The Team

Matthew Symonds

Executive Director

Matthew has had a long career in journalism and business. He was a co-founder and editorial director of The Independent; director of strategy at BBC Worldwide Television; and spent over 20 years as a senior editor at The Economist, writing on technology, politics and, most recently, international security. Matthew is also the author of “Softwar: An Intimate Portrait of Larry Ellison and Oracle,” published in 2003.

Richard Meredith

Deputy Executive Director

Richard was formerly a partner at Brunswick, the global communications company. He led the company’s corporate crisis and philanthropy practices, building communications strategies for a range of global clients. Prior to this, Richard had a 28 year career in the British Diplomatic Service, which included senior positions in the UK government including strategic communications and national security strategy and diplomatic assignments in Africa, Europe, and Latin America.

Joe Cronly


Joe spent 17 years working for BC Partners, a UK-based private equity investment firm sourcing, assessing and executing large private equity investments, latterly focusing on financial services. He also sat as a non-executive board director on a number of the firm’s portfolio companies. He began his career at OC&C Strategy Consultants.

Vel Gnanendran


Vel spent 19 years working for the British Government, with 11 of those at the Department for International Development (DFID). He served in a broad range of roles, including Finance Director and Chief of Staff to the International Development Secretary. He has led large development programs in Tanzania, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria. He is a development economist and qualified accountant.

Neha Aviral

Associate Director

Neha was formerly with McKinsey and Co., where she led teams serving clients in the public sector and financial services. Prior to that, she worked at BlackRock in New York and London, managing client analytics. She also worked briefly for a leading Indian NGO, advising on its fundraising and investment strategy. She has lived and worked in India, the Middle East, and North America.

Fabian Chessell

Associate Director

Fabian was formerly with McKinsey and Co., where he led teams serving clients in the private equity, retail, and food and beverage industries. Previously, Fabian led teams developing and launching big-data-powered solutions in healthcare to improve quality and efficiency. He has lived and worked in Australia and the UK.

Sara Wood

Office Manager

Sara worked with Globesight, the global development firm. She previously worked with the consulting company Monitor Group in London and in Dubai for 10 years.