Our Staff


Andrew Gibbons

Andrew Gibbons : Telesales Manager


I joined SMi Group’s Market Research Team in 1999 after graduating from St Mary’s University College. A short stint with the team ended when I was poached by the Sales Director to join the Telesales team.

Since then I have not had time to look back. I have brought in a considerable amount of revenue in my 19 year term and have a number of records under my belt including the highest monthly revenue for a telesales person and the coveted position of Top Telesales person for 5 years in a row. In between making money I have also moved my way up the company ladder Firstly I managed a team of 8 salespeople as Telesales Manager where I was in charge of recruiting, training and mentoring new staff. Until I was promoted again by the Managing Director to the position of Sales Manager. Here I am accountable for selling all commercial opportunities (delegates and sponsorship) over our Finance, Utility and Energy portfolio - in addition to selling delegate places on many of the top defence events we produce.

Outside of work I like to spend time playing and watching football when I am not looking after my new born baby – so I haven’t played or watched football for a while!



Carla Bixby : HR and Payroll Manager

I joined SMi Group in 2001 as a Purchase Ledger Assistant and my talents lead me to a promotion within 5 months to Purchase Ledger Supervisor.

Over the years I have taken on many new responsibilities including HR, Payroll, more accounts responsibilities and team management from time to time. The variety in my job role and the team stability has been influential in me staying at SMi Group for over 13 years.

I have taken on tasks that I never thought I could do but now I feel that I have achieved far more than I thought I would. I always give work 150% but when I am not you will usually find me letting my hair down at the nearest Theme Park.



Elaine Rogers: Receptionist

I joined SMi Group at its inception in 1993 as a Conference Co-ordinator running SMi’s events having previously spent 16 years working for the Institute of Directors in their Conference and Events Department which included not only events for their members but also their prestigious Annual Convention held at the Royal Albert Hall.

Over the years I have helped organise some of the company’s largest events. I am now working as the Company’s Receptionist but continue to work very closely with the Events Team which I thoroughly enjoy. We all chip in to help each other out. They definitely make me feel part of the team and together we ensure the success of every event



Fateja Begum

Fateja Begum: Pharmaceutical Team Leader

I joined SMi Group in 2012 having gained over 5 year’s experience working across the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare industry.

Recognised by senior management as someone who always applies their knowledge and passion to everything, I was tasked with designing and implementing the Company’s LinkedIn training which still includes ongoing one to one training.

I have also been active in working with senior management in the launch of new events both in Europe and North America.

The icing on the cake is I recently achieved the monthly record for delegate revenue booked in 2017. I am always enthusiastic about keeping SMi’s Pharmaceutical division in the premier league of events!

I am a perfectionist who will always give 150% to ensure my events hit target.

Success at the job means I can spoil my nephews and nieces whenever I want!



Samara Rizvi

Samara Rizvi: Credit Manager

I am a highly motivated postgraduate in international business management from Middlesex University, with experience in the Aviation and Travel Sectors.

I joined the SMi accounts team in 2012 as a credit controller. I have always been interested in business and working at SMi Group is like “meeting like-minded people”. I love figures, and enjoy driving a calculator.

My job sets me monthly targets which I achieve with full customer satisfaction. I also need to pay attention to detail as I am working with numbers and spreadsheets every day. I was promoted to Credit manager earlier this year

I firmly believe in the famous words of Henry Ford ‘Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”

I am good humoured, approachable, friendly and as much as I love my work I enjoy working with colleagues in mine and other departments.

Being motivated and driven, I see myself in a position where I am able to handle more responsibility, supporting and guiding and striving to set good example for others.


Natasha Boumediene

Natasha Boumediene: Marketing Executive

I grew up in a small picturesque village in East Sussex where I went to the local primary school before then attending Mayfield Girls School where my sister had preceded me. Having taken my A-levels in Ceramics, Psychology and Business Studies, I then took a gap year. After all, the small sleepy village of Mayfield was not the height of cosmopolitan culture! Having spent the first few months working with various jobs in order to save money for my travels, I set off for Thailand where I furthered my PADI diver qualifications and became qualified as a rescue diver on Koh Phangnan. Despite my love of scuba diving, I decided that as my time was limited, I would not continue to progress to dive master but to explore other areas of South east Asia. After a brief return to home in East Sussex, I then embarked upon a trip to South America with friends from my school days who were also having a gap year. Hiking up to Machu Pitchu, despite the physical effort involved, must feature amongst one of the highlights of my gap year. Sadly, all good things come to an end, but it was with excitement that I packed up and travelled to Nottingham to start my degree in Business and Marketing.

