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agiLab Steering Committee

Academic Team

Dr Emma Russell,

Director of agiLab

Dr Emma Russell is the Director and Founder of agiLab. She is a Chartered and Registered Occupational Psychologist and a Reader in Occupational & Organizational Psychology at the University of Sussex Business School. Emma is a member of the ESRC funded Digital Futures at Work (Digit) Research Centre where she co-leads the Mid and Early Career Researcher stream, and the Digit Data Observatory. She is a Policy Fellow at Sussex and also co-edits the Digit Blog (a great resource for those interested in how digitalisation is changing work). Emma’s research focuses on agile working in applied organisational settings, particularly in relation to digital communications, personality, and well-being. Her work has been funded by a number of research bodies, trusts and private organisations and has been published in high impact academic journals, conference proceedings, books, and working papers/reports. She is a regular guest speaker/author to organisations, and in the media. Emma has undertaken several research projects with the NHS in recent years: examining agile working in leadership, with low SES workers and those in clinical and non-clinical roles. She has also worked with the NHS to evaluate the uptake of a young person’s health app, evaluating interventions for developing children and young people commissioners, planning GP transitional retirement, and leadership in midwifery. You can contact Emma on

Deepali D'mello is an Organisational Psychologist and PhD researcher at the University of Sussex. Her research interests are in understanding how people control their management of digital communication and how that may impact their well-being and productivity. She is interested in individual differences that impact one’s decision to manage their digital communication. Outside of university, Deepali also works as a Research Specialist conducting research related to pedagogy and race inequity in organisations.  

She has more than 15 years of work experience in sales, marketing, and client relationship management working in UK and India, before she resumed her passion for psychology. Agile working and growth mindset are at the core of all her career decisions. Deepali holds degrees in B.A. Psychology (Mumbai University: 1st Class), MSc Occupational Psychology (Kingston: Distinction), MRes in Business and Management (Kingston University: Merit) and she is currently pursuing her PhD (University of Sussex). 

Deepali D'mello,

Research Operations Manager of agiLab


Marc Fullman previously worked for 15 years in IT (11 at Microsoft). Towards the end of his time at Microsoft, he became interested in personal development and what makes people tick leading to him leave IT to study psychology. He did a BSc with the Open University and a MSc with Kingston University. His MSc dissertation allowed him to link his interest in technology with his studies in psychology by examining whether personality affects the strategies people use when dealing with incoming email. His PhD follows this theme in that he will be researching how digital incivility is experienced through the medium of channel-based messaging and instant messaging on enterprise social networks (e.g. Slack, MS Teams) and how this impacts the future of work. This research is part of the Future of Work Hub research portfolio and is in partnership with the Roffey Park Institute.

Marc Fullman,

Technical & Communctions Manager of agiLab

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Jay McCloskey is a Management PhD student and Research Assistant at the University of Sussex. His research focuses on informal feedback in the workplace, specifically looking into what kind of person is more likely, in an informal way, to seek or provide feedback. Additionally, Jay will be investigating how working virtually affects feedback conversations.

Before starting his studies, Jay worked as a Psychologist in a global talent measurement consultancy. As part of the assessment consulting team, he worked with clients to help enhance their assessment and selection processes.

Jay has an MSc in Occupational and Business Psychology and is a verified psychometric Test User with the British Psychological Society.

Jay McCloskey,

Interim-Technical and Communications Manager

agiLab NHS Steering Committee
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Samantha Owen is the NHS lead for agiLab. Sam joined NHS Employers in October 2022 and will be supporting NHS workforce leaders across the South of England be the best employers they can be.  Before joining NHS Employers Sam held senior roles in HR and Learning and Development in various sectors including education, leisure, hospitality, and gaming. Working collaboratively with a variety of providers, she developed a professional learning network that supported CPD and professional learning opportunities across Further Education in Wales.  Sam has a Masters degree in HR management and a Masters degree in Education Leadership, she is a Chartered member of the CIPD and has recently completed an Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) L7 certificate in Strategic Leadership and Management.

Samantha Owen


Rebekah Giffney is an experienced Chartered Occupational Psychologist, with more than 17 years’ experience working with individuals, teams and organisations. Rebekah makes a difference through delivering evidence-based, bespoke applied learning that drives demonstrable, on-the-ground change and performance improvement.

Rebekah started her career in the NHS. Working across primary and secondary care Rebekah led a variety of large-scale service improvement and change programmes, prior to working as a Healthcare Management Consultant for 8 years with Arup. As a Principal Consultant Rebekah developed and led the Healthcare Consulting Business within Arup working with all parts of the healthcare system.

She is at the forefront of the provision of leadership, culture and team development for clinicians and managers in health and care settings across the country. She strives to challenge mindsets, build belief and support change through the use of psychology-based development.

Rebekah Giffney

Jenny Hawkins has worked in the NHS for many years in a variety of roles. She sees her current role, working for the South team, NHS Employers as a Senior Engagement Manager, as a real privilege. Jenny's involvement with agiLab stemmed through HRD Networks and she is passionate about supporting the learning and sharing of best practices gained with stakeholders. Along with Lydia (above), Jenny is responsible for the smooth running of events associated with agiLab. 

