Meet our illustrious speakers.

Past Speakers at Small is Beautiful

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Photo of Brhmie Balaram

Brhmie Balaram

Brhmie is a Senior Researcher in the RSA's Economy, Enterprise and Manufacturing team. She leads the RSA's research on the sharing economy. She was previously a researcher for the Independent Review of the Police Federation and for the influential RSA City Growth Commission. She has experience exploring issues of institutional reform, economic inequality and labour market disadvantage. Brhmie joined the RSA from the Institute of Public Policy Research and was formerly at The Work Foundation.

Photo of Jamie Byng

Jamie Byng

Jamie Byng is the Managing Director of the Edinburgh based, independent publishing house Canongate Books. Under Jamie's leadership, Canongate has grown significantly in size and reputation and has twice been named Publisher of the Year at the British Book Awards (2003 and 2009). As well as publishing an exceptional range of writers, Canongate prides itself on the quality of its production and design for which it has won numerous awards.

Photo of Simon Caine

Simon Caine

For the past 6 years Simon Caine is a community manager by day which means he writes jokes for Twitter for household brands including Marmite, Pot Noodle and Carphone Warehouse. For the past 5 years he has been a comedian by night telling jokes to strangers in bars, clubs, boats and in museums around the country. Between those jobs he writes for newspapers and has authored two books on community building and relationship development online.

Photo of Alexa Clay

Alexa Clay

Alexa Clay is a fresh voice with an edgy and thought-provoking message. A brilliant and engaging storyteller, she takes you inside the hearts and minds of the innovators working on the fringes of society; nominated for the Thinkers50 award for Innovation, Clay is passionate about subcultures and inspires you to rethink your assumptions on ingenuity. She has uncovered that the underworld is filled with natural-born-innovators.

Photo of Benedict Dellot

Benedict Dellot

Ben is a Senior Researcher within the Enterprise team of the RSA's Action and Research Centre. His work touches upon numerous issues, including young enterprise, the informal economy and long term unemployment, and he is also a member of the UK's new Hidden Economy Expert Group. Prior to his role in the Enterprise team, Ben was a researcher to Matthew Taylor, CEO. He completed his BA in Economics and Politics at the University of Manchester in 2008.

Photo of Brennan Dunn

Brennan Dunn

Founder of Planscope, a project management tool built for consultants. Author of "Double Your Freelancing Rate" and "The Blueprint". Teacher of the "Consultancy Masterclass". Owner of We Are Titans, an Agile product development and design studio located in Norfolk, VA.

Photo of Brian Hennigan

Brian Hennigan

Brian Hennigan is the business partner of U.S comedian Doug Stanhope, as well as a published author. producer and director in his own right. Before becoming all artsy-fartsy Brian worked with Nissan Europe, Pringle of Scotland, The Macallan Malt Whisky and Lend Lease. He has also taught Shakespeare in the People\’s Republic of China and more basic English at a TDK factory in rural Japan. Originally from Edinburgh, Brian now lives in Los Angeles, which is very similar.

Photo of Carl Honore

Carl Honore

Carl Honoré is an award-winning journalist, author and TED speaker. He is also a globetrotting ambassador for the Slow Movement. The Wall Street Journal called him "an in-demand spokesman on slowness."

Photo of Leah Hutcheon

Leah Hutcheon

Leah Hutcheon is the founder of Appointedd, a cloud based software system that enables independent businesses to take guaranteed bookings online. Leah was one of the second intake at Entrepreneurial Spark and was featured on the BBC documentary, The Entrepreneurs. She is also an Ambassador for Women's Enterprise Scotland and a Director of Future Leaders for Entrepreneurial Scotland.

Photo of Leena Normington

Leena Normington

Leena works in the publishing industry as a Creative Producer and runs her personal YouTube channel justkissmyfrog with 33,000 subscribers.

Photo of Tara Gentile

Tara Gentile

Tara Gentile studies, experiments with, and teaches what it takes for businesses to succeed in the age of connectedness. Tara works with entrepreneurs to develop business models and ecosystems that are driven by curiosity, growth, and the power of networked individuals.

Photo of Jocelyn K Glei

Jocelyn K Glei

Jocelyn K. Glei is a writer who's obsessed with work, careers & creativity. She is the author of 3 books, including the bestseller Manage Your Day-to-Day.

Photo of David Greig

David Greig

David Greig is a Scottish playwright and theatre director. His work has been performed at all of the major theatres in Britain, including the Traverse Theatre, Royal Court Theatre, Royal National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company, and been produced around the world.

