Meet the team

  • Justin Ash
    GK Chairman - Former CEO of KFC, Lloyds Pharmacies, and Oasis Dental
    Justin Ash
    GK Chairman - Former CEO of KFC, Lloyds Pharmacies, and Oasis Dental

    Justin joins GK after a highly successful nine-year stint as Chief Executive Officer of Oasis Dental Care, where he successfully grew the business to become the second largest dental provider in the UK, culminating in its sale in November 2016 from European private equity house Bridgepoint to Bupa for £835 million.  Prior to Oasis Dental Group, Justin was UK Managing Director of Lloyds Pharmacy and General Manager for UK and Ireland at KFC.

     

  • Robin Grainger
    Co-Founder
    Robin Grainger
    Co-Founder
    Robin is a founding partner at GK. Initially, Robin supported the parliamentary work of a number of MPs in parliament before joining the Environment Agency as part of its government relations team. In subsequent roles, Robin has specialised in public affairs campaigning and political PR, helping clients to navigate the policy development process and providing advice on political engagement. Robin has considerable experience working in polling, political strategy, political risk and policy development. In recent years Robin has developed extensive relationships with key members of the Conservative Party, having worked closely with senior members of their team across a number of political campaigns.
  • Luke Kennedy
    Co-Founder
    Luke Kennedy
    Co-Founder

    Luke is a founding partner at GK. After beginning his career at DEMOS, the political think-tank, he moved into Government, supporting ministers across three different departments. Subsequently Luke has provided counsel to numerous corporate clients, advising on interaction with Government, non-departmental bodies and regulatory organisations. Prior to the 2010 general election, Luke worked with various members of the Conservative shadow ministerial team to help them draft Green Papers and develop manifesto commitments. Luke also holds an MSc from the London School of Economics.

  • Emily Wallace
    Chief Executive
    Emily Wallace
    Chief Executive
    Emily is an experienced and award-winning communications professional, with in-depth knowledge of Westminster gained over 20 years. Named Public Affairs News Consultant of the Year in 2013 for her insightful and practical support of clients large and small, Emily is a highly experienced public affairs practitioner with an approachable and engaging manner. Emily continues to provide clients with day to day advice, primarily focusing on delivering high value consultancy and strategic support, developing and implementing strategies, helping clients to embed their political communications into their wider business objectives.
  • Rt Hon David Laws
    Strategic Adviser
    Rt Hon David Laws
    Strategic Adviser

     

    David Laws was a Liberal Democrat MP, Minister in the Coalition Government and is a leading education reformer in the UK.

    David was Member of Parliament for Yeovil from 2001 to 2015. During his ministerial career in the Coalition he was Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Minister of State for Schools in the Department for Education and Minister of State in the Cabinet Office.

    David was an architect of the Coalition Government and was one of the negotiators responsible for agreeing the deal with the Conservative Party. David advises GK Strategy, GK Intelligence and onefourzero on a range sectors including education, teacher recruitment, pensions and finance.

    David graduated from King’s College, Cambridge, with a double first class honours degree in economics and has worked at J.P. Morgan and Barclays de Zoete Wedd. In addition to his role as Strategic Advisor to GK, David is Executive Chairman of the Education Policy Institute and the Education Partnerships Group.

  • Martin Summers
    Associate - Leading ESG and Compliance expert
    Martin Summers
    Associate - Leading ESG and Compliance expert

    Martin has over 15 years’ experience advising companies and investors on regulation, compliance and reputation management issues, including:

