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OUR STORY

UDSS is the brainchild of General Sir Richard Barrons KCB CBE and businessman Peter Hewitt JP. It was founded in 2019 as a platform for highly experienced ex-service, MOD and Civil Service personnel to continue to put their skills and experience to good use.

  • Vision
  • Mission
  • Manifesto

UDSS will be a leader in not only the delivery of practical advice and service in all areas of defence and security but also in the thinking and execution of digital age Defence and Security Transformation, including applied cyber.

UDSS provides the highest levels of advice in areas such as the development and implementation of:

  • Defence policy, planning and programming,
  • Military strategy and operational planning and execution,
  • Digital age transformation and cyber,
  • Mentoring,
  • Wider security and operations other than war.

In doing so we also provide expertise to specialisms such as:

  • Leadership,
  • Policy development and implementation,
  • Strategic planning,
  • Defence and Service level force design,
  • Organisation design,
  • Education and training,
  • Contested cyber environments,
  • Logistics support and infrastructure management,
  • Acquisition and capability management,
  • Project management,
  • Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

UDSS provides vision, strategy, operational and major project advice as well as delivery support to governments, armed forces, information technology companies, defence and national security organisations as well as private industry.

UDSS is working with governments, armed forces, industry and other organisations from around the world, both in an independent capacity as well as being part of government and industrial teams that cover a wide range of contemporary and future scenarios.

OUR PEOPLE

Universal Defence is unique in the world, with over 700 specialists, we have the largest team of former UK military from 4* to Warrant Officers across all of the 5 domains of Land, Sea, Air, Cyber and Space.

As a result, we are able to cover policy and strategy through to technical advice, across the breadth of the defence and security sectors and in all domains, including cyber.

  • Board of Directors
  • Executive Team & Senior Leadership Team
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Lt Gen (Retd) Sir Mark Poffley KCB OBE Director

Mark was Deputy to the Head of the British Army and led the Royal Logistic Corps. He has a reputation for insight, vision and counsel at the highest levels of UK military and political decision-making.

Lt Gen (Retd) Sir Mark Poffley KCB OBE Director
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Vice Admiral (Ret'd) Duncan L Potts CB Director

Duncan led capability development for the Royal Navy and has commanded at 1 & 2* level for NATO, EU, and US-led coalition operations.

Vice Admiral (Ret'd) Duncan L Potts CB Director
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Major General (Ret’d) David Shouesmith BEd, MBA, FCILT Director

David was formerly ACDS (Logistic Operations) in the UK MoD. He has extensive experience in operational military logistics and support acquisition in both the MoD and commercial sector.

Major General (Ret’d) David Shouesmith BEd, MBA, FCILT Director
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Doug Barrow MBE Maritime Security

Doug started as a Merchant Navy deck officer, then spent 30 years in marine fuels and 11 years leading Maritime London. 

Doug Barrow Maritime Security
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Sean Bell Senior LeaderSean is motivated by making a difference and brings a unique amalgam of leadership and operational experience from senior roles within both military and industry.
Sean Bell Senior Leader
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Brian Dubrie MSc CEng FIET FAPM IT Transformation, Procurement and Complex Programme Delivery

Brian had a 37 year career in government serving as a Senior Civil Service for his last 10 years. He has led a number of complex and high-value strategic transformational programmes across the Defence and Security sectors.  A highly experienced Chartered Engineer, with strong digital delivery skills and a qualified Executive Leadership Coach.   

Brian Dubrie IT Transformation, Procurement and Complex Programme Delivery
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Kevin Fleming Senior Leader

Kevin Fleming, is a physicist and maritime aviator, with a career spanning critical thinking, leadership, and global engagement. After earning his Physics degree from Imperial College London, he joined the Royal Navy.

 

Kevin Fleming Senior Leader
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MEREDYTH GRANT HEAD OF COMMUNICATIONS

Meredyth facilitates media relations and external and internal communications ensuring alignment with the company’s strategic objectives and brand identity.

MEREDYTH GRANT HEAD OF COMMUNICATIONS
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Peter J Grinsted OBE MA MBA CEng RPP FRAeS MAPM Senior leader

After 37 years with the Royal Air Force, Peter retired in 2016.  He is a qualified and experienced engineer, programme manager, consultant and executive leadership coach.  As a consultant and coach he enjoys helping people making sense of complexity and deliver workable solutions.

Peter J Grinsted OBE Senior leader
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JONATHAN HADLEY-PIGGIN HEAD OF LEGAL

Jonathan supports Universal Defence and Security Solutions with his legal advice, ensuring that the company is compliant with the law and operates within legal boundaries.

JONATHAN HADLEY-PIGGIN HEAD OF LEGAL
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Fidelma Hewitt Coaching & Mentoring

Specialising in mentorship, Fidelma is a former AIM company Director, successful Business Mentor and NLP Practitioner for small—to medium-sized companies and private individuals. 

