RIIS prides itself in its ability to attract and house a dynamic and diverse team of young, highly qualified, and talented individuals who are passionate about serving the world in the various roles they occupy. Just some of the skill-sets we hold in house include business management, public health, engineering, microbiology, economics, physics, chemistry, and more.

"RIIS is a knowledge intensive based organisation and our strongest and most precious resource is our people who deliver the quality work and insights that our clients and stakeholders have come to rely on."

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DAVIS COOK

Chief Executive Officer

With a passion for the role that innovation plays in both business and social progress, Davis keeps looking for ways to build a better world. He has a diverse background across consulting, corporate, government and start-ups, and has been based in both South Africa and the UK.

During his free time, he can be found teaching full contact martial arts, attempting to undertake some sort of ridiculous adventure sport, or generally exploring the world.

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CLEN COOK 

Executive

Clen's main areas of expertise include innovation, strategy, marketing, project management, and product development. He has many years’ experience in building successful start-ups and businesses, and innovation across industries such as telecommunications, insurance, banking, and manufacturing.

Our resident compendium of knowledge, with a plethora of interesting facts at his disposal he could single-handedly win any quiz night. It does help that he gets his geek on when it comes to Star Wars and countless other cult classics.

On the weekend, you can find Clen rowing, racing in Kyalami or rallying.

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THIRU SWETTENHAM

Chief Operating Officer

Thiru has extensive experience in programme and project management, implementation of regional (SADC) and national innovation programmes, multi-partner stakeholder management, entrepreneurship, innovation support, social entrepreneurship, training, capacity building and monitoring & evaluation.

In her spare time, she enjoys reading, travel and crafts.

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ALEXANDRA LUGAGNE

Engagement Manager

Alex has a broad academic and professional background in communications, research and public health. She has had a chance to work in the UK and South Africa, in small business development, and within international organisations, such as the UN.She was involved in RIIS’ most successful open innovation challenge: social innovation in housing. Since then, she has pivoted her expertise to include mining innovation research, workshop facilitation and strategy framework development.

Alex enjoys doing some exercise, trying to climb up things such as walls or mountains, learning martial arts, and playing with her dogs.

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NAHUNGU LIONJANGA

Consultant

Nahungu’s passion centres around expanding her skills, competence and knowledge in the service of people. She is a registered engineer with ECSA and has been published in the Elsevier Journal Research in Transport Economics. Since joining RIIS, Nahungu has led the Saldanha Bay Industrial Development Zone strategy development project and has been driving the company’s efforts in Smart Cities development –among others. Nahungu also possesses a strong community service record as a volunteer mathematics tutor  for Thutopele Initiative and a transport justice advocate for Transport Truths.

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LITHAKAZI NXIWENI

Consultant

Since joining the RIIS family, Litha has led the development of the Coal Innovation and Technology Roadmap, and successfully ran the fourth SA National Space Agency Open Innovation Challenge.

Litha’s interests outside of her work life include reading, art and animals.

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ALANA KRUGER

Consultant

Alana is our in-house expert on Innovation and Design, lean start up and entrepreneurship. She was one of the first graduates in South Africa in this field, and is currently completing her post graduate in Business Management. She has a passion for social innovation in Africa, and since joining RIIS in 2017, she has worked across multiple sectors such as space tech, insurance, healthcare, agriculture, education and tourism; for clients such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the South African National Space Agency, St Gobain, Sanlam financial services, Motus, The Minerals Council of South Africa, the SAB Foundation, and more. 

Alana mostly loves dogs, but she can also be found playing the ukulele, doing some exercise, and having cool game-nights

with friends.

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LOUIS MOUSSI SOPP

Consultant

Louis has an interest in economics which he has explored through several degrees and certifications. He also published a paper for the African Development Bank on mineral resource accounting in Africa.

Louis enjoys watching and playing soccer as well as hiking, reading and playing sports. If he isn’t enjoying his time in the outdoors he is watching Netflix, chilling at home or cooking.

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VISHAYLIN MAHADEO

Consultant

Since joining RIIS in 2018, Vish has worked on and been instrumental to several corporate strategy projects spanning various industries including entrepreneurship, energy and maritime. His portfolio boasts clients such as the Embassy of Switzerland in South Africa, the Mandela Mining Precinct and the Saldana Bay Industrial Development Zone. His expertise focuses on the integration and intersection of human processes with business structures, a passion born from his academic background. Vish holds a BSc in Physiology and Psychology  and honours in Experimental Physiology from WITS University, and a Postgraduate Diploma in Business Administration from GIBS Business School. Outside of the office, Vish likes to snowboard and indulge in post-work social activities.

