Governance & Advisory

Nekton operates as a wholly transparent and ethical organisation, governed by strong principles and values, operating in the service of the ocean, humanity and our planet.

We strive for efficient and productive operations, linking funding directly with measurable performance, and ensuring a high impact and return on investment. The management team is accountable to the Trustees and responsible for making sure all funding is invested to maximise our ability to meet the charitable objectives.


Rupert Grey, Chair is a leading Intellectual Property lawyer with an associated specialism in expedition related legal matters. Formerly Legal Counsel for the Royal Geographical Society, Operation Drake, Raleigh and others, Rupert also represents Magnum Pictures and is the board of The Mary Rose Trust and other charities.

Juliet Burnett (Larcombe) was the Director of the Shoals of Capricorn Programme, a mutli-disciplinary and multi-year field research initiative undertaken by the Royal Society and Royal Geographical Society in the Indian Ocean. She is a marine scientist and founding Trustee of a marine educational charity in the Rodrigues.

Paul Crowther is CEO of Atlantic Marine, owns and operates a fleet of offshore vessels and specializes in subsea operations for the offshore wind construction industry. Paul overseas all areas of operational ship management, charter sales and corporate oversight as an experienced corporate director in both public and private companies. Paul is a ship's Master, YachtMaster and Aviation pilot with 30 years of experience as both a ship owner / manager, and super-yacht manager.

Paul Jardine is CEO of XL Catlin UK and Executive Vice President and Chief Experience Officer of XL Catlin Group. Paul was previously Catlin’s Chief Operating Officer and has responsibility for XL Group’s Communications & Marketing function, Claims and Distribution Strategy. Paul joined Catlin in 2001 with responsibility for the development of new financial products. He was appointed chief executive of the Catlin Syndicate in 2003 and chief operating officer of Catlin in 2004. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries and an Associate of the Casualty Actuarial Society. XL Catlin are a Founding Partner of Nekton.

Rob Mccallum is one of the world’s leading experts on submersible-based expeditions. Previously the General Manager for Deep Ocean Expeditions, he lead and organised expeditions to the RMS Titanic (3780m) and the Bismark (5500m), planned the first manned submersible dive at the North Pole, coordinated the PNG test programme of James Cameron’s ‘Deep Challenger’ prior to its dive to full ocean depth in the Marianas Trench, managed the M.V. Alucia, the vessel that achieved successful search for Air France 447. Rob is the Expedition Leader of the Five Deeps Expedition, diving to the deepest points in every ocean and partner and VP at Williamson & Associates, one of the world’s foremost providers of deep-water sonar expertise and a provider of deep-water engineering innovation. Rob is the Managing Director of EYOS Expeditions, organizing bespoke expeditions to the Earth’s most remarkable places ( EYOS Expeditions are a Partner of Nekton and provide Mission logistical support, direction and advice

Emily Penn is an oceans advocate and skipper. She co-founded Pangaea Explorations, helped to discover unknown oceanic gyres and huge areas of plastic pollution accumulation. She runs eXXpedition - a series of all female voyages which focus on the relationship between plastics and toxics and female health - and working on solving the ocean plastics issue with Parley for the Oceans and other corporate clients. Emily was honoured with the Fitzroy Award at the 2016 Ocean Awards and is also the youngest and only female recipient of both the Yachtmaster of the Year, awarded by HRH Princess Royal, and the Seamaster of the Year award.

Angelique Pouponneau is the Chief Executive Officer of Seychelles’ Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCATT), an innovative financing mechanism supporting marine scientific research and conservation efforts in Seychelles. Angelique is a lawyer (Seychelles and UK) specializing in the law of the sea and natural resources law, a climate change negotiator under the UN’s AOSIS Climate Change Fellowship Programme and served as a legal expert for the African Group of Sixth Committee at the UN. In addition, Angelique has worked globally on a wide-range of projects relating to sustainable fisheries, sustainable management of marine biodiversity within and beyond national jurisdiction, climate change, in particular, climate adaptation and climate finance.