Fidelma Hewitt Coaching & Mentoring
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Dr Michael Holden Senior LeaderDr Holden’s expertise and insight into the space domain is extensive, having provided consulting services across several key UK aerospace projects. This includes working on the Skynet 6 Service Delivery Wrap and Enduring Capability, organising top-level UK Space Symposiums and close collaboration with the Ministry of Defence.
Dr Michael Holden Senior Leader
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John Kingwell CBE Head of Strategic Education and Executive Development

John, with vast operational and MOD background, commanded four sea missions, including the 2011 Libyan maritime strike. He served in the MOD four times, advising on the Navy's finances and supporting the inaugural head of the Iraqi Navy. 

John Kingwell CBE Head of Strategic Education and Executive Development
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Craig Lawrence OBE Senior leader Craig works with public, private and voluntary sectors develop the strategies and senior leadership skills they need to succeed in today's dynamic, uncertain and competitive operating environment.
Craig Lawrence OBE Senior leader
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Neville McNally Defence EngagementDrawing on 30+ years military experience, Neville has extensive experience as a relationship manager with strategic and operational management and leadership experience across a broad range of disciplines. 
Neville McNally Defence Engagement
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Paul Nanson CB CBE Senior LeaderPaul is a senior leader with extensive expertise based on operations, leadership development, recruiting, training, personnel, infrastructure and resource management. A qualified coach and recent best-selling author in the area of leadership and life skills.
Paul Nanson CB CBE Senior Leader
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ANGELA NICHOLLS OFFICE ADMINISTRATOR

Angela is the UDSS Office Administrator and has been part of the team since 2021. In addition to everyday administrative tasks, she also oversees the membership and onboarding process, and monitor IR35 to ensure UDSS remains compliant with regulations.

ANGELA NICHOLLS OFFICE ADMINISTRATOR
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MARK ROBERTS HEAD OF CORPORATE SECURITY AND INFRASTRUCTURE

Mark served for 20 years as a British Army Officer. He brings a wealth of multinational experience, working to international standards with government departments, commercial companies and NGOs in ME and Africa to UDSS.

MARK ROBERTS HEAD OF CORPORATE SECURITY AND INFRASTRUCTURE
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CHRISTINE ROSS BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT EXECUTIVE

Chrissie applies her expertise in business growth and recruitment, honed through her experience with the Royal Logistic Corps, to enhance UDSS' offer. She plays a key role in developing UDSS's network and initiatives.

CHRISTINE ROSS BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT EXECUTIVE
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Ed Stringer Senior LeaderEdward is a retired senior RAF officer (Air Marshal/3*) whose career in higher command positions has seen him specialise in defence policy, the command and management of military operations, and, based in the Ministry of Defence, cross-government coordination. 
Ed Stringer CB CBE Senior Leader
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John Sutcliffe Senior LeaderJohn is an expert in delivering strategy, business development and advice on complex international capability requirements and programmes in the defence and security domain.
John Sutcliffe Senior Leader
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Steve Thornber Geopolitical and Digital Expert

Steve has had tours in strategic imagery analysis, tactical reconnaissance, intelligence-collection management, instructing, on exchange with the US, contingency planning, and in an outer office. His operational experience spans tours in the Afghanistan, Balkans, Kuwait, Iraq, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey supporting air and land ops at tactical and joint operational level.

Steve Thornber Geopolitical and Digital Expert
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Air Vice Marshal (Ret’d) Gary Waterfall CBE FRAeS Senior Leader

Gary served in the Royal Air Force for 34 years, retiring in 2019. His final role was as Deputy Chief of Joint Operations at The Permanent Joint Headquarters (UK). 

Gary Waterfall CBE Senior Leader
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Dr Andy Wells Senior LeaderBuilding on almost 30 years' experience of business development, sales management and board-level roles, Dr Andy Wells provides both strategic and tactical support. 
Dr Andy Wells Senior Leader
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Elaine West CBE Senior LeaderElaine was the highest ranking female in the British Armed Forces and the first regular to hold a 2* rank. She most recently served as Director of Projects and Programme Delivery at the Defence Infrastructure Organisation.
Elaine West CBE Senior Leader
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Marcus Willett CB OBE Senior leader

With 33 years at GCHQ, Marcus became its deputy head and first Director of Cyber. Post-2018, he advises the International Institute for Strategic Studies and the Red Cross on cyber matters. His publications cover state cyber power and the SolarWinds hack.

Marcus Willett Senior leader
"There's no guarantee that in our lifetime war is not going to affect all of us".
Richard-Barrons
General Sir Richard Barrons KCB CBEUDSS Co-Chairman
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