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Margaret Heffernan

Margaret Heffernan - Leadership Business Management Motivation Strategies  speaker

 About

About Margaret Heffernan - Entrepreneur, CEO, Speaker and Author of Willful Blindness:

Margaret Heffernan is an entrepreneur, Chief Executive and author. She was born in Texas, raised in Holland and educated at Cambridge University. She worked in BBC Radio for five years where she wrote, directed, produced and commissioned dozens of 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. She designed and executive produced a thirteen part series on The French Revolution for the BBC and A&E. The series featured, among others, Alan Rickman, Alfred Molina, Janet Suzman, Simon Callow and Jim Broadbent and introduced both historian Simon Schama and playwright Peter Barnes to British television. She 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."

In 1994, she returned to the United States where she worked on public affair campaigns in Massachusetts and with software companies trying to break into multimedia. She developed interactive multimedia products with Peter Lynch, Tom Peters, Standard & Poors and The Learning Company.

She then joined CMGI where she ran, bought and sold leading Internet businesses, serving as Chief Executive Officer for InfoMation Corporation, ZineZone Corporation and iCAST Corporation.

She was named one of the Internet's Top 100 by Silicon Alley Reporter in 1999, one of the Top 25 by Streaming Media magazine and one of the Top 100 Media Executives by The Hollywood Reporter. Her "Tear Down the Wall" campaign against AOL won the 2001 Silver SABRE award for public relations.

Her third book, Wilful Blindness (Simon&Schuster in the UK, Bloomsbury in the US and Doubleday in Canada) was a finalist for the Financial Times/Goldman Sachs Best Business Book award. Her most recent book A Bigger Prize (Simon&Schuster in the UK, Public Affairs in the US and Doubleday in Canada) is published in spring 2014. She is a Trustee of the London Library and sits on the Council of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art as well as one the boards of several private companies. Margaret blogs for the Huffington Post in the US and the UK, for CBSMoneywatch and for Inc.com.

She was featured on television in The Secret Millionaire and on BBC Radio 4 in Changing the Rules, which won the 2008 Prowess Media Award. She has had three plays broadcast by the BBC and in 2011 has been awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Bath. She mentors senior executives and contributes to corporate conferences around the world. She is married with two children.

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 Topics

The One Firm, Firm

After years of streamlining and hunkering down to weather the crises, what companies now most need to do is pull their people together. Collaboration and innovation are vital skills in global business but where do they come from? How do leading companies get the alignment, trust and energy they need to get their people to work well together? What are the impediments to, and habits of, creative collaborative teams?

Working across cultures, time zones and technology is logistically difficult but it's usually the human factors that make it hard for companies to achieve their aims. Everyone talks about collaboration but few know how to do it, what it feels like or what organizational structures enable or disable it. What they all know is that if they can't figure out how to do it, others will.

In this presentation you will learn:

  • The meaning and characteristics of collective intelligence;
  • The business case for collaboration;
  • Incentives that make people pull together;
  • What gets in the way of teamwork; and
  • How great leadership teams function.

Two For One: Seeing Risks/Seizing Opportunity

Big data, market research, social media: we can know more than ever and yet we keep missing the most important trends, information and trends. Why? What makes companies and individuals willfully blind?

Pulling together a century of psychological, industrial and economic research, Margaret Heffernan argues that willful blindness is the biggest risk most organizations face. But the good news is that those companies that confront the issue don't just reduce their risk; they also make themselves inherently more creative and collaborative. It's a twofer: when you see more, you can make more and risk less.

In this provocative presentation, you will learn:

  • What blinds companies to their risks;
  • Why most employees don't share their knowledge;
  • How companies can kill creativity or stoke it;
  • The power of noticing and acting on what you see; and
  • How diversity can make companies smarter.
How She Does It

The numbers are staggering. Between 1997 and 2004, privately held, women-owned businesses grew at three times the rate of all American privately held firms; women's companies are creating jobs at twice the rate of all firms; women's companies are growing profits faster than all firms. Five-time CEO and contributor to Real Business and Fast Company Margaret Heffernan asks, Why are these women so successful?

In How She Does It, Heffernan finds a striking congruence between the things that women excel at and the demands of the new economy. After interviewing hundreds of women running businesses of all sizes and in all markets, she discovers a few attributes that hold true across the board. Women have a tremendous need to achieve. Women don't feel they have a safety net or can turn back. They are smart about markets and timing. They practice diversity. They place values at the heart of their business and take culture very seriously. And women work from a different concept of power than men. The result is a unique style of leadership that challenges conventional wisdom: Soft skills are getting hard results. This is an inspiring workplace manifesto that reveals a new standard of excellence, a new way for any company to get from good to great that is fast becoming the new norm.

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 Recent Publications

People are still talking about the conference! As the closing presenter, Margaret Heffernan had a full house and a captive audience. She delivered a very thought-provoking and engaging talk.

Society for Human Resource Management

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