Meet Secret Compass’s UK-based staff and some of the industry-leading expedition professionals who lead our adventurous projects in the world’s wildest places. For current job vacancies, visit our jobs page.
Director and Co-founder
Tom co-founded Secret Compass and is its Managing Director. Tom has extensive experience in providing innovative and creative risk and location management
solutions to TV and Film in remote and hostile environments for the BBC, Ch4, Discovery and Nat Geo. He has worked in locations as diverse as Afghanistan, Norway and Nicaragua. He spent six years as an Officer in the Parachute Regiment, working in Africa and the humid rain forests of Brunei. He is a qualified Jungle Warfare Instructor and commanded on operations in Afghanistan in 2008 and 2010, where he worked alongside Afghan security forces.
A highlight for him in the early days of Secret Compass was pioneering tourism into South Sudan, where he led a team into the Imatong Mountains. Tom was central to our ground-breaking expeditions into Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor, leading the first ever mountain bike expedition through the high mountains. He has explored southern DRC and pioneered a route though Upemba National Park. He has also led jungle trekking trips in the Darien Gap and Madagascar, mountain biking projects in Ethiopia and ski touring expeditions in Lebanon.
Tom’s qualifications include Security Risk Management (Level V), Mountain Leader, MTB Leader, Swift Water Rescue and Wilderness EMT. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and is passionate about ski-touring, snowboarding, kite-surfing and mountain biking as well as travelling through the world’s wildest places.
Ben is an adventurer, explorer and survival expert who has led over 40 expeditions and projects throughout the world in all environments.
Ben presented the multi-BAFTA winning Serious Series for the BBC, leading groups of teenagers on expeditions to remote and far-flung corners of the globe to achieve world firsts. He has consulted on series such as Mutiny, Planet Earth 1&2, Gold Rush, Human Planet, Oceans, Tribe, Frozen Planet, Last Man Standing, Around the World in 80 Days, Extreme Dreams, Adrenaline Junkie and various Sport Relief Challenges.
Serving in the British Army for 9 years, he spent time in the Middle East, Northern Ireland and Bosnia. An accomplished mountaineer and polar adventurer, Ben has led expeditions to the Arctic, Antarctic, Himalayas, Rockies and Andes including ascents of two 8000m peaks and a running high level traverse of the Pyrenees in 14 days.
Ben has led security operations to protect wildlife against professional poachers in Central and East Africa developing his love for camels; built eco-lodges and safari camps in Africa and led remote jungle conservation projects where he honed his survival skills amongst the native peoples of Asia, Central and South America. He is also an experienced yachtsman with over 50000 sea miles completing several Fastnet races, trans-Atlantics and building a traditional Arabian Dhow with a friend.
Director TV & Film Projects
Sally joined Secret Compass from the BBC. She was the BBC High Risk Advisor for Current Affairs and the World Service and deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan
and the West Bank.
She has supported the Natural History Unit’s BAFTA-award winning ‘Blue Planet Live’ in Baja Mexico and designed and delivered the BBC’s ‘Managing High Risk Deployments’ course for senior editorial staff. Sally is a keen advocate of media safety and risk management, she sat on the Board of Directors for ACOS Alliance and lectures internationally on journalist safety. She has a deep background in crisis and disaster management as an Army Officer, media advisor and Chartered Security Professional along with experience of multiple military operational tours providing emergency medical ground response.
Co-founder of Oxford Alpine Club Publishing, Sally is a Winston Churchill Fellow who has led expeditions in Borneo, Argentina, Kyrgyzstan, Iceland, Nepal and Morocco and received a Mount Everest Foundation funding award. She enjoys climbing, ski touring and practicing yoga.
Director TV & Film Projects
Lachlan served for 11 years as an infantry officer in the British Army where he trained and led people in some the harshest of operating environments.
He personally served on operational tours of Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan. He has extensive risk management experience gained from his military career, as Regional Manager Africa for a global security company, leading expeditions to remote parts of the world, and mountaineering and climbing internationally for over 20 years.
In recent years he has been applying and expanding this experience as a safety advisor in the TV industry providing risk management advice to A-list celebrities and crews in various high-risk environments.
He is qualified as a Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor, military ski touring instructor, FREC3 First Responder and Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician, he also holds the ‘A’ License for freefall parachuting.
Having tried her hand at a number of different sports, from skeleton to skydiving, ultra running to open water swimming, Louise is happiest when
she’s spending time outside!
