Welcome to my personal website. My passion is making valuable connections between people and ideas. I’m retained by several organizations to do exactly that and enjoy taking on special projects.
I’m based in the UK at the moment and hope you will be in touch if you think that I can help you in some way or if you think that we could work together. Please have a read about the sort of things I’m up to.
From presenting (three times, 2016, 2015, 2014) to the Marketing Academy scholars on the themes of “Building an effective network”, “How to start things” and “Combining making money and making a difference”.
“We’ve been lucky enough to have Oli talk at Marketing Academy events a number of times and he is the most inspiring, confident, funny and honest speaker you could hope to find. Whether Oli is talking about the benefits of networking, problem solving in a creative way, explaining the benefits of start-ups or just inspiring others to take action, his inclusive style and positive attitude bring everyone along with him. His passion for relationships and connections is infectious and I dare you to hear him speak without taking away a piece of learning which you’ll implement immediately.”
From speaking to the Queen’s Young Leaders (from around the Commonwealth) in 2016 and 2015;
“Oli has worked with Leading Change, a bespoke course created for The Queens Young Leaders Programme by The University of Cambridge since we launched almost two years ago. Oli contributes to the online course, sharing his networking knowledge to inspire and challenge The Queen’s Young Leaders. In addition to the course Oli joins the Queen’s Young Leaders in person for the Cambridge Residential and is always one of our most popular speakers, not only because his energy lifts the room but because his methods bring real life results and opportunities! We hope to continue collaborating with Oli until the programme ends in 2018.”
From a range of speaking and support roles with Wayra (the global accelerator programme owned by Telefónica.)
“I’m not sure whether you’re aware of the extent of the positive impact that you have on the start-ups at Wayra – you are a force of energy, positivity, inspiration and practical guidance – always delivered in style, both entertaining and engaging.
What is especially impressive is your absolute authenticity and knowledge in not one area of expertise, but three:
- Your knowledge about start-ups is remarkable – added to which you are a Founder of Start-up Britain
- Your knowledge of ‘social ventures’ is incredible – added to which you are the Founder of ‘Tenner’
- Your knowledge of ‘digital’ is extraordinary – is there anyone in Techcity who you don’t know.
On-top of which your experience of working closely with Government further adds to your gravitas and the depth of the experience you are able to offer.
Oli you never fail to do a brilliant job of hosting our events and driving engagement of first-class attendees.
Your enthusiasm is infectious.
From Speech (‘How To Build an Effective Network’) to Coutts clients and staff
“We’ve had such positive feedback from your session that I wanted to feedback to you.
Here are some of the comments received…”
‘Oli was a fantastic speaker and his words of wisdom were timely and extremely helpful’
‘Oli was an amazing speaker, full of interesting pointers not just for work but for life too’
‘Oli’s talk and advice is very useful for my job’
‘ The evening really was such fun and we thought Oli was great! Very insightful and encouraging!’
‘Oli was a great speaker and got the room involved very well.’
“I recently invited Oli to speak to a group of senior local government officers on the subject of entrepreneurship. From our first conversation through to the event itself, Oli was incredibly easy to do business with, creative in his approach, and when addressing the group held their attention completely. He has a charisma and approach that holds real gravitas, and added real value to the group (and me) because of his expert knowledge in his field. Inspirational is the word that best describes Oli, and it’s an absolute pleasure working with him.”
From MCing the inaugural Digital Agenda Impact Awards at The Barbican, 2017.
