Beacon Away Country Mentors

Each current Beacon Scholar at University or Beacon Scholar at school overseas is paired with a Beacon Away Country Mentor for pastoral support in the country where they are attending University or School.

The following are currently Beacon Away Country Mentors:

Peter Gerstrom smallPeter Gerstrom was born and brought up in Kenya, moving to the UK after university. With an Engineering Science degree from Oxford University, he started his career in water engineering, developing water resource and wastewater projects around the world in the 1980s. Following an MBA at London Business School, he then moved into new business development having identified the environmental sector, and waste in particular, as a changing and growing sector.  At Balfour Beatty, he set up a joint venture with the large German Utility RWE.  Moving next to Veolia, he ran Hampshire Waste Services then SELCHP, their new London business.  Following a short spell spent at Cleanaway as Director of Municipal Services, he joined Cory Environmental in 2003 to help it transform itself from a landfill-focused company to offering waste treatment and technology services, including developing London’s largest Energy from Waste facility.  After five years as CEO he retired in 2016, and is now spending much of his time travelling and touring, usually in classic cars, whilst keeping an eye on a small family property business.

Farzana Huysman smallFarzana Huysman was a Beacon Scholar who graduated in 2019. She attended Trinity College Cambridge with an MEng in Engineering, and achieved a Distinction. In her final year she won the Sir George Nelson Prize in Applied Mechanics (top mark in Mechanical Engineering). While at Cambridge, she participated in many sports but her focus was on football, where she rose to become Captain of her College team. She was very involved with the Trinity College Students Union (TCSU), both as Computing Publicity Officer, and organising the outdoor activities in Freshers' Week. In her final year, she was elected as Trinity Field Club Secretary, and as Personnel Officer for the 2019 Trinity May Ball Committee. Before starting with McKinsey and Company in London as a Business Analyst she took a six month break and taught English at a summer camp for university students in Japan; increased HIV awareness with a youth charity in Uganda (using football as a means of engaging youth); and travelled in India.

Sean small2Dr Sean Kassen is a biomedical researcher who initially trained and worked as a management consultant within the professional services, advisory and consulting industries with Accenture, EY, and PwC Consulting. His financial and consulting experiences spanned a total of 13 years which included change management, organisational development, strategic HR and business improvement and process re-engineering initiatives in the Banking, Public Sector and NGO sectors. In 2008, after migrating and settling in the UK from South Africa, Sean planned a career change which culminated in him completing his BSc, MSc and PhD at Imperial College London as part of the Medical Research Council (MRC) Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP). After graduating, he worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Imperial as well as lecturing in biomedical science at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge. Sean is an active Imperial College Alumnus, and a MRC DTP alumnus and mentor on the Imperial Alumni Mentorship Scheme. 

Rosalind MalcolmRosalind Malcolm is a Professor of Law at the University of Surrey where she undertakes reaching and research into all aspects of environmental law. She is also a barrister practising from Guildford Chambers. She was educated at Christ’s Hospital and University College London where she graduated with an honours degree in law and at Surrey University where she gained her PhD.


Robin Lawson small

Robina Maslen completed a Masters course in Social Policy and Planning at the LSE. She spent the first half of her career as a manager in the National Health Service in the UK, as an academic, and also working in South America. The second half of her career was in the Consulting arm of PwC LLP.  Her work focused firstly on helping improve national health and social care services, and then on big central government projects.  Her last 6 years at PwC were in the internal Learning and Development Division, where she developed strategy and managed budgets for training, designed courses and sometimes tutored courses.  She trained as an executive coach and is plannning to use these skills more now that she has retired from full-time paid work. She is married with a 25-year-old daughter who works in the Technology industry, and lives in a small market town - Faversham - in Kent. She is often in London.

Kendi photo2Kendi M’Marete attended boarding school, high school and university in Kenya, qualifying in Community Development, Projects Planning and Management. For 17 years she worked in the NGO, iNGO and public sectors in various parts of Kenya, including the infamous Dadaab Refugee Camp with UNHCR as well as the slums of Nairobi and rural Kenya where she empowered local women and girls on human rights, helped set up SMEs for poverty eradication and established projects to support disabled children and young people. Kendi moved to Cambridge 10 years ago where she worked with various charities while at the same time pursuing Inclusive Education research based studies for her International Development qualification at Cambridge University’s Madingley Hall. Her career and passions have predominantly centred on the International Development and charity sectors with a focus on Disability Inclusion, Education, Poverty Reduction, Human Rights, Child Protection, Gender Empowerment and Socio-Economic Development through the Theory of Change. She now works for the UK Civil Service on Private Pension Policy and is currently leading on policy reforms for the Fraud Compensation Fund regime to ensure it is sustainable and fit for purpose to rescue pensions lost as a result of dishonesty. Prior to this she worked on European Union and International Policy where she influenced policies aimed at improving global labour standards including elimination of indecent work, child labour, modern slavery/forced labour and promotion of gender equality and safety working practices. She mentors young people in the Civil Service and is currently pursuing post-graduate studies in Policymaking at the Institute for Government, King’s College London. A great lover of books and travel, she spends her spare time exploring new places, reading widely or going for walks near her home in Cambridgeshire. She has bravely skydived in a few continents to raise money for some of her favourite charities.