Vanessa Rice is the Director of Finance and Corporate Services for Interpol. Her previous roles have included Global Chief Financial Officer, Oxfam International, International Finance Director, Oxfam UK, Head of International Finance, British Red Cross Society and Group Development Manager, Old Mutual Plc. Vanessa has also worked extensively across Africa in a range of roles including financial strategy, risk management and business development with Oxfam and as an independent consultant with clients including World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF), Merlin, and the International Federation of the Red Cross/Crescent Societies (IFRC).

Callum Roberts is Professor of Marine Conservation at the University of York. His research focuses on threats to marine ecosystems and species, and on finding the means to protect them. His main research interests include documenting the impacts of fishing on marine life and exploring the theory and practical effectiveness of marine protected areas for conservation and fisheries management. For the last 28 years he has used his science background to make the case for stronger protection for marine life at both national and international levels. His team provided the scientific underpinning for a new ocean protection target – 30% by 2030 – which is gaining widespread support as a follow on to the UN 10% by 2020 target. Recently, with a group of leading scientists, he showed how expanded ocean protection can help mitigate climate change. Callum Roberts’ award-winning book, The Unnatural History of the Sea, charts the effects of 1000 years of exploitation on ocean life. His second book, Ocean of life: how our seas are changing, shows that the oceans are changing faster and in more ways than at any time in human history, setting out a series of reforms that could lead to a more sustainable future.

Nigel Winser is a Life Scientist with a career directing international geographical field research programmes at the Royal Geographical Society, London and Earthwatch International, Oxford. Nigel has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Westminster University for services to the environment and conservation and the Royal Geographical Society's Gold Medal.

Will Goodlad is a Principal at Oxford Sciences Innovation, where he is a member of the Deep Tech investment team. He represents OSI on the Boards of Alloyed, Animal Dynamics, Brill Power, First Light Fusion, Odqa Renewable Energy Technologies, ORCA Computing, Oxford Quantum Circuits, Oxford Ionics, Util and YASA. Will has previously worked for the China Britain Business Council in Beijing, E.L.I. Holdings in Chengdu, Text Publishing in Melbourne, and as a Publishing Director at Penguin UK.


GIGI BRISSON is the Founder and CEO of the Ocean Elders, a collective of leaders working with partners to protect, value, and celebrate the ocean and its wildlife. The Elders include Richard Branson, Ted Turner, Prince Albert II of Monaco, Sylvia Earle, Jean Michel Cousteau, Queen Noor of Jordan, Jackson Brown, Don Walsh, James Cameron, Jose-Maria Figueres, E.O. Wilson and Fredrik Paulsen. The Ocean Elders are a Partner of Nekton.

STEVE BROOKS is a principal in the Boultbee Foundation, a charitable foundation which is proud to support a number of organisations committed to the improvement of health, education, employment, wellbeing and social advancement where it is most needed. An avid explorer and helicopter pilot who has set new records, in 2004 Steve became the first person to fly a helicopter from pole to pole. Earlier, in 2001, he designed and drove the world's first land based vehicle across the Bering Strait from America to Russia.

JAMIE BUCHANAN-DUNLOP is the founder and director of Encounter Edu, one of the UK's pre-eminent educational organisations providing world-class global science, geographic and citizenship learning through creating unique collaborations between scientists, explorers, teachers and pupils. Encounter Edu are Nekton’s educational partner, and have created Nekton’s educational programme 'Submarine STEM'.

PARAG KHANNA is a leading global strategist, world traveler, and best-selling author. He is a Managing Partner of Hybrid Reality, a geostrategic advisory firm, a Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation, Adjunct Professor in the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, and Senior Fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs. He is author of Connectography: Mapping the Future of Global Civilizations, How to Run the World: Charting a Course to the Next Renaissance (2011) and other best sellers.

PATRICK LAHEY is the President and Founder of Triton Submarines. As one of the most experienced submersible operators globally, he's worked with James Cameron on 'Aliens of the Deep’ and Deepsea Challenger, the search for wreckage of NASA’s Challenger, and the successful filming of a Giant Squid. Triton are a Strategic Partner of Nekton and Patrick was the Chief Pilot on Nekton’s first Mission.

DAN LAFFOLEY: Marine Vice Chair, IUCN's World Commission on Protected Areas and Senior Advisor Marine Science and Conservation, IUCN's Global Marine and Polar Programme, Dan is also advisor or board member of Sylvia Earle Alliance, Ocean Elders, Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health X Prize and High Seas Alliance.

