Alan Brown was chief investment officer at State Street Global Advisors in 2001 and split his time between London and Boston. On Sept. 11, he was in London.
“I got a call from our reception area where we had a television set, saying, "you'd better come up and see this,'” he recalled. The first plane had struck; he got to reception in time to see the second. “The experience was just completely jaw-dropping; people were open-mouthed, just had no idea what was going on.
“Subsequently, during the rest of the day, I knew people who worked both in the tower and in nearby buildings, so I spent quite a bit of time trying to find out whether they were alive or not. And I didn't really get an answer to that until at least a day or so later.
“A few weeks later, I was in our office in Boston, and of course you remember one of the flights started in Boston. The office I had there was on something like the 32nd floor, or quite high up, and it was in International Place, which looks right across at Logan Airport.
And I was sitting at my desk, not thinking about anything, and out of the corner of my eye I see something. I turn around and there's this seagull smacking into the window, and a bloody great hawk grabs the seagull and flies off with his lunch to the courthouse, which you can also see straight from there.
“But when it was coming at me, before I knew what it was — first of all, it was an extraordinary sight to see — but your instinct when you saw this thing coming toward the window with 9/11 fresh in your mind, you thought, "Oh my God, this is it!'”
Mr. Brown now is chief investment officer at Schroder Investment Management in London.