Zibah photo2Zibah Nwako was born and raised in Nigeria, then moved to the UK in 1990 after her first degree. She worked in numerous roles at the British Council and the London Borough of Croydon until 2000 when she set up her own business as Director of TOP Kids Company Limited. She co-ordinated five OFSTED-registered out-of-school clubs and nurseries in Croydon and Sutton, employing over 30 members of staff. Zibah also served as a primary school governor, consultant for the Croydon Day Nurseries Business Forum, organiser of the Out-of-School Providers Network and member of the Training Bids Panel for the Croydon Early Years Development and Childcare Partnership (EYDCP). In 2008, Zibah shifted careers to birth AFFIRM Consulting, Training and Coaching Ltd, and became the pioneer licensed trainer in Nigeria of the Springboard UK Women’s Development Programme. Over the next 6 years, she facilitated Springboard and other training programmes for women associations, youth groups and corporate organisations across the country. Returning to the UK in 2014, Zibah started a Master’s degree at the University of Bristol in Educational Leadership, Policy and Development. She obtained a distinction for her dissertation on the experiences and aspirations of female secondary students in rural Nigeria. Currently a doctoral researcher, Zibah is exploring the wellbeing of female undergraduate students in Nigeria and Kenya. She also has a portfolio career as an academic administrator, graduate teaching assistant, trainer of the Sprint Development Programme for female university students and trustee of the Professor Festus Nwako Foundation. She is a member of several international, professional and research networks.

Bernadette Rainey smallDr Bernadetts Rainey is a senior lecturer at the Cardiff School of Law and Politics  and is the Director of the LAWPL Centre for Human Rights and Public law. She graduated in law from Queen’s University, Belfast in 1993 and was awarded a PhD in refugee law at Queen’s University Belfast in 2003. Subsequently, Bernadette took up the post of Research Fellow at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth to work on a project examining the impact of the Human Rights Act on the National Assembly for Wales. Bernadette was a lecturer at Queen’s University, Belfast, before taking up the post of lecturer in Cardiff Law School in September 2006. Her research interests include human rights and equality law, refugee law and public law; her research is primarily focused on “excluded” groups such as refugees and offenders. She is the author of a Human Rights Concentrate (4th edition 2017) for Oxford University Press and is a co-editor on one of the leading textbooks on human rights (Rainey, Wicks Ovey, The European Convention on Human Rights (7th edition, OUP))./p>

Vanessa Sadler small

Vanessa Sadler is an Executive Coach specializing in leadership development. She has worked with senior leaders of many different nationalities in global and national corporates in financial services, recruitment, non-profit, consulting, pharmaceutical, manufacturing and oil and gas sectors. For the last 15 years she has also worked with INSEAD, London Business School and Cranfield delivering workshops, facilitating group learning and coaching MBAs, and as a Leadership Solutions Associate with the Center for Creative Leadership® (CCL®). She is an Associate partner with Leadership Choices GmbH and a certified Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coach (MGSCC®). Vanessa lived for over 13 years in Singapore, The Netherlands, Gibraltar and is now based in the United Kingdom. Prior to training as a coach she worked as a Strategy Consultant for The LEK Partnership, a Project Manager with Schiphol Management Services, and a Marketing Manager for AT&T. She began her career as a chemical engineer working for Shell. She gained her MBA from INSEAD in 1989 and graduated in chemical engineering from Sheffield University in 1984.

Caroline Vass smallCaroline Vass has worked in public health roles for the NHS and Public Health England for 26 years. In 2014 she joined the public health specialty registrar training and was awarded consultant status in 2019. Caroline has a specific interest and expertise in screening and immunisations and is currently leading the Screening and Immunisations Team in Surrey and Sussex, working closely with the public health commissioning team to provide public health guidance and advice with regards to screening and immunisation programmes. She also has extensive experience in the wider public health disciplines of health protection, public health improvement and healthcare public health gained via working in local authorities, and regional and national NHS and PHE departments.

Marcus Walters smallMarcus Walters is a Senior Associate at Burges Salmon LLP and advises clients, in both the public and private sectors, on major PPP projects (Public Private Partnerships) across a broad range of sectors including defence, education, transport and health. Marcus attended University College London where he achieved an MSci (1st) in chemistry and a PhD in synthetic organic chemistry. Following his PhD, Marcus elected to pursue an alternative career in law and attended the College of Law in London and completed the Graduate Diploma in Law (Bloomsbury) and Legal Practice Course (Moorgate) and qualified as a solicitor at Burges Salmon LLP in 2010. Marcus is passionate about making the world a fairer place and working with others who have a similar passion.

Dianne Watkins small

Professor Dianne Watkins is a registered nurse, midwife and health visitor and is currently Deputy Head of the School of Healthcare Sciences, Cardiff University with a remit for international and engagement, which includes NHS liaison. She has held a number of strategic academic positions including International Dean for the College of Biomedical and Life Sciences covering 8 Health Schools; and has been very involved with developing nursing education in Wales. Her international profile is extensive and includes advisor to the Ministry of Health, Sultanate of Oman, having established a BSc in Nursing and the first BSc in Community Nursing for the country. In addition, Dianne was an expert advisor on the development of a BSc in Public Health in Namibia and has obtained 'Wales in Africa' funding to develop nurse leadership for the country, setting up a buddying scheme between nursing students in Namibia and Wales, and also between qualified nurses in the two countries. Dianne also leads a project in Malawi and is establishing a Practice Development Unit in the country to improve evidence-based practice and education in the clinical environment. Dianne is an Independent Executive Member of Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, holding the University seat. In this role she chairs the Quality and Patient Safety Committee and the Planning and Strategic Change Committee, as well as being a member of the Executive Board.   She has published in the field of public health nursing and has researched the effects of BSc and MSc education on improving nursing practice in Germany, the UK and Oman. 

Gemma White small

Gemma White is a barrister who has practised in London for over 20 years specialising in public law, with a particular interest in education. Gemma is also a trained mediator and volunteers for a local charity conducting community mediations. She is married with a 21 year old daughter and 19 year old son, both of whom are currently at university. Gemma lives in West London where she is chair of governors of her local primary school.


If you would like to become a Beacon Away Country Mentor please contact us.