The first lecture took place on 18 October in the newly renamed Orla Gough Lecture Theatre, in memory of the late Professor Orla Gough, former Head of Department of Accounting, Finance and Governance at Westminster Business School.

The lecture was run by the External Relations team and Westminster Business School, questioning whether pensions were fit for 21st century retirement. It featured Baroness Ros Altmann CBE, a leading speaker on pension policies and planning for later life. She was UK Pensions Minister from 2015-16 and was awarded a CBE for services to pension funds and pensioners. She is also a member of the House of Lords and was made an Honorary Doctor of Letters by the University of Westminster in 2009.

Opening the event, Head of Westminster Business School Professor Malcolm Kirkup, said: “Renaming this lecture theatre will keep Orla’s name prominent in the work we do and enable us to remember the impact she had on the Business School.”

The Baroness Altmann delivered an hour-long talk, covering a number of different aspects of pension policy and the issues attached to them, including how pensions should not be subject to a ‘one-size fits all’ guideline, the subsequent need to take note of demographic warnings and the continuing unfair gap between different generations. She also spoke about what should be done in order to tackle these issues, such as a new signal to help the public prepare for later life, behavioural insights to make pensions more attractive and the need for generations to work together and look out for one another.

Baroness Ros Altmann

As part of the University’s ongoing commitment to continue Orla’s legacy to enhancing students’ experience, a new project fund has been established within The 125 Fund, dedicated to students of Westminster Business School. The fund provides them with the opportunity to apply for a grant to purchase equipment, develop a project relevant to their studies or aid with their personal or professional development. Each donation is generously matched pound-for-pound by the Quintin Hogg Trust to provide further support for students and their endeavours. 

James Dodd, husband of the late Orla, said: “On behalf of the family, thank you very much indeed for giving this inequitable lecture in what we hope will be a continuing series. It illustrates a facet of Orla’s career in addition to the wonderful work she did here, in which she was very active in taking studies out into the wider world. Happily, we’ve followed the evolution of the University from the Polytechnic of Central London up to the University of Westminster.

“We are thankful for the University’s splendid support during the period following Orla’s passing away, subsequently and most recently we’ve enjoyed the initiatives for launching the Orla Gough Lecture Theatre. We look forward to returning this support as best we can.”

Orla was responsible for a vast expansion of courses, student enrolment numbers and strong partnerships with several external organisations and commercial companies. She published more than 100 widely cited research papers with specific focus on occupational pension schemes’ liabilities and benefit structures, and was appointed Professor of Pensions and Financial Services at Westminster in 2009. Having been diagnosed with advanced breast cancer in 2012, she continued to live life to the full until her passing in 2014. As well as renaming the Lecture Theatre in Orla’s memory, her portrait and biography have also been placed outside the room.

Find out more about Westminster Business School here.

Cover image, from left to right: James Dodd, Eliot Dodd, Harriet Dodd, Baroness Ros Altmann CBE and Professor Malcolm Kirkup.

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