+1 347 223 5128

Our professional consultants are ready to guide you

Our speakers are also available for online events. Get in touch with us to learn more.

Learn how to motivate, spot talent and achieve success

Margaret Heffernan

travels from UK

Entrepreneur, Chief Executive, author and television producer with a unique talent for spotting successful business

Request fees and availability

5 out of 5 stars

"Brilliant keynote from Margaret that hit our conference messages perfectly."

Emily Collyer - Travis Perkins plc See all references
Non-binding request for Margaret Heffernan

Send a simple request. You’ll get a quick reply with fees and availability

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
About icon

About Margaret

Lecture icon

Keynote

Video icon

Video

References icon

References

Interviews icon

Articles

Request fees and availability
Keynote speaker Margaret Heffernan has had an impressive career in the world of media and business. She has exhibited a unique talent for spotting successful business, leading and motivating. She is a talented keynote speaker with a penchant for inspiring people and teaching audiences how to motivate, spot talent and seize the right business opportunities to achieve success.

Why you should book speaker Margaret Heffernan

  • She organizes businesses in making progressive steps towards the future. Margaret speaks about how having insight on our unpredictable future, impacts your company in positive ways. Margaret shows businesses the necessary steps taken to attain such habits.
  • She provides actionable takeaways. Speaker Margaret Heffernan demonstrates to companies how companies should optimize efficiency without overusing it, how, and when to necessarily predict the forecast of the upcoming future. Margaret provides the tools to question and maximize your organization for exponential change.

Keynote speaker Margaret Heffernan is a successful entrepreneur, Chief Executive, and author. She was born in Texas, raised in Holland and educated at Cambridge University. For five years, she worked for BBC Radio, where she wrote, directed, produced and commissioned numerous documentaries and dramas. As a television producer, she made documentary films for Timewatch, Arena, and Newsnight. She was one of the producers of Out of the Doll’s House, the prize-winning documentary series about the history of women in the twentieth century. Margaret has also produced music videos with Virgin Records and the London Chamber Orchestra to raise attention and funds for Unicef’s Lebanese fund.

Leaving the BBC, she ran the trade association IPPA, which represented the interests of independent film and television producers and was once described by the Financial Times as “the most formidable lobbying organization in England.”

Upon returning to the United States, in 1994,  speaker Margaret Heffernan worked on public affair campaigns in Massachusetts and with software companies trying to break into multimedia. During this time, she helped develop interactive multimedia products with Peter Lynch, Tom Peters, Standard & Poors, and The Learning Company.

Heffernan later joined CMGI, where she ran, bought and sold leading Internet businesses, serving as Chief Executive Officer for information Corporation, ZineZone Corporation as well as iCAST Corporation. By 1999, she was named one of the Internet’s Top 100 by Silicon Alley Reporter, one of the Top 25 by Streaming Media magazine and one of the Top 100 Media Executives by The Hollywood Reporter. She received the Silver SABRE award for public relations as a result of her “Tear Down the Wall” campaign against AOL.

2011 was the year when Margaret’s third book, Willful Blindness, was published and shortlisted for the Financial Times/Goldman Sachs Best Business Book award. Margaret is currently a Visiting Professor of Entrepreneurship at Simmons College in Boston and Executive in Residence at Babson College. She is a Trustee of the London Library and sits on the Council of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and in the UK as well as one the boards of several private companies.

Margaret Heffernan blogs for the Huffington Post in the US and the UK, for CBSMoneywatch and Inc.com. You may have seen her featured on television in The Secret Millionaire or experienced her on BBC Radio 4 in Changing the Rules, which won the 2008 Prowess Media Award. Margaret has had three plays broadcast by the BBC and, in 2011, has been awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Bath. She is married with two children.

Sought-after speaker Margaret Heffernan can deliver powerful keynotes focused on business, success, motivation, and talent.

See keynotes with Margaret Heffernan
Keynote by speaker Margaret Heffernan

Prediction Addiction

We are addicted to prediction because we want to plan for the future, and because uncertainty is so uncomfortable. But there are huge pitfalls in forecasting and it’s critical to understand how far we can rely on them. Why do they so often let us down?

Audience takeaways:

  • Under what circumstances is forecasting reliable?
  • How can we use forecasting well without becoming addicted to its false certainties.
Keynote by speaker Margaret Heffernan

Ineradicable Uncertainty

Thorough our data collection, however comprehensive our analysis, we cannot predict the future with absolute accuracy; uncertainty remains endemic in our lives and our organizations. Experts in forecasting maintain that their predictions are accurate just 400 days out – and that’s the best that the best can do. For the rest of us, the horizon is 150 days.

