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Meet The Team

SAJ HUQ

DIRECTOR, LORCA 

Saj leads cyber innovation at Plexal and is the director of LORCA.

His work at LORCA involves facilitating collaboration between startups, scaleups, government, academia and a cross-section of industry to understand their needs now and in the future. 

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Before joining Plexal, he spent a number of years as a management consultant at Deloitte and PwC. He then moved into industry, leading strategic change at a PE-backed property finance firm where he helped them operationally scale towards achieving a UK banking license, prepare for the incoming GDPR and improve their cyber and operational resilience.

Saj started his career in the Royal Air Force, where he was a commissioned officer and pilot.

Outside of work, he’s a keen runner (most frequently after his two young children, but also of the marathon variety too).

TRACEY BEDFORD

EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT, LORCA

Tracey is the team’s executive assistant and is responsible for secretariat support to the Industry Advisory Board, the Innovation Forum and the Finance Forum.

Tracey has over 20 years’ administrative experience across multiple industries and loves being inspired by our cohort members.

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She also acts as the main point of contact for internal and external stakeholders, books meetings and conferences, conducts research, provides administrative support and handles just about everything else necessary to support our work.

Kush Puri

KUSH PURI

INNOVATION LEAD, CYBER

Kush leads cyber innovation at Plexal and LORCA, focusing on corporate propositions and partnerships.

He’s spent a number of years as a startup and innovation consultant at KPMG, where he advised companies how to generate genuine value from innovation, while also developing an in-depth understanding of the global startup ecosystem.

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Kush’s early career also includes setting up and scaling multiple startups, and a stint as an auditor. His educational qualifications include degrees in electronics and communications engineering, management and a professional accountancy qualification.

Alanna_LORCA

ALANNA MURPHY

INNOVATION ASSOCIATE, CYBER

Alanna manages the delivery of our programme content and helps our members scale their businesses. She leads on delivering academic masterclasses, sales development workshops, international cyber trade missions, mentor matching and more.

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She started her career in the hospitality industry after graduating with a BSc in Sports Science from Loughborough University.

More recently, she managed an established London innovation centre, where she developed an interest in operational support structures for innovators and the creative process.

Dave Rowley photo

DAVE ROWLEY

COMMERCIAL DIRECTOR, CYBER

As Plexal’s commercial director for cyber, Dave works with industry and large organisations to help them solve their cybersecurity innovation challenges and connect them with the right parts of the cyber ecosystem LORCA is building.

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He facilitates deep and outcome-oriented relationships between our scaleup members, industry, technology platforms and other cyber hubs around the world.

Before joining Plexal, he worked in commercial, marketing, and innovation teams for both large corporates and small businesses. He has developed leading capabilities and solutions for Barclays and was part of the team that launched BT Sport.

Dave has worked across a number of sectors, including financial services, telecommunications and the media. He’s also got entrepreneurial blood in his veins, having founded his own film production business while working for a cybersecurity scaleup.

RUSSELL GUNDRY PHOTO

RUSSELL GUNDRY

HEAD OF INNOVATION STRATEGY

Russell is responsible for managing the delivery of Plexal’s innovation. programmes. He leads the delivery of the LORCA cybersecurity accelerator programme together with strategic partners Deloitte and CSIT. 

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Russell also leads the design and delivery of programmes in partnership with a diverse range of organisations including BT, Disability Rights UK, Telefonica, NHS England and DeepMind.

At Plexal, he’s leading our social inclusion work, delivering our inclusion accelerator for social entrepreneurs and is an advocate for designing action-oriented and user-centric programmes and solutions.

Will Sayer Photo

WILL SAYER

INNOVATION ASSOCIATE

Will supports the delivery of LORCA’s cyber accelerator and works directly with our industry and investor partners, helping them to connect with our cyber ecosystem.

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Before joining Plexal, he spent two years working as an innovation consultant, partnering with corporates and public institutions across Europe to design, launch and implement startup engagement programmes and provide strategic advice and research support.