Photo of James Greig

James Greig

James is a graphic designer, writer, and rider of bicycles. He explores topics including design, creativity and entrepreneurship on his blog, and recently published his first book Reset Your Brain's Operating System. Alongside his writing he works as a digital designer in London, specialising in website and app design for the creative and corporate sector.

Photo of Rohan Gunatillake

Rohan Gunatillake

Rohan Gunatillake is the creator of buddhify, the mobile mindfulness app for modern life, the co-producer of Sync, helping cultural organisations in Scotland have a more progressive relationship with technology, technologists, design and designers and a trustee of the British Council.

Photo of Jackie Kay

Jackie Kay

Jackie Kay was born and brought up in Scotland. She has published five collections of poetry for adults (The Adoption Papers won the Forward Prize, a Saltire Award and a Scottish Arts Council Book Award) and several for children. She was awarded an MBE in 2006.

Photo of Jamilla Knowles

Jamilla Knowles

Jamillah Knowles, PR and Communication, ETSY and Producer & host, BBC Outriders, a podcast about internet trailblazers. Jamillah is multimedia communicator and broadcaster. As well as working for Etsy she writes for a number of outlets and travels the globe talking to tech startups, academics, thought leaders, futurists, scientists, mathematicians and inventors who break technology boundaries.

Photo of Bob Last

Bob Last

Bob Last, is a producer with an extensive track record in film production, digital animation and the music industry. His resume boasts Terence Davies' House of Mirth and Sylvain Chomet's The Illusionist. He has been chairman for the Centre of the Moving Image, the parent company of the Filmhouse Cinema complex and the Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) and the Chair of Cultural Enterprise Office.

Photo of Rachel Laurence

Rachel Laurence

Rachel Laurence is the Senior Coordinator of NEF's 'New Economy in Practice' team, which brings together the diverse elements of NEF's work on systemic economic change, and considers how this applies at local and regional level. Her specific focus is on community economic development, and regional political economy, and how these two areas connect. Before joining NEF, Rachel worked on UK child poverty and welfare policy and programmes, for Save the Children UK.

Photo of Steve Lawson

Steve Lawson

As a bass guitarist who mostly plays and records solo, Steve Lawson's career has 'micro' written through it like a stick of rock. Having chosen a life less ordinary, Steve has spent the last 20 years exploring new and interesting ways of making niche music more sustainable for everyone, instead of pursuing a win for himself in the gimmick olympics.

Photo of Ruth Little

Ruth Little

Ruth Little is a theatre and dance dramaturg, a teacher and writer. She lectured in English literature at the University of Sydney, and was literary manager at Out of Joint, Soho Theatre, the Young Vic and the Royal Court. Ruth is associate director at Cape Farewell, where she is curating and producing Sea Change, a programme of interdisciplinary research, sailing expeditions, events and exhibitions across the islands of Scotland.

Photo of Neil McGuire

Neil McGuire

Neil runs After the News, a design practice working mainly with clients in the arts and public sectors. Neil is also a part-time tutor at Glasgow School of Art, founder/organiser of A Feral Studio, chair of the New Glasgow Society and a member of State.

Photo of Ewan McIntosh

Ewan McIntosh

Ewan leads the development of work with key clients globally, in both the education world and creative industries, and is a keynote speaker on innovation, design thinking and creativity. He writes occasional posts on learning on his blog, edu.blogs.com.

Photo of Deirdre Nelson

Deirdre Nelson

Since graduating from Glasgow School of Art in 1992, I have pursued a parallel career in creating work for exhibition and commission and in working as an artist facilitator to various groups. My nomadic nature and interest in communities have allowed me to develop work for exhibition and on residencies both in UK and Australia. Research, humour and craft technique contribute to projects dealing with relevant social and environmental issues.

Photo of Matt Perkins

Matt Perkins

Matthew has a sound background in sales and marketing developed over 20 years in both retail and manufacturing sectors and has a wealth of practical experience through running his own distribution business. He is a qualified business advisor and a mentor for the Government's Growth Accelerator scheme.

Photo of Karine Polwart

Karine Polwart

Karine Polwart draws from folk music's long tradition while keeping pace with the ceaselessly changing times. Her talent for crafting unique, enduring melodies, her gift for saying just enough without overstating her case, the range and dynamism of her arrangements, all come together in songs of powerful contemporary relevance.

