Chartwell Speakers – One Year On

Since I joined Chartwell’s London office, I have had the privilege of working with fascinating people from a vast array of backgrounds. They have ranged from experienced former world-leaders to exciting young entrepreneurs.

The events these thought leaders spoke at were concentrated in Europe. However, we also had the chance to work in the Middle East, South-East Asia, and Australia. Below is a selection of these speakers and the topics they covered.

Jonnie Penn

Jonnie first came to the public’s attention through co-founding ‘The Buried Life’, the MTV documentary series that went on to become a #1 New York Times bestseller. He has since returned to academia and is currently a PHD Candidate in Artificial Intelligence at the University of Cambridge. He is also a Google Technology Policy Fellow.

Jonnie offers a fascinating perspective on the wider issues associated with the development of AI: social, political, and ethical. He has spoken to major banks on how this will affect their workforce and product offerings. He is currently in Boston working with the MIT Media Lab on dealing with emerging problems in AI.

Nick Timothy

Nick is considered one of the UK Conservative Party’s brightest thinkers. He was a key figure in Prime Minister Theresa May’s first year in office, as her joint Chief of Staff. Nick’s Conservative vision has been termed ‘Red Toryism’ – a belief that Britain is a divided country and the market economy needs to work better for the benefit of all. His view was justified as the Conservatives won many first time working class voters. However, the Party was denied a majority by an upsurge in the youth vote and Jeremy Corbyn’s effective campaign.

Nick identified housing as the key issue for modern Britain. Capitalism does not work for those without assets and declining home ownership will therefore naturally sway voters to Left-Wing parties. Nick has spoken to Real Estate institutions about the role they have to play in solving the housing crisis, particularly regarding controversial issues such as ‘land-banking’. More widely, Nick has also spoken about his own time in Downing Street and the global political picture.

David Rowan

David is the founding editor-in-chief of Wired magazine in Europe. His packed travel schedule brings him into contact with the brightest innovators and entrepreneurs the world over. As such, he is a highly respected figure amongst technology and business audiences. His journalistic background enables David to communicate oft-thrown around concepts and developments in a way that finally brings true understanding.

In keeping with his global itinerary, David has spoken all over the world this year on various technologies and the industries they stand to impact. Always bespoke, David has covered financial services, utilities, and retail – to name just a few. He has also talked more generally about the lessons he has learned from working so closely with brightest minds everywhere from Silicon Valley to Bangalore.

Thabo Mbeki

Widely regarded as the deepest thinker within the ruling ANC party, it was an honour to work with President Mbeki this year. He now dedicates much of his time to The Thabo Mbeki Foundation. His organisation focuses on strengthening pan-African bonds through inspiring a new generation of leaders.

President Mbeki spoke in Antwerp last year on the problems facing the African continent. He offers a fascinating perspective on the role Africa plays on the geopolitical stage as foreign actors battle for influence in the region. This year, with new leadership in Zimbabwe and South Africa, there is new hope in Southern Africa and President Mbeki is the perfect statesman to articulate the new opportunities this may bring.

Elif Shafak

Elif’s is Turkey’s most popular female author. Her critically acclaimed books draw on a number of traditions, moving from Eastern mysticism to Western identity politics. A prominent social commentator, Elif is vocal on women’s rights and freedom of expression, and critical of those who seek to repress them.

Elif took part in a wide-ranging discussion with an international technology firm. The audience were captivated by her ability to talk informatively on everything from literature to the rise of populism.

Parag Khanna

Dr Parag Khanna is an academic and one of the world’s top geopolitical thinkers. He has been named by Esquire as one of the ‘75 most influential people of the 21st Century’ and was a foreign policy advisor to Barack Obama during his inaugural presidential campaign.

Parag spoke in London around China’s Belt & Road Initiative and the geopolitics of the wider Asian region. His knowledge of the area is unsurpassed and he offers a view untainted by Western bias that truly gets to the heart of developments in the region. Parag discussed the way Asian influence exerted itself around the world, talking of the ‘Asianization’ of countries such as Turkey and Russia that have previously existed within an East-West divide. Moreover, he showed that Asian politics were a particular phenomena that could only be understood through a specific lens.

Mark Pollock

Mark is an inspirational adventurer and athlete who has faced life’s most difficult challenges. A former medal-winning rower at the Commonwealth Games, Mark first confronted adversity when he turned blind in his twenties. Unperturbed, Mark went on to become the first blind man to reach the South Pole. In 2010, tragedy struck when Mark was paralysed after falling from a window. However, Mark refuses to let this define him and is on a technological mission to overcome his paralysis.

Mark told his story to an audience in Switzerland this year. As ever, people were gripped not just by his incredible tale but his ability to narrate it so compellingly. Mark is also a pioneer in the field of finding a technological solution to paralysis and audiences are persistently taken aback by the very real progress being made in this area.

Laurence Kemball – Cook

Laurence is the Founder and CEO of Pavegen. The company has developed paving slabs that convert energy from people’s footsteps into electrical power. The technology is already changing the way people think about renewable energy, aided by some spectacular installations all over the world. This one in a Brazilian favela is particularly eye – catching: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zW0apUZAf9g.

Laurence has traveled all over the world in the last year, spreading his message to audiences everywhere, from London to Seoul. In addition to his inspiring personal story of entrepreneurship, Laurence sets out his vision for the future of smart cities.

Rohan Silva

‘Silicon Valley’ was once a term uttered in jest to refer to London’s fledgling tech scene based around around Old Street roundabout. Now, London is the technology centre of Europe and one can point to Rohan Silva’s advocacy of open data as a turning point. As David Cameron’s technology adviser, he proposed an agenda of open data. This allowed private developers to build businesses around public sector information and commuters to use real-time public transport information.

Since leaving Downing Street, Rohan has set up the collaborative workspace, Second Home. He is passionate about London’s thriving tech community and has been talking to audiences about how London can maintain this status in the face of upcoming political challenges.

Dido Harding

One of the most influential women in British business, Dido was Chief Executive of TalkTalk Plc from 2010 to 2017. Here, she led the campaign for greater competition in the media sector. She also led the company through Britain’s most high profile corporate cyber-attack, being praised by a Parliamentary Committee for her transparent and strong crisis leadership.

Dido is passionate about Britain’s role in the digital revolution, particularly post Brexit. She has been talking to audiences about how Britain can assume this digital leadership. With data security such a prominent concern, Dido has also discussed how corporates should handle the large amount of private data they hold.

Speakers We Admire