BRUNO SUSSAT PHOTO

BRUNO SUSSAT

INNOVATION LEAD, MOBILITY

Bruno is Plexal’s innovation lead for mobility and specialises in designing and launching new mobility solutions – either by working directly with clients or by proactively challenging the market.

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Before joining Plexal, Bruno spent four years with Ernst & Young’s strategy team, where his focus was on the future of mobility. Alongside core strategy engagements, Bruno worked directly with OEMs on live in-market experiments to test and scale new business models such as smart parking, children’s ride-sharing and on-demand bus services.

Bruno has a Masters in Manufacturing Engineering from the University of Cambridge and completed Industrial Research Projects at McLaren Automotive and Porsche AG.

FOLU FABOWALE PHOTO

FOLU FABOWALE-MAKINDE

INNOVATION ASSOCIATE

As Plexal’s innovation associate, Folu immerses herself in the design and delivery of our innovation programmes for LORCA as well as Plexal clients such as Barclays, Innovate UK and Transport for London.

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Before joining the Plexal team, she worked in the Advisory Ventures team at EY, a consultancy, to solve some of the biggest market issues across various sectors. This included everything from helping top tech startups scale with the Fast Growth Platform to developing new businesses and services by getting stuck into market research and sizing, opportunity assessment, financial modelling and competitor analysis.

Going even further back, Folu’s love of education and travel has seen her teach maths in the UK, Mexico and the US at a secondary school level.

 

 

DIANNE GILBERT PHOTO

DIANE GILBERT

INNOVATION ASSOCIATE

As Plexal’s innovation associate, Diane is passionate about using technology and innovation as a force for change and social impact. She has delivered programmes such as Plexal’s inclusion accelerator and worked with clients such as BT to harness the power of disability-led design.

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He role involves working with corporate partners to help them identify and solve their innovation challenges and supporting the delivery of LORCA.

Before joining Plexal, Diane amassed over 10 years’ experience in project support, business development and executive assistance, working for organisations in the media, legal and accountancy sector – including News International, The Independent and C.C. Young & Co.

OUR EXECUTIVE TEAM

ROBERT_HANNIGAN_CMG

ROBERT HANNIGAN CMG

CHAIR OF THE LORCA INDUSTRY ADVISORY BOARD

Robert is a member of the UK government’s Defence Innovation Advisory Panel and a fellow of the Institute of Engineering and Technology.

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Robert also acted as the director of GCHQ, the UK’s largest intelligence and security agency, from 2014-17. He established the National Cyber Security Centre in 2016, having been responsible for the UK’s first cyber strategy in 2009. Learn more at roberthannigan.com

Godfrey Gaston

GODFREY GASTON

DIRECTOR, CSIT, AND LORCA EXECUTIVE BOARD MEMBER 

Godfrey graduated with a MEng degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from Queen’s University Belfast, followed by a PhD in Microelectronics and Semiconductors.

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He has also completed an MBA from Henley Management College, London, and is the co-founder of Titan IC Systems.

Louise Cusnahan

LOUISE CUSHNAHAN

HEAD OF INNOVATION, CSIT, AND LORCA EXECUTIVE BOARD MEMBER

Louise leads the development and implementation of innovation programmes across CSIT to encourage the commercialisation and translation of academic research and the acceleration of startup growth within the UK’s cybersecurity sector.

Stephen Wray

STEPHEN WRAY

DIRECTOR OF CYBER RISK SERVICES, DELOITTE, AND LORCA EXECUTIVE BOARD MEMBER

Stephen leads Deloitte’s Cyber Innovation and Transformation capability group in the UK. He is CISSP certified with 20 years’ experience in founding and scaling cyber star-ups, including six years spent as a commercial director of ECIT and CSIT at Queen’s University Belfast.

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He is a non-executive director at Catalyst Inc., a member of the NI Digital Catapult Board and an Electronics graduate from the University of Edinburgh.