“I’ve just had the pleasure of working with Oli on stage for the second time in under two years. And what a pleasure it was, once again. Oli compered on stage at our DigitalAgenda Impact Awards at London’s Barbican Centre on March 2. It was a complex three-hour show, with 13 different awards given out, alongside four senior-level talks, to an audience of 250 professionals. Some photos of Oli in action at the event. On stage, Oli is to my mind one of the best in the business, delivering a perfect balance of good humour and serious chat that keeps the audience engaged and entertained. But Oli is no mere compere who pops along for a couple of hours then leaves. He engages with you on your project for months in advance, offering wise advice, great format and content ideas and access to the right brilliant contacts. He works hard to help you get your detail right, and won’t stop encouraging you until it is. Oli is the consummate professional, and I learn 10 things every time I work with him. In short, he gets it. And he helps us get it, too.” Julian Blake, Director and editor, DigitalAgenda
From MCing and chairing events for the New Entrepreneurs Foundation (2016, 2015);
“I have had the pleasure of attending many events where Oli has been the MC. He has also facilitated a number of high profile speaker panels for us at the New Entrepreneurs Foundation. I am always struck by how well he manages to engage with the audience both on an intellectual and human level ensuring that there was something valuable for everyone to take away from the event. He facilitates and entertains with flair, listens carefully and elicits solid responses from speakers. He always puts in the work beforehand to really understand what the organisers would like to get from an event, is always faultlessly prepared with pertinent questions, diplomatically managing the speakers and the audience.”“Oli is a true professional and an absolute pleasure to work with. I would recommend him to anybody organising an event, no matter how large or small – he always delivers!” Neeta Patel, CEO, New Entrepreneurs Foundation.
From MCing events with MTV’s Staying Alive Foundation (2016, 2015);
“If you’re lucky enough to have Oli MC your event, you are exceedingly lucky indeed. Oli has MC’d for MTV Staying Alive a few times – from intimate nights of 60 people, to a large (400 people) art auction in Dallas… and from my experience, whenever Oli is in charge of your event, the night will run beautifully. He’s uber-professional to work with, he understands his audience and knows not only how to control them, but also how to create the best atmosphere in the room – and when you’re trying to raise money on the night, that’s essential! He’s funny, he only ever wants to do (and does!) the very best job possible, and he’s got the best eyebrows in the business. I consider myself very lucky indeed to have Oli on my speed dial!” Georgia Arnold, Executive Director, MTV Staying Alive Foundation
From MCing the launch of GoToGrow, the Mayor of London’s International Business Programme;
“Oli did an outstanding job of moderating the launch of the Mayor’s International Business Programme in February with our panel of serial entrepreneurs and audience of scale ups, policy leaders and mentors. He never fails to impress in the way he clearly prepares and engages both the speakers and the audience with such flair, professionalism and always with a touch of comedy which makes it so special. ” Janet Coyle, Principal Adviser (International Business), London and Partners.
From designing and moderating the launch event for NewCo London 2016;
“Oli was absolutely fantastic as our MC for the NewCo London 2016 VIP event. He did a superb job of getting the crowd engaged, and kept the event flowing artfully. He masterfully introduced speakers and engaged the audience. I was delighted by how the event went off– great energy, great flow, and happy attendees. Oli was funny, charismatic, and on message. It was a delight to watch him in action. ” Hayley Nelson, NewCo
From chairing a panel of company founders on the theme of “Scaling Up a Tech Business”, for the Digital Catapult. (October 2015).
“There’s really nobody quite like Oli if you’re looking for a host, chair, or MC for your event. He palpably lifts the energy of the room when he bounds up to the podium and he’s always incisive and succinct. For our Digital Catapult scaleups event he chaired a panel on founders’ success stories and tips for growing a great business. He managed to get some extraordinary nuggets out of each of our panellists, plus some left-field surprising insights I can’t imagine any other chair quite pulling off. He’s entertaining and thoroughly researches his subject, with the result that it’s always the best session of the event. He also knows just when to engage the audience in the discussion, and does that brilliantly.” Rowena Goldman, Head of Cluster and Communities, Digital Catapult.
From compering/facilitating a series of Tech London Advocates events, for up to 600 guests. (2013-2016).
“I have known Oli for three years, and he is a world-class presenter and networker. Oli has acted as compère for my six Tech London Advocates (TLA) events and has done a brilliant job with each one. His preparation and attention to detail is very impressive, and now when I plan my semi-annual events, the first ‘port of call’ is Oli’s diary to ensure he is available, before I start planning the rest of the event. I have recommended Oli to other organisations, and my only concern is that he might become so much in demand that he will be too busy to lead my TLA events.” Russ Shaw (founder, Tech London Advocates)
From MCing roles during private ideas conference Names Not Numbers (2015-2016)
“Oli Barrett is pitch-perfect as an MC. He keeps everything running on time but he does so with just the right blend of charm, wit, smart information he has committed to memory, and a common touch people find hard to resist” Julia Hobsbawm OBE, Founder of Names Not Numbers, Founder of Editorial Intelligence.
