Meet the Team
Everything we are and everything we achieve is down to the great team of people at Mendas. Find out more about each of us below...
Assessment, Behavioural Change, Communication, Creativity, Culture, Design of work, Employee Engagement, Managing Talent, Motivation, Online Solutions, Organisational research, Recruitment
Justin founded Mendas in 1998 after establishing a school in Honduras, working with homeless young people in London and co-managing a therapeutic community for individuals with mental health issues in Florida, USA.
“Like many who study psychology I was originally drawn to working with individuals in distress but I became increasingly fascinated with understanding how organisations work, and how they could be made more effective. I moved to the commercial world, working at Prudential, then as co-Director of a psychology consultancy before taking the big leap and setting up Mendas.”
Justin has been instrumental in developing Mendas’ capability and reputation in the field of assessment and recruitment and has a particular passion around how psychology can contribute to positive social change.
As a Chartered Occupational Psychologist, Justin has had the privilege of being invited to advise organisations as wide ranging as Amnesty International, Grant Thornton and Friends of the Earth as well as countless Central Government departments and agencies.
With a Masters in Occupational Psychology and a postgraduate qualification in Mediation and Conflict Resolution, conflict (and how to resolve it) is Justin’s specialist topic. Having worked as a mediator within disadvantaged and challenging environments, he is now the chairperson of a conflict resolution charity that develops community mediators to address neighbourhood, intergenerational and workplace disputes.
In building up his own successful company, Justin has seen for himself the importance of people. “Creating a business is not that difficult, it’s sustaining it that’s hard and that’s what our clients come to us for,” he says. He adds: “If the last decade has taught me anything, it’s that if you bring the right individuals together, with the right support and direction, then anything is possible.”
Justin’s philosophy is that work should be one part of a rich and varied life. Nothing demonstrates this more than what Justin packs in around his own busy work life. He’s a keen underwater photographer, free-diver and triathlete and if you are eagle-eyed you may have even spotted him in the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games!
Assessment, Behavioural Change, Communication, Creativity, Culture, Design of work, Employee Engagement, Managing Talent, Motivation, Online Solutions, Organisational research, Recruitment
Simon started out his professional life working beside one of the psychology profession's true gurus – Exeter's University's Professor Paul Kline. He's a business psychologist through and through. After gaining a firm grounding in the world of psychometric assessment, and feeling the urge to broaden his horizons and help bring about change at an organizational level, Simon became a project director at Towers Watson, supporting the likes of Carlsberg-Tetley, National Rail, Reckitt Benckiser and Barclays.
Despite an impressive list of letters after his name (Simon's a Chartered Psychologist, who holds more doctorates and diplomas than you could throw a stick at!), Simon says he's far more proud of being able to use his experience to make organisations more effective.
He joined Mendas in 2005 (see his take on The Mendas Story here), and has been honing his skills ever since, helping clients improve their organisations and their people by drawing from the two worlds of business consultancy and psychology.
Simon says: "What's scary is recognising that I've been earning a living as a psychologist for over 20 years now, from being a research assistant to project director, business development director, counsellor and now a company director. As well as a receding hairline, what has followed me throughout this time, is my continuing passion for using psychology in a business context to make a real difference to people's lives." Recent exploits have included the development of a career matching tool for Jaguar Land Rover and a Situational Judgement Test to help in the recruitment of future nurses.
As well as devoting time to clients, Simon also offers his counselling services to the Terrence Higgins Trust, the charity that helps individuals and couples whose lives are affected by HIV. He says: "If ever I needed proof that psychology can make a difference, this is it."
Office manager Kelly is the metaphorical glue that holds us all together; she's the petrol in our engines, the beating heart of our organisation (you know what we mean!)
Back in the real world, it's Kelly who makes sure we've all got iPhones that work and that our internet is up and running. She keeps us all on our toes to make sure the office and our events run like clockwork, and she is always the friendly-face of the office.
Having worked as an Office Manager for the past 10 years, Kelly is the picture of efficiency and conscientiousness. Having trained in Essential Management at Cranfield School of Management, Kelly is always keen to practice what she preaches and to find a more effective way of working.
