Team

Our management team consists of seasoned political advisors, legal experts and media professionals.
Leadership Team
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Holger Knappenschneider

Managing Partner

Holger is one of the co-founders and Partner at IDA Group, and an expert in international law and economics. As the lead lawyer in the Transrapid consortium he learnt early on how political decisions can directly impact businesses. This experience, with the rise and fall of the renowned maglev train project, gave him a profound understanding of the importance of Public Affairs – especially in the high-tech sector.

Holger also utilized his knowledge as legal counsel for several global corporations like Siemens or Bombardier and successfully led several projects in countries like Brazil, China or Japan. He consulted several small to mid-sizes companies on their market expansion strategies and has accumulated over twelve years of hands-on experience in international negotiations, trade relations and business strategy.

An entrepreneur at heart, Holger started IDA together with Stefan Borst in 2010 and acts as the group’s Managing Partner. Due to his strong international background and his fluency in five languages, Holger is responsible for the international activities of IDA. In addition to this he also leads IDA’s headquarter in Berlin and oversees all operations of IDA in Germany.

Stefan Borst

Partner

Stefan is one of the co-founders and Partners at IDA Group, and a seasoned expert in strategic communication. A lawyer by training, Stefan has accumulated over a decade of experience as a professional journalist for several renowned magazines in Germany and abroad. During his seven years as Correspondent for FOCUS Magazine in Brussels he has built a deep and robust network across the EU Institutions and within German and European media.

Today Stefan successfully heads the Brussels office of IDA Group, personally advises leading EU politicians on their communication strategies, consults and represents multinational companies in their corporate diplomacy efforts and very much enjoys maintaining and expanding his media contacts further across Europe.

Stefan regularly gives lectures on Public Affairs and frequently acts as moderator for panel discussions and events in Brussels and Berlin.

Due to his early role as a reporter covering the rise and fall of the New Economy, Stefan still has a strong background in all IT related matters and maintains an extensive network within the IT community and social media platforms.

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Mark Watts

Partner

Mark was a Member of the European Parliament for ten years, and co-founded LP Brussels in 2010, part of IDA Group. He has provided strategic counsel to some of the world’s most well-known companies and organisations.

Mark is an expert in EU policy and regulation and has helped major regulators, trade associations, companies, governments and parliaments navigate the EU to protect their interests, raise their profile, enhance their reputation and extend their influence.

Mark was a member of various Parliamentary Committees. He was UK Labour Transport and Tourism Spokesperson from 1995-2004 and was a key architect of a number of EU laws. He was appointed by the British Prime Minister Tony Blair as an advisor to the UK’s Cabinet Office on better regulation and enhancing Britain’s influence in the EU.

As a former legislator, who had first-hand experience of drafting European law through the trilogue and co-decision procedure, he is able to use unique insight and experience to advise clients on how best to influence EU policy and legislation.

Mark studied at the LSE (BSc and MSc Econ) and is a Member of the Court of the University of Kent. In recognition of his success in communications, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 2009.

Oliver Kaye

Partner

Oliver co-founded LP Brussels back in 2010, part of IDA Group. As a Partner, Oliver brings over a decade of experience in Brussels, including five years working in the European Parliament. As such Oliver oversees much of the day-to-day operations and manages the Brussels office.

Oliver believes in the power of effective communication at all levels. Communication ensures reputational capital is built up for when times are good, and mitigates risks for when times are tough.

Working for Syed Kamall MEP as a senior political advisor, Oliver was involved in the legislative process on a wide range of policy areas at all levels, including committee, plenary and trilogue negotiation. He has worked on two European Parliament campaigns, a UK Parliament campaign, a London mayoral election and local council campaigns. Experienced in media relations, Oliver managed his former MEP’s press, and continues to build clients’ reputation with members of the Brussels press corps.

Oliver currently hosts the regular Brussels Network meetings, bringing together politicians, Commission staff, industry, journalists and think tanks from across Europe and has kept close links to many think tanks both in Brussels and beyond.

Oliver is a Manchester University graduate and speaks French and intermediate German and Italian.

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H.E. Ambassador David Plunkett

Member of the Advisory Council

Ambassador Plunkett is part of IDA’s Advisory Council. David Plunkett is one of Canada’s leading trade expert with more than three decades of working for the Canadian government on international trade issues.

David Plunkett started his career in 1981 as a Trade Policy Officer for the Department of External Affairs before moving to the Permanent Mission of Canada to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade in 1987. In 1991 Ambassador Plunkett returned to Canada to serve as the Deputy Director of the U.S. Trade Policy Division at Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada. During the following years Ambassador Plunkett served as Trade Counsellor at the Embassy of Canada to the US, Director of the European Union Division at Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada and Minister at the High Commission of Canada in London.

