Our People

We have a carefully constructed core team bringing a balance of military experience, business acumen, project management skills, analytical capability, and subject matter expertise. This depth of experience allows us to quickly pull together tailored project teams for the unique challenges that our clients face.

We supplement our team of experts with over 120 associate partners, each bringing their specific area of expertise to our business. Many of our associates are world leaders in their fields, enhancing our ability to deliver exceptional results.

  • Steve Shirley

    Steve Shirley

    Steve, Vedette’s MD since 2021, has a background in Defence Logistics and Training, with experience in MoD Whitehall, HQ Field Army, and the PJHQ. A graduate of RCDS, he has significant international and NATO experience, often collaborating with the US on operational planning. In addition to his MD role, Steve consults and conducts business development. He’s currently involved in designing and launching Vedette’s private sector offering as part of its expansion program.



  • Dick Hemsley

    Dick Hemsley

    Dick founded Vedette in 2010, was its Managing Director until 2019, and is presently its Board Chairman. He continues to undertake some project work, including for the European Defence Agency, UK Strategic Command, and the Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats.

  • Vic Gysin

    Vic Gysin

    Vic is our Non-Executive Director, supporting the VCL Board in its strategic aims and objectives, and also Chairs the Remuneration Committee.  Following a 12-year army career Vic was on the Board of Capita plc, and Group COO for 7 years.  Alongside his time with VCL, he runs a digital transformation business.

  • Nick Cheshire

    Nick Cheshire

    Nick, our Finance Director, specialises in Digital Transformation and Generation-after-Next Technology Horizon scanning. Nick has proven expertise in transformational consultancy, research, and facilitation, having worked for the NHS and NATO. Nick is an active Army Reservist, serving as Head of Digital Transformation at Sandhurst.

  • Nigel Philpott

    Nigel Philpott

    Nigel is one of our programme delivery directors and also looks after commercial matters. A member of RCDS, his background includes both extensive military service and corporate experience. As part of our decision support proposition, he delivers wargames and wargame services, across multiple sectors including Defence and the Home Office, as well as complex programme support and mentoring.

  • Ivor Gardiner

    Ivor Gardiner

    Ivor had an extensive military career as an infantry officer, followed by diverse experience in decision support across multiple sectors, including energy, water, crisis response, and security. At Vedette, he oversees our client operations, and is particularly passionate about developing decision-making capability within organisations.

  • Donald Stuart

    Donald Stuart

    With over 25 years of executive leadership, Donald’s expertise encompasses business transformation, company growth through acquisitions and organic leverage, team development, and creating stakeholder value across various industries and markets.

  • Mai Wood

    Mai Wood

    Mai brings a wealth of experience in strategic planning and execution, driving growth, and fostering impactful leadership to Vedette. Mai has experience as an Office Manager and Executive Assistant, where she honed her organisational skills and attention to detail. Her background provides her with a unique perspective on streamlining operations and maximising efficiency.

  • Dr. Phillip Harris

    Dr. Phillip Harris

    With 30 years of experience in senior positions within the Defence Industry, including roles at DRA, DERA, QinetiQ Detica, and BAE Systems, Phil has served as a Business Group Manager and Project Director for major programs. At Vedette, he leads on business development initiatives and manages complex projects.

  • Ella Hutchings

    Ella Hutchings

    Ella has been integral to Vedette from the start, overseeing back-office functions and specialising in Human Resources. She manages governance, ISO 9001 standards, and internal projects, excelling in leading transformative initiatives. Before joining Vedette, Ella’s work spanned government, education, and entrepreneurship.

  • Chris White

    Chris White

    At Vedette, Chris leads projects for both our private sector and defence customers to enhance their decision-making. Before joining us, he worked at a people-focused consulting firm in the financial services industry, gained an MBA with Distinction from Warwick Business School, and founded a decision-making simulation startup.