"I always ensure that jobs get done, and try to anticipate peoples' demands," she says. "I always try to work with a smile on my face and make tasks enjoyable," she adds.
Kelly's not your average office worker either, she's a skilled make-up artist and is just as happy working on her allotment as she is sitting behind a desk, and for "fr-amily" orientated Kelly, her hobbies also include gaming with friends, baby swimming and organizing fun nights out.
Usefully, in a company like Mendas, Kelly says she also enjoys meeting new people and listening to their experiences and opinions. Phew - she's in the right job!
Assessment, Assessment Centres, Behavioural Change, Coaching, Design of work, Employee Engagement, Leadership, Learning and Development, Managing Talent, Personality, Psychometrics, Recruitment, Training, Well-being
"Chinese Democracy" - Guns 'N' Roses' much anticipated (but critically mixed) 2008 studio album - was a project famously beset by delay (it had been fully recorded since 2000) and plagued by internal wrangling between the band and record producers. For reasons still unknown to us, it also just happens to be the favourite CD of Mendas Occupational Psychologist, Almuth McDowell (each to their own we say!). But we're pretty glad Almuth's project management and client relations skills are much, much better than those of her favourite rock band.
Widely published in the academic and practitioner press, an editor of an international coaching journal, with a doctorate and MSc in Occupational Psychology and holder of qualifications in life coaching and systemic theory, Almuth is the consummate professional.
For the past ten years, she's balanced her time between academia and practice, specializing in leading bespoke projects such as surveying work-life balance for the Police Federation of England and Wales, delivering stress management training to leaders of blue chip companies and designing competency-based frameworks for many London boroughs, as well as leadership development and coaching. Almuth is also certified by the British Psychological Society as an assessor for training individuals in the use of psychometric tests, and naturally a versed user of a variety of instruments.
Almuth specialises in bringing scientific thinking and applying psychological theory to workplace matters, particularly in the realm of work-life balance. It's something she has first-hand experience with as a full-time working mother to three young girls.
"Work is good for us," she says "but there is a wealth of evidence that shows we need balance in our lives, that we need to have time for our families, friends, hobbies and whatever else might be going on." She says she never tires of trying to help companies face these issues. We agree. Although we're less sure how often she plays air guitar.
Assessment, Assessment Centres, Competencies, Graduates, Managing Talent, Personality, Recruitment
It's a hard life, but someone's got to be great at it. "I've helped so many clients select the right people for jobs, I now get approached by friends and family to help them write or update their CVs!" admits chartered occupational psychologist Amanda Merrill-Skelton.
In our line of work, we think praise can't get much higher than that, especially considering some of Amanda's biggest jobs – such as designing the process to recruit Police Constables and Police Community Support Officers throughout England and Wales, which receives around 50,000 applications each year. The bespoke-built methodology was so good, and was so gratefully received, that the revolutionary toolkit was adopted by 43 Home Office forces and a number of non-Home Office forces.
What we think marks Amanda out is the fact she gets results where many others have tried (and failed) before her. This has included designing competency frameworks for a global client's board that had previously stumped everyone else who'd attempted it before.
Quite rightly, Amanda specialises in job analysis and evaluation: competency framework design, assessment/development centre design, bespoke exercise design, assessment/development centre delivery, psychometric testing (Level A and Level B), and assessor training design/delivery. And she’s not afraid of rolling up her sleeves either. You’ll often find her on the shop floor, working side-by-side with the key roles she is helping to assess for.
She says: “After seeing so many people that are unhappy and in the wrong job, I really enjoy seeing people find the job that really is right for them and knowing it’s a job they will really enjoy and will succeed in.”
Assessment, Assessment Centres, Behavioural Change, Coaching, Employee Engagement, Graduates, Leadership, Learning and Development, Managing Talent, Organisational research, Recruitment, Teams
Self-confessed extrovert Anna Kane lives by the sea in Brighton, and loves everything environmental and sustainability-related (although she insists she doesn't wear sandals and wooly-jumpers – we'll have to take her word for it on that one!).