    • Advice to private equity and investment management firms on ESG, political and regulatory issues and communications to investors and portfolio companies.
    • Gap analysis for a major industrial company on their biggest regulatory and reputational risk and recommendations for a new strategy and policy, based on a peer review and interviews with senior management to identify areas of alignment and non-alignment.
    • Development and implementation of responsible procurement and supply chain management practices at BP and British American Tobacco for suppliers and other business partners.
    • Devising new governance, policy, KPIs, audit and risk analysis systems for sustainability issues at BP and British American Tobacco
  • Stephanie Elsy
    Associate - Former leader of Southwark Council
    Stephanie Elsy
    Associate - Former leader of Southwark Council
    A cross sector public service leader with 30 years’ experience of working at a senior level, as an Executive and Non-Executive Director, in service delivery in the public, private and charity sector. Stephanie spent 15 years in the charity sector, successfully started two businesses, and spent 8 years in local government as a Councillor and Council Leader, along with 9 years working for Serco Group plc as Group Director of External Affairs. Stephanie brings a wealth of experience of public sector procurement processes to the GK offer. She provides strategic input and shares her experiences of working on both sides of the procurement process.
  • Phil Hope
    Associate - Former Care and Vocational Skills Minister
    Phil Hope
    Associate - Former Care and Vocational Skills Minister
    Phil is a former Minister of State for Care Services, and has also previously held ministerial posts for the Third Sector and Social Enterprise, Skills and Lifelong Learning, Local Government and the East Midlands. He is currently Co-Director of Improving Care; Adjunct Professor at the Institute for Global Health Innovation, Imperial College; and member of the Doctor Foster Intelligence Ethics Committee. Phil provides strategic input and shares his experiences of making procurement related decisions as a Minister in Government.
  • Emma Petela
    Managing Director – GKS
    Emma Petela
    Managing Director – GKS

    As Managing Director of GK Strategy, Emma provides strategic advice to GK’s expansive client base. Emma has extensive experience in building effective and innovative communications campaigns which deliver an organisation’s strategic objectives. Emma supports her clients to understand and navigate complex policy areas and has particular expertise in education, government procurement and energy policy.

    Harnessing the entrepreneurial spirit of GK, Emma also leads on service innovation; ensuring that GK continues to provide new and effective ways to achieve our clients’ objectives.

    Prior to joining GK in 2011, Emma worked with the Conservative Party, supporting Prospective Parliamentary Candidates during the 2010 General Election.

  • Louise Allen
    Managing Director – GKI
    Louise Allen
    Managing Director – GKI
    Louise heads up GK’s in-house research function, overseeing our projects with the public sector, investment community and businesses. Joining GK in 2011, Louise led the health and social care division, providing strategic communications and research. Prior to joining GK, Louise held a number of other roles, including providing political support to a Labour-run local authority, providing research to a Directorate of the Treasury, starting out working for Labour MPs on constituency and campaign matters.
  • Harry Shackleton
    Commercial Director
    Harry Shackleton
    Commercial Director
    Harry oversees GK’s commercial activity, with responsibility for business development and marketing. He has over ten years’ experience working in commercial roles in UK and EU politics, and has worked with some of the world’s biggest brands. Prior to joining GK, Harry led the Account Management team at a political communications and publishing firm, with responsibility for a portfolio of organisations 1,000 strong and from over 30 jurisdictions. Prior to that, he held other roles with similar political communications firms and started out working in the office of Theresa May.
  • Fleur Hicks
    Head of Digital
    Fleur Hicks
    Head of Digital

    Fleur is the Managing Director of our digital sister agency onefourzero and leads on any digital GK projects. Fleur is a strategic Marketing and Operations professional with over 16 years' experience managing blue chip digital and broadcast brands with 7 figure commercial success in the B2C and B2B2C sectors. With key experience across web, mobile, TV and print, Fleur has delivered industry-leading marketing and operations analysis strategy at board level in consultative and client side roles. Fleur joined the company in autumn 2015 and has overseen its growth from a two man consultancy to world leading Digital Diligence Agency. Fleur is also an elected fellow of the RSA and sits on IDM, IAB and WOMMA councils.

