Meet Our Trustees

Geeta Sidhu-Robb
Geeta Sidhu-Robb Chair

Geeta Sidhu-Robb is an author, inspirational speaker, Coach, Board Specialist, Entrepreneur, CEO and Founder of Nosh Detox. Her frequent appearance on Radio and National TV has given her a strong media profile as an expert. Geeta gave up her career as a corporate lawyer to set up her own business, Nosh Detox in 2008.

Geeta describes herself as a leadership coach with a holistic understanding of how to support female executives achieve success and develop the physical and mental equilibrium required to create growth in their organisations. Geeta also coaches Boards and Executive Teams in how to build successful and effective relationships.

Geeta has taken home Entrepreneur and Business Women of the Year awards in 2010, 2011, 2014, 2017 and 2019. Her strong skills in business development and her entrepreneurial acumen have seen Nosh grow from a start-up to a multi-award winning wellness empire that now consists of a group of companies including Nosh Raw and Nosh Infusion.

Her motto “Change is inevitable, suffering is optional. Anything is possible. If you can see it, you can do it; if you can dream it, you can make it happen.”

Sarah Thomas
Sarah ThomasDeputy Chair

Sarah Thomas is a seasoned marketing and communications strategist with a passion for innovation, creativity and technology. She currently leads the Culture & Employee Experience practice globally for brand consulting and design agency, Landor & Fitch. Sarah previously served as Chief Strategy Officer for HFS Research and is co-founder and CEO of Thomas Grey, a marketing & communications consultancy.

Prior to that, Sarah enjoyed a 25-year career at Accenture where she was Chief Marketing Officer for the $12bn+, 120,000 people strong Accenture Operations business and led Accenture’s Industry Analyst relations team and global Executive Positioning practice.

Sugata Mitra
Sugata MitraTrustee

JIn 2019, Sugata Mitra retired as Professor of Educational Technology at Newcastle University and is Emeritus Professor at NIIT University in Rajasthan, India.

He is best known for his Hole in the Wall experiment, where a computer was embedded in a wall in an Indian slum and children were allowed to freely use it. The experiment showed that children could learn to use computers without any formal training. Professor Mitra termed this Minimally Invasive Education.

Since 2006, his work at Newcastle University resulted in the development of Self-Organised Learning Environments for children. SOLEs, as they are called, showed that groups of children, presented with an interesting question, can learn almost anything by themselves. In 2010, he developed the Granny Cloud – where retired teachers provide the impetus to Self Organised Learning by children, anywhere in the world, over the internet.

In 2013, he was awarded the first $1 million TED prize to create seven Schools in the Cloud to study learning as emergent phenomena in an educational self-organising system. The results question the ideas of curriculum, examinations and the meaning of ‘knowing’ in a digital world.

Bella Barron
Bella BarronTrustee

Bella Barron is the Director of The Parent Collaborative, a parent support initiative based in Bath, and a Trainer Consultant for Young Minds, a leading UK charity fighting for children and young people’s mental health.

Bella is a highly accomplished Montessorian, with 27 Years of teaching experience in global Early Years Settings including the UK, Canada and Kenya, with her settings consistently graded Outstanding by ISI and Ofsted regulatory bodies.

Amira El Aghel
Amira El AghelStudent Trustee

Amira is a graduate of MCI, having studied both our EYE Diploma and Foundation degree.

Amira graduated from the University of Tripoli with a degree in French. Her work with children started as an EAL teacher, teaching English to children in Libya. She then worked as a teaching assistant to various age groups, with a focus on nursery at the British School of Tripoli.

As a mother of four, Amira’s childcare experience started at home, leading her to explore the field of childcare and child development. Seeing her younger two boys flourish at Montessori settings compared to their older siblings whose early years’ experience was in Libya, Amira was inspired to become a Montessori teacher.

Janet Barberis
Janet BarberisTrustee

Janet is a managing director in a global financial services consultancy firm, with over 25 years’ experience in banking and financial markets.

Janet qualified as an ACA at PwC and has since held senior roles across a number of global firms. She specialises in internal audit, governance, risk management and controls.

Sophie Bryan
Sophie Bryan Trustee

Sophie Bryan is an organisational and cultural development specialist, and her work in HR, Learning and Development, and Culture Transformation spans over 18 years with numerous accolades for her work.

As a qualified coach, serial company board member and non-executive director, Sophie is an asset to the Board. She has a wealth of experience in workplace culture, and a knowledge and passion for Montessori. By understanding the Montessori approach, Sophie believes we can create more engaged, productive and happier workplaces by pursing some of the key elements of this style of learning such as freedom, curiosity and play. She also trained in Montessori and holds a Montessori Diploma in Early Childhood Education (3-6 years) and Montessori Teaching Assistant Certificate (6-12 years), which she did for her own interest to educate her young daughter.