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LINDOKUHLE SIMELANE

Senior Analyst

Lindo interned at RIIS back in 2017, where she got the chance to delve into the Human-Centred Design methodology in mining innovation projects. Since finishing her master’s and re-joining RIIS in 2019, Lindo has worked on Social Development through innovation in the Mining industry (Mpumalanga), and various entrepreneurship projects.

She enjoys cooking especially when it comes to trying new and challenging recipes, as well as shopping, spending time with her family and friends, dancing and the odd outdoor activity.

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NANDI MTETHWA

Senior Analyst

Nandi is a dynamic and strong lady, contributing a unique point of view to the group. She is currently completing her mechanical engineering degree, with the future vision of becoming an inventor. In her time at RIIS, she has predominantly focused on the project management plan for the Minerals Council, focusing on skills development in research, data capturing and analysis, as well as event and admin support.

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THABO SCOTT

Senior Analyst

Thabo’s academic background has fostered a passion and enthusiasm for economic development. Since joining RIIS in 2020, he has worked on co-running multinational open innovation challenges, where he has capacitated and supported the growth of social entrepreneurs within the SADC region. In his down time, Thabo enjoys traversing the world, cooking and making sure he keeps fit and active.

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TAHIRA MOOSA

Senior Analyst

Tahira has a strong interest in all water-related systems, and environmental sustainability. Since joining RIIS, she has contributed to running various innovation and business development workshops, facilitated several sessions in lean start-up methodology, and has been deeply involved in the Future of Work for

Mining projects.

She was a teaching assistant for 1st year students during her Honours studies and has spent time in the US undertaking both non-professional work, and travel.

Tahira enjoys rock climbing, practising yoga and socializing with friends. 

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PALESA NKONYANE

Marketing & Comms officer

Palesa is a Social Science graduate who majored in Anthropology and Sociology. She has also completed a post-graduate certificate in practical project management with UNISA Graduate School of Business Leadership. She considers herself an introverted individual with an extroverted personality. she is out-going and adventurous. She is also part of an NGO, heading the female development section. Palesa is very passionate about giving back to the community and empowering young ladies. In her spare time she enjoys traveling , reading , cooking and hiking.

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JONATHAN KIRKEL

Analyst

Jonathan has a strong interest in science, technology and entrepreneurship, all of which has been amplified after studying chemical engineering. Since joining RIIS in 2020, he has worked on mapping out the innovation ecosystem in Gauteng, focusing on the relationship and interdependency of the government, industry and academia in fostering innovation and entrepreneurship.

Outside of work, Jonathan can be found at the bookstore, playing soccer and volleyball or socializing with friends.

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DANIELLE VAN DER BYL

Analyst

Danielle’s background in geographical and archaeological sciences brings a new perspective to the company. Her humanistic approach to solving problems has helped assist in the development of projects geared towards local economic development, since her incorporation into RIIS in 2020 as an intern analyst.

Danielle has a passionate and enthusiastic personality that she enjoys sharing with her friends and family through food, photography and travel.

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THANDO MCUNU

Analyst

Thando is a Masters candidate in the Environment Humanities South programme with the Department of Social Anthropology at UCT. Her Masters research looks at the intersection of water, infrastructure and politics, which was motivated by Cape Town’s dam levels and DayZero narratives. She is a Wits Mellon Mays Fellow for the year 2015/2016 and hold a BA Honours in Anthropology. Mcunu’s areas of research interests include sustainable practices, ecology, water studies, socio-cultural studies, among others. She is a tattoo and travel enthusiast; and in her leisure time enjoys reading Afrofuturistic novels and astrology.

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TSEPISO MBALI

Intern

Tsepiso’s academic background has enhanced her passion for environmental sustainability and governance.

As an intern, she hopes to gain valuable experience while growing professionally and personally in this role.

She is a self-proclaimed foodie and art enthusiast. Her hobbies involve art gallery hopping, trying new restaurants, and photography.

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ANITA KOOIJ

Analyst

Anita is an avid reader and a keen observer, She sometimes even calls herself an anthropologist. She is currently completing her MA in Social Anthropology dissertation.  She has just joined the RIIS team, and looks forward to bring an anthropological perspective to projects that might add deeper human insights.

Aside from listening to and watching people’s  everyday lives, Anita also enjoys keeping plants and geeking out with Dungeons and Dragons campaign.

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ERIKA BOOYSEN

Office Manager

Erika is one of the longest-serving RIISians, having been with the RIIS family through thick and thin. She is the administrative and project support extraordinaire. She handles administrative, HR and operational tasks, and keeps us all on track when project pressure overwhelms us.

Erika has been a team member in countless Open Innovation Challenges, events build-ups and other projects.

Doubling as the ghost of the company working remotely 100% of the time while still being the most responsive RIISian around who is always more than happy to help you hunt down a document or phone number.

In her spare time, Erika can be found reading, studying, and enjoying some cuddle with her four lovely dogs.

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