Beacon Away Country Mentors

Each current Beacon Scholar at University or Beacon Scholar at school overseas is paired with a Beacon Away Country Mentor for pastoral support in the country where they are attending University or School.

The following are currently Beacon Away Country Mentors:

Peter Gerstrom smallPeter Gerstrom was born and brought up in Kenya, moving to the UK after university. With an Engineering Science degree from Oxford University, he started his career in water engineering, developing water resource and wastewater projects around the world in the 1980s. Following an MBA at London Business School, he then moved into new business development having identified the environmental sector, and waste in particular, as a changing and growing sector.  At Balfour Beatty, he set up a joint venture with the large German Utility RWE.  Moving next to Veolia, he ran Hampshire Waste Services then SELCHP, their new London business.  Following a short spell spent at Cleanaway as Director of Municipal Services, he joined Cory Environmental in 2003 to help it transform itself from a landfill-focused company to offering waste treatment and technology services, including developing London’s largest Energy from Waste facility.  After five years as CEO he retired in 2016, and is now spending much of his time travelling and touring, usually in classic cars, whilst keeping an eye on a small family property business.

Robin Lawson smallRobina Maslen completed a Masters course in Social Policy and Planning at the LSE. She spent the first half of her career as a manager in the National Health Service in the UK, as an academic, and also working in South America. The second half of her career was in the Consulting arm of PwC LLP.  Her work focused firstly on helping improve national health and social care services, and then on big central government projects.  Her last 6 years at PwC were in the internal Learning and Development Division, where she developed strategy and managed budgets for training, designed courses and sometimes tutored courses.  She trained as an executive coach and is plannning to use these skills more now that she has retired from full-time paid work. She is married with a 25-year-old daughter who works in the Technology industry, and lives in a small market town - Faversham - in Kent. She is often in London.

Kendi MMarete smallKendi M’Marete attended boarding school, high school and university in Kenya, qualifying in Community Development, Projects Planning and Management. She started her career in the slums of Nairobi; empowering local women and girls in human rights and SMEs with the aim of empowering them and lifting them out of poverty. She worked extensively in the NGO, iNGO and public sectors in various parts of Kenya, including Dadaab Refugee Camp with UNHCR earlier in her career. Kendi moved to Cambridge 8.5 years ago where she worked with various charities while at the same time conducting Inclusive Education research based studies at Cambridge University’s Madingley Hall. Her career and passion have largely been in the International Development and charity sectors with a focus on Disability Inclusion, Education, Poverty Reduction, Human Rights, Child Protection, Gender Empowerment and Socio-Economic Development through the Theory of Change. She now works for the UK Civil Service in European Union and International Policy. Her role involves influencing international policies aimed at improving global labour standards including elimination of indecent work, child labour, forced labour and promotion of gender equality and safety working practices. A great lover of books and travel, she spends her spare times travelling, reading or walking and has happily (or bravely) skydived in a few continents to raise money for some of her favourite charities.

Vanessa Sadler small

Vanessa Sadler is an Executive Coach specializing in leadership development. She has worked with senior leaders of many different nationalities in global and national corporates in financial services, recruitment, non-profit, consulting, pharmaceutical, manufacturing and oil and gas sectors. For the last 15 years she has also worked with INSEAD, London Business School and Cranfield delivering workshops, facilitating group learning and coaching MBAs, and as a Leadership Solutions Associate with the Center for Creative Leadership® (CCL®). She is an Associate partner with Leadership Choices GmbH and a certified Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coach (MGSCC®). Vanessa lived for over 13 years in Singapore, The Netherlands, Gibraltar and is now based in the United Kingdom. Prior to training as a coach she worked as a Strategy Consultant for The LEK Partnership, a Project Manager with Schiphol Management Services, and a Marketing Manager for AT&T. She began her career as a chemical engineer working for Shell. She gained her MBA from INSEAD in 1989 and graduated in chemical engineering from Sheffield University in 1984.

Dianne Watkins small

Professor Dianne Watkins is a registered nurse, midwife and health visitor and is currently Deputy Head of the School of Healthcare Sciences, Cardiff University with a remit for international and engagement, which includes NHS liaison. She has held a number of strategic academic positions including International Dean for the College of Biomedical and Life Sciences covering 8 Health Schools; and has been very involved with developing nursing education in Wales. Her international profile is extensive and includes advisor to the Ministry of Health, Sultanate of Oman, having established a BSc in Nursing and the first BSc in Community Nursing for the country. In addition, Dianne was an expert advisor on the development of a BSc in Public Health in Namibia and has obtained 'Wales in Africa' funding to develop nurse leadership for the country, setting up a buddying scheme between nursing students in Namibia and Wales, and also between qualified nurses in the two countries. Dianne also leads a project in Malawi and is establishing a Practice Development Unit in the country to improve evidence-based practice and education in the clinical environment.  

Dianne is an Independent Executive Member of Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, holding the University seat. In this role she chairs the Quality and Patient Safety Committee and the Planning and Strategic Change Committee, as well as being a member of the Executive Board.   She has published in the field of public health nursing and has researched the effects of BSc and MSc education on improving nursing practice in Germany, the UK and Oman. 

Gemma White small

Gemma White is a barrister who has practised in London for over 20 years specialising in public law, with a particular interest in education. Gemma is also a trained mediator and volunteers for a local charity conducting community mediations. She is married with a 21 year old daughter and 19 year old son, both of whom are currently at university. Gemma lives in West London where she is chair of governors of her local primary school.


If you would like to become a Beacon Away Country Mentor please contact us.