A highly motivated team of top-level consultants

Team Aura

Michael Oke

Transactions specialist, investor relations and consultancy principal

Michael founded Aura in May 2004, with a range of long-standing former clients, to advise listed and private companies, regulators, governments, shareholders and individuals. The aim was to create a small team to work on interesting assignments for clients who understood and valued the Aura consultancy approach.

Michael previously established Prospero Financial within Bridgepoint Capital’s Hatch-Group, specialising in financial communications and investor relations. Prospero reached the UK M&A top ten league table within 18 months. Following the acquisition of Prospero by Huntsworth PLC, Michael left to establish Aura.

Over many years Michael has advised clients including Thames Water, Asda, Xstrata, BHP Billiton, L’Oréal, Rank Group, the Cabinet Office, Stagecoach, Enron, Gucci, London Metals Exchange and Evraz. The total value of these transactions is over $180 billion.

Andy Mills

Communications, research and competition affairs

Andy has significant financial communications experience having worked on a number of substantial transactions and equity issues, particularly in the mining sector. In addition, Andy has a background in competition and regulatory affairs following a number of years at a leading public affairs agency.

Since joining Aura in 2004, Andy has developed a strong understanding of the issues around sustainability and best practice reporting, including the application of key reporting principles. He has also advised clients in sectors as diverse as private equity, offshore finance and the media. He has undertaken analyses for major hedge funds and applied his substantial knowledge of regulators’ interpretation of markets to advise on the likely outcome of a broad range of competition investigations in the UK and Europe.

Andy has a Masters Degree in Economic Regulation and Competition from City University.

Tim Attenborough

Consultant

Tim has extensive experience in equities, having spent 30 years in investment banking in London at a number of global houses including UBS, Exane BNP Paribas and Santander. He has worked on both the buy and sell side, primarily in pan European equity research, focussing most recently on the retail and consumer sectors. Tim has extensive expertise in building long term relationships with Board members and senior management of large and small cap listed companies as a result of his considerable involvement in advising on international equity offers, M&A, shareholder activism and governance. He has marketed to a global base of institutional investment clients and more recently broadened this horizon to include ESG investment issues.

At Aura, Tim brings a level of expertise to financial analysis of client strategies which is rare in any communications-led firm. Notably he supports Aura’s global IPO and ESG work in the green energy transition sector by helping to build lasting credibility amongst investment audiences.

Tim has a BA Hons degree in Economic and Social History from the University of Exeter, is an Associate of the Institute of Investment Management and Research (now part of the CFA Institute) and holds the CFA Certificate in ESG Investing. He is a Governor of two schools and sits on the finance oversight committees of both.

Christian Novak

Consultant

Christian has a strong public affairs background and is adept at helping businesses respond to regulatory challenges.

Before joining Aura, Christian spent two years at a communications agency in Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city. He advised clients facing regulatory issues across the tech, FMCG, automotive, and primary sectors. Those include the likes of Coca-Cola, Samsung, Ingham’s Enterprises Ltd, and national membership bodies. Before working at a communications agency, Christian advised a Member of Parliament.

Christian holds a BA in History from Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand and an Honours and MPhil in the same discipline from the University of Sydney, Australia.

Marta Saldanha

Consultant

Marta supports the Aura team with positioning and message development for all clients and manages the delivery of programmes which require her breadth of skills to combine marketing, media relations, public affairs and financial communications.

Marta first worked with Aura in 2008 whilst a consultant at our Lisbon affiliates, Estúdio de Comunicação. There she gained extensive advisory experience of a variety of industries including General Consumer, Real Estate, Finance, Telecoms/IT and with the Portuguese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Prior to Aura, Marta worked for a large Portuguese real estate company to establish the communications function at Praia D’El Rey Resort. She was responsible for planning and executing multi-stakeholder programmes covering marketing, crisis communications, events, advertising and editorial elements focused on community, investor and consumer audiences.

Marta graduated in Portugal from the ‘Universidade Nova de Lisboa’ with a BA (hons) in Strategic & Corporate Communications.

Lynda Farmer

Consultant

Lynda’s expertise is in corporate communication and employee engagement. Her work in organisational communication puts leadership as the key criteria for change to happen effectively and navigated with skill.  She is strategic and will look at the bigger picture, while balancing a pragmatism about what needs to be done.

Over her career Lynda has built and managed communication teams in major public and private organisations and integrated them into the strategic thinking of the organisation.  She has also worked internationally supporting programmes ranging from M&A, industrial relations, executive changes, and restructuring, through to creative approaches to purpose, culture and values.

Her experience as part of corporate communications teams also ensures that the internal and external communication strategies are aligned, executed to support each other, and managed for impact.

Lynda’s experience includes engagements with Mars Inc., Anglo American, Xstrata, Kimberly-Clark, London Underground, Motorola Inc (Chicago based), British Airways, Sainsbury PLC amongst others.

Rory Chisholm

Consultant

Rory is a senior public affairs and government relations consultant, with extensive experience of advising clients on both UK and EU political and regulatory issues. He has advised both corporate and non-corporate clients on a wide range of sectors and issues, from the media, transport, energy and financial services sectors to national security and digital economy issues, with a particular focus in advising on the public affairs aspects of UK and EU competition policy cases, encompassing mergers & acquisitions, anti-trust investigations and state aid cases.

