Marisa Hall crowned Woman of the Year at the Women In Finance Awards

Willis Towers Watson, PwC and other leading financial institutes joined in celebrating the outstanding achievements of women in finance

Marisa Hall was crowned Woman of the Year at the virtual Women in Finance Awards, London 2020, last night.

Hall’s work co-heading the Thinking Ahead Institute, as a Senior and Investment Consultant at Willis Towers Watson, being on the standing committee of Investment 20/20 and the steering committee of the #talkaboutblack movement has shown her to be a powerhouse in the financial sector.

As the leader of the largest institutional investor focusing on sustainability, the judges were overwhelmed by her fierce advocacy for positive change in the financial services industry. She spends much of her time focusing on sustainability, organisational culture, diversity and inclusion, and improving respect for individual identity.

Accepting her award Hall said: “When I was a child growing up in the tiny island of Trinidad, I always had in my mind that I wanted to make a difference, to have an impact on the world. I have found so much purpose and drive in my work at the Thinking Ahead Institute, in Willis Tower Watson – a real innovation hub, a team of system thinkers with integrity, and the relentless pursuit of truth at its heart to help capitalise for a more sustainable future.”

Headline sponsored by GP. Bullhound and organised by What Investment, and DiversityQ (Bonhill Group Publications) the virtual Women in Finance Awards evening was hosted by Dylan Emery.

Now in its fourth year, the Awards continue to redress the gender imbalance in finance by celebrating the achievements of women in the sector. Only 12% of industry leaders are female; the Women in Finance Awards seek to identify and celebrate those women who are making a difference to the future of finance, a more sustainable and equal future for all.

Awards to go round

Khayala Eylazova from PwC and Amy Mitchell from Leathwaite shared the Advocate of the Year Award this year.

Elyazova empowered others to become advocates in her speech, saying: “Thank you to all the judges, to everyone involved. There was an incredible of nominations this year, and I want to see this number every year. So, please, find these advocates, find these role models who are going to inspire and make a change in this society.

“Empower others to have a voice who are less privileged than you, take a leap, don’t be afraid, be bold, and never lose your confidence.”

Mitchell added: “Echoing that sentiment – thank you so much for this award, both personally and on behalf of Leathwaite. To have won alongside Khayala and to be nominated among a group of such impressive women means a huge amount.

“The sentiment I try to embody in my work is to reinforce that we have a collective commitment to move the dial, ensuring that at the forefront of all decision-making is a check and balance in whose best interest we are acting. Becoming a part of the Women in Finance community is truly wonderful, and it means so much to me to accept this award.”

For the second time this year, another duo shared an award. Keeran Kang from Partners Group and Ana Plecas from Green Investment Group and Macquarie were the joint winners of the Specialist Investor of the Year Award.

Plecas said “It’s a great honour to receive this award. Over the course of my career, I’ve been working with some really talented people – male and female – and they have all supported me to get to this stage. Working in the real estate field, I hope that by getting this award it can inspire others to take the time to develop their careers in the field.”

Celebrating their shared win, Kang added: “Thanks to everyone and a special thanks to the Women in Finance team, to all the fellow nominees, to the judges who supported my win and a big thank you to colleagues for supporting me to get where I am today.”

Following Eylazova’s win, PwC’s fellow Big Four accounting firm Deloitte picked up an award, as Veronica Poole from Deloitte won Accountant of the Year.

On her win, she said: “What a huge honour.  Thank you so much to women in finance and a huge thank you to my colleagues at Deloitte for putting me forward. I think as accountants, we have a very important role to play now.  All of us in financial services now have a unique opportunity to join forces and make sure that we direct the flow of capital to sustainable and better enterprise so that we build for ourselves and everyone.”

Alongside GP. Bullhound, the awards’ sponsors for the night, were London Stock Exchange Group, LV, ScotiaBank, FitchRatings, Apex, Refinitiv and J.P. Morgan Asset Management.

Wrapping up the ceremony, host Dylan Emery said: “Thank you so much on behalf of the organisers here at Bonhill for being part of this year’s Women in Finance awards.”

Women in Finance Awards London 2020 winners

Accountant of the Year

Veronica Poole, Deloiite

Advocate of the Year

Khayala Eylazova, PwC and Amy Mitchell, Leathwaite

Ambassador of the Year

Tali Shlomo, Formerly at Chartered Insurance Institute

Disruptor of the Year

Rosie Guest, Apex Group

Diversity Initiative of the Year

The Diversity Project’s Neurodiversity Workstream, HSBC Global Asset Management

ESG Fund Manager of the Year

Harriet Parker, Liontrust

Employer of the Year

JP Morgan Asset Management

Finance Team of the Year (Lead by a woman)

GSK – led by Roselyne Cornut

Fintech Champion of the Year

Lucy Mullins, Stepladder

Insurance Leader of the Year

Becky Downing, Buzzvault

Investment Consultant of the Year

Alexandra Daly, AA Advisors

Legal Advisor of the Year

Helena Thernstrom, Natwest Group

Male Ally of the Year

Michael Cole-Fontayn, AFME

Specialist Investor of the Year

Keenan Kang, Partners Group and Ana Plecas, Green Investment Group, Macquarie

Wealth Manager of the Year

Olivia Maguire, JP Morgan Asset Management

Woman of the Year

Marisa Hall, Thinking Ahead Institute, Willis Towers Watson

Young Leader of the Year

Magdalena Kron, Barclays
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