Sir Tim Smit KBE

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CEO Development, The Eden Project

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Since it opened at the turn of the millennium, Eden has attracted millions of visitors and generated over £1bn for the local economy. Tim is now focusing on overseas projects, including plans to develop a giant botanical garden in an old industrial city in southern China. In his presentation Tim highlights the need to lead by example, to stick to principles but move out of your comfort zone, to meet challenges head on, and “to dare to be ambitious.”


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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Conference Speaker Tim Smit on Business Leadership