Meet the Speakers for ‘Unlocking Big Data’

Technology Editor, The Guardian

Charles Arthur has been in technology journalism for over 30 years. Most recently he was technology editor at The Guardian for nine years, writing about Apple, Google and Microsoft as well as other topics including Wikileaks and the Snowden documents. Previously he was at The Independent and New Scientist. He has written a book,
Digital Wars, about the business battles and history between Apple, Google and Microsoft. It is now in its second edition. He is married to Jojo Moyes – international best-selling author.

Topic: Big Data Revolution: the Big Picture

Chief Executive – Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership

Chris Garcia was appointed as the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership’s Chief Executive in June 2013. Chris has a background in both public and private sector leadership roles and an in-depth knowledge of building economic development partnerships working with the public, private, education and voluntary sectors. One of Chris’s first early senior roles was as a partner at KPMG, focusing on the private sector in the South West. He later ran his own successful family business, providing new technology and knowledge sharing support to both government departments and major technology firms. Previously Chris also worked as the Director of Enterprise and Skills at the South West Regional Development Agency and for the Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS). His senior management experience has included 13 years as a non-executive director of a significant charity – a leader in the field of developing people and management. Alongside this role Chris worked closely with voluntary organisations, establishing the Western Development Partnership, a major economic development partnership for the West of England. Chris is passionate about living in the South West and wants to ensure that Devon, Plymouth, Somerset and Torbay are equipped to work and succeed in a global economy, by driving economic growth and boosting jobs throughout the area.

Topic: The Heart of the South West Big Data: Current and Future

Chief Information Officer, Intelligence Optimisations Technologies Group

Alex is the Co-Founder of Intelligent Optimisations (IO) and is the company’s CIO. He is the lead architect of the IO platform, where he exploits his in-depth knowledge of and passion for computer science, big data and machine learning technologies. In addition to several startups Alex has utilised his technical knowledge and business acumen successfully in a range of senior management positions, in public and private sector companies, as CTO, COO, and most notably as the Enterprise Architect and ultimately IT Fellow within the Met Office. Alex is hugely passionate about exploiting software and systems with elegance and performance through enterprise architecture and software design, fusing technologies in new and creative ways.

Topic: Building the Reality of a Big Data Team

Managing Director, Pivigo

Dr Kim Nilsson is a Swedish national and PhD in Astrophysics from Copenhagen University, Denmark. After working four years as a post-doctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute in Germany and later as Hubble Astronomer in the European division of the Hubble Space Telescope she decided she was ready for a career change and
came to the UK to complete an MBA at Cranfield School of Management. It was during the MBA that the initial plans for Pivigo were formed, together with her co-founder. After a short time in risk management consulting, post-MBA, she co-founded Pivigo recruitment and Pivigo academy, two London-based start-ups in the recruitment and training sector. As MD of Pivigo Academy, she is also the lead organiser of Europe’s first and largest PhD-to-Data Science programme S2DS (Science to Data Science,, which ran its initial programme this summer. The launch programme saw 85 analytical PhDs working on commercial data science projects with the 22 commercial partners on the programme in mini-internships. She is passionate about supporting the career transitions of academics into commercial industry, and supporting the revolution to our way of life that data science promises to bring.

Topic: Investing in Human Data Capital

Director of Information and Chief Information Officer, the Met Office

Charles is responsible for the development and implementation of the ICT Strategy and for the internal technical teams within the Technology Information Services Directorate, working closely with the Science teams to operate the High Performance Computing capability. The Met Office relies heavily upon cutting-edge IT to improve the quality of forecast services and increasingly to make those services accessible and effective for customers and the Public. Charles has worked for the Met Office in a number of senior technology roles since 2008 and, prior to that, worked in the Business-to-Business online retail and distribution industry. During this time he used relevant technologies to transform businesses from traditional retail approaches to being internet and technology capable. As well as a number of consulting appointments, Charles worked within the Premier Farnell group of companies for over 10 years. He has run his own small technology company and started his career as an Electronics Engineer in the defence industry.

Topic: Big Data: Maximising the Collaboration Effect


Introducing ‘Unlocking Big Data’

On 28 January the Met Office will be hosting an event produced by the Exeter and Heart of Devon Employment and Skills Board entitled “Unlocking Big Data: Investing in Human Capital”. The goal of this event is to explore the explosion of Big Data, focusing particularly on how this new and rapidly expanding field can be translated into new education and career opportunities for people in the Exeter and Greater Devon area.

Our all-day event will feature five guest speakers coming from widely varied backgrounds, all leading authorities in various aspects of the Big Data revolution.

Unlike the typical conference-style event, attendees at Unlocking Big Data will be encouraged to participate actively in the day: In addition to having time set aside for break-out discussions between speakers’ presentations, attendees also will be encouraged to make use of a dedicated online network for submitting anonymous comments and reflections on the topics being explored, and on the event itself. Likewise, we will also encourage all attendees who have a Twitter account to make ample use of it; please feel free to submit comments regarding the event using the hashtag #UnlockingBigData — and remember to follow our Twitter feed, @ExeterSkills.

Exeter and Heart of Devon – Employment and Skills Board is an independent body and voice for employers, aiming to improve employment across Devon and beyond.