When not walking along stony beaches, management coach Anna can mostly be found helping candidates navigate the choppy waters of interviews, working as a specialist in delivering interview and assessment skills training courses, as well as running workshops for developing people's skills.
She works in both the public and private sectors(clients have included the Foreign and Commonwealth Office) and she specialises in helping organisations understand the factors inside (or outside) that are negatively influencing them, in order to achieve change and improve employees' overall productivity.
Anna is the sort of person who leaves no stone unturned. "I believe that until you understand something fully, you can't take action to change it," she says, and we know our Fellow of the British Psychological Society works tirelessly to help her clients find out the factors that impact them most.
In some of her work, she uses some of her green credentials – such as when she helped Kimberley-Clarke identify the actions and approaches they needed to take to achieve their organisational sustainability objectives. But Anna freely admits it’s people that sustain her. “I’m an extrovert,” she admits. “I wouldn’t last five minutes on a desert island by myself” Luckily she’s got a great fellow team at Mendas to keep her entertained!
Assessment, Assessment Centres, Behavioural Change, Coaching, Competencies, Design of work, Leadership, Learning and Development, Managing Talent, Personality, Recruitment, Teams, Training, Well-being
Practicing chartered occupational psychologist Emma Wallace is our own special psychology agent. Owing to her extensive experience working with the police and other law enforcement agencies, she is officially cleared to 'secret' status.
What's no secret to us is that Emma has more than 15 years' business psychology experience. Her specialism is the design and management of assessment and development centres, and while in her work as a certified coach, Emma also practices cognitive behavioural coaching, including the use of psychometric testing.
Multi-talented (Emma is certified to run numerous occupational tests), she is often found assessing managers at various levels, as well as providing them with developmental advice. She says her aims are always to use her skills to "help others successfully develop in their workplaces".
She is an associate fellow of the British Psychological Society, a full member of the division of Occupational Psychology, a Health Professions Council-registered practising occupational psychologist, and also a Chartered Scientist. She is also a member of the International Society for Coaching Psychology.
Assessment, Assessment Centres, Career Development, Coaching, Competencies, Graduates, Leadership, Learning and Development, Managing Talent, Personality, Recruitment, Teams, Training, Well-being
One day she's working with senior fingerprint and forensic officers, the next she's working with growers, packers and directors in the salad industry. It doesn't get more varied than that, but that's the way Hannah rolls, and as a practicing occupational psychologist since 1993, Hannah has experience in everything from one-to-one coaching to career guidance and assessing for promotion (including recent work with the Civil Service), as well as competency frameworks – even equipping prison staff to work with psychopaths. Rather her than us on that last one!
Today, her main area of expertise is talent management and career development. She has a CV to die for (she is Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society, a founder member of the Association of Business Psychologists, a member of the Institute of Careers Guidance, and a founder member of the BPS Work Life Balance Working Group, to name but a few), but even now Hannah says she's always seeking to learn new things.
She says: "If anything, all of my experiences have led me to recognise just how important job-person 'fitness' still is – not only from the point of ensuring that an individual is equipped with the right competencies to carry out a role effectively, but also to consider other perspectives such as personality and organisational culture and to recognise that different individuals have different ideas as to what the 'right' work/life balance might be."
Hannah is a passionate believer in lifelong learning, and ongoing career development. She says: "Children, young people and adults should all receive effective career education to ensure the choices they make are not planned happenstance and will facilitate them in achieving their full potential in their chosen career."
Assessment, Assessment Centres, Behavioural Change, Coaching, Design of work, Employee Engagement, Leadership, Learning and Development, Managing Talent, Personality, Psychometrics, Recruitment, Teams, Values, Well-being
Many Mendas challenges have been solved by Jo Larkam, chartered occupational psychologist, with nothing more complicated than a cup of tea and a slice of cake. Obviously, a few psychology degrees as background tend to make this easier, but not surprisingly, clients all want more of what she's drinking. "What helped us choose Jo was her can-do attitude and flexibility," says one client, and this pretty much sums up her devotion to pushing forward the boundaries in psychology.
