Board of Directors
Brenda started in the Oil Industry 33 year ago as an apprentice welder, whilst welding is no longer a core skill, this humble start to her working career helped establish a good level of personal resilience along with a solid foundation of people skills. Over her career, Brenda has worked in the service sector, private sector and is now in the public sector working for the Oil & Gas Authority. These varied work environments, both home and abroad, have helped develop a well-rounded approach to understand how value is created in the Energy sector. Brenda has been a strong advocate of TechFest over the years including supporting a visit to Shetland and Edinburgh to take Stem in Pipeline to a wider Scottish audience.
Sarah Chew- Managing Director, TechFest
Sarah Chew, managing director at TechFest is passionate about developing young people and the wider community, particularly within the world of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM). During her years at TechFest, Sarah has worked to encourage young audiences and ensure all young people reach a positive destination and especially highlight the benefits of a career in these sectors.
With a BSc in psychology and a MSc in Marketing, Sarah has a wide range of knowledge across the business sector and how to engage with various audiences, promoting education in a fun and enjoyable way. Prior to TechFest and her time at the University of Aberdeen, Sarah was seconded to the Scottish Government while working with North East Charity Live Wire Productions, a role that provided great insight to the overall picture of government campaigns across Scotland.
Sarah sits on the North East of Scotland Developing Young Workforce Board and ACVO – the third sector interface.
Tom came to Aberdeen 15 years ago for university and has never looked back. Following graduation he joined EY and is now an Associate Partner at the firm. Tom has always had a desire to develop, coach and attract people to Aberdeen having previously been on the policy council at Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce and chairing EYs Connecting Emerging Leaders programme. Tom was a keen supporter of the EY business apprentice programme when it was launched at the firm and personally mentored a number of the original cohort.
Prof Mirela Delibegovic is the Dean for Industrial Engagement in Research and Knowledge Transfer at the University of Aberdeen and the Director (Diabetes) of the Aberdeen Cardiovascular and Diabetes Centre.
Prof Delibegovic’s research for the past 20+ years has focused on the causes and consequences of development of diabetes and the complications associated with diabetes. Her laboratory is particularly interested in co-morbidities such as atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease, diabetic nephropathy, diabetic foot ulcers as well as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and NASH. In more recent years, she has been investigating the molecular link between diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease and how these are regulated by nutrition and ageing. Prof Delibegovic sits on several national funding committees, including acting as Chair/Vice-Chair of the British Heart Foundation project grants committee, Chair/Vice-Chair roles within Diabetes UK main committee, grants committee member of the Bart’s Charity and scientific advisory board of the Diabetes Research & Wellness Foundation (DRWF). She is passionate about career development of staff and students, public engagement in research, academia/industry collaborations and knowledge transfer.
Susie is the Dean of the School of Pharmacy and Life Sciences at Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen where her role includes strategy, admissions, and research.
Susie holds a BSc in Applied Biology, a PhD in the field of disinfection and sterilisation and an MBA from Cardiff University. She began her career with Cardiff University as a post-doctoral researcher, before moving to De Montfort University, Leicester where she held various positions, latterly Associate Head of the School of Pharmacy and Professor of Pharmaceutical Microbiology.
Passionate about widening participation in Higher Education, Susie also maintains her research interests in microbiology focussing on disinfection.
Ralph has fifteen years’ experience as corporate lawyer, working principally in and with the oil and gas industry. He spent thirteen years working as a corporate lawyer with Burness Paull LLP, latterly as a director, before joining energy infrastructure company Kellas Midstream in an in-house legal role. Ralph’s experience of a wide range of corporate deals, mainly in the energy and technology sectors, has provided Ralph with an excellent insight into the key factors in success for technology and energy focused businesses. His current role with Kellas gives him a thorough understanding of the lifecycle and value chain in oil and gas and net zero projects.
Ralph is passionate about helping people develop and ensuring equality of opportunity for all. He sits on the board of youth sports charity Inverurie Youth Sports Foundation and in that role has seen many young people blossom and succeed with the assistance of targeted support. He is delighted to have the opportunity to be able to contribute to the positive impact he has seen TechFest have on young people and their engagement with STEM subjects.
Head of communications & external affairs, Scotland, bp
Kathryn has more than 20 years’ experience in communications and public relations, spanning the public and private sector and a broad range of industries – from food and pharmaceuticals, to tourism, health, transport and energy. She currently leads bp’s communications team in Scotland, having previously held roles with Shell, NHS Scotland and in PR consultancy where she spent a significant part of her career delivering communications campaigns for the Scottish Government’s major infrastructure projects through Transport Scotland.
Kathryn holds an MA in interpreting & translating from Heriot-Watt University, a diploma in public affairs and is a chartered member of the Institute of Public Relations.
Having seen first-hand the positive impact of TechFest on young people – including her own daughters – she is delighted to be able to contribute to the continuing success of TechFest as a member of the board.
Prof. Donald Cairns
Don Cairns completed his degree and PhD at the University of Strathclyde and worked as an academic in Leicester and Sunderland before moving back to Scotland to take up the post of Associate Head of the School of Pharmacy at The Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen. In 2006, he was promoted to Professor of Pharmaceutical and Medicinal Chemistry at RGU and in 2010 was appointed Head of the School of Pharmacy and Life Sciences. He became an emeritus Professor in January 2022 when he retired from the university.
Prof Cairns is a member of the General Pharmaceutical Council, a Fellow of the Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists and of the Royal Society of Chemistry. In 2006 he was appointed to the British Pharmacopoeia Commission and serves on an MHRA Expert Advisory Group on Medicinal Chemicals. He is also the author of a textbook, Essentials of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, currently in its 4th Edition