Always curious, Louise has found herself involved in a wide range of different projects; some of the highlights of which range from having been part of the implementation team for the inaugural Invictus Games, being the British member of the International Federation of Skeleton; Bobsleigh – working to get adaptive ice sports included into the Winter Paralympic Games, developing a trek for a local guiding company in the Indian Himalaya, learning Arabic and working in some remote and hostile locations around the globe.
Having relocated back to the mighty West Country from her beloved Highland’s of Scotland, Louise is itching to get out adventuring. A lover of Winter, she’s keen to dust off her collection of ski’s, sharpen her axes and head out into the mountains!
Director TV & Film Projects
On leaving the British Army in 2019, Zanna helped to set up a small start up travel company specialising in challenging narratives about regions affected by conflict by taking small groups of tourists to locations including Afghanistan and the D.R.C. with world renowned photographers.
The focus of her role ranged from customer facing, to itinerary/ logistics planning and in country guide, but her key focus prior to moving to the BBC was implementing the company risk management policy.
On moving over to the BBC, she was the High Risk Advisor for World Service and the BBC’s NGO, Media Action. In this role she supported BBC staff whilst in Kyiv at the start of the conflict in 2022, evacuating high profile staff over the border to Poland and providing onward risk management for staff and teams continuing to live and work in Ukraine.
Happiest in the outdoors with her spaniel named after Sir Ernest Shackleton, she thrives in the cold – most likely the cause or result of a prolonged stint in Antarctica as part of the first all-female team to cross the continent using muscle power alone. Languages are another passion, although very much a jack of a few trades and master of none, she has also spent a fair portion of time studying French, Arabic and Somali.
ANNA RAE DOWLING
Head of Marketing
Anna joins Secret Compass after 5 years heading up the marketing for our sister brand, Everest in the Alps.
With a background in personal training and a love of all things fitness related, Anna is happiest when practicing yoga, hiking with her dog, or dragging her kids on a weekend exploring Cornwall in the van.
With over a decade in brand marketing, Phillipa joins us as Content Manager. Having lived in Australia and California,
she loves nothing more than grabbing a backpack and getting lost in nature. When she’s not crafting content, she’s out camping, on her paddleboard, or enjoying the Essex countryside.
After several years spent at sea, living aboard sailing yachts, Catherine has traded in her sea legs to join the Secret Compass team.
Whilst she is most familiar with locations that have a coastline she was initially drawn to expeditions through a love of cold places, ski-touring in Scandinavia with nights in snow holes and skiing on the sea ice through the North West Passage.
Recognising the best days usually involve a roll mat and camping stove, if she can’t be out on an expedition herself the next best thing is to chat to you about yours.
Project Manager/Expedition Planner
As a talented linguist with over a decade of experience managing group expeditions to various far-flung corners of the world, Aysha has
been a great addition to the Secret Compass team. An impressive portfolio of adventures, including backpacking in South America, trekking the Skeleton Coast in Namibia, and road-tripping around Iceland have prepared her well for taking the lead as Secret Compass’ main expedition planner, though she also dabbles in project management for TV shoots. In her spare time Aysha surfs, climbs, and mountain bikes, and is currently converting a campervan so she can get out and about on even more adventures!
Anya has discovered that the skills gained in academic research are also applicable to the fast paced world of expedition planning.
Having swapped scientific experiments for organising expeditions, she has settled into the Secret Compass team.
A geologist at heart, Anya is likely to be found underground, regularly caving in the local Mendip Hills. This interest in karst has taken her all over the world including exploring and surveying cave systems in the Philippines, India and the USA. When not caving Anya is an ocean enthusiast who loves spending time scuba diving off the south coast and spotting the local sea life. Always looking for ways to spend more time in the water, she has recently taken up open water swimming which she hopes will be a year-round activity.
Prior to joining Secret Compass Ben combined a varied career in ecology and academia with dreaming up and
embarking on unique expeditions, including an unsupported human powered crossing of the Australian continent. His wide array of experiences from sheep shearing to expedition sea kayaking mean he’s ready for whatever the world of TV or expeditions throws at him.
When not in the office Ben can be found kayaking, climbing, biking or training to row across the Atlantic in 2024!
Josh served for 12 years as a Royal Marines Commando, deploying globally to hostile environments. He is a security and
risk management specialist and joined Secret Compass from a Security and Travel Risk Management company.