Jo's experience working with businesses spans 15 years, and she's been managing client projects in the areas of assessment, development, leadership training, performance management and cultural change. Clients here have included RBS, the Financial Services Authority, Southern Train Company, Medway Council and BIS.
For Jo, flexibility means trying new things, and not being afraid of failure. "My team and I recently found a way of delivering a cost-effective mini assessment centre to include an interactive exercise and computer-based assessment, which enabled us to assess 30 candidates a day with just two assessors," she says. It's just this sort of approach she says clients love.
If this means sitting in the cab with a train driver, to understand what makes a high-performing train driving instructor, she'll happily do it. This sort of hands-on work has also seen her working with Tesco, designing a flexible working tool, as well as designing and running a series of leadership training programmes for drug and alcohol support workers at the National Treatment Agency.
Assessment, Assessment Centres, Behavioural Change, Coaching, Competencies, Employee Engagement, Graduates, Managing Talent, Organisational research, Personality, Recruitment, Teams, Training, Values, Well-being
It's not every firm that can genuinely claim to have super-humans on its team, but in Keri Jones-Davies we reckon we can. Keri's represented team Great Britain in the triathlon, and has competed in no less than five (that's FIVE) Ironman Triathlons (these are the longest, continuous single-day endurance events known to man).
Luckily for us (and our clients), the dedication Keri puts into his sport also follows through to his commitment to his work in occupational psychology. His seven years assessment experience now sees him designing training programmes of a rather different sort: how companys assess and develop their staff. Naturally, Keri's particular area of interest is in coaching and counseling, and he has spent more than 600 hours doing just this.
Keri doesn't just run assessments, he also analyses them too, including carrying out a number of research projects looking at the effectiveness of assessment processes.
"These studies have involved selling the benefits of assessment to sometimes skeptical clients, including carrying out the studies in non-invasive and intrusive ways." Carrying out relevant statistical analysis is almost a science in itself, and Keri spends time making sure that when reporting back, his clients always understand the salient issues and concerns.
Assessment, Assessment Centres, Coaching, Graduates, Managing Talent, Recruitment, Training, Values, Well-being
Proof that psychology is a broad church doesn't come any better than in Kim Godfrey, who as well as previously working as a therapist in the psychiatric department of University College Hospital in London, and working in the counselling department of a Further Education college, is also trained in a variety of therapeutic approaches – including hypnosis!
Work and personal ethics are often inextricably linked, and here at Mendas, we firmly believe you won't meet anyone quite as accommodating as Kim.
Kim says: "I believe that manners maketh the man. Treating people fairly and with respect sounds easy and somewhat clichéd, but I believe it is important to strive to do this with one's family and friends as well as others one encounters in life's journey."
Kim's own life journey at Mendas has included working on a number of projects with the Home Office and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) as an assessor.
Without family, Kim says a lifetime supply of champagne would do rather nicely. Cheers sweetie!
Assessment, Assessment Centres, Behavioural Change, Coaching, Creativity, Employee Engagement, Leadership, Learning and Development, Managing Talent, Personality, Recruitment, Teams, Training, Well-being
Pearse is a consummate perfect people-person. The former telesales and sales manager soon realised he had a knack for developing the people around him while working at Reed Business Information and its flagship magazine, Computer Weekly. So the firm's Sales Manager of the Year decided to swap selling for training when he became training and development director for a small but growing advertising agency, Scott Edgar Advertising.
From joining in 1991 to when he left in 2008, the agency had expanded from 17 to 160 people. During that time Pearse gained Investors In People accreditation and, after becoming a consultant for the firm from 1998-2008 he spread his wings, working with a wider number of clients, helping them achieve their L&D needs. These included the FT, Royal Bank of Scotland, The Home Office, Woolwich Bank and the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.
Today Pearse, a graduate member of the British Psychological Society, uses his experience to create bespoke training programmes. Work with Pearse and he'll tell you like it is. "Most of us have to work to earn a living, so we have a choice," he says. "Either we can moan and groan about it all, or we can embrace our situation and throw our energies into developing ourselves and doing the absolute best we can."
