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About us

The company is led by Dr Alun Hughes. He is joined by a team of highly experienced professionals.

Alun Hughes, Managing Director

Alun spent 13 years running the commercial services company of the University of South Wales (UGCS Ltd).  This gave him wide ranging experience of training, consultancy and innovation management both in the UK and internationally.  Experiences ranged from evaluating business plans for new businesses to securing government grants to establishing a network of university training providers to deliver training into China.  Some of his key formative experiences involved him leading change management projects.  He set up a number of departments, reconfigured others and developed new incomes streams; always profitably.  A useful area of expertise for clients has been a very wide range of experiences of generating new income streams across a broad range of business sectors.

Prior to Alun’s time in the university sector, he enjoyed a variety of private and voluntary sector experiences at organisations ranging from GEC to the Methodist Church.  His PhD was in Surface Physics and he is a former Fellow of the Institute of Leadership & Management and remains a Member of the Association for Project Management and a  Member of the Social Research Association.

Some of the wider team

Virginia West, Senior Researcher

Virginia is a researcher who works across our full range of research, evaluation and capacity building projects. Her 30 years experience of working with people whose first language is other than English has been crucial in evaluating projects with people from BAME backgrounds.  Her experience ranges from being a teacher of English to being the Deputy Director of the International Division of a Russell Group University and a Development Director (fundraising).  She then spent 9 years as Director of the Wales International Consortium (Welsh universities working internationally) before embarking on a new venture in research and consulting.  She holds a MBA and RSA Diploma TEFL.


Natasha Hirst, Senior Researcher

Natasha is a highly experienced researcher, bringing capability with quantitative and qualitative methods. This experience ranges from her PhD in Physical Chemistry to being a political researcher for a former First Minister. She gained further policy and research experience at Disability Wales, the Wales Co-operative Centre, Wales TUC and the Wales Audit Office.  She has particular interest in equalities issues, particularly those facing disabled people.


Awen Mellick, Senior Researcher

Awen works across our full portfolio of projects. She is an experienced researcher and a first language Welsh speaker. She is a solicitor and former Partner at Thrings LLP. Her partnership followed five years with Blake Morgan LLP and periods with various other legal practices around the UK extending back to 2000. This legal experience has translated well to the skillset required for effective project evaluation.


Sam Woodward, Researcher

Sam is a junior researcher, delivering desk research, surveys and telephone interviews in support of a wide range of 20 Degrees projects. To date, Sam has supported landscape-scale project evaluations through to research related to disabled people's experiences in the UK and Africa.


photo of Sam.jpgSam Fuglestad, Research Analyst

Sam specialises in qualitative data analysis but is highly adept at using a wide range of research methods. From an initial career as a Research Manager with the Post Office Ltd, she has worked for some of the best known names in social research, including NatCen Social Research, Ipsos Mori, Kantar Public and the National Children's Bureau.


Richard Gaunt

Richard has a long track record of working with organisations to help them achieve productive change. He has evaluated well over 100 projects and has led project teams carrying out high-level research and policy assignments. These have included a review of mentoring good practice, analyses of labour market statistics, a review of management change tools and techniques and cost benefit analyses. His qualifications include MA and MSc degrees and he is a fellow of the CIPD.


Mark Beynon

Mark is an experienced research and evaluation consultant with an extensive track record in the provision of policy, funding, and project development expertise to clients across Wales. He has successfully managed many large scale evaluation assignments, and has particular expertise in evaluating European Funded projects, having built up over 16 years experience of working with EU Policy and Programmes. Past roles include Head of EU Office at University of South Wales, Senior Research & Evaluation Manager at CRG Research Ltd., as well as lead EU funding positions at the National Museum and Newport CBC. Mark also worked as a Senior Policy Advisor at the Wales European Centre in Brussels, and project managed the set up of the Welsh Higher Education Brussels office. A graduate of Aberystwyth University (B.Sc. Econ, M.Sc. Econ), Mark is a fluent Welsh speaker.


Bethan Emanuel

Bethan has 23 years experience as an HR professional.  She includes Marks and Spencer, the NHS and the University of Glamorgan/South Wales as past employers, with the bulk of that time at Manager or Head of Department level. At heart, Bethan is a 'people' person, which she uses to good effect in the research and evaluation part of our business.  She is a first language Welsh speaker, holds a MA in Strategic HR Management and is a Fellow of the CIPD.


From time to time we like to give people an opportunity to develop their skills as paid interns. Here are some thoughts from Jack after he had spent a day with us undertaking some research at a conference.

...and if you were wondering why we are called 20 is the optimum angle to sharpen a knife.

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