Ed Gillespie is a writer, communications specialist, serial entrepreneur and futurist. He is the author of ‘Only Planet – a flight-free adventure around the world’ a book about his circumnavigation of the globe without getting on a plane, which the Independent said “Allow[s] the world’s flaws and beauty to seep into your soul”. Ed’s core talent is to take the complex, interconnected, interdependent nature of the many challenges the world faces, from climate change to disruptive innovation, and make common sense of them for non-specialist audiences.
Currently Ed’s focus is using his twenty five years of experience to help organisations rapidly understand the post-pandemic world. This will involve ‘unlearning’ the mistakes of the past, asking the right (often awkward!) questions, and moving beyond the discomfort of today into being the better, more resilient, responsible and sustainable businesses and organisations of tomorrow.
Ed co-presents two leading podcasts, ‘The Great Humbling’ with Dougald Hine, and ‘Jon Richardson and the Futurenauts – Book of Revelations’ with comedian Jon Richardson and fellow reluctant futurist Mark Stevenson.
Ed was the co-founder of Futerra, a change agency that specialises in business transformation and creative communications and campaigns. For almost two decades Futerra has become internationally renowned for its influential and award-winning work on some of the biggest corporate sustainability initiatives. Ed was the ‘father’ of the business, cooking regularly for his colleagues, curating annual company away-days for the global team and holding the ‘soul’ of the company. Ed left the business in early 2019 to pursue other opportunities in public speaking, responsible leadership and purpose-led disruptive start-up businesses, having become frustrated with the sometimes constraining cage of consultancy.
Professionally Ed is known for his own unique brand of authentic ‘insultancy’ – being strategically and playfully cheeky to clients, with judicious wit and wisdom to inspire them to greater heights and aspirations. He is highly adaptable, constructively challenging and pushes audience assumptions of business as usual, opening minds then mapping possible practical solutions and opportunities.
Ed is a lead facilitator with the Forward Institute where we works on responsible leadership with 40 of the UK’s biggest institutions, a Director of Greenpeace UK, a Trustee of Ecolibrium and Chief Futurist at the Global Destination Sustainability Movement.
Ed is actively involved in a number of pioneering ethical businesses as a Director or Investor, from Demand Logic – a ‘fitbit’ for buildings, to Loco2.com a pan European rail-ticket agency that makes it as easy to book a trans-continental train as a plane (now rebranded as Rail Europe after being sold to SNCF in 2017). Others include Common Objective (ethical fashion), Urgentem (carbon transition catalysts), Bennaman (alternative fuels), Panda Packaging (bamboo based products), Piclo (new electricity networks), Bennamann (methane biofuels), Small Robot Company (agricultural technology), Raw Bottles (metal water bottles) and Breakroom (job comparison service for frontline workers).
Aside from contributing regularly to a range of media from the BBC to the Guardian, the Ecologist to Conde Nast Traveller, Ed is a sought-after speaker, event host, lively compere and trusted Chairperson, renowned for his entertaining presentations laced with thoughtful insights, trends and humour. Since 2001, he has presented all over the world, giving dozens of talks a year from Hong Kong to Bratislava, Korea to Auckland. And he’s been heard by every kind of audience, from the UN and national governments, to multi-national corporations and global associations. He’s even dabbled with stand-up comedy to enhance his presentational and engagement skills.
His recent clients include The World Bank, KPMG, MACE & CityWire and speaking engagements include giving the inaugural ‘Bonn Speech’ on Global Transformation for the German Government, a keynote on ‘Fixing the Future’ in Barcelona, ‘Climate of Disruption’ on climate change and disruptive innovation for Schroders in Belgium, and an interview with a leading Spanish newspaper for this film.
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