Meet the Teams

Meet The Data Lab team

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

Gillian Docherty OBE

Chief Executive Officer

Gillian Docherty is chief executive of The Data Lab, an innovation centre with a mission of maximising the value for Scotland from data. 

The Data Lab facilitates partnerships between industry and academia, supporting data science and artificial intelligence projects as well as funding and running first class, ground-breaking education programmes. Gillian is passionate about the opportunity for using Data to drive economic and social benefits. 

Formerly of IBM, Gillian is a visiting professor at Robert Gordon University, a TED speaker and was named Digital Leader 2018 for the UK. Gillian was named CEO of the year at the Digital Technology Awards 2017 and was also in the UK’s top ten most influential people in data according to DataIQ.

Gillian is on the Board of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, a trustee of Beyonder Involve Charity and an Industry advisor to Previse. Gillian has a degree in Computing Science from the University of Glasgow, an Honorary Doctorate from Robert Gordon University and is married with a daughter.


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

Brian Hills

Deputy CEO & Head of Data

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.

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.

Grant Smith

Grant Smith

Interim Business Development Director

Grant has over 20 years’ experience in Sales and Marketing in the Technology Sector working with B2B and the public sector for companies like Morse, SCC and co founded Barrachd in 2007 which was subsequently sold to Capita in 2015. Grant has also worked in the Edinburgh Startup community advising on the commercial aspects of running a small business and is also on the main governance board of the Datalab as well as chair of the IAB.

Business Development Team

Victoria Fraser

Business Development Executive

Victoria is an experienced Sales professional who joins the Data Lab from the Utilities industry where she was a Strategic Account Executive, providing Business Development across the UK as well as Account Managing multi-national companies such as large retailers and many public sector customers. Victoria’s primary focus is on skills development for The Data Lab.

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. 

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.

Diane Harbison

Diane Harbison

Business Development Executive

Diane has over 20 years’ experience as a senior leader in the life sciences sector. She enjoys establishing collaborations between industry and academia, this has always been a focus of her career. As part of the business development team, her role is to enable industry and academic partners to securing further sources of funding from external sources such as UKRI and the European Union. She can support bid writing with a focus on helping SMEs and Scottish-based organisations access larger sources of external funding, enabling them to expand their R&D activities.

Karen O'Hanlon

Business Development Executive

Karen has considerable business development, sales and commercial expertise. Her recent roles include Business Development Manager at the University of the Highlands and Islands and Head of Engagement at Aridhia Informatics. Karen has a wealth of experience in developing and managing innovative collaborations across academia, the NHS and industry, and working with Innovate UK and the Horizon 2020 programme.

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.

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.

Thanos Tsiaras

Data Scientist

Thanos has an Informatics background with an MSc in Data Engineering. Previously he held data science and analytics roles in the video game industry, most recently with Electronic Arts. His hands-on experience includes building Machine Learning and Business Intelligence systems in the video game, sports and marketing domains.

Project Managers

Fraser Macdonald

Fraser Macdonald

Project Development Manager - Data for Children Collaborative with UNICEF

Fraser is an experienced project manager with extensive knowledge in cross sector engagement. He has worked with UK and international research communities, designing and managing innovation projects for the public, energy and defence sectors.

Neil Brown

Project Development Manager

Neil has 20 years experience in operational, project and programme management roles. Prior to joining The Data Lab, he managed a £3.2 million collaborative low carbon power & energy research programme at the University of Strathclyde.

Steph Wright

Director of Health & Wellbeing Engagement/AI Strategy Development Lead

Steph has extensive project and programme management experience and a diverse background ranging from astrophysics to genomics (via the arts) in academia and the third sector. Steph is a data science enthusiast with specific experience of the healthcare domain.

Anna Scott

Anna Scott

Project Delivery Manager – DDI Skills Gateway
(Data Skills for Work)

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.

Data for Children Collaborative with UNICEF

Alex Hutchison

Alex Hutchison

Director for the
Data for Children Collaborative with UNICEF

Alex has joined the Collaborative from RBS where she has spent over a decade working on Data Management & Governance, change management and systems implementations. Alex is looking to expand her experience in data innovation and working with the third sector.

Alessandra Fassio

Alessandra Fassio

Programme Administrator for the Data for Children Collaborative with UNICEF

Alessandra has a strong academic background in philosophy, having graduated from the University of Edinburgh with an MA (Hons) and MSc. Her research area is data ethics and the ethics of AI, with a focus on using data to achieve social good. Prior to joining The Data Lab, Alessandra was a full-time student. She assists the delivery director for the Data for Children Collaborative with UNICEF.

Rhona MacLennan

Principal Solutions Architect

Rhona is an experienced enterprise architect with in-depth expertise in all aspects of Information Strategy, Architecture, and Governance. Prior to joining The Data Lab, she worked in the Oil & Gas, Financial Services, Technology, and FMCG sectors initiating data journeys, shaping and delivering enterprise solutions, and developing in-house data capabilities.

Lauren Spark

Lauren Spark

Business Development Executive – TORCH Service

Lauren is an experienced Business Development Executive who joins The Data Lab having worked with one of Scotland’s leading independent Data and Analytics Consultancies. Lauren enjoys uncovering and nurturing relationships at all organisational levels, gaining a deep understanding of each customer’s own specific needs and providing the right level and style of engagement to ensure project success.

Sarah Mackenzie

Sarah Mackenzie

Marketing, Communications and Events Officer

Sarah is an experienced digital marketing professional with a focus on analytics and strategy development. She joins the Data Lab from a freelance content management and media marketing role, where she provides solutions for some of Scotland’s key tourism and hospitality hosts. Sarah’s primary focus for The Data Lab is for the new TORCH business advisory service.

Skills Team

Marian Dunbar

Marian Dunbar

Skills Co-ordinator

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.

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.
Heather Thomson

Heather Thomson

Skills Project Development Manager

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.

Cheryl Stewart

Cheryl Stewart

Skills Coordinator

Cheryl has worked for the University of Edinburgh for 10 years primarily in an HR capacity, she joined The Data Lab in 2016 where she now works as a Skills Coordinator supporting the work we do with the Industrial Doctorate and Online Learning programmes.

Marketing Team

John Callagy

John Callagy

Acting Marketing and Communications Manager

John is an experienced events organiser with a focus on the tech landscape. Prior to joining The Data Lab John managed a multitude of national and international events for Business And Finance Magazine and Dublin Tech Summit, one of Europe’s leading tech conferences.

Gina Finch

Marketing and Communications Officer

Gina is an experienced web designer and digital communications manager with an MSc in Multimedia Technology. She will be working with digital content and social media communications. Before joining The Data Lab, she worked as a freelance web designer, creating websites for small businesses in various content management systems.

Cecilia Bouroncle

Marketing and Communications Manager - returning from maternity leave, currently part time

Cecilia is a business professional with extensive experience in marketing and events, and working within the international higher education sector. She has an engineering degree and a Master in Business (Event Management). Before joining The Data Lab, she worked as an Education Manager for the Australian Government in Peru, her home country.

Operations Team

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 re 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

Kristina Mutch

Contracts Manager

Kristina is a qualified solicitor specialising in intellectual property law, data protection and commercial contracts. 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.