Between 2006 and 2011, Ambassador Plunkett served as Director General of Bilateral and Regional Trade Policy and Associate Assistant Deputy Minister and Chief Negotiator, Bilateral and Regional Trade Policy and Negotiations at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and International Trade. From 2011 until 2015, Ambassador Plunkett Ambassador of Canada to the European Union, overseeing the CETA negotiations with the European Union.

Ulf Dressler

Member of the Advisory Council & Head of Japan Office

Ulf is part of IDA’s Advisory Council and represents IDA Group in Japan. He is a seasoned marketing expert with a knack for strategic thinking.

Ulf advises foreign companies active in Japan’s industrial sectors in the areas of market access, marketing and communications strategy development, tactical planning, and executive communications counsel. Living and working for more than a decade in Japan and three years in China, he offers extensive insights into Japanese market dynamics and how they integrate into Asia at large.

Besides advisory, Ulf is founder and CEO of Bonuterra Inc., the operating company of Japan Industry News. Born out of conversations with Japanese industry journalists, Japan Industry News is building partnerships with the country’s leading industrial newspapers to publish their news to a global audience in English.

Ulf holds an MBA from University of Cologne in Germany and speaks English, Japanese and German.

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Ian Aitchison (1)
Ian Aitchison

Member of the Advisory Council

Ian is part of IDA’s Advisory Council and has been managing corporate communications for 20 years and been working for CEOs directly since 1997.  Until recently Ian served as Strategic Communications Commander with the Royal Navy’s Flag Officer Scotland.

He is a trusted head of communications, who has protected the reputation of governments and multinational companies, including crisis response.  He has developed integrated customer-focused strategies, nurtured high performance teams and encouraged innovative rethinking of systems to increase the effectiveness, efficiency and consistency of corporate communications.

His experience ranges from small family businesses to the Royal Navy, US Navy, US Army, NATO, MoD, UK Home-Grown Cereals Authority, NYK and the World Shipping Council.  Additionally, he was the shipping industry expert and Head of Operations for the BBC ‘Box’ project (see here).

Ian’s professional qualifications include a Postgraduate Diploma in Marketing awarded by the Chartered Institute of Marketing (ACIM) as well as being a Member of  the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (MCIPR), a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (FRGS) and a Freeman of the City of London and a Liveryman with the Worshipful Company of World Traders.

Kai Keski-Korhonen

Member of the Advisory Council

Kai is part of IDA’s Advisory Council with a vast amount of experience in working with the EU institutions and stakeholders in several different fields. His main competences are with legislative files and processes in the fields of Transport, Internal Market, Telecoms, Environment, Energy and many other areas. Working inside two of the main EU institutions has given him deep insight into the decision making processes of the EU and an extended contact network throughout Brussels.

Kai has previously worked representing British business interests at the UK Permanent Representation to the EU (UKREP) for nearly 8 years.

Since then, he has worked as a consultant with customers such as UK Major Ports Group (UKMPG), Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC), Finnish Rail (VR Group) and RAY (Finland’s Slot Machine Association). He has also previously worked at the European Parliament as an advisor to Pertti Paasio MEP.

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James Holland
James Holland

Member of the Advisory Council

James is part of IDA’s Advisory Council and has over 10 years’ experience in EU affairs having held a variety of political and communications roles in the Brussels bubble. Hired as a political advisor in the European Parliament in 2008, James worked for the senior Brexit MEP Daniel Hannan until 2016. His time with Daniel saw him work on two European elections, two British general elections, yearly local elections, as well as many political campaigns.

James played a key role in setting up the Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists in Europe (ACRE), acting as a senior political and communications advisor to the Alliance from its formation in 2009 until he left the European institutions in 2016.

James also help to found the EU-China Friendship Association bringing together Chinese and EU lawmakers to build strong lasting relationships.  He also continues to work today as Director of ACRE’s Project Maja.

As part of his political and trade campaigns, and as a strong advocate of cross border cooperation with Europe’s global partners, James has worked to foster better relations between EU member states and the US, Canada, the Middle East, the Caucasus, China and the Far East, among many others.

He studied European Politics at Loughborough University and Bath University in the UK and at Science Po Strasbourg and Science Po Paris in France. He is fluent in French and has a basic knowledge of Chinese.

Nicholas Finney OBE

Member of the Advisory Council

Nicholas is part of IDA’s Advisory Council. Described as a veteran Conservative campaigner, Nicholas has a wealth of experience in all areas of Westminster and Whitehall but particularly transport.