  • Jack Withrington
    Associate Director
    Jack Withrington
    Associate Director
    Jack is an Associate Director at GK, providing senior counsel and strategic advice to our public affairs and integrated communications clients. His policy expertise spans from financial services and education to planning and tax policy, as well as managing high profile and sensitive accounts. Before joining GK in 2014, Jack worked as the Senior Parliamentary Researcher and Head of Office for former Rail Minister, Claire Perry MP. Jack supported Claire’s work as a Parliamentary Private Secretary to Philip Hammond and the Prime Minister’s Adviser on Preventing the Commercialisation and Sexualisation of Childhood, in addition to handling Claire’s PR and parliamentary activities.
  • Matt Palutikof
    Account Director
    Matt Palutikof
    Account Director
    Matt is an experienced political consultant with over four years of experience working in the political field. Before arriving at GK, he worked for Connect Communications as an Account Executive, providing public affairs support to clients. Matt completed two internships for two members of the United States House of Representatives in the summer of 2012, and also worked on President Obama’s re-election campaign in Florida. Matt has also worked for Richard Fuller MP as a Parliamentary intern and on the Boris Johnson campaign in 2012. Matt holds a degree in Economics and Politics from the University of Exeter.
  • Ned Lamb
    Account Director
    Ned Lamb
    Account Director
    Ned is a reputation specialist, with over two years’ experience creating public relations strategies that help businesses protect and enhance their value. He believes reputation is a critical ingredient to sustainable business, supporting growth, improved employee morale and retention rates, and greater customer loyalty. Prior to joining GK, Ned worked for national broadcaster ITV in their commercial insights team, with responsibility for multiple channel analysis. He has also worked at a major corporate communications firm, worked in the visits team for Nick Clegg MP’s 2015 General Election Tour and with the former MP for Solihull, Lorely Burt.
  • Jennifer Berger
    Account Manager
    Jennifer Berger
    Account Manager

    As an Account Manager at GK, Jennifer provides strategic advice on public affairs, media relations and corporate communications across all policy areas, with a particular focus on clients in the health and social care sector. Prior to joining GK, Jennifer worked at another communications agency for clients in the planning, property, education and charities space. A native French speaker Jennifer has worked across Europe for organisations such as the International Air Transport Association and the International Institute of Humanitarian Law.

  • Louis Reynolds
    Account Manager
    Louis Reynolds
    Account Manager
    Louis is an Account Manager working across GK’s health and higher education clients. He has experience of working both within government and the third sector, with a particular focus on international policy. Prior to joining GK, Louis was a civil servant working at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the South Asia Department. He has also held roles at the Howard League for Penal Reform, conducting research for the Independent Commission on Sex in Prison, and at Anti-Slavery International, lobbying for the introduction of the EU Anti-Trafficking Directive. Louis holds a BA and MPhil in Politics and Sociology from Cambridge University.
  • Jamie Cater
    Research Manager
    Jamie Cater
    Research Manager
    Jamie is GK Strategy’s Research Manager, working on political due diligence, political risk analysis and opportunities profiling. He specialises in qualitative research on a range of public policy issues, including health and social care, financial services, energy, employment and education. Prior to joining GK’s research team in 2014, Jamie worked in the offices of a former Shadow Education Minister and Shadow Transport Minister.
  • Ella Robinson
    Account Executive
    Ella Robinson
    Account Executive
    Ella is an Account Executive on the public affairs team, working across GK’s health and social care clients. Prior to joining GK, Ella worked at the United Nations Millennium Campaign in New York, specifically on the post-2015 international development agenda. Whilst at the UN, she focused on how to engage the international community on what should form the basis of the new Sustainable Development Goals. She has also held roles in Parliamentary and constituency offices of MPs working on a range of policy issues, and has experience at another public affairs agency. Ella has a first class honours in International Relations with Political Science from the University of Birmingham.
  • Will O'Leary
    Account Executive
    Will O'Leary
    Account Executive
    Will is an Account Executive on the public affairs team, working across GK’s clients in education and skills. He has previously worked at Brook Lyndhurst, the environmental research consultancy, delivering policy analysis and research projects for a range of government departments including Defra and DfT. He has also gained further research experience at Dods, the political monitoring provider, as well as working for Fair Trials International, the human rights charity, in their external relations team. Will graduated from the University of Southampton in 2013 with a degree in Politics.
  • Tim Swabey
    Account Executive
    Tim Swabey
    Account Executive
    Prior to joining GK, Tim interned for two months at M&C Saatchi PR, and also completed a placement at the advertising firm J. Walter Thompson. He attended Durham University and graduated with a degree in International Relations. During his time at GK, Tim has particularly enjoyed working on campaigns, social media management and building effective media relations on behalf of our clients.
  • Ilana Lassman
    Account Executive
    Ilana Lassman
    Account Executive

    Ilana joined GK from a boutique pharmaceutical and market access agency where she worked for charity and pharmaceutical clients. Prior to this she worked in corporate narrative and communication, producing ESG analysis for a wide variety of industries.