From MCing The Great British Entrepreneur Awards (2013, 2014, 2015).
“Oli is a charming and engaging event host and MC. He has a ready wit and a great ability to get the audience involved and connected. We have worked with him at intimate events and large scale ceremonies and he excels at both. Perhaps most importantly for a host, Oli knows how to make the event about the other guests and speakers, providing a well-judged balance to them and keeping the event moving in a timely fashion. While many hosts do their stuff on stage and then quietly disappear Oli is always the first to engage in networking with the audience , delivering value throughout.” Simon Burton, co-founder, The Great British Entrepreneur Awards.
From chairing a two-day conference, Youth Marketing Strategy, with an audience including leading brands, charities and young people (March 2015).
“Oli did an excellent job in chairing YMS 2015. He was great at keeping the energy in the room high and ensuring that all the delegates had an awesome time. He did not let the speakers get away with anything – probing them in Paxman style fashion and continually working to ensure that the days of the event had a good flow. He had quite obviously done a lot of work in preparation and as a result peppered the day with useful and amusing nuggets of information. We very much look forward to working with Oli again in future events”
Simon Eder, Founder, Voxburner
“Oli provided the creativity that made the workshop such a success. From the first time we sat down together to plan the event, through the day itself, to the debrief session afterwards, he was full of ideas, contacts and positive energy. It is a real challenge to hold a room full of big personalities – and to help them think afresh about controversial ideas – but Oli made it look easy. We all enjoyed working with him on this, and look forward to future projects.” Jonathan Heawood, Founding Director, The IMPRESS Project.
“We asked Oli Barrett to chair our inaugural discussion about how the IOD can bring the worlds of big business and startups closer together, to benefit both sides and to spur the economy.
Oli chaired a opinionated panel spanning the very different corporate and startup perspectives. He masterfully and sensitively fostered a brilliant and lively debate – not only amongst the panellists but also including the diverse and often outspoken audience. He ensured the discussion had pace and breadth and drew out different strands of opinion.
He is superb at what he does, a consummate professional and pleasure to work with. He also has a talent for turning the thorniest debates into lively, enjoyable and constructive conversations from which everyone learns a great deal. I cannot recommend him too highly.”
Simon Walker, Director General, Institute of Directors
From chairing panels, speaking at and being master of ceremonies at various events with Bright Network. (September 2013)
“Does it get any better than having your event hosted by Oli? We think not! With over 200 blue-chip clients and the very best candidates, it’s critical we get our events 100% spot on.
Oli has hosted four Bright Network events in the last 18 months – ranging in size from 60 to 2000 people. Oli is a simply a superb moderator and panellist – witty, engaging and full of charisma – he has a natural ability to bring any room of people to life. He’s also exceptionally professional and is nothing but a delight to work with.
We look forward to having Oli host many more successful events in the future.”
From chairing of EO (The Entrepreneurs’ Organization) event at Standard Chartered Bank in London;
“Thank you for Moderating our EO Event at Standard Chartered Bank – ‘Banks and Entrepreneurs, Friends or Foes’ last month. You led the panel discussion so skilfully and with such charm and a good deal of humour! Having taken the time to meet with all five members of our panel, your insightful introduction on the night and your ability to ask the tough questions, ensured that you effectively challenged them much to the delight of our EO audience.”
“We are most grateful to you for contributing to the success of our event and thank you for your support of EO.”
“We needed someone who could front The Big Conversation at The World Skills and create a totally unique experience. All we needed was someone who could gel a diverse audience of young students, apprenticeships, business leaders and guests, have enough gravitas to make the serious point about Work Inspiration but do it in a way that made people feel relaxed and inspired and contribute fully whoever they were. Someone who could get young people to interview unknown CEO’s and make this one of the most enjoyable and memorable things they had done, but also keep to time, front interviews that no one really knew would work, be flexible enough to change sessions almost mid way, and to have enough energy to power Excel. And of course Oli was the person to do the job and he was astonishingly brilliant at it!”
Gail Greengross LVO, Communications Director, Business in the Community.
