Meet the Team

Chris Gilbert-Wood
Chief Executive (acting)

Chris is a professional Food Technologist with 40 years of experience in retail and manufacturing, having managed quality, food safety and sustainability in both own label and branded supply chains. Much of this time was spent working at the interface between agriculture and the primary processors. Chris was previously a NED at Quality Meat Scotland, where he chaired the R&D committee and at the Ethical Trade Initiative (ETI).  A Fellow of the Institute of Food Science and Technology and a Registered Food Safety Principal, Chris is currently working as a consultant In the food industry, using experience and expertise to help others meet their objectives.

Deborah Kendale
Business Development Director

Deborah is responsible for leading IFST’s business development plans and developing growth opportunities as well as new projects and workstreams which will contribute to the sustainability and growth of the Institute.

She is also responsible for the marketing and communications team to ensure an aligned approach to these activities with our membership and with the aim of achieving maximum impact and reaching a wide and engaged audience externally. 

Deborah has enjoyed a varied career including ten years as an auditor and a quality manager in the industry as well as food law enforcement. Most recently Deborah managed business development and marketing for various university-based continuing professional development educational programmes for industry professionals. Since graduating in Food Science and Microbiology from the University of Leeds, Deborah has achieved both a Chartered Institute of Marketing postgraduate diploma and a Masters in Marketing Management. As a Fellow of IFST Deborah has contributed to a Sustainability Report and educational initiatives teaching food science in secondary schools.

Pastimes include pilates, spinning, yoga and overseas travel. Deborah also volunteers with her local ReEngage group to help older people make new friends.

Stephen French
Scientific Policy Director

Stephen is responsible for leading IFST policy development and engagement on scientific and technical issues, and policy relevant to IFST mission in education, skills and professional recognition.  In addition, he supports the External Affairs Advisory Committee and Consultations Group.  In this role, Stephen engages with key government departments from the UK nations, key opinion leader academics, and food sector industry leaders to support the IFST mission.

Since graduating from University of Sheffield with a BSc. (Hons) in Physiology and a Ph.D. in Gastrointestinal Physiology and Nutrition, Stephen had an academic career in research and teaching prior to joining Mars Inc.  During his time with Mars Inc., Stephen worked in a variety of research and Scientific and Regulatory Affairs roles for the organisation in European and Global roles, and in Confectionery, Food, and Petfood sectors of the business. 

Outside of work, Stephen is a Governor at a leading independent day school and a volunteer at a local community garden.  Stephen enjoys running, cycling and is a keen gardener.

Natasha Medhurst
Senior Scientific Affairs Manager

Natasha’s principal focus is on scientific activities and affairs, contributing to the communication of our scientific voice. She is responsible for writing new scientific materials for our members and other interested parties as well as in response to specific external enquiries.

In addition, Natasha supports the Scientific Committee, coordinates the relationship with our Special Interest Groups and acts as an external scientific representative for collaborations with other relevant organisations.  

Since graduating from University of Reading with a BSc (Hons) in Food Technology, Natasha has taught Food Science in China and worked in product development, quality, project management, factory technical and regulatory roles in the food industry. As an IFST Fellow herself, she is fully aware of the importance of supporting and uniting food professionals for the advancement of the sector.   

Natasha enjoys travel, cooking and yoga.

Delia Mertoiu
Senior Corporate Relationships Manager

Delia is responsible for managing, retaining and developing our existing corporate partners.  She delivers an excellent level of customer service and longevity of partnerships. Additionally, Delia develops creative and compelling propositions to pitch and present to our existing corporate supporters and works closely with the Business Development Director to ensure integrated planning and identification of partnership collaboration opportunities.

She actively manages approaches to food-industry employers to promote and progress our group membership scheme, CPD and professional registration schemes.

Delia appreciates the relationship management side of her job and enjoys building strong relationships with members, stakeholders, suppliers and corporate partners by fully understanding their professional needs, strategies and objectives.

She has worked in HR, finance and business analysis and has a master’s degree in marketing. She is a Chartered Marketer and holds a voluntary position as the Vice-Chair Events of the Food, Drink and Agriculture SIG at the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

Delia is a book lover and enjoys dancing, and travelling.

Robert Edge-Partington
Senior Communications Manager

Robert has a background in sustainability and science communications, and has previously worked for the UN Relief Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, the University of Oxford, and as a science communications specialist, focussing on communicating climate science and sustainability. His work is often directed towards making science more accessible to the public; in 2022 he delivered a Climate Science and Communications workshop to thousands of young people across the UK, speaking at music festivals and online. Robert also regularly appears on panels and on social media platforms to speak on sustainability and science communication.

Robert previously studied for an MSc in Environmental Change and Management at the University of Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute, where his research covered food system resilience in Puerto Rico, with a focus on vertical farming. Robert also holds a bachelor's degree from the Paris Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po).

Hayley Mahon
People Manager and Executive Assistant to the CEO

Hayley is IFST's People Manager and Executive Assistant to the CEO.  Her role includes HR Strategy and Coordination, Recruitment, Payroll and Operations. She also provides executive support to the Chief Executive and supports the Board with Governance administration.

Hayley has a wealth of experience in the Public Sector, including the NHS, Local Government, Environmental Health and Trading Standards. In her spare time, Hayley loves going to gigs and festivals, reading high fantasy novels, and spending too much money on old vinyl records.

