We Are Worldwide

Thanks to our networks, we’re uniquely positioned to answer
business-critical questions in established, emerging, and atypical markets.

The Core Team

Meet the strategists, cultural insight specialists and design
analysts at Space Doctors.

Fiona McNae


The star around which Space Doctors orbit, Fiona’s vision of harnessing cultural and semiotic techniques to create positive change for brands and businesses drives everything we do.

A razor-sharp intellect with encyclopaedic industry knowledge and a magnetic enthusiasm that rivals a force of nature, Fiona is the one to ask for a look into the future.

Al Deakin


Al has pioneered the commercial application of semiotics and cultural analysis for almost two decades. He joined Space Doctors in 2005, and today he is especially involved in helping our clients develop their strategic cultural capabilities.

When he isn’t grappling with some of our client’s toughest questions, you’re likely to find him on-stage delivering papers to expert audiences, or picking up awards for his work from the market research community.

Cato Hunt


Cato’s enthusiastic exploration of cultural meaning is infectious, yet she remains calm and focused on each challenge. She champions expanding the Space Doctors network, forming unexpected partnerships and working with clients to advance themselves in areas like sensory branding.

With a love of vintage but always looking forward, she has an instinct for future innovation, which borders on the prescient.

Gareth Lewis

Director - Asia Regional Lead

Gareth is our human Bletchley Park. His ability to deconstruct the largest of ideas into clear and workable parts provides clarity where others see chaos.

Well-mannered and charismatic, his exterior calm belies a hunger for new experiences and a drive to take us, our clients, and semiotics itself into new and unexplored territory.

Helen Wilkinson

Project Coordinator

Embodying the Space Doctors motto to do whatever it takes, Helen quickly established herself as an invaluable part of the team.

Her adaptability isn’t limited to the workplace, as evidenced by her love of outdoor exploration and her experience travelling across four continents. A self-described ‘grafter’, when she isn’t working hard making sure everything runs smoothly in the office, she’s out discovering new parts of Brighton or doing volunteer work.

Steve Seth


Steve is Space Doctors’ semiotic seer. He is our reference for gold standard, mind-opening insight and commands an almost omniscient understanding of the shifting landscape of brands and culture.

He is at his happiest making sense of complexity, a task he deftly accomplishes drawing on his wealth of experience and breadth of talents, whether that be developing an industry-shaping view on cultural change, to making a mean Chipotle sauce.

Maya Madhusoodan

Strategy Director, Singapore

Maya is our South-East Asia semiotics evangelist: spreading the word to new clients, making sure that insight gives them solid, usable “so whats?”, and keeping our Asian analyst network robust, fresh and diverse.

A relatively recent convert to semiotics, she’s on a mission to make everyone she meets think it’s as mindblowing as she does. Maya has worked in advertising and then qualitative research across agencies like TNS, Flamingo and Hall & Partners. Now at Space Doctors she sees how powerful, effective the use of semiotics is. Understanding the meaning of things in culture is as simple as it is sophisticated and it is what businesses need in these changing times.

Maya firmly believes that we have a responsibility to spread cultural empathy in a region which often ends up stereotyped, by giving brands a granular and up-to-the-minute picture of cultural change.

She’s been obsssessed with yoga since 2011, and with protecting the environment for much longer.

Mariah Hartman


With positivity and a relentless joie de vivre, Mariah is able to carve a path of insight through complexity, get to the salient details of a project, and transform them into signposts that point to the strategic future.

What’s more, her warmth and excitement mean everyone wants to go with her.

Dario Utreras


Dario is a craftsman. Softly spoken, warm and charming he may be, but Dario’s capacity for visual expression is staggering.

His obsession with design and attention to detail means he crafts outputs and ideas into things of beauty. A hand printed booklet? A conversation about the Japanese equivalent of Helvetica? Dario is your (gentle)man.

James Woodhead

Associate Director

From packaged consumer goods to airlines to luxury, James earned a varied set of client-side stripes before moving into strategic brand consultancy. At Space Doctors, James’ experience guarantees he’s able to demystify the complex, make sense of the problematic and be always able to find the clear strategic way forward when others can’t.

James is truly proud to be one of our master facilitators and likes nothing more than getting his sleeves rolled-up with a team, challenging them to answer the ‘So What Does It All Mean For Us?’ question. He gets a real kick out from helping clients uncover compelling new meaningful futures and become even more brilliant at what they do thanks to his love of building strong capabilities.