From launch event of A Good Week
“A Very Good Company commissioned Oli to chair our debate into ‘What Good Means’ for the launch of A Good Week. He held the event narrative together with humour, wit and insight, we’d recommend him to everyone we know. It’s rare to find a speaker and/or chair who connects with an audience on such a level. Without a doubt, Oli Barrett is an exceptional speaker who effortlessly engages diverse audiences”.
Natalie Campbell, founder, A Very Good Company.
From Speed Mentoring event, designed and facilitated for NABS -National Advertising Benevolent Society – (2010-2014)
“Thanks to Oli Barrett and the Cospa team, the advertising industry’s first ever Speed Mentoring event was a huge success. His leadership and motivational skills encouraged a broad mix of delegates to trial a new format in business networking with 20 mentors and 100 mentees asking questions across a breadth of subjects in timed breakouts. Feedback from the evening included plaudits from Tim Brooks (Media Guardian) Moray Maclennan (global CEO at M&C Saatchi) and many others commenting on the breadth of questions and fresh insights gained by all. Oli’s facilitation of the evening was a key catalyst ensuring the right balance of socializing and learning.” Chief Executive, NABS
From Facilitation work with the British Council
“From 20-25 June 2010 as Master of Ceremonies for the British Council’s Transatlantic Network 2020 summit in Chicago, Oli struck the perfect note. Managing a group of 100 people is difficult under any circumstances, especially one as diverse as the members of TN2020. Oli managed them incredibly well during a 6 day long, challenging, multi-dimensional programme. He is personable, flexible, willing, and highly competent – in short, he did a terrific job, as feedback from the TN2020 members themselves attests. We highly recommend Oli, and would not hesitate to work with him in the future.”
‘Oli Barrett was an important element and driver of the activities and the moments of this summit’
‘The summit wouldn’t have been the same without his energy – he really embodied the spirit of TN2020 – he was so approachable and sweet!’
‘Oli Barrett was a fantastic facilitator’
‘Oli really made the difference and to me contributed to make the magic happen during this week. His positive energy, his humbleness, his expertise and skills allowed us to connect on a very human level; he managed to make us feel equal and optimistic and curious about one another, which is what a facilitator must do. I learnt a great, great deal watching him and talking to him and I will definitely use some tricks he came with during the sessions. Thanks Oli ’
From WebMission (trade mission to San Francisco)
“Web Mission was a tremendously valuable and insightful week, packed with an agenda that led some of the UK’s most exciting B2B web & mobile companies to the global hub of our industry. Oli planned and directed the mission with extreme professionalism and purpose and ensured that we all maximized the many opportunities that greeted us on the trip. Oli’s drive is inspiring, his energy levels contagious and his rolodex the envy of many an entrepreneur! Oli is the Richard Branson of networking and he is relentlessly dedicated to, and unerringly successful at, making great things happen at work.”
David Cruickshank, Co-founder of Business IT Online
From Clean and Cool Mission
“Oli was a fantastic communicator and a real asset to have on the Clean and Cool Mission. He not only helped our team socialise, but has followed up after the event with valuable connections and insights.”
Gavin Starks, Founder and CEO, AMEE
From Compering and Speed Networking Hosting;
“Oli compered an event for the Entrepreneurs’ Organization in support of Global Entrepreneurship Week. Without a doubt he was a huge contributor to the success of the event. He struck the perfect balance of humour, thought-provoking questioning of our panelists, and encouraging audience participation. I wouldn’t hesitate to use Oli again, and recommend him unreservedly!”
“Everywhere he goes, people know Oli. It’s astounding. It is easy to assume this is because Oli is officially the ‘most connected man in Britain’, and this may be true. But it’s more than that. Oli is the consumate networking professional: highly personnable; thoroughly engaging; immensely entertaining; and, through noteable research and education, incredibly thought-provoking. Whether as a connection-maker, compere, key-note speaker or ‘man with ideas’, Oli is someone everyone should know. And most do.”
Simon Lewis, founder, Only Marketing Jobs
From hosting Speed Networking at a major Government event;
“At Civil Service Live Oli Barrett provided powerful networking opportunities over the three days. Some delegates and visitors said this was the most valuable feature of the event. Oli’s professionalism, advice, contagious enthusiasm and intelligent understanding of his audiences’ needs and objectives means he really does make networking happen for anyone.