He ran both the British Ports Federation and the National Association of Port Employers in the 1980s and following his very effective campaign to repeal the Dock Labour Scheme he went on to run the highly successful Transport lobbying organisation called Waterfront, finding time along the way to be a member of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission. Nicholas puts his vast network at the service of clients who want the inside story on what is happening in the Brexit negotiations in Westminster and Whitehall.

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Ivy Lo
Ivy Lo

Director & Head of Hong Kong Office

Ivy has great experience in international communication between Europe, Hong Kong and China from her work as advisor for British industry associations on the one side and the communication to China on the other side.

Located in Hong Kong, connecting east and west, she speaks fluently English, Chinese, Cantonese and Mandarin.

Markus Gallmeier

Creative Director

Markus is IDA’s Creative Director. As Creative Director, Markus supports IDA’s clients in creating professional presentations, design and graphics that deliver. Transforming strategic issues into visual concepts and creating simplified graphics from complex subjects.

Markus has over 22 years of experience in business to business communication with a large variety of industries. Based on his education in graphic design, Markus started gaining experiences with strategic communication and design as the internet business was rising. As a graphic designer and creative director, Markus was engaged by publishing houses and advertising.

Furthermore, the diversification of communication channels especially driven by the internet motivated Markus to explore the consequences for brands and to develop strategies for consistent visual presentation throughout all communication channels.

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Thomas Richter

Senior Advisor

Thomas is one of IDA Group’s Senior Advisors with more than five years of helping business to influence decisions, shift majorities and improve their narrative at the EU level. Thomas currently advises numerous international companies from the IT, manufacturing and chemicals sector on EU legislation, regulatory challenges and trade policy.

Before his time with IDA, Thomas worked for Peter Altmaier, the current Chief of Staff of the German Chancellery, and a Senior Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He also served briefly in the political and protocol section of the German Permanent Representation to the European Union. During his time in those institutions, Thomas has gained hands-on knowledge about the political processes in Europe and the United States.

Apart from his consulting activities, Thomas successfully leads the IDA corporate events team in organizing high-level panel discussion, stakeholder dialogues or EU workshops & trainings for clients in Brussels, Berlin and around the world.

A political scientist by training, Thomas holds a Master in International Studies and Diplomacy from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London (SOAS). He is fluent in German, English and speaks conversational French and Dutch.

Marta Ledke

Senior Advisor

Marta is a Senior Advisor at IDA Group providing strategic advice to clients on various EU policies, mainly in the field of climate and energy, environment, industrial policy, mobility and trade.

Having worked in Brussels and Berlin with both government institutions and industry stakeholders, Marta has a keen grasp of the diverse interests driving the legislative process at national and EU level. She has an extensive background in public affairs with several years of experience monitoring and influencing EU policies in different fields.

Marta started her career at in the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Climate Action, where she worked on the evaluation of the EU’s Emissions Trading System and the 2030 framework for climate and energy policies.

She then worked for a leading communications agency in Brussels, where she advised the EU institutions on their public outreach and communication strategies. During this time, she also advised various industry stakeholders on the EU legislative process.

Before joining IDA, Marta co-headed the public affairs department of a Berlin-based communication and management agency working with the German Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure on developments in the field of digitization, broadband and regional development.

Marta studied political science and law in the Netherlands and Mexico, obtaining an LL.M. degree in European Law from Maastricht University. Apart from her native German and Polish, she is fluent in English and speaks Spanish.  During her university studies, she helped set up a student-driven university department responsible for managing sustainability projects at Maastricht University.

Outside of her work for IDA, Marta volunteers as an advisor at startsocial, a German non-governmental initiative promoting cooperation between social workers and experienced professionals from the private sector.

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Pablo Nicolitz

Senior Advisor

Pablo is one of IDA Group’s Senior Advisors, leading the company’s engagement with Latin America. An international analyst by training, Pablo works as the lead advisor for clients on internationalization of Latin American companies.

Before joining IDA, Pablo acquired professional experience working for different international companies, such as the German Chamber of Commerce in Brazil, IBM and Aon plc. During his time in those organizations, Pablo has gained strong capabilities in sales, project management, international business consultancy and relationship with clients.

Due to his experience with international clients, Pablo advises Latin American companies and organisations regarding market expansion projects in Europe and Asia.

Pablo holds a Master in Peace and Conflict Studies from Otto-von-Guerick Magdeburg University and is fluent in Portuguese, Spanish, German and English.

