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Life At RED

If you’re looking for the traditional learning method of impersonal teaching, generic textbooks, and irrelevant projects, this is not the school for you.

Don’t expect to be just another student, because we see you as much more than that. You’re a budding professional. You’re a leader. You’re a team player. And most importantly, you’re part of the #REDfam.

Sound good? Keep scrolling.

Part School, Part Agency

The best way to learn is by doing, which is why our education model is based on creating an authentic agency and startup experience. By the time you graduate, you’ll easily transition into your new career without missing a beat.

From comfy couches to open work spaces, our learning environment has been designed with every student need in mind.

And in case you were wondering, yes, we have beer kegs.


Every member of our team is here for a reason. Not only are they leading professionals in their field, but also they offer unique insights on current trends in the industry. Having worked for some of the most renowned tech companies in the world, you’ll gain exclusive access to expert advice.

Team Work Makes The Dream Work

Working with a team is an integral part of our education model. Not only will it prepare you for the real world, but it’s also an effective way to connect with your peers. Through collaboration you’ll acquire both hard and soft skills that will be vital for your career.

Learn What Matters

No one’s got time for fluff. That’s why we guarantee you’ll only learn the most relevant tools, software, technologies and strategies. Why? Because when they’re not in the classroom, many of our instructors are working in their areas of expertise. You’ll only be taught essential, applicable curriculum.

360º Professional Development

Today’s tech companies want dynamic leaders, collaborators, and communicators. Technical knowledge is important, but it’s not the only thing employers are looking for. That’s why we future-proof our grads, offering career coaching and support so they can become meaningful contributors and creators in the workplace.

RED provides a safe environment where risks and explorations are encouraged. Whether I have a technical, professional, or personal question, there is always someone that can be of help or refer me to someone one who will know an answer. My peers and instructors are always supportive and are open to discussing any concerns. I know RED equips me with both the soft and hard skills of not only specific to a UI designer but to be overall a better learner, thinker, and a designer.

Bo Ha, Recent Graduate

Meet the Team

Ali Maqsood

Web Dev & App Dev Instructor

Starting off with a double major in Chem & Bio, Ali Maqsood has transitioned into a master of programming & design. Going from his love of life sciences to computer science, Ali has spent 4 years working as a front-end and back-end web developer and has familiarized himself with HTML(5), CSS(3), JavaScript, MySQL, PHP and NodeJS. You can find apps developed by him on the Apple App Store!
Ali’s goal in life is to develop and create highly functional websites/applications and be a constant learner in his pursuit of greater knowledge.

Ciara Hamagishi

VP Of Academic Partnerships

Ciara’s role allows her to perfectly combine her two main passions – education and mentorship. She enjoys working with prospective RED students to help them find their dream career in the tech industry. In her early career, Ciara discovered recruitment was an opportunity to combine her love of teaching with her academic background. She has recruited university students for an international American university affiliated with the United Nations, accounting students for Deloitte and ESL teachers for programs such as the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC).  In her spare time, Ciara works out at Pure Barre, plays beach volleyball and checks out tech events around the city. She sits on the Membership Committee for YES! Vancouver benefiting Dress for Success. Ciara mentors in programs such as The Glass Ceiling Demolition Co. and UBC’s Young Women in Business (YwiB) as well as informally working with many other students through weekly coffee chats. (If you are thinking about a new career in tech, she would love to set up a time to chat!)

Colin Mansell

CEO & Founder

Colin is the CEO of RED Academy. Although he originally started his career as a classically trained musician and sound engineer, he has been working in tech for the past 15 years. While he sounds British, don’t let that accent fool you; his roots are Dutch, and he calls Amsterdam his hometown. Also the founder of Drive Digital, one of Western Canada’s biggest digital agencies, Colin is inspired by watching people create and seeing them find fulfillment in doing something they believe in. Colin is excited by the idea that the Internet connects us all, increasing transparency and accountability. He strongly believes that purpose is a bigger driver in people than profit, which will lead us to a better, fairer, more conscious world – values that dictate the foundation of RED.CE

Graeme Lea


As the lead of RED’s Systems team, Graeme is stoked about redefining education and helping RED become the best learning institution in the world. With his calm and zen-like presence, Graeme has spent many years honing his skills of emotional intelligence. Being passionate about education, one of his core beliefs is that empathy is the solution to create the conditions for world peace and should be taught in schools. His experiences have lead him to co-found his own company called SoapBox Speakers where he trains and develops professional speakers. When he is not working, he is either reading a book or out on a surf trip. If you know of any good reads, Graeme is always looking for book recommendations!