Oli’s creates an environment that breaks down barriers both across groups and roles. The most senior engaging with the most junior, making sure the conversations were always lively and engaging.
We would like to thank him for his important input to this high profile event. I would recommend any organisation wishing to get there audience to network to use Oli Barrett.”
Kevin Sorkin, Managing Director, Civil Service Live
From designing and facilitating events with UpRising (the leadership programme for 16-25 yr olds);
“Oli Barrett provides a unique, high energy and focused approach to facilitation. He delivered two of UpRising’s most successful events – one with senior transatlantic leaders and the other with national business. Oli’s ability to get two sets of people who traditionally do not interact with one another into meaningful dialogue in a short space of time is exceptional. UpRising is very much looking forward to working with Oli to ensure its emerging leaders engage with senior decision makers in new and exciting ways”.
From Advisory Board membership of NewCo London (2016);
“I have had the privilege and pleasure of working with Oli Barrett for two years, collaborating on NewCo (formerly known as OpenCo).
Oli joined us to MC our second kick-off event, following an introduction I asked for having seen him on stage at a TLA event. We knew we wanted something different and dynamic that would bring to life NewCo’s philosophy and ethos – an authentic, informal event that takes you behind the scenes of a city’s creative and innovation economy.
Oli helped develop and design the kick-off event format (which we have now used for the second time). He then brilliantly hosted it with his witty style and unique ability to make any speaker and guest feel welcome, and the whole event feel inclusive and vibrant. Anyone that attended one of these sessions was raving about Oli and the format.
Moreover, Oli opened his vast and sought-after network to us, helping us get in front of some of the city’s most influential people, most innovative companies, and London’s movers and shakers. His involvement helped take NewCo to the next level.
On a personal note, it has been a remarkably positive experience working with someone as professional, energetic, involved and dedicated as Oli.”
Ella Goldner, NewCo London.
“You give far more than life changing introductions. You excite people and make people think differently about things. You listen to people and really get to know them (which is rare) so that the introductions are/will be beneficial to both parties (you don’t just intro anyone to anyone!). You take time to make introductions so when that introduction from Oli Barrett comes through, you know you need to take notice. All this means, that when you do get introduced to that life changing person, it is even more valuable as you’re ready for it. You make people realise their passions and teaching people to go for what they want, not just what’s on offer!”
“Oli is the kind of person who’ll never be replaced by an AI. His genuine desire to help (one of the rarest qualities in it’s purest form) means he’s built an unrivaled network of leaders in a diverse range of fields right across the globe. For Oli, making connections is an art-form, driving together the right people to make an impact. Having been the beneficiary of several of Oli’s introductions I can safely say that there is no one better at getting a reply. His connections and wisdom have been utterly integral in helping Young Founders to deliver the ‘life-changing education’ we do. I often joke that there’s never more than two degrees of separation between Oli and anyone in London - to be honest though, I wouldn’t be surprised if it were actually the case!”
“Oli Barrett isn’t just a well connected man, he’s a man who has an eye for a life-changing connection (for me this includes my wife, who I met through Oli). His brain is wired to spot people who could do transformational work together and he generously puts them in touch. This is a skill that blends a brand knowledge of business, industry and politics with an extensive network and an intuitive sense of strategy. Very few people could pull this off. If only we could build an AI system to combine networks, strategy and generosity – until that day we are all best off in the company of Oli Barrett.”
“There’s no doubt Oli’s contact book is brimming, but what makes him so unique is what he does with those names and numbers and how he skilfully connects people. Every introduction Oli makes is thoughtful, purposeful and at times, life-changing. And that is because he has that rare talent of genuinely listening to people and understanding what they really need or want from life. So when Oli makes an introduction you listen, because you never know where it may take you.”
“I’ve actually lost count of the number of life changing connections Oli Barrett has made for me. From inspirational entrepreneurs and friends like Tom Ball and Simon Campbell through to captains of industry like David Thomlinson and even a number of my former employers such as Pearson. Oli Barrett is the very personification of the power of connectivity.”
To explore working together, please contact me here.
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