Dean was born in Wales and completed a PhD in X-ray optics at the Daresbury and Brookhaven synchrotrons. His first job was building a surface science beamline at Elettra in Italy. He then joined the Accelerator Technology Group of Oxford Instruments, including time as the CERN Business Manager and two years in the US as Sales Manager. He later joined Oxford Danfysik as their Sales Director, travelling extensively to synchrotron facilities around the world. Dean has an MBA and is a qualified project management professional.