Until 2016, Rory was a Partner at Finsbury, the strategic communications consultancy (now part of FGS Global), having joined in 2000 to establish Finsbury’s regulatory practice in the UK. From 2004 until 2021, he was also a Partner and Director at FIPRA International, the EU-based public affairs consultancy, where he headed FIPRA International’s competition and financial services practices.

From 1988-2000, he was a political consultant with GJW Government Relations Ltd, based in London, latterly as a Director and Head of its competition practice. He previously worked for National Westminster Bank and then the stockbrokers Wood MacKenzie & Co in the City of London, after having graduating with a BA in Modern History from Trinity College, Cambridge University in 1986.

Deborah Walter

Consultant

Deborah joined Aura Financial in 2023. She was previously European Director of Investor Relations for Walgreens Boots Alliance and prior to that Deputy Managing Partner of Kreab Gavin Anderson, the financial PR and investor relations consultancy.

Deborah has advised UK-based and international clients on strategic corporate communications, investor relations and financial PR, media relations and public affairs. She has significant experience of IPOs, privatisations, mergers and acquisitions, corporate profile raising and crisis management.

Deborah has particular expertise in the energy, cleantech, healthcare, consumer, TMT and financial sectors. Previous clients include Alliance Boots, SEEBOARD, Vattenfall, British Energy, Enterprise Inns, Shepherd Neame, Sara Lee Corporation, SES, Trinity Mirror Group, SBF Paris Bourse and Euronext. She also advised the UK government for many years on renewable energy issues.

Anna Legge

Consultant

Anna is a financial communications and investor relations specialist with agency and in-house experience. In addition to the design and execution of numerous stakeholder relations programmes, she has also managed several IPOs and fund raisings together with associated listed company reporting schedules. Anna is an experienced and trusted advisor to Boards and senior management teams providing insight into best practice reporting, ESG challenges, investor engagement and reputation management.

Anna completed a US$633 million project finance package for Horizonte Minerals’ nickel project in Brazil and now supports a range of clients at Aura. Anna previously provided consultancy advice for 9 years to SolGold before moving in-house, becoming Director of Communications and serving on their Board. During this period, Anna helped transform the company from a micro-cap to a billion-dollar company listed in London and Toronto. She managed the company’s media and investor relations, employee engagement, government relations, crisis communications and ESG reporting.

During 5 years in consultancy Anna advised clients including Centrica, Wesfarmers, Acacia Mining, Tharisa and Mulberry on hostile M&A, crises, investor activism and broader stakeholder engagement initiatives.

Anna has a BA in Politics and Economics from Loughbough University.

Bea Hopkins

Consultant

Bea joined Aura in 2021 whilst completing a Masters’ degree and has rapidly become a key member of the Aura team. Working across multiple client accounts, Bea supports the development and delivery of communications strategies for multiple stakeholder groups, focusing primarily on the global transition to clean energy and a lower carbon future.

Bea’s Master’s Thesis was titled “The Intentions versus Actions of Corporations are misaligned as they project a ‘vibrant side show’ of environmentally and Socially Responsible actions, while evading accountability.” Such interests and insights are in high demand by clients today and her role at Aura includes supporting a variety of businesses in the development of frameworks and programmes to align meaningful ESG action to their stated strategy.

Bea has also developed a strong understanding of the non-profit sector having advised one of the world’s leading conservation organisations on the implementation of a major internal communications initiative.

Bea holds a BA in History and History of Art from The University of Nottingham.

Rita Cunha Vaz

Consultant

Rita joined Aura in 2023, having previously held consultancy roles in the sustainability and social impact sectors.

Rita has provided strategic advice and practical support to clients on a wide range of matters, including policy development, operational effectiveness, data analysis and market research. Her experience includes work on projects as diverse as STEM education for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, financial and digital inclusion, as well as energy accessibility. She also has experience in legislative and public policy decision making from her time at the Portuguese Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the United Nations.

Rita also has experience in the energy sector having worked at Energias de Portugal, where she co-managed a social impact fund that issued grants to projects in the developing world. Rita speaks Portuguese, English, and Spanish, and holds a BA in Philosophy and two MAs in International Relations and Diplomacy, she is adept at contributing to the creation of positive, long-lasting change.

Sarah Buchanan-Smith

Consultant

Sarah has worked for over 20 years as a change management consultant on complex business transformation programmes, playing a key role in shaping progressive business processes to optimise performance and deliver tangible benefits for clients including American Express, RBS, Lloyds TSB, Morgan Stanley and Barclays Capital.

Sarah also brings a wealth of investor relations experience to Aura Financial, having worked with a leading Scottish Strategic Communications agency focusing on ESG investment, and managing numerous funding rounds for early and growth stage companies.

Sarah has a strategic outlook who looks at the bigger picture but brings a pragmatic approach to ensure results are delivered and managed for impact.

Sarah is a Chartered Management Accountant and has a degree in International Relations from the University of Sussex.