As our resident Yorkshireman, James is known for his pragmatism and dry humour. Also as our resident Yorkshireman, he makes the best tea in the entire agency. No contest.

Fliss Macaulay

HR Manager

As Space Doctors’ emotional radar, Fliss is the epitome of ‘people person’. She has the light touch that holds everything up, and an uncanny ability to produce exactly what you want before you even know you want it.

It is her talent of truly connecting with her colleagues and the work environment that make her our resident cat herder.

James Mayer

Financial Director

As the person responsible for all Space Doctors’ day-to-day finances, James’ role is incredibly varied – from the P&L, to forecasting and offer development, to arranging the logistics of expanding to Singapore. He juggles the needs and expectations of our diverse clients and the very varied sectors we work in, helping to tailor project plans so each client interaction is seamless.

After years in big pharma, tourism and financial services, James relishes Space Doctors’ agility, constant activity and dedicated team. Hailing from the West Country, he also values our Brighton office’s close proximity to the sea, spending his weekends surfing, sailing and swimming.

Holly Gibbs

Assistant Accountant

Where to begin? Film-maker, urban dancer, self-taught seamstress, and the brawn behind an entire building in The Gambia, home to nothing less than a milling machine - Holly is multi-talented and up for anything.

But it’s her attention to detail, knack for numbers and all-round make-it-happen attitude that makes Holly a vital force as part of the finance team. As one of the latest to join Space Doctors, we’re thrilled to have her on board.

Matt Oliver

Project Director

Deeply observant, inquisitive, and as interested in Marcus Aurelius as he is in Drive, Matt draws from disparate fields to take his work in unexpected directions.

He has an insatiable desire to learn more and an artist’s appreciation for creative expression that he applies in the search for an original solution to every project.

Grace Flavin

Project Manager

Grace lives in the present. Constantly switched-on and always observing, nothing gets past her. She is able to zero in on the most critical elements of a concept, and isn’t afraid to jettison stale ideas that are standing in the way of a project’s focus.

From Mad Men to Max Factor, Grace is a real pop culture enthusiast.

Colette Sensier

Project Manager

As part of the Insight team, Colette uses semiotics and cultural analysis to uncover new discoveries about cultures, sectors and rapidly shifting attitudes in an ever more complex world. She joined Space Doctors in 2017 after spending several years as a freelance analyst, copywriter and journalist, and loves the way that we incorporate numerous disciplines and voices into our work.

Colette holds a BA in English from Cambridge, an MA in Creative Writing from UEA, and published a book of poetry with Eyewear Press in 2012. She brings a focus on creativity to her work at Space Doctors, developing new thinking for brands, by turning observations into insights, and then to stories.


The Office Dog

Our Expert Networks

Our proprietary, worldwide network of academics, thought-leaders,
cultural experts and semioticians.

Our Expert Network includes some of the world’s leading semioticians, academics, thinkers and design strategists.

While our in-house teams are familiar with many of the world’s regions, we also know the value of experts on the ground. Our associates overseas keep our knowledge fresh and dig out local nuances which make all the difference to our clients. We have worked with most of them over years; they know our methodology intimately and work with us as a seamless partnership.

Thanks to them, we can take you anywhere in the world.

The global reach of our network gives us access to the world’s farthest-flung regions. It enables us to offer you fully grounded cultural insight, getting deep into the texture and detail of how people see their world. Our global experts are there to open up these symbolic gateways to their cultures and regions: they help make authentic global conversations possible.

Our Cymbol Eyes

Our bespoke community of cultural edge-finders and category experts.

Our Cymbol community are at the forefront of culture.

They live and breathe their cultural passions, analysing them from the inside. Amongst them, you’ll find fashion bloggers, artists, film-makers, entrepreneurs and more. They’re a diverse bunch, but united by their utter love for what they do. They know their area of culture like the back of their hand as they’re immersed in it each day. They’re also shaping change themselves, creating the stories and ideas that will seem obvious tomorrow.

Cymbol members offer a unique perspective.

They don’t take an overview, sitting back and analysing like an academic. Instead they pick up insights immersively and intuitively, gathering them in context and responding emotionally. This gives us a raw, real-time sense of what matters – Cymbol is a direct line to the people shaping our cultural futures.



Space Doctors is the place for extraordinary thinkers who want to make a positive difference to the worlds of marketing and business.