Jenny Hawkins

Lydia Plant

Lydia Plant has worked for NHS Employers since 2021, although has worked in NHS Trusts previously. Lydia sees her current role as a Senior Business Officer a real honour; supporting the Director of Engagement in the day to day business of the engagement team within NHS Employers. Lydia is a member of the Agilab Steering Committee, supporting the Agilab workshops and assisting in the administration function.

Lydia feels privileged to be working with Dr Emma Russell, Deepali Dmello and her amazing team which is invaluable to NHS Trusts.


Rebecca Shakespeare is the Senior Engagement Manager for the North region within the National Engagement Service and joined NHS Employers in 2021. Prior to this Rebecca completed the NHS Graduate Management Training Scheme on the HR stream, working in various NHS Trusts in the North East of England and obtained a Postgraduate Diploma in Human Resource Management. Rebecca is passionate about research-lead best practice and improving the wellbeing of the NHS workforce.

Rebecca Shakespeare

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Chioma Ezenwoye is the Senior Engagement Officer for the National Engagement Service, South region. She has worked in the NHS for some years, she practiced as an Allied Health Professional before moving into the workforce space with NHS Employers. She has supported workforce leaders with inclusive recruitment practices and anchor approaches to employment skills and training.

Chioma Ezenwoye

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Aliya Rehman is the Staff Experience Programme Lead at NHS Employers. She supports employers to enhance all aspects of NHS staff experience which is vital for retention and central to patient care. This includes supporting the wellbeing of the workforce, boosting engagement, embedding effective flexible working practices, creating conditions for staff to raise concerns and ensuring equality diversity and inclusion.


With a background in organisational psychology, Aliya is passionate about driving continual improvements in the NHS staff experience agenda by embedding sustainable culture change and highlighting enablers that maximise positive impacts.

Aliya Rehman


Anna Bickerton is the Associate Director of People at Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Anna joined the NHS in 2007 as an HR NHS Graduate Management Trainee and since then has worked in a variety of HR roles within NHS acute Trusts. Anna is an HR Generalist by background and has a Masters in Human Resource Management. She is passionate about partnership working and delivering innovative workforce solutions to organisational challenges. Anna feels privileged to have joined the AgiLab NHS Steering Committee and is an advocate of flexible working; currently using continuous improvement methodology to bring about lasting change in her own organisation. Anna feels privileged to have joined the AgiLab NHS Steering Committee and is looking forward to supporting research-led improvements which will positively impact the NHS workforce.

Anna Bickerton

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Leanne Furnell is the Deputy Chief of People and Culture for the North East and North Cumbria ICB.  Leanne is a qualified Executive Coach and has both the responsibility for the People function within the ICB and the delivery of a People and Culture Strategy for the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care System. Leanne has a passion for healthy workplaces and working at a system level having worked on a long-term secondment from the NHS at a senior level within a local authority.


Leanne Furnell

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Imogen Sietniekas is the Senior Engagement Manager for the Midlands and East of England. She leads in gathering and sharing regional intelligence to influence NHS workforce related policy development. This includes supporting regional networks of NHS workforce leaders and trade union colleagues to collaborate and share best practices. Previously, Imogen worked in the pensions and reward team at NHS Employers, organising national partnership board meetings. Imogen’s background is in Higher Education, following a career in administration and management at the University of Leeds.

Imogen Sietniekas

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Eve Lightfoot

Eve Lightfoot is Director of Workforce with responsibility for Human Resources, Employee Relations, Occupational Health, Wellbeing, HR Systems, Medical Workforce and Organisational Development and The Christie overall People and Culture plan. Eve has worked at The Christie since 2008 in a variety of senior HR roles. She has previously held multiple HR roles in the Fire Service and a variety of private sector organisations. Eve is part of the Executive Team at The Christie and sits as part of the Board of Directors.

I have a passion and a real interest in agile working. How we drive our NHS organisations forward in terms of delivering safe and effective good quality care, with an understanding and focus on societal change.

Working for an organisation where research is at the heart of what we do, it felt a perfect fit to become a member of the agiLab’s steering committee and contribute to this great research and shared learning.

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Naveed Ahmed is the Senior Engagement Manager for the South team, NHS Employers. Before joining NHS Employers Naveed worked in the Medical Workforce team at Bedfordshire Hospital Trust supporting doctors with their terms and conditions. He has been a part of NHS Employers for 3 years and is really excited to be a part of the agiLab Steering Committee to support the smooth running of the agiLab events.

Naveed Ahmed


Liz Gambrell helped to found, establish and fund agiLab NHS. In her previous role as the Deputy Director of Engagement and Assistant Director of Engagement for the South for NHS Employers, Liz was instrumental in steering much of the early sessions of agiLab and its research agenda. Liz is now semi-retired and Deputy Director of Special Projects for NHS Employers (South). An HR Professional in the NHS at provider, regional and national level, Liz is a Postgraduate in Human Resource Management and has a Masters in Strategic Human Resources.

Liz Gambrell

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