Photo of Tony Robinson OBE

Tony Robinson OBE

Tony has been starting and running enterprises, with his business partners, for nearly 30 years. He has devoted much of his time over the last 20 years to founding and advising organisations that can positively influence the survival rate of new, micro (0-9 employees) enterprises in the UK and overseas.

Photo of Hannah Rudman

Hannah Rudman

Rudman Consulting helps businesses maximise the opportunities, minimise the risks, and manage the impacts of becoming adaptable and resilient in a world where the only constant is change, complexity, uncertainty and ambiguous circumstances.

Photo of Ailie Rutherford

Ailie Rutherford

Ailie Rutherford’s collaborative practice is grounded in the places she works and shaped by the people who actively engage in the process, creating multi-disciplinary works that explore the relationships between people, their natural, social and built environments.

Photo of Fi Scott

Fi Scott

Fi is a product designer by training, and founded Make Works through wanting to discover where the best factories, foundries and workshops were to produce things that were Made in Scotland. She is fascinated by materials and machines and has worked as a designer in Philadelphia, Brooklyn and Scotland.

Photo of Lucy Simpson

Lucy Simpson

Lucy Simpson, a proud Yuwaalaraay woman and designer / founder of Aboriginal Design studio Gaawaa Miyay works with visual narratives and inspired forms to share and celebrate aspects of contemporary Aboriginal culture.

Photo of John Thackara

John Thackara

John Thackara is the author of How to Thrive in the Next Economy: Designing Tomorrow's World Today, and the founder of Doors of Perception, is. He does live and online talks , and produces events, for cities, institutions and organisations around the world. The outcomes of each collaboration are, typically: a shared perception of new opportunities; a good idea of how to exploit them; and new connections between people to make those actions happen.

Photo of Sarah Thelwall

Sarah Thelwall

Sarah is a sailor, strategist and maker of mischief. Her speciality subjects are the structure of the contemporary art market (she designed an MA in the History and Business of the Contemporary Art Market with Andrew Wheatley for IESA and makes guest appearances at Sothebys Institute) and making the potentially dry topics of financial management, business processes and marketing interesting and accessible to micro and SME businesses (in the UK, Middle East and assorted other international locations).

Photo of Katherine Trebeck

Katherine Trebeck

Katherine is Global Research and Policy Advisor in Oxfam's Research Team where she is exploring an economy that delivers social justice, good lives, vibrant communities and which protects the planet. In doing so she is particularly interested in steps towards a 'new economic paradigm' - and how countries such as the UK, Brazil, South Africa and India might move towards this.

Photo of Rory Vaden

Rory Vaden

"Self-Discipline Strategist", Rory Vaden, MBA speaks to audiences around the world about how they can leverage self-discipline to overcome procrastination and achieve their goals in life. His first book "Take the Stairs" is a #1 Wall St Journal, #1 USA Today, and #2 New York Times bestseller and it has been translated into 11 different languages.

Photo of Patricia van den Akker

Patricia van den Akker

Patricia van den Akker is the Director of The Design Trust, an on-line business school for designers and makers. She has worked with 100s of small creative businesses, freelancers and sole traders as a creative business adviser, coach, mentor and trainer.

Photo of Rob Walling

Rob Walling

Rob Walling is one of the leaders of the solopreneur tech movement. He's the author of the popular book, "Start Small, Stay Small: A Developer's Guide to Launching a Startup" and his blog, Software By Rob, is read by 25,000 web entrepreneurs each month. He co-hosts one of the leading startup and entrepreneurship podcasts about starting a business without raising funding, called Startups for the Rest of Us.

Photo of Sherry Walling

Sherry Walling

Sherry is a licensed clinical psychologist, an adjunct professor, author and speaker. She provides information, support and ideas to entrepreneurs (and other professionals) who are struggling to thrive at work and at home. She also runs a training clinic for beginning psychotherapists. Despite a full schedule, Sherry spends as much time as possible exploring the world with her husband and two young sons.

Photo of Eleanor Young

Eleanor Young

Eleanor Young is a Scottish textile designer and founder of Fun Makes Good. She graduated from Glasgow School of Art in 2007 and received a First Class Honours degree in Embroidered Textiles. She set up Fun Makes Good in 2009. Fun Makes Good combines detailed embroidery techniques with bold patterns and creative colour combinations to produce a striking range of interior products using locally sourced, specialist wools, leathers and hand dyed cotton.

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