Haidee Kongpreecha

Digital Marketing Instructor & Marketing Manager

Haidee is a digital strategist with over ten years of marketing experience. She has spent most of her marketing career working hands-on and was part of the first wave of digital marketers; mastering skills on-the-go in a rapidly changing industry. A true generalist, she has worked in all areas of digital marketing from content and search engine optimization, to paid social advertising and Google Ads. When she’s not working, Haidee is sleeping. Haidee enjoys a good nap.

George Wu

Lead UX Design Instructor

George has 6+ years experience working on and directing UI/UX design, front-end development, and motion for clients including agencies like Bruce Mau Design (for a global electronics brand), startups from Y Combinator, and altogether over 20 different companies. You can find some of his work featured on sites such as Engadget, TechCrunch and Envato; as well as in major retail stores. George’s goal is to create products that allow normal people to harness the ever-increasing capabilities of technology while also mitigating the complexities of those technologies in the most elegant and simple ways possible.

Emily Booth

Operations & Student Experience Coordinator

Emily is passionate about crafting amazing experiences for the students here at RED Academy Toronto. With her background in Psychology and UX Design, she is focused on developing new methods of support to the RED fam. When Emily isn’t working she is out exploring the world.

Julie Tremblay

UI & Communications Design Instructor

Julie is a Designer with expertise in crafting highly engaging digital experiences for organizations like TELUS, YYoga, Escents, and Rutgers University at digital agency Pound & Grain. Originally from New-Caledonia, she joined the RED team where she uses her well-rounded set of skills and her background in fine arts & coding to fuel her strong enthusiasm for teaching UI & Communication Design. Julie is passionate about thinking of innovative ways to leverage user-centric design at every possible moment – whether it’s through her teaching, her design work, or while contributing to the betterment of her surroundings.

Lucy Moore

General Manager

Lucy is our resident data mastermind but her official title is General Manager for Vancouver, but what she really does is slice through the big data we work with to bring together a coherent set of information. With over 10 years of analytics and business experience, she loves both getting lost and finding her way out of complex systems – with the details of the story intact. She is excited to be working with such an intelligent team on the cutting edge of technology and strives to be like those who inspire her – courageous, humble, and with a soul to the earth. When not sifting through statistics and figures that would make most cringe, she can be found traveling, running, learning about the natural world, or watching a Will Ferell movie – all with camera in hand. Except maybe the Will Ferell part.

Mackenzie Kieran

Head of Curriculum, Web & App Development

Mackenzie’s been working in Vancouver’s burgeoning start-up scene since 2010. He brings strong experience with JavaScript and contemporary full-stack web development to RED. He’s as at home in a container cluster as he is in a SCSS file. Mackenzie has helped RED develop over 100 students, teaching beginners in-demand Open Source tools like React and React-Native, Angular, Node, Express, PostgreSQL and Git. One look at Mackenzie’s experience will show you that he’s passionate about doing work that fosters community-building, and he brings that into the classroom every day at RED.

Mandi Wise


Developer by day (and usually by night too), Mandi spent many years working in WordPress plugin and theme development in the non-profit space and as a freelancer, but currently specializes in building web and mobile applications with React and React Native. She’s also actively exploring ways to develop VR/AR apps to enhance learning experiences in the classroom at RED. When she’s not creating websites and apps that run like well-oiled machines, you can find her making use of a fleet of vintage cameras in and around Vancouver.

