Plenary speakers

We are delighted to announce the following plenary speakers for this year's event.


Floella Benjamin

Baroness Floella Benjamin

Floella was born in Trinidad but was brought up in England. After leaving school she spent a short time in the world of banking and accountancy, but soon found her way into the theatre in 1970 and became a household name after presenting children’s programmes ‘Playschool’ and ‘Playaway’. In 1987 she went on to form her own award winning film and television production company. In 2001 Floella, received an OBE for services to broadcasting and 2004 she was awarded the BAFTA Special Lifetime Award for her services to children's television.

The Baroness is especially concerned with the plight of children and young people and their human rights throughout the world. She led a 20-year campaign to create the role of Minister for Children, which achieved its goal in 2003.

In 2006, she was appointed Chancellor of the University of Exeter. She was elevated to the House of Lords as a life peer in 2010, the first Trinidadian woman to be ennobled. In Parliament she leads on children’s issues as well as education, media and diversity matters.



Simon Fanshawe

Simon is a respected broadcaster and writer. .He has a wide range of skills and a great track record in achieving change in and through organizations.

He was awarded the OBE in 2013 for services to higher education. In the same year he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Sussex for services to the University and equality and social justice. 



 Darius resized

Darius Norell

Darius is a Master Facilitator for the NeuroLeadership Institute, a global research organisation and pioneer of neuroscience in leadership. The Institute has united the world’s foremost neuroscientists, leadership researchers and organisational practitioners with the purpose of transforming how we think, develop, and perform. 

Darius has been interested in the brain, how it works and the impact it has on everything we do for as long as he can remember. He is passionate about the power of inclusion to unlock potential and transform how we work. He has over 20 years’ experience working in recruitment, talent identification and development and high performance.

Darius has trained over 5,000 students and graduates in ‘Radical Employability’, building their capacity ‘to create extraordinary value with integrity' by working at the level of values, brilliance and purpose. He co-authored the Recruiters Guide to Courses and Campuses for 10 years and was shortlisted for a European Recruiting Innovation award in 2014 for a pioneering inclusive recruitment process.

Darius is a Trustee of the 100 Hours Foundation, a charity dedicated to bringing wise and compassionate living to young people everywhere



Matthew Taylor

Matthew Taylor 

Matthew has been Chief Executive of the RSA since November 2006. During this time the Society has substantially increased its output of research and innovation, has provided new routes to support charitable initiatives of its 28,000 Fellows – including crowd funding - and has developed a global profile as a platform for ideas. In October 2016 Matthew was appointed by the Prime Minister to lead an independent review into modern employment.

Prior to this appointment, Matthew was Chief Adviser on Political Strategy to the Prime Minister. Previous roles include Labour Party Director of Policy and Deputy General Secretary and Chief Executive of the ippr the UK’s leading left of centre think tank.

Matthew is a regular media performer having appeared several times on the Today Programme, The Daily Politics and Newsnight. He had written and presented several Radio Four documentaries and is a panellist on the programme Moral Maze. He writes a regular column for the Local Government Chronicle. He has posted over a thousand times on his RSA blog site and tweets as @RSAMatthew.



 Daniel Susskind

Daniel Susskind 

Dr Daniel Susskind is a Fellow in Economics at Balliol College, Oxford University, where he teaches and researches. He is the co-author of the best-selling book, The Future of the Professions.

Previously he worked in the British Government – as a policy adviser in the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit, as a policy analyst in the Policy Unit in 10 Downing Street, and as a senior policy adviser in the Cabinet Office. He was a Kennedy Scholar at Harvard University.

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