An integral part of my degree was a business placement, which I successfully gained at Travis Perkins PLC as a Marketing Assistant. Following a year out, I returned to the world of academia and after much effort and hard work, graduated in the summer of 2017 with a 1st Class Honours in BA Business Management and Marketing. I was fortunate enough to find a flat in Clapham in the following September and joined SMi shortly after. I am currently working within the marketing team as a Marketing Executive managing a portfolio of events in both defence and pharmaceuticals, which I find enormously rewarding.

When I am not working, I do my best to indulge my passions of scuba diving, skiing and socialising with friends!


Shannon Cargan

Shannon Cargan: Marketing Manager

I joined SMi as a Marketing Executive in April 2016, having gained an undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Reading, a chartered Institute of Marketing Certificate in Digital Marketing and a year’s experience as a Marketing Assistant in the Healthcare industry, back in my home town Crawley.

Within only two years I have worked my way up the ranks, promoted twice to: Senior Marketing Executive and most recently Marketing Manager. Recognised for my high achievements in the company, including 4 events reaching the “best ever” accolade for revenue and attendance in 2017.

A dynamic and fast paced role has led me to develop new skills in the defence industry including: multi-channel campaign management, cross-marketing, budgeting, analytics, email marketing, public relations, copy writing, training, using photoshop, negotiating and more!

Between leaving university and my first marketing role, I also took a gap year working as a Ski instructor in Whistler Canada; the largest ski resort in North America, teaching children from around the world.

My passions lie with going to the mountains with friends when I can. Socially I love seeing friends, going to festivals and walking my dog Molly.


Pavan Solanki

Pavan Solanki: Senior Marketing Executive

A graduate in BCs Marketing Management (2015), Pav joined in May 2017 from a competitor as a Marketing Executive and has progressed these past few months to a Senior Marketing Executive.

Being an all-round marketer, Pav works alongside a number of his colleagues to ensure the promotion of each conference reaches a wider audience by introducing new media partners, writing creative copy for email marketing, working directly with sponsors, speakers and introducing new advertising platforms. Being passionate about events, he is solely responsible for the marketing of SMi’s Pharmaceutical/Life Sciences portfolio of events. Thinking outside the box, Pav has expanded contra/paid agreements and introduced new routes in social media to help market these globally.

Pav’s highlights at SMi include being promoted within 8 months, taking on launch events and making them well known to key industry pioneers and constantly smashing marketing targets.

Outside of SMi, Pav enjoys playing football, keeping fit in the gym and loves grabbing a pint with his mates. He loves listening to music from around the world as he is a DJ for various events! 

Justin Predescu

Justin Predescu: Sponsorship Manager Defence

I joined SMi in June 2015 as a sponsorship manager in the defence team after working for 3 years in the delegate sales departments of two other conference companies.

SMi has given me a great platform to grow, improve my sales skills, learn new skills and work on some great events.

My job includes mapping out the industry players who will benefit from speaking and exhibiting at our senior level military conferences and working with them pre/during/after the event to ensure the client makes the most of the opportunities on site and have a successful event.

Working with great producers and managers means that I am always involved in fantastic events and take pleasure in regularly hitting and exceeding personal and company targets.

While away from the office I am a passionate outdoors person, enjoy walking the countryside, fishing, cycling and cooking.


Cheraya Alam

Cheraya Alam: Conference Producer

I graduated from UCL in 2017 with a BSc in Biochemistry and started at SMi in July 2017. Since then, I have produced 6 events: Pharmaceutical Microbiology UK, 3D Cell Culture, Antibodies and Antibody Drug Conjugates, Highly Potent Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients, Pharmaceutical Microbiology West Coast USA and Pharmaceutical Freeze-Drying Technology. My first event, Pharmaceutical Microbiology UK, hit revenue target; and I now manage our Pharmaceutical Microbiology portfolio.