  • Joanne Lovett

    Joanne Lovett

    Joanne leads Vedette’s finance department, ensuring accuracy and timeliness in all financial affairs. With a degree in Computer Science and a PGD in Project Management in Construction, she brings extensive experience from 15 years in finance and project management, primarily in construction services. Joanne also has a background in teaching Maths and Science to GCSE level.

  • Johnny Blair-Tidewell

    Johnny Blair-Tidewell

    At Vedette, Johnny delivers strategic consultancy projects, primarily for our defence and security customers, in areas including logistics, mission support, organisational structure, and workforce policy. Before moving into the private sector, he left the army as a Brigadier, having served in the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment and the Royal Logistics Corps as well as taking on staff roles in PJHQ, Army HQ, and the MoD.

  • Dr. Rich Warnes

    Dr. Rich Warnes

    At Vedette, Rich supports wargaming, frequently taking on the role of Red Cell enemy, and provides specialist knowledge in various projects. Prior to joining Vedette, he served in both the Army and Police and worked in defense consultancy. Rich holds a doctorate on ‘Human Factors in Effective Counter-Terrorism,’ adapted into a book published by Routledge.

  • Hannah Kuperman

    Hannah Kuperman

    At Vedette, Hannah specialises in wargame design, delivery, and analysis to assist our customers in strategic decision-making processes. Prior to joining us, she earned her MA from the War Studies Department at King’s College London, where she focused on wargaming as part of her degree. With experience in U.S. think tanks and defense, Hannah’s expertise extends to U.S. Grand Strategy in the Red Sea region.

  • Chris Halms

    Chris Halms

    Chris leads the Analysis function at Vedette, focusing on delivering actionable findings and recommendations while maintaining analytical rigor and adhering to evidence-based decision support principles. Chris previously worked at Dstl, where his expertise has led to him being frequently sought out to provide analytical outputs to senior levels within government.

  • James Blair

    James Blair

    James is an expert in wargame design and facilitation, with over 20 years of reserve experience, including recent service in 77 Brigade focusing on civil influence operations. A graduate of King’s College War Studies department, James has worked on projects for Dstl, wider defense, and NATO, examining cyber-enabled hybrid threats.

  • Gareth Jones

    Gareth Jones

    Gareth works with both our private sector and defense clients, helping them identify their organisation’s skills and learning needs. With a background as a career education and training officer in the Royal Navy, he brings extensive experience in training analysis and policy development. Gareth holds an MBA from Cranfield University and a CMI diploma in Management Consultancy.

  • Ian Bennett

    Ian Bennett

    Ian, an ex-Royal Navy Merlin observer, transitioned to the energy sector after leaving the service, focusing on delivering hydrogen innovation in the UK. At Vedette, he leads the delivery of exercises and complex projects and programmes across defence and beyond.

  • James Halstead

    James Halstead

    James possesses dual expertise in analysis and designing/delivering wargames, complemented by his imminent completion of a PhD in military history. Prior to joining Vedette, he studied at the University of Kent and King’s College London.

  • Josh Bilton

    Josh Bilton

    At Vedette, Josh designs and delivers research projects and data capture. He is currently completing a PhD in Military History at King’s College London.

  • Dr. Mike Adams

    Dr. Mike Adams

    Mike, a seasoned data scientist, previously served as Principal Data Scientist at the UK Health Security Agency, providing vital decision support during the COVID-19 pandemic. At Vedette, he leads our AI and data science initiatives, leveraging these capabilities to deliver innovative solutions to our customers.

  • Anna Justyniarska

    Anna Justyniarska

    Anna focuses on streamlining procedures and implementing best practices to ensure the smooth functioning of our human resources department and fostering of a positive workplace culture. Prior to working at Vedette, Anna has 10 years customer service and administrative experience at multinational companies.

  • Chloe Roche

    Chloe Roche

    Chloe possesses a diverse skill set spanning vetting, security, business administration, internal back-office operations, and IT support. Her proficiency in these areas ensures the smooth functioning of various aspects of Vedette’s operations, contributing significantly to our efficiency and effectiveness.