About Our Chapter
2015 EU Chapter Retreat
Founded in April 2010 by Julia Fan Li and David Palumbo, the London+Acumen is a self-organised, volunteer led chapter, passionate about Acumen Fund’s mission: “To create a world beyond poverty by investing patient capital in social enterprises, emerging leaders, and breakthrough ideas”. London+Acumen is the first Acumen chapter in Europe. Being based in the most multicultural society of the world, our team seeks to leverage the unique qualities of London as a global centre of talent and ideas to provide the blueprint to new chapters not only in Europe, but globally. London+Acumen counts with a diverse group of talented and passionate individuals, constantly creating inspiring events. These are aimed to educate, connect and expand our communities. We focus on education, entrepreneurship, and breakthrough ideas; and our events are renown to reshape the way you think of yourself and your role in the wider community.
More Team Bios coming soon…
Meet the team
Jess Leitch - Co-Chair
Jess is the Co-Chair of London+ Acumen. She is passionate about the positive impact that patient capital can have on the world. Jess had previously volunteered across a number of roles with London+Acumen. She was a Course Ambassador, partnering with Anna on the School for Social Innovation and organising a number of events focused on improving the impact of +Acumen courses and the retention of course participants. She also used her skills in Graphic Design to contribute to the Communications and Pitch event teams.
For the past 10 years Jess has worked in the field of management consulting helping clients from the public, private and third sectors find answers to their most important people related problems. Today she primarily helps clients to understand their culture and the impact that it has on the achievement of their strategies. For a long time Jess has combined her paid work with volunteering – truly believing that we all have an obligation to use whatever we have at our disposal to contribute to the community that surrounds us – wherever we are.
Volunteering for the RSA, Amnesty and other organisations has also informed her approach to consulting, helping her to think about client issues not just as business problems to be fixed but as complex systems to be understood, where often there is no “right” answer.
Jess is a Fellow of the RSA and a guest lecturer at Ravensborne University. In her spare time she loves to travel, read and attend random talks that she writes about on her tumblr cantankerous-creature.
Katya Akulinicheva - Partnerships Co-Lead
Katya is the co-head of the Partnerships team. Outside of +Acumen, she works as a Senior Consultant at Dalberg Global Development Advisors (strategy consulting firm specialised in social impact and development). Previously she worked in investment banking and PE, and recently did an MBA at INSEAD. One of her primary motivations for joining acumen was to meet like-minded people. She discovered +Acumen while applying for Acumen Fellowship.
Patricia Keiko Hamzahee - Partnerships Co-Lead
Patricia is the co-head of the Partnerships team for London+Acumen. Patricia has followed the development of Acumen from the beginning because of her abiding interest in how innovation can address global development challenges. She is excited to share her experience of building public/private partnerships and making connections to help grow the impact investing community.
After more than 20 years working in banking and finance, Patricia now focuses on promoting conscientious capitalism. In particular, she helps social enterprises develop and deliver their investment case. She also advises companies on responsible investing strategies.
She is Founder of Integriti Capital, Director of the Learning Schools Trust, Associate Director of The Finance Foundation, Director of UserVoice and President of Friends of International House UK. She is a member of the BVCA’s Responsible Investment Advisory Group, Women in Social Finance and a Fellow of the RSA. She has a BA in Political Science from the University of California and studied for an MA at Columbia University’s School of International Affairs.
Patricia is able to build rapport and gain confidence through broad international experience and cross cultural understanding acquired from living and working in Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Mideast and the United States.
Maria Eugenia Filmanovic - Pitch Co-Lead
Maria is the co-lead for Pitch at London+Acumen. Maria currently works at Goldman Sachs as an analyst within the asset management division. She has a keen interest in anchoring her work around the development of initiatives that combine a social issue with the power of impact investing. Having grown up in Italy, been educated in a French school and speaking fluently four languages, she’s particularly passionate about the international nature of Acumen’s work.
Maria holds a BSc. in International Economics, Management & Finance from Bocconi University (Italy) and a MSc. in Russian & East European Studies from the University of Oxford. In her spare time, Maria enjoys spending time with her family and friends, is a real nature lover, and also enjoys reading about start-ups and social enterprises.
Jay Parmar - Social Media Lead
Jay is the Social Media lead for London+Acumen. Jay came across Acumen whilst browsing through some TED videos one weekend, when he came across Acumen’s founder Jacqueline Novogratz’s talk on inspiring a life of immersion. He was drawn by Acumen’s innovative approach to tackle the world’s problems of poverty. Having being born and brought up in Kenya, volunteered in India and Cambodia, and travelled in many parts of the developing world, he has seen first-hand the hardships the people face. Jay is fascinated by the positive impact empowerment of women and entrepreneurship can have on alleviating poverty and this has attracted him to Acumen’s model. He believes traditional charity and old-fashioned aid are not the only solution and as a social media lead for +ACUMEN wants to promote and raise this awareness.
In his day job, Jay works in the field of management consulting helping organisations address their most pressing challenges as they strive for enterprise growth. Specialising in finance, he has worked on several finance transformation and enterprise performance management projects. Jay is CIMA qualified accountant and holds a BSC in Economics from the University of Hertfordshire. His interest in arts and different cultures has taken him to many parts of the world and in his spare time he enjoys reading, writing and is an avid foodie.
Ambika Singh Sampat - Advisor
Ambika joined Acumen’s London Business Development team in early 2013, prior to which she spent most of the past decade training and working in the Biomedical Research field. Having been awarded a PhD in Obstetrics & Gynecology from the University of Western Australia in 2011, Ambika relocated to London and worked as a Post-doctoral Research Associate in Maternal Health at St. Thomas’ Hospital with King’s College London.
While still very enthusiastic about the healthcare sector, Ambika pursued her growing interest in international development, operations and business development, and worked for management consultants Alcimed in 2012. She has had varied exposure to social enterprises and working with communities in that space globally. While doing her PhD, she co-founded an NGO iNUT-Who? (if Not U Then Who?) to spread awareness, empower and fundraise for charities, social enterprises and individual causes, all of which paved her way to the impact investment world of Acumen.
Ambika is on the Executive Committee of London+Acumen, one of Acumen’s 23 volunteer-led chapters worldwide, and the first +Acumen chapter in Europe. She led the chapter’s annual flagship DIGNITY Photography event for two consecutive years to spread awareness of the importance of dignity, not dependence, in changing the way the world tackles poverty. Ambika completed her BSc and MSc (Hon) degrees from the University of Auckland, New Zealand, and was born and raised in Zambia.