He holds qualifications in Security Risk Management (Level 6) and FREC 3 medical first response. When he’s not looking for his next adventure in his self-converted campervan, Josh enjoys skiing, stand up paddleboarding and attempting to surf.
Liz joined the Secret Compass team in 2021 after 20 years planning and leading multiple expeditions all over the world,
and most latterly working as a risk management consultant for educational and adventure travel organisations in the UK, US and Canada.
A qualified Off-Site Safety Management trainer, Liz has written and provided a number of travel risk management workshops and training courses, and is one of the founders of the CORE Risk Conference which meets annually to discuss sector-specific travel risk issues. Liz sits on the British Standards Institute committee for BS8848 (a standard for overseas travel and fieldwork) and over the last 10 years has been an auditor for organisations seeking compliance to the standard. Liz is also part of an international committee writing ISO 31031 – Risk Management for youth travel, alongside colleagues from Europe, Australia, the US, Middle East, Kenya, South Africa and India.
When Liz isn’t geeking-out about the exciting world of risk management, she can be found in front of an artist’s easel finishing a private commission (her first career); playing viola with a symphony orchestra or singing in one of her two choirs (her life’s passion); channelling her inner Olympian in a single scull on the River Avon (her latest passion) or on standby with her scrubs as an NHS COVID volunteer vaccinator!
Meet Stephen, an Irish guy who’s as at home in the ocean as he is in the wild. For more than 28 years, Stephen has
ridden waves all over the world and he shared his love as the head surf instructor at Ireland’s oldest surf school for a solid 15 years. His journey took him to the deep blue as a professional dive guide during three years of globetrotting adventures. From the farthest corners of the Earth to his own personal, off-the-beaten-path escapades, Stephen’s tales could fill a short book or just make you smile and laugh over a cup of coffee.
Since returning back to the UK, Stephen balanced his previous engineering day job with his love for adventure. His holidays were all about leading expeditions to jungles and mountains, scratching that itch for the great outdoors. Joining the Secret Compass team was the logical next step, working with the best in the business to push the boundaries of exploration.
Alice moved across to Secret Compass from the public sector, having previously held operational roles in both education
and healthcare. When she’s not managing Secret Compass’ network of safety consultants and helping to keep things at the office running smoothly, Alice loves to climb, row and hike, and regularly daydreams about her travel goal of setting foot on every continent – so far she’s 4 out of 7 down!
Kathy joined the Secret Compass team after previously working in security operations, combining her experience
with her love for the outdoors. Kathy has ridden for years, competing in endurance races and has taught horse riding and guided treks in New Zealand, South Africa, USA and Greece. When not in the saddle, she can be found hiking in the Welsh hills, playing rugby, swimming, or trying any new sport or outdoor pursuit.
Harriet joined the Secret Compass team after 10 years experience in TV production, where she worked across
drama, comedy and natural history productions. With a degree in Anthropology and African Studies, Harriet loves to explore the world whenever she has the opportunity. She is a passionate skier and is happiest when having outdoor adventures with her family.
With a background in TV, Oscar came prepared to meet the logistical needs of Secret Compass’ varied portfolio of
projects. Supported by our excellent freelance Stores team, he is responsible for managing all kit deployments and overseeing the large inventory of equipment sent out on expeditions and TV shoots.
Outside of work, Oscar can be found scaling cliffs all over the world, having climbed hundreds of extreme grade rock climbs including one of the 6 great north faces of the alps. Oscar is also a keen cyclist, and has completed many cycle tours, culminating in a solo and unsupported adventure from southern India into Nepal.
Ollie previously worked as an outdoor instructor in North Wales, leading a variety of teams and experiences, such as the Three Peaks Challenges,
Welsh 3000s as well as numerous expeditions abroad for teenagers.
Ollie’s been to a fair few places, the best being Latin America (though perhaps he biased due to being half Venezuelan). Ollie enjoys mountain biking and is up for doing anything outdoors.
Rebecca has been leading expeditions for 15 years. She works as a full-time climbing instructor and leader in the UK
and overseas and holds the Winter Mountain Leader, Mountaineering Instructor Award and International Mountain Leader qualifications.
Her work and personal expeditions have taken her to all seven continents and most of the Greater Ranges. When not leading expeditions or instructing she is planning her own climbing trips. She has climbed 7000m peaks, first ascents in South Georgia, Antarctica, a major ascent in the Hindu Kush, Afghanistan and been exploratory mountaineering in Tajikistan. In 2011, she returned from Nepal overland and has cycled the length of Lake Malawi solo. Last Autumn Rebecca made a first ascent of a 6000m peak in the Far West of Nepal.
