I often reflect on how lucky I am to work at a speaker bureau. On one side of the fence, I speak to corporate clients of all shapes and sizes, and get a sense of what’s making businesses tick, their challenges and opportunities.
It’s totally fascinating – as the world changes, so does the content at a business event and in some ways it’s like being given a preview screening of how we might come to live and work in the future.
The “talent” we provide to our clients is the other piece of the speaker bureau jigsaw. I’ve been working at JLA for over 11 years, and I still have that internal “wow” moment when I hear about a new piece of technology, an innovative business or management style, or a different way of thinking about the world.
And it’s a wow moment I’d like to cover in my latest feature…
I have been lucky enough to look after Baroness Manningham-Buller’s speaking engagements for a large portion of my JLA career. She is without doubt one of the most inspirational people I have met, in – or outside – work.
Eliza’s had a hugely distinguished career – she led the UK Security Service, MI5, between 2002-2007 and then served as Chair of the Wellcome Trust. Wellcome is one of the largest global funders of medical research and the organisation has been at the forefront of the fight against Covid.
In tandem with stepping down at Wellcome, Eliza has put together a new speech, covering the lessons she’s learned from leading two hugely different organisations, and how businesses should prepare, adapt and in some cases change for the post-Covid age. I have heard a shortened version of the speech, and it’s totally fascinating. Without wanting to give too much away(!), here are a few of the key points:
– Our number one priority should be sustainability and achieving NET Zero – the experience with Covid will undoubtedly affect our attitude towards climate change and the trauma of the last year has already provoked beneficial activity on climate. From a business perspective, it’s about thinking through investment decisions and the green policies of those we fund. Such are the effects of climate change on our health, this should be a strategic priority,
– The business response to climate change falls under what Eliza calls a “a “license to operate” – it’s not just about making money anymore. Being seen as “fair”, tackling inequality, displaying real commitment to achieving diversity and inclusion, and making genuine progress on ESG are now integral to doing business.
– There are huge lessons from Covid – on a practical level, there needs to be more give in the system and greater surge capacity. And on a wider level, mental health funding should be prioritised.
– Though Covid will have a longer-lasting dampner on economic activity and growth, Eliza talks about the catastrophe underlining the importance of working together on a global scale as opposed to less successful nationalistic responses.
To me, this new speech summarises the benefits of working for a speaker bureau – the last 12 months have been terrible for so many reasons, but the way we live and work is clearly going to change and everything is up for grabs.
Listening to someone with Eliza’s leadership experience setting out their stall for the post-Covid world is a total privilege. I can’t wait to work with corporate clients to share her knowledge and expertise.