Audience takeaways:

  • How management has depended on forecasting – planning – execution.
  • If the first phase isn’t reliable, how do we do the rest?
Keynote by speaker Margaret Heffernan

The End of Efficiency

Since the Industrial Revolution, people and processes have been managed for efficiency: bigger, faster, cheaper. Technology optimizes for efficiency too. It is the watchword of managements everywhere. But while efficiency delivers tangible benefits in complicated environments, it plays havoc with complex ones. Being able to distinguish the difference between the two, knowing when efficiency is safe and when its dangerous, has never been more critical. Get it wrong and companies risk spending too much, amplifying endemic risks or missing huge opportunities to innovate.

Audience takeaways:

  • How in today’s organizations, being too efficient is as dangerous as being spendthrift.
  • How can you tell when efficiency is your friend – or a foe?
Keynote by speaker Margaret Heffernan

Cathedral Projects and the Pursuit of Purpose

“Cathedral projects” is the phrase that Stephen Hawking used to describe projects, lasting more than a lifetime, that attempted “to bridge heaven and earth.’ They are born in uncertainty and their future is ambiguous from the start. But their ambition is to last and to bring to the world something of value and impact.

Audience takeaways:

  • What can we learn from these projects about contemporary organizations: their ambition, meaning, and future?
  • Does our inability to predict the future make such projects more or less viable?
  • If we want long term institutions that matter, what kind of leadership and followership do they require?
    Margaret Heffernan - video

    All work is social by speaker Margaret Heffernan at TEDxOxbridge

    Watch speaker Margaret Heffernan in action

    Margaret Heffernan - video

    Willful blindness by speaker Margaret Heffernan at TEDxDanubia 2013

    Watch speaker Margaret Heffernan in action

    Margaret Heffernan - video

    The sound of things not being said by speaker Margaret Heffernan

    Watch speaker Margaret Heffernan in action

    See keynotes with Margaret Heffernan

    References

    Brilliant keynote from Margaret that hit our conference messages perfectly.

    Emily Collyer

    Travis Perkins plc
    10.14.2014

    Interview with Margaret Heffernan

    Why do clients typically hire you to speak?

    Some organisations hire me to ask questions and pose challenges of a kind that insiders feel they can’t ask or which they feel will command more attention when delivered from an outsider. Some companies bring me in to create a different kind of discussion or debate based on thinking everyone has shared with me. Some want me to re-frame some of the problems they face. Some bring me in to deliver brain food.

    All of my speaking involves posing questions and offering potential solutions but it is designed to provoke discussion and debate. Also, if I’m being honest, many organisations bring me in because I’m female and they’re increasingly uncomfortable convening conferences of business thought leaders all of whom are male.

    They recognise that this looks old fashioned and alienates female executives, clients and customers and are looking for high caliber, cutting edge thinking developed by someone who isn’t male. They want the rigour of academic thinking coupled with the pragmatism of someone who has run businesses. They’re also highly focused on risk reduction which is a recurrent theme in my book.

    What types of knowledge and lessons did you take with you from your time at BBC?

    Two things: the need to check, double check, interrogate and question what you’re told. When I worked at the BBC, you could count on viewers to tell you if you’d made a mistake so you worked very hard to check your facts and assumptions. The other thing I learned was that you should continue to improve a programme for as long as it was practically feasible. Even if a show was in the can, if you could improve it you should. If you are spending public money, you owe it to the public to deliver the very best finished product that you can.

    What are some of the biggest challenges companies currently face?

    When I talk to and work with CEOs, their biggest issues are: how do I get the best from my people? (They all know that they don’t.) Where are my blind spots? (They all know they have some.) How can I test and challenge my own thinking to ensure good decision making? How do I get people to tell me the unvarnished truth and to do unfettered exploration?

    What types of projects are you currently working on?

    I am currently finishing a new book about how to make organisations (from families to multinational businesses) more creative.

    What kinds of clients have you worked with in the past?

    I talk to a very wide range of organisations, from national governments, Federal Banks in the U.S. to business schools and entrepreneurs. Much of my work focuses on the assumptions we make about work and business which turn out, in reality, to be wrong. And there’s really no organisation impervious to those issues.

    As a former CEO, I am focused on the intersection between robust academic work with pragmatic business needs. I work with solid research but am always looking at it through the lens of business experience, asking the questions: do I believe this? What does it mean in practice? What does it change – and how?

    See keynotes with Margaret Heffernan
    Non-binding request for Margaret Heffernan

    Send a simple request. You’ll get a quick reply with fees and availability

    • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
    Margaret Heffernan
    Margaret Heffernan

    5 out of 5 stars

    "Brilliant keynote from Margaret that hit our conference messages perfectly."

    Emily Collyer - Travis Perkins plc See all references

    Keynote topics with Margaret Heffernan