I had the opportunity to spend a week in New Jersey, USA, for 4 of SMi’s USA events and was thrilled with the chance to meet and network with some top industry leaders, from different fields. My job role allows me to interact with, learn from and work with, not only people at the forefront of their fields within the pharmaceutical industry, but also a wide range of people within SMi itself.

I otherwise enjoy experiencing all of the cultural opportunities that London has to offer, such as concerts and the many museums.


Kieran Ronaldson

Kieran Ronaldson: Pharmaceutical Executive

After leaving University I was fortunate enough to find a position working for SMi in the Sales Team. It is a vibrant, fast-paced environment to work in, and I’ve loved every second of it!

The collective experience and support of the team I work in has ensured a smooth transition into my professional life and has allowed me to consistently hit my targets since day one. It has also allowed me to accumulate a plethora of business-related skills which I’m certain will serve me well in later life.

My work has me dealing with high-end clients and key opinion leaders within the Pharmaceutical and Life Sciences industry and allows me to exercise my interest in the field daily. As well as ensuring that my events hit target, I am also an avid sportsman, and enjoy playing lacrosse in my free time.


Ben Toye

Ben Toye: Conference Producer

I joined SMi group in June 2017 and work as a conference producer in the defence sector – working on international events in the land, air and naval domains. Prior to joining SMi, I graduated from Swansea University in 2014 with a 1st class honours degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics.

In my spare time I enjoyed reading and I am an avid follower of current affairs and politics. I live in Stockwell, London and regularly volunteer at the West London shelter project.


Charlotte Whitehead

Charlotte Whitehead: Events Executive

When I joined SMi in September 2016 as an Events Assistant, I was responsible for supporting the events team on various tasks. This quickly lead to me managing my own events and being promoted to an Events Executive after just 6 months.

As an Events Executive I am responsible for the management and coordination of over 20 SMi events per year both pre-event and onsite. My roles sees me take on a number of logistical duties from speaker and sponsor to liaison to venue coordination and onsite event management.

Opportunities at SMi have led me to take on more responsibility and travel to some amazing different countries, both in Europe and the USA. It’s an exciting time to be working at SMi for me and I can’t wait to see what’s coming next.


Caresse Mingo

Caresse Mingo: Events Executive

I joined SMi in February 2016 working as a Sponsorship Support Executive in the Pharmaceutical Sector. Since then I have been promoted to Sponsorship Executive where I have had the opportunity to develop my sales skills and was responsible for bringing in substantial sums of Sponsorship and Delegate revenue as well as having the pleasure of working on SMi’s flagship Global MilSatCom event 2 years running. Fast forward to today, I have recently moved across into the Events Team as an Event Executive and I am looking forward to managing my own events and further developing my skills within the company.

Outside of the office, I enjoy getting stuck in to different activities that allow me to bring out my competitive side. I also enjoy spending quality time with my nephew.


James Hitchen: Team Leader Defence 

I joined SMi in May 2010

Worked with the pharmaceutical team for 9 months cut my teeth in the minefield that a new sales role can bring

Was then given an opportunity to work as a ‘floater’ this meant I worked across a broad range of sectors, Oil and Gas, Utilities, Finance which I enjoyed

An opportunity arose in the defence team which I took with both hands and haven’t looked back since, worked on events all over Europe, Asia, South America and the Middle East

Outside of work I am father of two, Daisy and Freddie who keep me more than busy on the weekends and very early mornings.



Lyudmyla Durneva

Lyudmyla Durneva: Marketing Manager

Marketing Manager with over 10 years of experience in events industry. Prior joining SMi Group worked through the ranks in one of the divisions of FTSE100 events and knowledge provider. Started as a data researcher, have worked in events logistics and then moved on to marketing where progressed from executive position through to senior marketing manager with responsibilities in running highly regarded events in variety of industries and regions.
Joined SMi Group in November 2017 and now developing and implementing marketing campaigns for a portfolio of pharma and life science events



Thomas Van Vynckt

Thomas Van Vynckt: Defence Conference Producer

I joined SMi in June 2017 and work as defence conference producer. I produce all the land platforms events (armoured vehicles and UGVs) as well as the UAV Technology and Maritime ISR conferences.

