Margaret Heffernan

Fee Band

  • Conference Speakers£10k to £25k
  • Change Management, Diversity, Transformational Leadership, Business Strategy

Having run a range of digital and internet businesses in the US, Margaret has turned to analysing where leadership in organisations so often goes wrong. Ignoring potential problems, failing to encourage or develop talent, building a culture of isolation and internal competition; all are commonplace issues that could easily be addressed. As in her bestseller Wilful Blindness and her acclaimed TED speeches, Margaret simply and effectively considers what makes a great leader.


Margaret Heffernan is an entrepreneur, chief executive and author. She writes books and blogs, teaches and mentors leaders, and has built and led organisations of all sizes.

Born in Texas, raised in Holland and educated at Cambridge, Margaret started her career at the BBC producing radio documentaries and films for Newsnight. She then ran the independent producers’ trade association, described by the FT as "the most formidable lobbying organisation in England."

Margaret returned to the US where she worked on public affairs campaigns and with software companies trying to break into the multimedia area. She developed interactive multimedia products with Tom Peters, Standard & Poors and The Learning Company. She then joined software and consulting firm CMGI where she ran, bought and sold various leading Internet businesses of the time. Silicon Alley Reporter named her as one of the Internet's Top 100.

Now an acclaimed business author, Margaret has written extensively on effective leadership, and challenged many assumptions and stereotypes. In Wilful Blindness she examines the implications of choosing to turn a blind eye to potential problems. In The Naked Truth: A Working Woman’s Manifesto and Women on Top she examines how women executives are perceived, how things are changing, and need to change further.

Margaret has presented documentaries on these subjects for Radio 4, and continues to write for the FT and HuffPost. She has designed, taught and lectured on academic courses in the UK and US, including Harvard and the London Business School, and has presented three TED speeches.

Margaret analyses the nature of good leadership with examples from new tech disruptors to established multinationals. She considers the culture of disruptive businesses that have revolutionised the workplace. She also contemplates crises of leadership, from BP’s Deepwater Horizon to the VW emissions scandal, and asks how they happened, the culture that ignored the warnings, and how they might have been handled better.

She is a Professor of Practice at the University of Bath. She also chairs the board of DACS, and has advised the Casey Review into the culture and standards of the Met Police. She has also consulted on the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.


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Agent Recommendation

The room falls silent whenever Margaret speaks – like a grounding, unifying experience. She speaks softly but confidently as she explains what we need from today’s leaders and how to optimise workplace culture. She tells stories of good and less good practice, backed up with top grade research and years of business experience. It isn’t rocket science, but that’s the point: she talks with such clarity and lack of cliché that every word sticks.

JLA Agent Jethro Fox
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Book written by Margaret Heffernan
Book written by Margaret Heffernan
Book written by Margaret Heffernan
Book written by Margaret Heffernan


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