Baroness  Manningham-Buller Thomas S.G. Farnetti | Wellcome Images

Fee Band

As Head of the Security Service, Eliza dealt with the wake of 9/11 and a growing threat from Al-Qaeda. As Chair of the Wellcome Trust, one of the world’s largest charitable funders of medical research, she oversaw an organisation that both predicted and led work tackling the Covid-19 pandemic and its long-term effects. With insights and lessons on leadership from throughout her career, Eliza explains that leaders' priorities must change in order to keep pace with the constant emergence of new, often unimagined challenges, from existential threats such as climate change and pandemics, to urgent demands to address diversity and fairness.


Eliza Manningham-Buller headed Britain’s Security Service (MI5) from 2002 to 2007, before serving as Chair of the Wellcome Trust, one of the world’s largest charitable funders of medical research and other activity to improve human health, from 2015 to 2021. From counter terrorism to pandemics, Eliza has led organisations through remarkable and pressurised times.

Eliza reflects on twenty years as a leader of two very different organisations, but which share many traits and goals in managing the unpredictable and trying to keep millions safe. She outlines how leaders’ priorities must change in order to keep pace with shifting demands from all stakeholders and the constant emergence of new, often unimagined challenges. From existential threats such as climate change and pandemics to diversity and fairness, leaders have to seriously consider an ever-changing, complex landscape of priorities that influence both their organisation’s success and society’s future. 

At MI5, Eliza led the Service through significant change, expansion, and scrutiny as it dealt with the growth of Al-Qaida terrorism after 9/11, and in response to the 7/7 attacks in London. Prior to serving as Director General her various roles took her to Washington during the first Gulf war, as well as seeing her responsible, at separate times, for work on Irish terrorism, surveillance, technical collection, finance, and IT, before she became Deputy Director General in charge of intelligence operations.

During her time as Chair of the Wellcome Trust, Eliza helped lead the UK’s biggest charity, overseeing funding for scientific research into all aspects of health and wellbeing, from infection to mental health, as well as responding to Covid-19. Having foreseen the threat of a pandemic on the scale of Covid-19, the Trust also helped to establish the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).

In presentations Eliza covers lessons in leadership from throughout her career, drawing on her experience in the most demanding of environments to stress the need for leaders in any walk of life to engage in frank dialogue and invite criticism: “Do not try to be something you’re not; take responsibility for your team and remember that praising people takes seconds and can make an enormous difference. And don’t forget that humour can be found even in the most awful situations.”

Eliza is a crossbench peer, Co-president of the respected foreign policy think-tank Chatham House, was Chair of Council at Imperial College for four years, and has delivered the prestigious BBC Reith Lectures. Her analysis in those lectures of the theme 'Securing Freedom' also formed the basis of her book of the same title.


More Details

Agent Recommendation

Leadership isn't just something Eliza talks about; it's there in everything she does. She handles questions brilliantly, her tone is steady and considered, and she holds the room in a way that only someone who’s used to being listened to can. In fact the former MI5 boss is disarmingly approachable, witty and warm (and not at all scary).

JLA Agent Brogan West
Read More


Book written by Baroness  Manningham-Buller LG, DCB


We’re on hand to help you find the perfect speaker, presenter or performer for your events. Call or email our London office and use our agents' experience to expertly match you with the right person for your programme!

From time to time we send out emails announcing new speakers and free tickets to our showcase events including Speakers Breakfasts and the JLA Real Variety Show. Please tick the box below if you would like to receive these emails.

Don't miss anything!

We will never share the data you submit here with a third party. Information is stored in a database in order to service your enquiry, but is deleted once it is no longer required. You may request to have this data removed at any time.

JLA Presents

Event - 30/04/2024 - 9:00 am

Speakers Breakfast

Understanding AI Now

Priya Lakhani and Anne-Marie Imafidon

We were joined at 87 Barts Close by three brilliant speakers on a panel that delved into the complex world of Artificial Intelligence. Over the hour our panellists de-mystified AI, speaking about AI’s immense promise for enhancing our lives, alongside the apprehension it has generated regarding job security, privacy infringement, and ethical considerations.


87 Barts Close, 87 Bartholomew Close, London, EC1A 7EB


Event - 06/02/2024 - 9:00 am

Speakers Breakfast

Looking Ahead to International Women’s Day

Samira Ahmed, Eniola Aluko, Julia Gillard, and Alex Mahon

We were joined by four fantastic speakers to look ahead at International Women’s Day. With the theme of this year’s event being #InspireInclusion, we were lucky enough to hear from four women who have each blazed a trail in their respective fields: CEO of Channel 4, Alex Mahon; the former Australian Prime Minister and Chair of Kings’ Global Institute of Women’s Leadership, Julia Gillard; one of the leading voices in football, Eniola Aluko MBE; and broadcaster and journalist, Samira Ahmed.


Bishopsgate Institute, London