Senior management

Neil Crockett - CEO

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Neil has worked at Arthur Andersen, Rank Xerox and Compaq before joining Cisco where he worked for 14 years. His roles there included leadership of Cisco's European solutions marketing, EMEA capital financing business, Cisco's global business with BT and Cisco's UK public sector business. He successfully led Cisco's sponsorship bid for the London Olympics 2012 where he was responsible for the delivery of all Cisco's technology and services, marketing and a major digital legacy programme working with the UK digital research, incubator and business communities. He is a Governor at Coventry University and on the Great Britain Executive Board of C-Operation Ireland the largest Irish peace charity.
 


Noeline Sanders - Chief business officer

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Noeline has over 15 years of finance director leadership in blue chip international and European organisations. She has developed, coordinated and implemented financial strategies in high growth digital technology and telecoms organisations including Apple and Equant. In addition Noeline has over 5 years management leadership in UK startup and entrepreneurial companies where she helped commercialise e-commerce, cloud based technologies and gained experience of SMEs. Her early career as a chartered accountant was with was Ernst & Young. She is on the trustee board of St Ethelburga's Centre for Reconciliation and Peace in the City, London. She is particularly interested in commercialising technologies and the role of technology innovation for societal good. Noeline is responsible for finance and operations at the Digital Catapult.
 


Dr. Maurizio Pilu - Partnerships director

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Maurizio is a technologist, innovator and strategist with more than 20 years experience in the digital sector. He worked for 10 years in a corporate R&D environment at Hewlett Packard Laboratories as a senior scientist, where he led a number of advanced R&D projects in multimedia and imaging.  He then spent two years as associate director in a private equity firm specialised in early stage funding and of technology startup companies.  In the last four years he worked at the UK's innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board, where he led on a number of strategic initiatives and multi-million pound investments. Maurizio holds dozens of US patents and has published more than 30 scientific articles in refereed conferences and journals. He holds a Doctorate in Computer Vision from the University of Edinburgh and an Executive MBA from the Bath School of Management.
 


Chris Thompson - Partnerships director

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Chris has worked at the forefront of the UK design, media and technology landscape when he joined D&AD in 2001, where he stayed as director of education and professional development until 2007. He then joined Ravensbourne, where he developed the industry engagement strategy, corporate partnerships and SME engagement programmes that were pivotal to its successful London relocation in 2010. In 2011 he set up his own company, Gray Digital Limited, through which he developed many new industry education partnerships, digital business modelling labs and innovation projects.
 


Clare Brooke - HR director

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Clare has over 15 years of Human Resources experience, working for small, medium and large global organisations, primarily across the technology industry. More recent roles have included managing European HR Operations at Aptiv Solutions, partnering with the R&D function in EMEA for RIM (Blackberry), and holding a number of senior HR positions at McAfee International, including Regional HR Lead for Northern Europe and leading European and Global HR projects. Clare has an MSc in HR management, is MCIPD qualified and has a post grad qualification in coaching & mentoring.
 


Azita Esmaili - Chief development officer

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Azita joins the catapult from the Amazon Development Centre in London, which is a major centre for digital media, design and engineering. She had global responsibility for the Operational Excellence of Amazon digital platforms and launch of next generation/strategic products.



Before joining Amazon, Azita was the executive vice president for engineering at Ideaworks3D, a leading global software company delivering application software development kit to over 50,000 developers and publisher globally. Her other roles have included senior technical programme management at Symbian, Betfair and Ericsson micro-electronics.


Richard French - Legal director

Richard brings over 14 years' experience of working in-house for technology companies, preceded by three years at the Bar in civil/commercial practice. Before joining the catapult, he spent six years at Cisco Systems as senior corporate counsel for UK & Ireland and director of legal for Central Europe & emerging theatres. Prior to this he worked in a variety of legal roles for PA Consulting, Stream serve, Netigy Corp & Xerox.


Marko Balabanovic - Innovation director

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Marko is a creative technology leader with over 20 years of experience developing innovations in academia, corporations and startups. Most recently Marko led the technology team at the fast-growing London startup State, launching a global opinion network. Previously, Marko was head of innovation at lastminute.com and Travelocity, improving innovation culture across the European organisation as well as forming the lastminute.com labs team to develop novel products.

Prior to lastminute.com, Marko led the development team at Cellectivity and product design at Betfair. Specialisms have included personalisation, machine learning and interaction design, including some of the early work on recommender systems during a computer science PhD at Stanford, and stints at Xerox and Ricoh R&D labs in Cambridge and Silicon Valley.


Jenni Young - Marketing and centre director

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Jenni joined the Digital Catapult in July 2014 as marketing and centre director. She is responsible for developing, communicating and delivering the Catapult's marketing plan, with the core aim of demonstrating the central role that digital innovation can play in generating new sources of economic growth for the UK. Jenni is also responsible for the Digital Catapult Centre experience - attracting potential users, collaborators and partners. Prior to the Digital Catapult, Jenni was chief marketing officer at disruptive technology startup Ticketscript. She has also held senior marketing and business development roles at youth and volunteering charity vInspired, Live Nation and EMAP Performance. Her experience spans business to business communications, technology, media and entertainment and youth marketing. Jenni has a law degree from Glasgow University and is a part-qualified Chartered Accountant.