Prior to joining SMi, I graduated from the University of Aberdeen in 2015 with a 1st class honours MSc degree in Strategic Studies and International Law and from King’s College London in 2017 with a 1st class honours MA degree in Intelligence and International Security.

In my spare time I read and conduct (academic) research on current affairs and security studies and spend most of my time between Brussels (where I was born), the Netherlands, and London.




Simi (Dhillon) Sapal: Marketing Manager - Pharmaceutical and Defence Division

Simi joined SMi-Group in January 2018, which was the busiest time for the marketing team.

As a senior marketing and comms professional, Simi has over 15 years of experience with hands-on and as a manager (largest team she has managed of 6 marketing members - at all levels).

She has a diverse marketing background having the chance to work in various sectors and industries including the government sector, defence, events, publishing pharmaceuticals, UHNW/Family Businesses/Family Office and start-ups businesses.

Simi loves to travel (luxury holidays), fine dining and spending time with her loved ones. She's always on the go, being ambitious with goals and objectives which are deadline driven, that she is determined to achieve them!


After working for the larges publishing firm based in Oxford (at that time), Simi relocated to Dubai in 2006, working as a senior marketer within the publishing and events industry for 4 years. In 2010 when she decided to move back to the UK to be closer to family, she was given the opportunity to work with various small to medium business as a marketing  consultant - providing clear marketing strategies with clear plans in place. 


CPD stands for Continuing Professional Development’. It is essentially a philosophy, which maintains that in order to be effective, learning should be organised and structured. The most common definition is:

‘A commitment to structured skills and knowledge enhancement for Personal or Professional competence’

CPD is a common requirement of individual membership with professional bodies and Institutes. Increasingly, employers also expect their staff to undertake regular CPD activities.

Undertaken over a period of time, CPD ensures that educational qualifications do not become obsolete, and allows for best practice and professional standards to be upheld.

CPD can be undertaken through a variety of learning activities including instructor led training courses, seminars and conferences, e:learning modules or structured reading.


There are approximately 470 institutes in the UK across all industry sectors, with a collective membership of circa 4 million professionals, and they all expect their members to undertake CPD.

For some institutes undertaking CPD is mandatory e.g. accountancy and law, and linked to a licence to practice, for others it’s obligatory. By ensuring that their members undertake CPD, the professional bodies seek to ensure that professional standards, legislative awareness and ethical practices are maintained.

CPD Schemes often run over the period of a year and the institutes generally provide online tools for their members to record and reflect on their CPD activities.


Professional bodies and Institutes CPD schemes are either structured as ‘Input’ or ‘Output’ based.

‘Input’ based schemes list a precise number of CPD hours that individuals must achieve within a given time period. These schemes can also use different ‘currencies’ such as points, merits, units or credits, where an individual must accumulate the number required. These currencies are usually based on time i.e. 1 CPD point = 1 hour of learning.

‘Output’ based schemes are learner centred. They require individuals to set learning goals that align to professional competencies, or personal development objectives. These schemes also list different ways to achieve the learning goals e.g. training courses, seminars or e:learning, which enables an individual to complete their CPD through their preferred mode of learning.

The majority of Input and Output based schemes actively encourage individuals to seek appropriate CPD activities independently.

As a formal provider of CPD certified activities, SMI Group can provide an indication of the learning benefit gained and the typical completion. However, it is ultimately the responsibility of the delegate to evaluate their learning, and record it correctly in line with their professional body’s or employers requirements.


Increasingly, international and emerging markets are ‘professionalising’ their workforces and looking to the UK to benchmark educational standards. The undertaking of CPD is now increasingly expected of any individual employed within today’s global marketplace.

CPD Certificates

We can provide a certificate for all our accredited events. To request a CPD certificate for a conference , workshop, master classes you have attended please email events@smi-online.co.uk

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UK Office
Opening Hours: 9.00 - 17.30 (local time)
SMi Group Ltd, 1 Westminster Bridge Road, London, SE1 7XW, United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7827 6000 Fax: +44 (0) 20 7827 6001
Website: http://www.smi-online.co.uk Email: events@smi-online.co.uk
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