Ed Gillespie is a writer, communications specialist, serial entrepreneur and futurist. He is the author of ‘Only Planet – a flight-free adventure around the world’ a book about his circumnavigation of the globe without getting on a plane, which the Independent said “Allow[s] the world’s flaws and beauty to seep into your soul”.
His core talent is to take the complex, interconnected, interdependent nature of the many urgent challenges the world faces – from climate change to disruptive competition – and make common sense of them for non-specialist audiences. He often works at C-suite level to help Boards understand big business’s role in ‘self-disruption’ of their own business models, and creating entrepreneurial ‘lifeboats’ of lean innovation.
Ed Gillespie is a credible and experienced voice on a range of key future-focused issues; from the challenge of ‘Big Data’ through the future of work and purpose-led business, the impact of AI, robots and technology, to how climate action can and must be reframed as seismic opportunity not just catastrophic threat. He is also a curious explorer of emerging trends and innovations that are disrupting, or about to disrupt (!), whole sectors, with a personal interest in the food system; from changing farming practices to new product innovation and the evolution of a ‘one planet’ diet. Professionally he is known for his own unique brand of authentic ‘insultancy’ – being strategically and playfully cheeky to clients, with judicious wit and wisdom to inspire them to greater heights and aspirations. He is highly adaptable, constructively challenging and pushes audience assumptions of business as usual, opening hearts and minds and then mapping possible practical solutions and opportunities.
He is the co-founder of the Global Goals Accelerator, a business programme aimed at delivering the Sustainable Development Goals, the first two businesses supported were Panda Packaging (bamboo and coconut based plastic alternatives) and Agronomex (tackling food waste at the farm gate). He is actively involved in a number of other pioneering ethical businesses as a Director or Investor, from Growing Underground, a renewable energy powered, LED-lit, hydroponic farm in a disused underground tunnel in South London, to Demand Logic – a ‘fitbit’ for buildings. Others include Common Objective (ethical fashion), Engaged Tracking (carbon indices), Poplar (communication platform for frontline staff), Small Robot Company (farming as a service) and Bennaman (alternative fuels).
Ed is also a facilitator with the Forward Institute for responsible leadership, a Director of Greenpeace UK, a Trustee of Energy Revolution and alongside fellow futurist Mark Stevenson is one half of the ‘Futurenauts’ doing live shows and podcasts on pragmatic optimism.
A regular media contributor from the BBC to the Guardian, Ed is a sought after speaker, event host, lively compere and trusted Chairperson, renowned for his entertaining presentations laced with thoughtful insights, trends and humour.
His recent speaking engagements include giving the inaugural ‘Bonn Speech’ on Global Transformation for the German Government, a keynote on ‘The Future of Energy’ in Slovenia, ‘The Power of Business with Purpose’ in Finland, ‘Climate of Disruption’ on climate change and disruptive innovation for Schroders in Belgium, ‘Time to get on the bus’ on radically rethinking public mass transit in Germany and ‘It’s the climate, stupid’ on the strategic investment implications of climate risk in the UK.
Ed Gillespie also designs and hosts bespoke workshops for clients on future-focused sustainability challenges, most recently for Sainsbury’s on carbon and climate change, Unilever on circular economy and a Norwegian business ‘cluster’ on rapidly prototyping new purpose-driven sustainable business models.
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