Meet the Team
Heber Alves DVM PhD
Heber Alves Graduated in Veterinary Medicine from the University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro (UTAD) in Portugal in 2003. He then studied veterinary anesthesiology in Brazil at UNESP (São Paulo State University) and did the internship at UTAD. He was Assistant lecturer of Surgical Semiology and Anesthesiology at UTAD from 2005 to 2007 and researcher at the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology (IBMC) in Oporto University until the end of 2011. In 2007, he completed the Diploma of Advanced Studies at the University of León (Spain).
In 2011 he received the PhD degree (Summa Cum Laude) in Animal Medicine and Surgery, where he developed his own line of research in anaesthesia of laboratory animals. His line of research included refinement of laboratory animal anaesthesia and the effects of anaesthetics on memory and learning.
In 2006, Heber founded Improve Ibérica in Portugal. This was a sister company of Improve International based in the UK, with the aim to develop the Improve International programmes in other territories. His vision was to expand the business throughout the world and make Improve International programmes the standard Postgraduate Education system for the veterinary profession worldwide. Heber developed extensive knowledge of the Veterinary Continuing Education market across Europe, Americas and Asia leading the development of Improve International programs in these territories.
In 2020, he became the CEO of Improve International responsible for leading the senior management team and setting the goals, strategy, and direction of the business. Improve is now present in more than 20 countries and is the largest continuing education provider for veterinarians worldwide.
- John is the UK Managing Director of Improve International and oversees all aspects of Improve International’s day to day operations
- Prior to joining the company in 2013, he worked in the creative industries before moving into training and education where he now has 20 years’ experience
- Key responsibilities include coordination of the UK, Scandinavia and management of the Defra contract
David Babington BVetMed MRCVS
- David qualified as a vet in 1986 from the Royal Veterinary College, University of London, and was one of the founders of Improve in 1998
- He was Managing Director of the Group until 2017, before moving into his current role as Business Development Director
- David’s responsibilities include the coordination of product development and expansion of the business into new territories. Current projects include the development of the online/blended learning programmes for vets and nurses, plus the establishment of an own- business operation in the Nordic countries
Rui Lobao DVM
- Rui joined Improve International in 2008 to integrate the Improve team, becoming a board member in 2011 and the Operations Director in 2018
- Responsible for the coordination of Spain, Portugal, USA, Germany, France, Mexico and Cyprus licenses and provides assistance in product development
- Prior to this Rui was a founder of the largest small animal congress in Portugal
- Chris joined Improve in November 2020 and oversees Improve’s finance, HR and publishing activities as well as being a member of the board.
- As CFO of a number of businesses, he has a track record of implementing the structures, financing and strategy required to support growth.
- He has a deep understanding of digital monetisation models and, immediately prior to Improve, Chris ran M&A at Future plc, helping the business execute on a highly successful build and buy strategy.
Stephanie Joined Improve International back in September 2015 as the Vet programme tutor. In February 2020 Stephanie moved into the role of Head of Operations. Prior to joining Improve, she has undertaken two degrees in Equine Science and has previously worked as a Veterinary Thermographer for large and small Animals before moving into the education sector as a Performance Manager and Equine Lecturer at a Further Education land-based College. Stephanie has undertaken a Professional Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) and is currently undertaking a Master’s Degree in Education with an emphasis on Distance Learning.
Caroline joined Improve International in April 2019 as PA to the Senior Management Team and Business Operations Coordinator to help support the running of the office. Caroline has 13 years of experience within business support units as a Senior Administer within local government before joining the Ministry of Defence Education establishment as a Team Leader. In addition to this Caroline is currently undertaking a BA (hon) degree in Business Management.
Beth joined in 2018 as an Apprentice working within the Business Administration Team. Having now completed her apprenticeship in July 2020, Beth continues to support the Vet Programme Tutor as the Assistant Vet Programme Tutor for our GpCert/PgC/GpAdvCert Programmes. Beth enjoys supporting the delegates throughout their course as well as managing their online learning platforms.
Claire Dorey-Phillips BSc(Hons) VNPA ISFMDipFN RVN
Claire graduated from the University of Bristol in 2005 with a BSc (Hons) in Veterinary Nursing and Practice Administration. She then joined a multidisciplinary referral hospital where she went on to lead the surgical nursing department, became the lead medicine nurse, the head nurse and, finally, clinical nursing training manager. She left to work as Lead Medicine Nurse primarily in Feline Medicine at another multidisciplinary hospital, where she was instrumental in obtaining gold Cat-Friendly Clinic status and obtained her diploma in feline nursing. In October 2017 Claire joined Improve International practical team, as Practical Course Coordinator and in 2020 she became fulltime Nurse Programme Tutor.
Jennifer Gonçalves DVM
Jennifer graduated in Veterinary Medicine in 2010 and has worked in small animal practice ever since. She joined Improve International in 2014 and has always been involved in Improve’s activities in the UK, in addition to Scandinavia, Portugal and the USA. She is currently the UK’s Programme Coordinator for Vets.
Katie has recently joined Improve International as a Programme Tutor for the Small Animal Medicine courses and has a background of 6 years customer service which is a big asset to her new role. Katie is a big animal lover and owner of a cat called Nova and a horse called Micco. She also enjoys reading, photography, fine pencil drawing and painting in her free time.