Sophie is also the Managing Director of Ordinarily Different Ltd, a company she created to help organisations “put the wow into work” through consultancy, workshops, speaking at conferences and training.

Catja Thum
Catja Thum Trustee

Catja Thum is a Managing Partner at a Family Office, running an impact investment fund which invests in social enterprises and ventures, as well as sustainable companies in the UK and globally. Catja’s expertise lies in measuring and raising awareness of impact. She believes there is a misconception that Montessori values are only relevant to early years education, however, she advocates that they are crucial all the way through life.

Catja has 10 years’ experience in finance and helping start-ups to grow, as well as expertise in setting up and running her own charity, including fundraising efforts. In line with her role at 3C, Catja will be focused on the Social Impact projects, where Montessori’s values and collaborations will create positive social change..

As a social entrepreneur and impact investor Catja Thum champions female founders and founders of colour for meaningful social change.

Philippe Busslinger
Philippe BusslingerTrustee

Philippe Busslinger is a Senior Managing Director and Head of Europe at OMERS Infrastructure, where since 2009 he has played a leadership role in developing its team and portfolio. Philippe has led the acquisition of or held directorships at companies such as Associated British Ports, High Speed One, Tank and Rast, Exolum, London City Airport, Xp Fibre and VTG, among others.

Philippe brings a background in investment banking and a wealth of experience in finance and investment management to the Group, where he will challenge and support the strategy, and the management team in their decisions. Prior to joining OMERS, he was an Executive Director at Goldman Sachs, where he advised on M&A and financing. Philippe started his career with McKinsey & Co and earned an MBA from Columbia Business School at Columbia University, USA.

Carole Stone CBE
Carole Stone CBETrustee
Carole is an author and freelance radio and television broadcaster, who spent 27 years at the BBC beginning as a newsroom secretary and going on to become the producer of Radio 4’s flagship discussion programme ‘Any Questions?’

In 2018, Carole Stone established The Carole Stone Foundation with her late husband the former BBC Panorama broadcaster Richard Lindley to support their belief that connecting people, exchanging ideas and building friendships around the globe are all essential to make the world a fairer place.

Carole brings a robust network of connections to the Board, with whom she regularly gathers to discuss issues of the day. As a freelance journalist and broadcaster, and former media consultant, she is in touch with influential people who can, where necessary, spread the word about the Montessori approach.

Meet Our Executive Team

Maccs Pescatore
Maccs PescatoreChief Executive Officer of MCI
Maccs brings extensive international, commercial experience from the profit sector. A chartered accountant, qualified with Coopers & Lybrand, she worked for Geest plc, Camelot plc and spent 13 years with Tate & Lyle Plc and ASR Group in the FMCG sector holding a variety of senior finance positions in European divisions, including doing a cross border sale for £30m at the age of 32.

She joined as Finance Director of the Montessori Group and is now the Chief Executive Officer of MCI. In 2021, she received an award for “Excellence in Education” – from the Global Forum for Education and Leaders.

Maccs marries her passion for the outdoors with her interests in education in her non-executive roles. She is currently Chair of Advance Performance (UK) Ltd and Trustee of StreetGames and an active supporter of Huracan. She has held a number of non-executive director positions including at Plas Y Brenin, the national outdoor centre.

She has mentored young people through both The Prince’s Trust and Hatch Enterprise.

Leonor Stjepic
Leonor StjepicChief Executive Officer of The Montessori Group

Leonor Stjepic, is an award-winning social enterprise entrepreneur, whose career has spanned both the private and NGO sectors. She is Chief Executive of the Montessori Group.

Prior to this role, Leonor was CEO of the medical research institute, RAFT. Leonor spun out a commercial company called Smart Matrix Ltd, from RAFT raising $8m in social investment. This has been widely used as a case study in how to avoid risk in social investment.

Leonor has also had a number of Non-Executive roles and is often asked to speak at international conferences on leadership and entrepreneurship.

Leonor also mentors a number of young professionals at different levels of their careers.

Karen Chetwynd
Karen ChetwyndChief Operating Officer
Karen has worked extensively in educational quality assurance, partnering with FE and HE providers to secure programme recognitions, nationally and internationally.

Work with University partners; Ofqual Awarding Organisations and National Governing Bodies led Karen to support qualifications development from Entry to Post-Graduate, overseeing curriculum design within vocational Teacher Training; Performing Arts; Health and Fitness.

Karen’s work has supported access to greater physical education within schools; widened vocational and academic transferability for Performing Arts trainees and helped specialist HEI’s prepare for DAP’s.

Following her MA (Educational Leadership & Management) Karen became a QAA Reviewer, continuing to maintain an active research interest in authentic assessment practice in vocational training and development of educational partnerships and accreditations to benefit student progression.