MIRELLA VON LINDENFELS: An award-winning communications expert and founder of Communications Inc., Mirella co-founded The International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO), advises Ocean Unite, the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition and has held senior positions with Greenpeace and Amnesty International.

MIKE METCALF is a Consultant and non-executive director of numerous UK luxury and retail businesses including Fortnum & Masons. Formerly CFO of Thorn EMI, Chief Operating and Financial Officer of the Burberry Group and Chief Executive of Fitness First.

JO ROYLE is a Founder of Common Seas, spearheading the development of the Spindrift Foundation, and formerly a Director of Pew’s Global Ocean Legacy Project. Jo is also one of Europe's leading female ocean sailing skippers and skippered the Plastiki, drawing the attention of global media to plastic pollution in the ocean.

TORSTEN THIELE is Founder of the Global Ocean Trust, and focuses on marine conservation, technology and governance. Previously Torsten structured complex international project financing with JP Morgan, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and Investec.

JEFF WILLNER is the Founder and CEO of TravelEdge a $1 billion collection of North America travel companies and previously a partner with McKinsey. Jeff is an avid explorer and adventurer, a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and the Explorers Club and undertaken many expeditions globally including driving twice around the world in his trusty Land Rover. Kensington Tours, part of the TravelEdge group are Nekton’s Launch Partner for Mission II: Indian Ocean.

DR ASHA DE VOS is an internationally recognized and awarded marine biologist, ocean educator and pioneer of blue whale research within the Northern Indian Ocean. She has degrees from the University of St. Andrews, University of Oxford and the University of Western Australia but escaped academia to establish her own Sri Lankan grown non-profit, Oceanswell. Oceanswell, Sri Lanka’s first marine conservation research and education organization is home to the well-known ‘Sri Lankan Blue Whale Project’ the first long-term study on blue whales in the region. Asha’s work has led to many key research publications, that are used to inform policy at the local and global level. Her work has also been showcased internationally by Channel 7 Australia, the BBC, the New York Times, CNN, WIRED UK, the New Scientist, TED, Grist, GOOD, Nature and National Geographic. Asha is the first and only Sri Lankan to have a PhD in Marine Mammal research, the first Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation from Sri Lanka and also the first National Geographic Explorer from her small island nation. Asha is also a TED Senior fellow, an Ocean Conservation Fellow at the New England Aquarium, a Duke Global Fellow in Marine Conservation, and a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader. In 2018 Asha was recognized with a prestigious WingsWorldQuest Woman of Discovery at Sea award, was a global winner for the UK Alumni Awards in the Professional Achievement category that recognizes alumni whose work has created change in their chosen profession, a Woman in Management Inspirational Woman of the Year Award, an Ada Derana Sri Lankan of the Year Emerging Global Scientist Award, named one of Asia’s sustainability superwomen, listed on the BBC 100 Women 2018 list of most inspiring and influential women from around the world and named Lanka Monthly Digest’s Sri Lankan of the Year. Asha’s life work is to change the current marine conservation model, protect this unique population of blue whales and inspire the next generation of diverse ocean heroes.

MICHAEL DA COSTA BABB works in the creative and innovation industries. He is a hands-on strategic advisor for various businesses, investment funds & accelerators across all sectors including Marketing Town (UK), Generic Robotics (UK), Films Angel (UK/ France), FreedomEE (Pt) and Fabrica do Futuro (Brazil). He is also a Tech London Advocate and a lecturer at INSEEC. In addition Michael is a mentor of CV Labs AG, Switzerland, MIT Portugal and a founder jury member of the European Commission @Diversity Culture Technology competition. Michael clients include PlayStation, Nike, X Box, MTV, Diageo, Cockspur Rum, Interbrew, BMW, Coca Cola, SONAR, Red Bull, Nokia, Vice and the ICA.

WILL LEE is the head of digital entertainment at Meredith Corp, where he oversees digital, video, and streaming for the People and Entertainment Weekly brands. Over the past two decades, Will has built, grown, and led digital businesses, products and experiences at Time Inc, TMZ, The Hollywood Reporter, Penske Media, and for many consumer products brands, with hundreds of millions of monthly users and engagements.