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Meet The Team

RIIS continues to attract and house a dynamic and diverse team of young, highly qualified and talented individuals who are passionate about serving the world in the various roles they occupy. Our multidisciplinary approach to solution-seeking is further enhanced by the team’s diverse knowledge areas which include (but are not limited to) management, public health, behavioural science, engineering, microbiology, economics, physics and chemistry.

DAVIS COOK

Chief Executive Officer

With a passion for the role that innovation plays in both business and social progress, Davis keeps looking for ways to build a better world. He has a diverse background across consulting, corporate, government and start-ups, and has been based in both South Africa and the UK.

THIRU SWETTENHAM

Chief Operating Officer

Thiru has extensive experience in programme and project management. This includes the  implementation of regional (SADC) and national innovation programmes, multi-partner stakeholder management, entrepreneurship, innovation support, social entrepreneurship, training, capacity-building and monitoring and evaluation.

IMRAAN SALOOJEE

Executive

Imraan’s career in the space sector spans more than two decades. Over this time he has gained national and international experience which has enabled him to develop crucial networks in earth observations, science policy, business development and mining.

ALEXANDRA LUGAGNE

Engagement Manager

Alex has a broad academic and professional background in communications, research and public health. Her expertise includes mining innovation research, workshop facilitation and strategy framework development. Alex has worked in both in the United Kingdom and South Africa, in small business development, and within international organisations such as the UN.

MARC DUNNINK

Engagement Manager

Marc has an innate curiosity for finding new and better ways of doing things that ultimately enable markets, ecosystems and economies to better serve inclusive societies. A consultant since 2013, Marc’s work has supported governments, private sector actors, NGOs, funds and development agencies in the refinement of strategic direction setting and programme design.

LITHAKAZI NXIWENI

Consultant

With a special interest in climate change, development and policy, Litha’s work at RIIS has included leading the development of the Coal Innovation and Technology Roadmap and the running the fourth SA National Space Agency Open Innovation Challenge. Litha’s current focus is on sustainability and modernisation within the mining sector.

LOUIS MOUSSI SOPP

Consultant

Louis has an interest in economics, which he resulted in him obtaining several degrees and certifications within this field. His work at RIIS has included, among others, roadmap development and research within the mining sector. Louis currently leads a multi-stakeholder pan-African business development challenge which is aimed at start-ups and entrepreneurs in the space-tech industry.

VISHAYLIN MAHADEO

Consultant

Vish has a special interest in the integration and intersection of human processes within business structures. This is bolstered by his specialised studies in strategic thinking that utilises behavioural science and neurostrategy. At RIIS, Vish has led programmes across a number of strategic areas including entrepreneurship, energy, maritime and innovation.

LINDOKUHLE SIMELANE

Consultant

Lindo’s work at RIIS has seen her immersion in human-centred design methodology within mining innovation projects, as well as working on programmes concerned with social development and innovation. Lindo has also led a multi-partner programme pertaining to entrepreneur development within the African space sector.

NANDI MTETHWA

Consultant

With an academic background in mechanical engineering, Nandi currently leads the Geographic Information Systems team at RIIS. Her involvement includes the conceptualisation, development and deployment of critical information mapping systems used to identify Covid-19 hotspots and industrial action events.

THABO SCOTT

Consultant

Since joining RIIS, Thabo has focused on the strategic development of a large social impact institution, which included ecosystem mapping and partner benchmarking. He has also been involved in the design of a business environment technical facility across certain priority areas, as well as conducting a drone ecosystem study for South Africa and Kenya, looking at barriers and opportunities.

THANDEKA MHLANGA

Consultant

As well as working at RIIS, Thandeka is the co-founder of an NPO focused on entrenching science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics and innovation principles into youth in under privileged communities. A seasoned and published researcher, Thandeka’s focus at RIIS is on developing strategic research into the innovation landscape.

YANKHO LIKAKU

Consultant

Yankho specializes in strategy, process improvement and policy development. With a strong research and problem-solving background, Yankho has a keen interest in how political and economic developments and trends play into business and the markets, both locally and regionally.

AMY BENN

Consultant

With a Masters' degree in Development Studies, Amy has strong experience in overseeing innovation programmes, with a keen interest in innovation and entrepreneurship-related activities.

JONATHAN KIRKEL

Analyst

Jonathan has a strong interest in science, technology and entrepreneurship, all of which have been amplified after studying chemical engineering. At RIIS, Jonathan has applied his skill to projects such as mapping out a provincial innovation ecosystem, and focusing on the relationship and interdependency of government, industry and academia in fostering innovation and entrepreneurship.

PALEESHA NAIDOO

Analyst

Before joining RIIS, Paleesha worked in the chemicals and energy sector in a variety of departments including operations, business development, supply chain and sustainability. At RIIS she has been involved in developing networks and entrepreneurial sustainability within an industrial development zone, focusing on the marine, logistics and renewable energy sectors.

MPHO BOGATSU

Analyst

Mpho’s academic background includes a focus on GIS and remote sensing, with a special interest in earth observation through satellite imagery, and the environment. As a member of the Data 4.0 team, Mpho’s work has included modelling for the mining sector as well as undertaking research design, data collation and analysis so as to produce insight and advice for clients.

ANITA KOOIJ

Analyst

An anthropologist by training, Anita’s work has involved theory of change framework development and contributions to strategic roadmap creation with the application of design thinking. Recently, Anita has been involved in the research and development of community engagement and data gathering tools for the people-centred technology application.

MAHEEN PARBHOO

Analyst

Maheen has extensive experience in research and analytical problem solving, coupled with an enthusiasm for technology, innovation and entrepreneurship. His main interests are in the African space tech start-up ecosystem and the development of a sustainable Pan-African space economy.

KIMEHRA GOVINDSAMY

Analyst

Prior to joining RIIS, Kimehra worked for at a chartered accounting firm, with focus on the manufacturing and research space. At RIIS, she has undertaken work with a focus on impact-driven programmes with a focus in the mining and minerals sector. Kimehra has an honours degree in corporate finance and investment, and is currently completing her masters degree.

SHAMEEMAH BULL

Analyst

Shameemah has an Honours degree in social sciences, specialising in environmental and geographical science from University of Cape Town. As an analyst at RIIS, she has provided research, development and collaboration support in developing training and socio-economic needs of community and SMMEs for mining modernisation in South Africa.