Mandy Gilbert

Co-Founder & President

Michelle Andrew

Admissions & Events Manager

Michelle is the Admissions Manager at RED, with the goal of empowering students to design their dream lives. Having built the admissions systems for both Vancouver and Toronto, she is now heading up admissions and operations at the London school, RED’s first foray internationally! She brings a unique background with her as she has spent the last 12 years working in Vancouver’s booming film industry. Michelle also has over 5 years experience working in marketing agencies, and 4 years working in luxury tourism with Rocky Mountaineer. She chose to come to RED for the opportunity to redesign her own future and for her love of continuing education. When she’s not working, Michelle is likely playing with her dogs of which she is obsessed.

Rowan Springfield

Lead Digital Marketing Instructor

Rowan is a digital marketing expert with a passion for data, technology and optimization. With over five years experience in London and Canadian agencies, Rowan has worked with some huge international clients such as Hilton and Ralph Lauren. He also continues to work freelance alongside teaching at RED. Rowan has a keen attention to detail and delights in finding trends and anomalies to exploit or fix. He loves to be outdoors: be it snowboarding or biking in the mountains, climbing or just hiking around the North Shore. He probably should know better, but can’t resist the opportunity to jump off stuff when the opportunity arises.

Rafael Marques

International Market Manager

Rafael Marques moved to Vancouver from São Paulo, Brazil. He studied Business at Fairleigh Dickinson University and works with international students for over 6 years. Passionate about Tech and Design, the move to RED Academy was a natural fit. Rafael became the International Market Manager in 2016 and his role is to implement the international student department in the school. In his free time, Rafael loves to go snowboarding in the winter and to gather friends for a good BBQ on the beach in the summer. He also still runs his own international student recruiting agency and enjoys playing guitar at home. Grateful for being in Canada, Rafael makes sure that new students receive proper counselling and are welcomed in Canada.


Operations, Facilities, & Students Experience Coordinator

Kevin’s mix of digital skills includes Marketing, User Experience Design, and Web Development. He is passionate about helping the RED community and supporting students continuously by giving them guidance to find their place in tech alongside with his RED Ops team. Kevin is excited to build his career alongside RED’s growth, his hope is to take the skills he’s learned at RED and help grow the tech industry in his home country of Indonesia. Fun fact: Kevin doesn’t have a last name and he is a crazy foodie.

Jenny Lam

UI Design Instructor

I am an interaction designer who believes that anything can be designed to enhance it’s user experience whether digital or analogue. From websites and apps to immersive virtual reality environments, I am constantly looking for ways to delight users through design. Curiosity is in my nature. My passion for replicating dishes from restaurants I’ve been to or figuring out how to create a piece of furniture keeps me busy when I’m not designing. Oh and that is Oliver, my Wire Fox Terrier. He also keeps me busy.

Jim Bennett

Web Dev Instructor

Jim is a front-end web developer with over 7 years of experience who specializes in WordPress theme and plugin development, and is passionate about CSS animation and javascript interactivity. In addition to his Web career he is a professional musician with a love for cats and robots.

Andro Atienza

Program Lead, UX & UI Design

With over 5 years of experience as a graphic designer taking on projects and campaigns across print and digital mediums, Andro is driven by design that strikes a balance between creative and strategic fields. Having graduated from RED Academy’s own UX Design Program, Langara’s Electronic Media Design and Communication Arts Program as well as a BA in Management Communications Technology, Andro brings in an expansive wealth of knowledge, skills, and insights in the realm of User Interface and Communication Design. An avid runner and lover of all music, Andro’s days are fuelled by his passion for creating compelling stories, engaging brands and bottomless cups of coffee.

Holly Lawton

Global Content Marketing
Vancouver, Toronto, and London

With over a decade of full-circle marketing experience, working across multiple B2B and B2C campaigns, Holly brings her passion for digital marketing to RED. Originally from the UK, Holly has worked in a wide varied of industries: from consumer campaigns like the world’s largest dog show Crufts, BBC Kids and live entertainment, right through to food and drink trade events, global telecommunications conferences and a global shipping broker – proving that digital marketing can be applied successfully to any company, in any market.