Juliane Voss

Senior Advisor

Juliane is a press relations expert and specialist in social media communications. She recently served as spokesperson and deputy press officer for the 36th German Protestant Kirchentag 2017 in Berlin. Juliane answered media inquiries, wrote press releases as well as online posts and prepared chief executives for their interviews. In this role, she was in charge of the press accreditation process for the public meeting between President Obama and chancellor Merkel with over 2,500 accredited journalists and media outlets.

Before she joined the Kirchentag, Juliane gained in-depth communications and events management skills as Communications Manager for the transatlantic business network American Chamber of Commerce in Germany (AmCham Germany). During her eight years at AmCham Germany, she has built a wide-ranging network including journalists, government officials and public affairs representatives on both sides of the Atlantic.

Juliane holds a degree in press relations from the Deutsche Presseakademie Berlin as well as a Master of Arts in Literature, History and English from the Albert-Ludwigs-University in Freiburg.

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Ana Roios

Advisor

Ana is an Advisor at IDA Group working on EU affairs and consulting for the past two years. Currently, Ana advises companies on EU legislation and regulatory challenges, primarily in the areas of transport, environment and energy.

Prior to working at IDA Group, Ana worked for the European Emergency Number Association as an advocacy officer and gathered experience at Sacchi Consulting. During that time, she gained the in-depth experience of working with Members of the European Parliament, international associations and non- governmental organisations, as well as developing project management and communication skills.

Outside her work for IDA, Ana is a researcher at the Quid Novi Foundation, an institute for Economic Policy Analysis. Her main areas of focus are related to TTIP and the Gulf countries.

Ana holds a bachelor degree in Law from the Catholic University of Portugal, and is currently writing her Master thesis on the political and economic relations between the EU and the Gulf Cooperation Council. Born in Portugal, Ana is fluent in Portuguese and English and speaks basic French.

Lea Rathmachers

Advisor

Lea is one of IDA’s Advisors working for internationalization of Latin American companies in Europe. With her proficiency in Latin American politics and economics as well as her experienced operations in different industries in Brazil, she combines political knowledge and cultural understanding of the region.

Before joining IDA, Lea acquired experience working in different organizations, like the Ibero-American Institute and the Fraunhofer Institute. During her time in those institutions she gained in-depth knowledge in data research, project management and intercultural dialogue during those projects related to Latin America, she developed great negotiation skills and has great insight expertise about this region.

Lea holds a Master degree in Latin American-Studies from the Free University of Berlin and has strong multicultural knowledge, mainly acquired from studying and working in Brazil. She is fluent in German, Portuguese and English and has basic knowledge in Spanish and French.

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Lizet Arévalo Páez

Advisor

Lizet is one of IDA’s Advisors working for Latin American companies in Europe. With her background in political science and being a Columbian national, Lizet combines both political knowledge and cultural understanding of the region.

Before her time at IDA, Lizet spent five years working in her native country Colombia as an Advisor in several entities of the Public Sector such as the Ministry of Transportation, Ministry of Culture and the Secretariat of Government of Bogotá amongst others.

During her time in those institutions, Lizet gained great knowledge about the political processes and business culture in Latin America. Lizet has strong multicultural capabilities, mainly acquired from studying and living in different countries.

She is fluent in Spanish, German and English and is currently acquiring her Master‘s degree in Government and Public Management from the Complutense University of Madrid.

Eva Cunningham

Assistant

Eva works as an Assistant for IDA Group. Eva is currently doing an internship at IDA, her duties include collecting and collating information and proof-reading various documents. Eva grew up deeply imbedded in the Brussels Bubble and speaks English, French and Swedish fluently. She is also learning Spanish.

Eva recently completed a BSc in Anthropology at University College London and is looking to begin a Master’s degree in September. Prior to her internship at IDA, most of Eva’s work experience has been as an English as a Foreign Language Teacher, a job she held on the side of her undergraduate studies.

Eva Cunningham
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Anita Lindstädt

Executive Assistant

Anita is IDA Group’s Executive Assistant responsible for the general office management, appointments for the board, managing accounting, travel arrangments in addition to the coordination of the various IDA offices in Berlin, Brussels, London, Sao Palo, Shanghai, Ottawa and Mexico City.

Prior to working for IDA, Anita served as Executive Assistant to the Technical Director at Transrapid International GmbH until 2008. Her role included a variety of responsibilities among which compiling reports, organizing campaigns and general office management. For many years she worked in the international project team Transrapid Shanghai, responsible for coordination with international partners, ministers and foreign clients. She has a deep knowledge of the processes Ministry, funding and application.