Rebecca has a PhD in Glaciology, is a Wilderness First Responder, is a Winter Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor and sits on the Mount Everest Foundation expedition committee, Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, Member of the Alpine Club and is a brand ambassador for Lowe Alpine.
Skilled naturalist Rick Morales has done what very few trekkers would even dare to attempt. He’s mapped out a new hiking trail across the length of his
home country: Panama. As an expert naturalist and expedition guide, Rick has explored some of Panama’s most remote areas and other neighbouring regions including the Darien Gap between Colombia and Panama. He is highly recognised for his skills and knowledge of Panama’s abundant and diverse wildlife and has had personal encounters with indigenous species including viper, jaguar, monkey, quetzal, puma, ocelot and tapir.
Rick is the founder of the TransPanama Project which aims to develop map sections of trail connecting regions and people throughout Panama. In 2011 Rick became the first person to walk the Panama Trail, a through-hike from the Colombian border to Costa Rica.
Cat has been leading expeditions since 2009, from the mountains and savannas of East Africa to the jungles of Borneo and Costa Rica
and the high mountains of the Andes, Atlas and Himalayas. She first worked for Secret Compass in 2015 and likes to turn her hand to any environment and challenge, although it’s high snowy places that really get her buzzing. Cat lives for expeditions and experiencing new places and local cuisines.
Personal endeavours include a pioneering self-supported 21-day trek through the jungle in India from Irpu Falls in Coorg to Mangalore along the Kerala-Karnataka border, the first ascent of Karbu Ri (6010m) on the Upper Rolwaling glacier on the Nepal/Tibet border, and a month as part of a small self-supported exploratory team camping on the Antarctic Peninsula, including the first known ski descent of Harrison Peak.
Cat is a qualified Winter and International Mountain Leader, Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician, Rock Climbing Instructor, Canoe and Kayak Coach and White-water Rescue Technician. She has also recently undertaken a part-time MSc. in Environmental Change, Impact and Adaptation, and always endeavours to minimise and prevent unnecessary wastage and plastic on expeditions.
Rob is a mountaineer and expedition leader with a wealth of experience in many different parts of the world.
He specialises in getting into places in hostile or remote areas and has spent over 35 years in mountains, jungles, and deserts (including 10 years in the military), exploring and gaining valuable skills to pass on to others.
He has summited the highest mountains in countries like Afghanistan (Mount Noshaq 7492m) and Iraq (Mount Halgurd 3607m), and is a former member of the Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team in the Highlands of Scotland, where he was involved in many rescues over the years. He is heading towards climbing all the mountains in his home country of Scotland and loves being at sea in his kayak, snowboarding in the back country, and scuba diving around the world.
In addition to expedition work, Rob also looks after A-list celebrities, journalists, and TV crews when they are working in war zones and remote wilderness areas of the planet. This has taken him from Ukraine and Afghanistan to spending time with gorillas in the Congo and dodging polar bears in the Arctic. Rob is a qualified Rescue Diver, and has done the FREC 4 course and Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician programme.
After 26 years in the British Army, which saw Paul on operations in the Gulf war, Northern Ireland, the Balkans and Afghanistan, he also trained as a jungle warfare instructor and served in Belize, Brunei and Sierra Leone.
This experience served him well as he transitioned into the expedition sector and started leading expeditions for SC, initially in Sierra Leone, DRC and his personal favourite making the first packraft decent of the Djidji river in Gabon.
Paul is a full time humanitarian and is the international operations manager for REACT Disaster Response and has led response operations in Haiti, The Bahamas, The British Virgin Islands, Indonesia, Mozambique, Turkey, Morocco and Ukraine.
He lives on the edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park and loves nothing more than running in the hills with his Border Terrier ‘Hercules’.
Qualifications include SRMC, ML (S), White water rescue technician, Wilderness EMT, MSc International Disaster Management, RGS Fellowship.
Paul has been leading expeditions around the world in kayaks and rafts, in the mountains and on skis for over 30 years.
He has a great love for journeys that move through big terrain and has led several first descents of rivers including a Himalayan traverse by kayak.
When not away on trips, he teaches swift water and rope rescue and spends his free time ski mountaineering, alpine mountaineering and trail running.