Holly Osborne

Accounting Manager

Holly is all about the numbers. She graduated from Capliano University with a Bachelor of Business Administration and a focus in accounting. Following university, Holly worked in public practice accounting for 7 years during which time, she obtained her Chartered Accountant (CPA, CA) designation. Bringing her accounting experience to RED Academy, Holly uses these skills to pay the bills, literally. When Holly isn’t working, you can find her on the yoga mat, behind the camera or hiking with Kai – one of the resident RED puppies!

James Potten

Managing Director RED Academy UK

I’m James Potten from Bristol, UK and I have expertise in galvanising teams to scale businesses and make purposeful ideas happen.

I have a first class honours Masters degree in Mechanical Engineering from Cardiff University, and have studied at both Ashridge and Schumacher College in recent years to build a greater understanding of growth mindset and systems thinking.

After 12 years of hard slog, I exited as MD and shareholder from a £12m turnover environmental company called Ecosurety that grew from 15 to 50 people strong in the last 5 years. Prior to this I was a program manager at Honeywell. I also co-founded the Student Windsurfing Association in 2000, which continues to run the largest windsurfing events in the UK.

The universe has an interesting way of helping us change course, and after coming across the concept of ‘abundance’ in late 2014, I am now pursuing my passion for how exponential technologies can positively impact our lives.

I like working with disruptive companies that focus on optimising the relationship between people and technology to create an abundant yet sustainable world. I also believe the existing paradigm of business culture is stifling creativity. So I’d like to do something about it!


I am now a partner in RED Academy, helping to launch our third school in London following the successful launch of Vancouver and Toronto. We specialize in UX, UI Design, Digital Marketing and Web & App devolvement. I believe in the importance of lifelong learning and the need to redefine education to prepare us for the exponential future.


I am also mentor start-ups and Chair a micro-finance charity called Deki which has a fantastic mission to create a world of opportunity, not poverty through a hand up, not a hand out.


My wife and I have a huge passion for kitesurfing, which provides us with essential down-time to get headspace from the day-to-day. I was the first person to windsurf the English Channel in 2003 (in 1 hour 24 mins), and I attempted a kitesurf from Spain to Morocco in 2017 (the wind dropped)!

I spent a week on Necker Island earlier this year with Richard Branson, brain storming for Virgin Unite in the morning and kitesurfing in the afternoon. I subsequently ran my own trial event in Tarifa, Spain to see if the same concept could work for leading European CEOs who want to give back a piece of the pie. It does!

I have been on the most amazing journey and have found the transition from a competitive to creative mindset to be an incredible awakening. Business leaders should encourage a culture of self-discovery and personal growth to maximise creativity and therefore productivity. I believe the most successful leaders of the future will be those with the greatest capacity to share.

Kirstie Lane

Marketing Manager, UK

Valarie Blackstock

Digital Marketing Instructor

Valerie is a creative marketing expert with years experiences of progressive experience in traditional and digital advertising. Her expertise spans insurance, consumer goods, telecommunications, technology, publishing, banking, consulting, creative and education industries. She holds an MBA from Ted Rogers School of Management and cultivates appreciation for innovative marketing approaches through her speaking capabilities.

All-Star Speakers

While Beyonce may not be a regular guest speaker (never say never!), you can expect A-List professionals to make an appearance. Our network includes the best in the business. Ask questions, pitch ideas, or simply takeaway their valuable insights. At RED, you’ll never be short on people willing to lend an ear.

Work Hard Play Hard

Whether it’s waffles for breakfast or a 90’s karaoke session, we believe that having fun is vital for our students to succeed. During our Monday Town Hall meetings, we bring everyone together for a group activity that’s designed to relax, motivate, and inspire.

And after a week well done, we’ll close it out with Social Fridays, inviting our students to kick back, relax, and celebrate all of the hard work you’ve done. Cheers!

Interested in finding out more?

Interested in finding out more?

Request Info