Sophie Dumville
Registration and Accreditation Manager

As IFST's Registration and Accreditation Manager, Sophie provides support to IFST’s membership, and coordinates and manages the Institute’s registration, accreditation and assessment processes via the Institute’s network of trained assessors.


Sophie has worked in the membership sector for over 10 years and has extensive knowledge and experience of engaging and supporting members to help them make the most of their membership. She has a track record of successfully implementing change to improve members’ experience, and she believes strongly in ensuring members’ thoughts, values and feedback are at the heart of all organisation activities.


In her spare time, Sophie enjoys cooking, listening to music, and going to exercise classes, particularly dance classes.

Robin Leaper
Education and Careers Coordinator

Robin manages the institute's range of education and careers related activities. He is working to develop relationships with university contacts and is responsible for the new IFST apprenticeship platform. He coordinates the promotion of the Institute’s range of competitions and awards. He produces digital media to promote careers in Food Science and Technology for school-aged young people and university students including videography, photography, graphics, fact sheets and printed materials. He also manages the IFST webinar program helping to deliver IFST's scientific content.

Robin has an undergraduate degree in Food Science from the University of Nottingham and worked for PepsiCo during an industrial placement year. He achieved a Master’s degree in research with a project for McCain Foods. Since graduating he worked as a researcher for Channel 4’s ‘Food Unwrapped’ documentary responsible for creating topical ideas to communicate facts about the food industry and dispel myths. He has worked as IFST's Digital Marketing and Communications officer responsible for all of of IFST social media, website and email communications.

Robin enjoys travel, hockey, canoeing, illustration and photography.

George Steedman Jones
Social Media and Science Communications Coordinator

George’s main focus is effective and accessible science communication. His background is in visual media production for climate and sustainability focused organisations. He studied Marine and Natural History Photography at Falmouth University; spending his final year developing a print newspaper on community food systems. 

Previously, he’s helped to set up initiates including Pass The Mic Climate, and has worked as a freelance environmental photographer and filmmaker. His podcast, Coffee with Conservationists, shares key stories from the world of ecological science and storytelling and has been highly reviewed in BBC Wildlife Magazine. 

In 2022 he delivered a successful talk at the Land Skills Fair, which has led to him working to publish a framework for accessible photography for small-scale food producers and land workers.

In his spare time, George is a book lover and nature writer. He enjoys fixing his very old bicycle, and drinks too much coffee. 

Sue Taylor-Owers
Finance Coordinator

Sue has 30 years' experience working in finance, she has a Diploma Level 3 in Computerised Accounting and AAT Level 2 Certificate in Accounting. 

In her spare time Sue enjoys walking her dog, gardening, listening to music and spending as much time as she can with her family, grandchildren, and socialising with friends.

Anjna Patel-Holtham
Events and Corporate Relationships Officer

Anjna is responsible for administering, coordinating and promoting all IFST events as well as updating information on the IFST website. She will also be supporting the Senior Corporate Relationships Manager and other colleagues.

After completing an undergraduate degree in Business and Marketing Management she enjoyed a career in the events industry which included corporate team-building and event coordination. She then developed her love of food into a baking business and running cookery classes for children. Anjna then went on to pursue a PGCE in Food Preparation and Nutrition and spent the last eight years teaching in secondary schools.

In her spare time she experiments with recipes and enjoys hiking, reading and travelling.

Dee Costa
Membership and Registration Officer

Dee is a versatile multilingual Administrative Professional fluent in both Portuguese and English. She is recognised for her adaptability, resilience, and sincere dedication to learning and personal development. Her strengths lie in aligning with organisational visions and building strong relationships, as exemplified by earlier roles at NATO and The School of Management at Cranfield University.

Having lived and worked in three different countries, Dee embraces change with flexibility, bringing a wealth of organizational, communication and planning skills cultivated through diverse roles. She thrives on collaboration and consistently finding innovative ways to streamline processes.   

Beyond her professional commitments, Dee consistently embraces an ongoing pursuit of new skills. She holds an HND in Design and nurtures a deep passion for the arts, finding joy in creative activities such as illustration, graphic design and sculpting. An avid lover of musical instruments, Dee also plays the bass guitar and enjoys reading, travel, learning about business strategy, and playing chess in her spare time.

Kawsar Warsame
Business Administration Assistant

Kawsar Warsame is IFST’S Business Administration Assistant. Her role includes supporting the People Manager with HR Administration and Office Administration.

Kawsar previously worked for the world's leading medical and security services company as a Coordinator and Administrator.

In her spare time, she enjoys strength training, researching natural skincare remedies and travelling.

Nwando Onuigbo-Chatta
Scientific Assistant Intern

Nwando’s prime responsibilities are the identification, collation and creation of advisory knowledge sharing materials for IFST stakeholders, including professionals working in the food sector. She also provides support for the scientific committee.

Her areas of expertise are in research, programme management, monitoring and evaluation and knowledge management. She previously worked as a Research Associate for Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and in other research roles at London Metropolitan University where she is currently studying for an MSc. in Food Science. She holds a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree from Ahmadu Bello University, Nigeria and a Master of Veterinary Public Health (MVPH) from University of Glasgow. Nwando is passionate about collaborating with others to make a beneficial impact in the security, safety, sustainability and policy of food.

Her hobbies are cooking, dancing, gardening and listening to music.