Laura joined Improve International in March 2020 as Assistant Nurse Programme tutor. Laura’s role is to support delegates throughout their certificates and assist the Nurses Programme Tutor.
Laura studied textiles and fashion design at university before working in retail management in London and Bath for the past 8 years. Her background in Customer Service and Administration is an assist to her role and as she is passionate about supporting delegates through their qualification.
Laura is also a passionate animal lover and in her spare time looks after her two cats Harry and Luna.
Nic joined Improve in June 2015 as UK Sales Manager. Heading up sales across Improve International’s Publishing & Events department and our Postgraduate Certificate programmes.
Nic has extensive experience in both B2B and B2C sales in the veterinary field.
Rebecca joined Improve in 2016 as an apprentice in the role of Business Support Co-ordinator.
Selina Joined Improve International in February to support our Programme Tutor and Operational delivery teams, Selina supports delegates on GpCert/PgC/GpAdvCert Programmes and assist the Vet Programme Tutor. Selina’s main roles include answering general course queries, module attendance and managing content on Moodle and she also looks after the Improve International reception in the Swindon office.
Selina has a background in customer service and enjoys meeting new people.
Sonia joined Improve in 1999 having worked previously as a Veterinary Nurse in practices in Gloucestershire and Scotland and as a Sales Representative for a dog food manufacturer, also in Scotland. Sonia develops courses for the UK and also for various European countries.
Alison Babington BVetMed MRCVS
- Alison joined Improve International in 2011 having spent 25 years working in predominantly small animal veterinary practice
- As a business coordinator, her role is to oversee the delivery of the UK portfolio of courses. Her extensive experience in veterinary practice provides inspiration for new short courses and modular programmes to complement the existing range
As Head of Digital Learning, Dan leads the development of Improve’s expertise in the provision of online learning to give its delegates the most effective learning experience possible.
Dan has a background in both Further and Higher Education and is experienced in developing online learning resources across a range of platforms.
Paul has 20 years of experience in the eLearning field and ensures he keeps abreast of the latest developments in the industry. He’s passionate about technology, graphic design and animal welfare so he can satisfy all three interests in his role as an eLearning Developer at Improve International.
Amber Dunham BSc (Hons) RVN
Amber is an experienced RVN and Veterinary Practice Manager working in both Independent and Corporate Practice settings for over 16 years. During this time she has gained a level 5 Diploma in Veterinary Practice Management from the Institute of Leadership and Management and recently completed the Edward Jenna Leadership for Veterinary Professionals Certificate. She is passionate about helping veterinary practices deliver gold standard veterinary care and working with veterinary professionals to help develop their skills and careers.
Barry runs the Practical Department and has worked for Improve International for about 5 years.
Hannah Callister FdSc RVN Cert VN ECC FdSc RVN, Cert VN ECC
Hannah is an experienced veterinary nurse, having qualified in 2011 from Harper Adams University. She will use her knowledge gained from working in a variety of practices to help Improve International deliver gold standard courses and certificates for veterinary professionals. Outside of work, Hannah enjoys exploring the Cotswold countryside with her partner and Cockapoo, learning campanology, and baking a new recipe.
Lucy joined Improve International in February 2017 as Practical Course Coordinator for the company’s new Sheffield wet-lab facility. Previously, Lucy spent six years working as the lead Editor of TheFishSite.com – a global news and information website for the aquaculture and fisheries industry. In her spare time, Lucy enjoys dancing, exploring the great outdoors and spending time with her two Bengal cats.
Gaynor joined Improve International in January 2014, as UK Marketing Manager.
Previously Gaynor had a long and successful career with a major oil and lubricants company and held the position of Global Brand and Communications Manager.
Sue Hay BVMS CertClEd MRCVS
Sue is Head of OV Training. She joined Improve International in 2014.
Sue is a Veterinary Surgeon. She started her career in Practice where, she had experience of both large and small animal work, before joining the State Veterinary Service, now known as APHA.
Whilst with APHA she specialised in TB case management and Official Veterinarian (OV) training. She now works on the APHA OV training contract.
As OV Training Manager, Marta manages the practical assessment elements required for Official Veterinarian training, including through the revalidation process. She also supports the development of new learning materials. Marta qualified from the University of Cordoba, Spain, in 2012 and worked initially in a laboratory where she carried out surveillance testing of diseases in wildlife. She then worked in a large animal practice for two years, carrying out a range of OV work, including TB testing.
Charlotte French MA VetMB BSc (ARCS) PGCertVetEd FHEA MRCVS
- Charlotte graduated as a vet from Cambridge Veterinary School and has had a varied career with over twenty years of experience in small animal practice and shelter medicine.
- She has worked in veterinary education for over six years, gaining experience of course planning, quality assurance and assessment.
- She holds a Postgraduate Certificate in Veterinary Education and is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
- Her role is the management of curriculum and quality across the business at an international level.
Amelia joined Improve International as the editor of Veterinary Practice magazine in 2019. Before this, she studied at the Royal Veterinary College and gained her editorial experience volunteering for an international undergraduate research journal, where she was the first UK-based member of the Executive Board. For more information about Veterinary Practice magazine, visit https://veterinary-practice.com/