Meet the team

Tim Hodgson, Co-head of the Thinking Ahead Group

My career in three bullets:

  • Eighteen years of full-time research including twelve years in the Thinking Ahead Group
  • Five years in asset-liability consulting, advising clients, running implemented consulting programmes, doing manager research and general research
  • Five years at asset-only consultant, running portfolios of managers

Education:

Master of Arts, Economics, University of Cambridge

Relevant memberships:

Associate of the CFA Society of the UK (old UK IIMR exams)

A fact about me:

I am a qualified PADI Divemaster

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Marisa Hall, Co-head of the Thinking Ahead Group

My career in three bullets:

  • Eleven years as an investment consultant to asset owners, providing advice on investment strategy, dynamic de-risking, manager selection and liability hedging
  • Joined the Thinking Ahead Institute in October 2016, driven by its mission to improve the investment industry and help secure a sustainable future
  • I am on a number of industry boards and committees, including London Women’s Forum, Investment 20/20 and #talkaboutblack, a powerful movement sponsored by The Diversity Project that aims to improve the conversation on ethnic diversity

Education:

CFA UK Level 3 Certificate in Investment Management (IMC)
MSc (Distinction) – CASS Business School, London
BSc (1st class) – University of the West Indies, Jamaica

Relevant memberships:

Fellow of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (FIA)

A fact about me:

My first journal publication was at the age of 14 for a poem that I wrote on plane curves called ‘The Cry of the Parabola’

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Roger Urwin, Co-founder of the Thinking Ahead Institute

My career in three bullets:

  • Twenty-five years as asset consultant, two years as an asset manager
  • Twenty years as leader of investment businesses
  • Thought leadership innovations include three global firsts: the origination of the first target date DC funds (in 1988), the risk budget framework (in 1999) and the governance budget framework for assessing asset owner organisational effectiveness (in 2007)

Education:

Masters in Applied Statistics, Oxford University

Relevant memberships:

Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries
Member of the CFA Institute

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Paul Deane-Williams, Director, Thinking Ahead Group

My career in three bullets:

  • Five years managing the Institute and driven by its mission to lead change in the investment industry through collaborative thought leadership in action
  • Fourteen years leading the global public relations programme for the Investments business, including seven years leading Willis Towers Watson’s EMEA PR function
  • Over six years as a corporate affairs / communications consultant to the investment, professional services and mining industries

Education:

National Diploma in Photography

Relevant memberships:

Harlequins RFC, Kew Gardens, RHS

A fact about me:

Started my career as a professional photographer

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James Price, Director, Thinking Ahead Group

My career in three bullets:

  • Joined Willis Towers Watson’s manager research team in 2006
  • Since then I have researched investment approaches ranging from fund managers that invest in ten stocks based on fundamental company analysis through to quantitative multi-strategy hedge funds investing in all asset classes
  • As well as researching asset managers James works with asset owners helping them construct portfolios or designing bespoke strategies where existing products do not meet an asset owner’s needs

Education:

MSci Physics – Imperial College London

Samar Khanna, Associate director | Research, Thinking Ahead Group

My career in three bullets:

  • Joined Willis Towers Watson’s Asset Research Team in 2010
  • Spent ten years as an economist and multi-asset research strategist; providing insights on macroeconomic developments, geopolitics, markets
  • Experience in sovereign bonds, corporate credit, equities and commodity markets

Education:

MSc Economics and International Financial Economics, University of Warwick, UK
BA Economics, University of Delhi, India

Relevant memberships:

Member of the CFA Institute

A fact about me:

I have been active in I&D work for much of my career. I currently volunteer at an LGBT+ charity called Just Like Us where I am a mentor to LGBT+ youth and a member of their communications team. I am also on the steering committee of the Investments I&D network within the firm.

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Samar Khanna headshot

Jess Gao, Associate director | Research, Thinking Ahead Group

My career in three bullets:

  • Joined Thinking Ahead Group in July 2011
  • Worked in the International Consulting Group on corporate pension consulting
  • Joined Towers Watson in 2008 as a graduate

Education:

Master of Research, The University of Nottingham

Relevant memberships:

Student of the Institute of Actuaries

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Ruth McDonald, Lead associate | Members and Comms, Thinking Ahead Group

My career in three bullets:

  • I started out my career as a Maths and Literacy teacher for adult learners. I also worked as a special educational needs teaching assistant for young people
  • I joined Willis Towers Watson in 2005 and have been lucky enough to work across a wide range of teams, including as a senior investment analyst, project manager and bid manager
  • I joined the Thinking Ahead Institute in 2021

Education:

BA (Hons) (1st class) in English Literature and Creative Writing, Northumbria University
Investment Management Certificate (IMC), PRINCE2 Practitioner

Relevant memberships:

Association of Proposal Management Professionals (APMP)

A fact about me:

My interest in social action started aged 9 when I campaigned for girls to be allowed to wear trousers at my school. I’m pleased to say it worked!

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Ruth McDonald headshot

Nikki Brown, Analyst | Marketing, Thinking Ahead Group

My career in three bullets:

  • Seven years within financial services, moving from protection to investments
  • Five years within marketing, specialising in digital marketing, brand and design
  • A member of the Institute since 2019

Education:

Bachelor of Science in English – University of Kent, Canterbury

A fact about me:

I am a huge fan of camping and try to go every month during the summer

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Jodie Forster , Business Support Specialist | Administration, Thinking Ahead Group

My career in three bullets:

  • Joined Willis Towers Watson in 2019
  • 12 years in financial services sector working in a range of roles within banking, legal, compliance and now Investment.
  • Joined Thinking Ahead Institute in 2021

Education:

National Diploma in Media Studies

A fact about me:

I have a diploma in Canine Behaviour (currently working on my next qualification – Canine Communication) ) & I am a qualified personal trainer

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Jodie Forster headshot

Kevin Jeffrey, Director, Willis Towers Watson Hong Kong

My career in three bullets:

  • 11 happy years at Willis Towers Watson in both London and Hong Kong, covering a range of specialisms
  • I currently work with clients across Asia on investment mission and beliefs, asset allocation as well as manager selection and monitoring
  • My primary focus is on investment strategy and how WTW’s delegated solutions work to improve investment outcomes for asset owners

Education:

Bachelor of Business Science in Actuarial Science at the University of Cape Town

Relevant memberships:

Fellow of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries

A fact about me:

When I was a bit younger I represented my country playing inline hockey… largely due to the number of people who actually play

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Related links

The Thinking Ahead Institute seeks collaboration and change in the investment industry
Overview

Learn more about the Thinking Ahead group
Thinking Ahead Group