"Inspirational and suitably challenging."
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Tim worked in the music industry as a composer/producer in rock and opera before moving to Cornwall and devoting his time to restoring the Lost Gardens of Heligan. He is now known the world over as co-founder and Chief Executive of the award winning Eden Project.
Eden began as a dream in 1995 and opened its doors just five years later - greeted by much of the press as 'the eighth wonder of the world.' Since then more than twelve million visitors have come to enjoy a once sterile pit turned into a cradle of life. It is both a showcase for world-class horticulture and an architectural symbol of human endeavour.
Eden has also changed many people's perceptions of science, by communicating scientific concepts through art and storytelling. Beyond that, it lives up to its mission to take a pivotal role in local regeneration, showing that sustainability is not about sandals and nut cutlets; it is about good business practice and citizenship - and contributing over £1bn to the local economy. The next planned development is a huge geothermal plant, designed to meet all Eden's energy needs and power 5,000 homes.
In presentations Tim underlines the value of leading by example, showing how to engage the team by daring to be ambitious, moving out of your comfort zone, keeping to your principles and meeting challenges head on. He argues that the twin challenge of economic hardship and climate change makes it necessary to embrace the spirit of war - with a radical approach based less on choice and more on responsibility.
Tim Smit is a trustee, patron and board member of several bodies. He has received the Royal Society of Arts Albert Medal, and was voted 'Great Briton of 2007' in the environment category of the Morgan Stanley Great Britons Awards.
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Moving outside the comfort zone
Corporate social responsibility: bringing profit & principle together
£5K TO £10K
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Q & A
JLA: How do you inspire people to embrace innovation?
TS: There's no mystery. Enlightened organisations profit by opening up to change. Leaders need to show successful examples of innovation, help the resistant to overcome their fear and explain the risk of doing nothing.
JLA: How should business react to climate change?
TS: The deadline we face is the first in history set by nature, not man - and only those who recognise that will thrive. Although there are climate change deniers, there are few who deny that we could work better with the grain of nature.
JLA: Can green technology really come to the rescue?
TS: Eden has commissioned the first commercial geo thermal plant. When it comes onstream in 2012 it should change perceptions of this renewable resource. More than 10% of all UK energy needs could be met from Cornwall alone.
EXTRACT FROM JLA SPEAKERS BREAKFAST
A hundred years from now, the next ten years will be seen as a period equivalent to the start of the renaissance or the reformation. The problem is we are used to small change, but do we have the ability to make exponential change? Because this is what it is going to take. Humans can only change exponentially if we can capture the spirit of war - so how do we harness this in a time of peace?
Climate change is happening but actually we need it really badly - we have become smug and complacent and an awful lot of people are yearning for something they can collectively put their shoulders to the wheel to combat. That's where we want our brightest and best to be - and we need to be thinking really radical thoughts, not just small change.