  • Edward Jones
    Account Executive
    Edward Jones
    Account Executive
    Edward is an Account Executive working primarily in GK’s specialist health team, as well as across a number of other policy areas. Prior to joining GK, Edward worked as a parliamentary assistant in the House of Commons and brings experience from working behind the scenes in different MPs’ offices. Before this he completed a BA in History and Politics from the University of Exeter and an MSc in Public Policy and Administration from the London School of Economics and Political Science, where he also worked part-time for the LSE Institute for Public Affairs.
  • Jasmin Johal
    Senior Marketing and Business Development Executive
    Jasmin Johal
    Senior Marketing and Business Development Executive
    Jasmin is a Marketing and Business Development Executive at GK and as a part of the commercial team, she manages marketing activities and supports new business development across the company. Prior to joining GK Jasmin was the Research and Events Executive at a public sector market intelligence firm, working extensively with senior stakeholders from central, local government and the NHS. She has an M.A. in International Politics and Human Rights and a B.Sc. in Sociology with Media studies
  • Isabelle Hillson
    Marketing and Business Development Executive
    Isabelle Hillson
    Marketing and Business Development Executive

    After completing a string of work experiences in the financial sector, Isabelle interned at GK Strategy during the summer of her penultimate year of university. She graduated with a degree in Economics and Politics from Edinburgh last year and then did a whistle stop tour of South America before returning to GK.

  • Sophia Martin-Pavlou
    Research Executive
    Sophia Martin-Pavlou
    Research Executive
    Sophia is a Research Executive within the GKI team, producing in-depth political analysis and risk reports in a variety of sectors for private equity investments. She has worked on transactions in the health, education and financial services sectors, among others. Prior to joining GK in October 2015, Sophia worked at Oxford University Press as part of the editorial team for humanities and social science journals, and worked with the editors of a number of politics journals. Sophia graduated from the University of Oxford with a B.A. in History of Art.
  • Megan Baxter
    Research Executive
    Megan Baxter
    Research Executive
    Megan is a researcher within the GKI team, producing in-depth political analysis and risk reports in a variety of sectors for private equity investments. Prior to joining GK in May 2015, Megan graduated from the University of Birmingham with a B.A. in History and Political Science and an M.A. (Merit) in International Relations with Gender. Her MA dissertation has been published in an academic journal. Megan was elected Chair of the University of Birmingham Politics Society and Campaigns Officer for the Women’s Association, organising events and campaigns with local MPs, academics and charities.
  • Ed Morris
    Researcher
    Ed Morris
    Researcher
    Edward is a member of our public affairs team, working with a wide range of clients, including those in higher education, digital, transport and construction. Prior to joining GK, Edward spent a year working in Parliament in the run up to 2015 General Election. In his role, Edward played a key part in constituency and general election campaigning, as well as local media relations.
  • Johnny Munro
    Account Executive
    Johnny Munro
    Account Executive
    Johnny is a researcher within the public affairs team, working across a number of client issues with a particular interest in financial services. Prior to joining GK in September 2016, Johnny worked for a finance start-up in Manchester and completed an internship within the Policy Research Unit for the Conservative Party in Parliament. A graduate of Manchester University, he studied for a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and Modern History.
  • Tim Barutcu
    Researcher
    Tim Barutcu
    Researcher

    Tim is a Researcher specialising in both public affairs and media relations. He joined GK as an intern, having previously worked at a number of communications agencies, including Bell Pottinger. Prior to this Tim attended The University of Manchester, where he graduated with a BA in Politics and Modern History.

  • Andy Peel
    Researcher
    Andy Peel
    Researcher

    Andy is a Researcher on the public affairs team, working across GK’s healthcare clients. Prior to joining GK, Andy was elected Vice President of Edinburgh University students’ union and was a trustee of a student-led charity, before going onto work for the Campaigns Team at Save The Children. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh, he studied Biomedical Sciences with honours in Pharmacology.