After realising that there was no place to easily access the work of UK think tanks Smart Thinking was created to bring together policy ideas and research from all the different UK think tanks. Since 2017 it has grown from initially sharing just their reports to showcasing their events, analysis and jobs. By working with many think tanks and across the full range of policy areas Smart Thinking is able to offer a positive space where well-researched, well-evidenced policy ideas from across the sector can be found.
In 2022 we launched the separate Smart Thinking Think Tank Network, a membership organisation for the think tanks themselves. This Network connects those working in think tanks and offers them both professional development, through training and webinars, to collaboration with their peers in dedicated working groups and networking events. All our training and events are specifically tailored to the sector. There is training and events suitable for everyone working in a think tank, whether working in research, communications or operations and events and at every level of seniority, whether you are a CEO or a junior researcher.
Meet the team
Emily is the Founder and Director of Smart Thinking which she set up after several years working in think tanks. Alongside experience in both think tank research and fundraising she has a background in business, initially qualifying as a Chartered Accountant. She is responsible for Smart Thinking’s overall strategy and growth.
Events & Business Development Manager
Fiona curates all of Smart Thinking’s events pages, ensuring all the latest public think tank events are highlighted for our audience. She is also responsible for working with our advertisers to place their latest policy and think tank job adverts.
Dawn joined the Smart Thinking team in January 2023 after 20 years working for a national charity. Dawn is responsible for all member event administration including monitoring attendance lists and managing all invites. If you have a query regarding any of our training or events then please get in touch with Dawn.
Meet the advisory board
Jacqueline is Director of External Affairs for four Central London Business Improvement Districts overseeing communications, public affairs and marketing as well as consulting for a London-based regeneration company. Jacqueline has previously worked as Head of External Affairs at a leading UK think tank and on strategic business development for a property company. Outside work, Jacqueline is a trustee of the Mayday Trust, an organisation dedicated to taking a strengths-based approach to supporting people going through tough times.
Over a 35-year career, Sian has held senior positions in global finance and policy development companies and institutions. Having acted as Chief Operating Officer for the past four years, she recently moved to be a senior advisor to CT Group on building up their global board evaluation service. From 2013-2016, Sian was Executive Director of the Legatum Institute, a global public policy think tank dedicated to promoting prosperity. Previously, she spent seven years as Managing Director of the UK think tank Policy Exchange. She also has a number of director level and advisory roles.
Ben Ullmann is Chief Executive of Sanctuary Counsel, a reputation advisory firm that works with companies, individual and governments. He was previously a Managing Director at Teneo, the global CEO advisory firm and before that Director of Communications and Public Affairs for the late Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks. Ben started his career as a Research Fellow for Policy Exchange, a leading Westminster think-tank and also worked on a US Senate election campaign in Kentucky.
Steffan has worked in Communications for over 30 years both as an entrepreneur and as the leader of multinational businesses. He is now the co-Founder and a Partner at Williams Nicolson, a Strategic Communications and Change Management Consultancy. During his career he has advised some of the world's best-known companies and firms, as well as governments. Steffan has also provided pro bono advice to a number of charities, think tanks, professional bodies and sporting organisations. He currently sits on the Board of the National Botanic Garden of Wales. Steffan is a Member of the Global Steering Committee of the 30% Club.
Rachel Yeomans is Director of Strategic Communications at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change where she is responsible for devising, and leading a team of professionals to deliver, a global cross-channel strategy supporting TBI’s mission to work with political leaders to deliver transformational change across the world. As a delivery-focused and purposeful strategic communications leader, Rachel has deep experience in delivering award-winning campaigns. She spent much of her early career in UK government media relations, including 10 Downing Street, as well as an early stint in digital marketing.