Andy was a naval officer for over 24 years. The majority of his career as a Hydrographic, Meteorology & Oceanographic (HM) specialist. His last HM job being Commanding Officer of the Fleet HM Unit, leading a team of specialists that provided Tactical Exploitation of the Environment to the Armed Forces.
Having studied Environmental Impact Assessments for his degree dissertation, it followed that he would end up working in an arena that acknowledged the importance of earth sciences to all human activity. He continues to contribute to this field through his work with NLA International.
An experienced senior strategist, technical leader, Chartered Engineer, board member and business professional. Andy has delivered real success in growing and advising businesses, innovating products and services, development programme oversight and assurance, new market entries and understanding the power of connecting people and businesses together to deliver success.
Specific technical expertise in space-based and non-space-based position navigation and timing systems, and satellite communications technology. Andy is a former naval communications and surveillance engineer, UK government technology investor, former Technical Director of the UK Space Agency, and PNT technical lead across the UK Government for the Cabinet Office. He also has 15+ years working in industry. A Fellow and Trustee of the Royal Institute of Navigation (FRIN), and Fellow of the Institute of Engineering and Technology (FIET).
Former Royal Engineer and Army diver, with a degree in Marine Biology and Oceanography, David has created and implemented successful transformation programmes across a range of UK and international industries from FMCG to Aerospace & Defence. By identifying critical business requirements and transforming these into tangible business goals David has motivated teams to significantly improve customer satisfaction and commercial return.
A proven innovator and Continuous Improvement champion, David has mapped and transformed business processes, exploiting investments in IT and technology transfer to increase company productivity, resilience and profit.
After completing an MBA at Imperial College David led multiple business investment and growth programmes for the supply of goods and services by listed and SME organisations in Europe, the Middle East, and South Africa.
Alarmed by the damage caused to marine ecosystems by extreme weather events and aggressive fishing, David invented SeaHives. He has successfully launched this business, placing his innovative technology in sites around the world enabling coastal communities to increase the diversity and density of marine life in their local marine environment.
With a Geospatial Intelligence and GIS Solutions background of over 30 years Paul’s technical and business experience has taken him around the UK and Internationally (including, Arab Nations, Asia, Europe and Latin America). Paul provides advice to governments and businesses enabling them to leverage geospatial technologies and data-driven solutions (e.g., fields of earth observation, remote sensing, GIS, mapping and geospatial intelligence, data analysis and visualisation) for strategic and operational impact.
Paul applies these skills and experience in the Blue Economy through Hydrographic Survey and Data Production, Marine Spatial Data Infrastructure and Maritime Situational Awareness and Intelligence for Maritime Security, Counter Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (IUUF), Fleet and Port Infrastructure and Operations, Marine Pollution, Environmental Management, and Climate Change.
Mark McCrea joined the Royal Naval Reserve as a communications specialist in 1999 before transferring to the Royal Navy in 2003 as a Marine Engineer Officer. During this time, Mark served as an engineering officer on Frigates, a Destroyer and an Aircraft Carrier. He has taken two Type 23 Frigates out of extended refit periods, through trials and back to operations. He was maintenance manager and a docking officer for the nuclear docking facility at HM Naval Base Clyde. Mark later had two roles on the Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carriers; first being Hull and Aviation systems officer for HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH where he developed standard and emergency operating procedures, second being an acceptance assurance officer with the Maritime Capability, Trials and Assessment team where he worked on assuring the acceptance of compartments and systems.
Mark achieved Chartered Engineer Status with the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology and the Engineering Council in July 2017.
Having retired from the Royal Navy in 2019, Mark transferred back into the Royal Naval Reserve and now provides part-time support to Royal Navy engineering. He has also established himself as a Marine Surveyor specialising in commercial and leisure vessels under 24m.