Highly motivating by nature, Pearse won't stop until he's satisfied everyone has left his training rooms with new skills, or a new way of looking at things that will make a difference to their lives.
He says: "The culture in an organisation is not dictated by just our seniors but by all of us. All of us together are the culture."
Assessment, Assessment Centres, Behavioural Change, Competencies, Design of work, Employee Engagement, Graduates, Managing Talent, Personality, Recruitment, Teams, Training
We're pretty sure that Fran is the only person we know that still doesn't own an iPod (how?) – but no matter. She's not good at Facebook either........but she has been busy for the last few years. In her 24 years as an occupational psychologist, she's spent 13 of them purely in the financial services sector. For the last 5 of these, she managed the recruitment process for one client who regularly hired more than 1,000 people per year, while for another 2 of these years, she also specialised in team development – helping groups of workers become more empowered and fleet of foot. Oh, and we haven't forgotten that for the last 11 years, Fran has worked independently, purely in recruitment and team development across a number of sectors.
That's a lot of experience our clients can call on. "My time in the private sector has given me a deep understanding of the commercial realities of business life," says Fran. "Combined with my own personal trait of wanting to avoid waste, I always have a clear focus on getting the best result for minimal intervention."
As clients have opted for shorter assignments, wanting more 'bang for their buck,' Fran says she's uniquely-placed to help clients get the greatest ROI.
She's both designed and run assessment processes, and success is something she strives for in all areas of her life. In her spare time Fran is working towards creating social housing for families who might otherwise struggle. So far, she has a plot of land that she hopes to soon build four or five family homes on.
With one foot in the creative camp and the other in the commercial, Anthony thrives on firing up both hemispheres to help clients find elegant and commercially robust solutions to their biggest challenges. Anthony has an energetic and pragmatic style of work, and is passionate about getting out into the field to spread his enthusiasm and find insight and opportunity amongst complexity.
Anthony lives with his lovely wife and we will have to update this profile soon as they are expecting their first child!
Tracy brings a childlike energy for discovery and wonder to everything she does. She's relentlessly curious about why people do what they do and loves helping them reconnect to what they're most passionate about though increasing their self-awareness.
As head of our online personal assessment and development tools business, Tracy has unflappable good humor combined with an enthusiastic outlook. She supports her clients to maximise the benefit of using personality profiling self-assessment and 360 degree feedback in their workplace.
Away from Mendas, Tracy loves spending family time with her husband and lovely daughter, who is a huge fan of Strictly Come Dancing.
Assessment, Assessment Centres, Coaching, Competencies, Graduates, Leadership, Learning and Development, Managing Talent, Organisational research, Personality, Psychometrics, Recruitment, Teams, Training, Values
Mendas associate Sally Izzard has been working with us since 2000, but she has been specialising in the field of assessment and development since 1993, when she began applying and developing her psychological expertise in the financial services sector.
In her time, Sally estimates she's trained more than 1,000 people in assessment and development skills alone (she has designed and run numerous assessment and development events for clients such as Investors in People, both in the UK and further afield), but what we like best is the fact that despite this long track-record, Sally always approaches each new job as if it's her first.
She says: "I never treat my work as run-of-the-mill. Every client is different, and every set of assessments are different too – and that's before you even get to the diverse delegate groups." She adds: "I've dealt with everything from refusal to participate, to anger, to a delegate who could understand, but not speak, English."
Registered with the Health Professional Council, part-qualified as a Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) Practitioner and a Chartered Occupational Psychologist since 1996, Sally says she cares most about getting stuff done properly. She says: "I care about developing strong working relationships and getting things right."
Jo is a ‘universal adapter’ of sorts —in any situation she is able to forge the connections with anyone, a quality that makes her the ideal link between the client services and finance teams. As an Management Accountant in the Finance team, she is focused on helping Mendas run efficiently through reporting and operating processes. She also goes beyond those details and systems to contribute valuable financial insights.
When she’s not crunching the numbers, Jo enjoys spending time out and about with her family and watching old re-runs of ‘Friends’.