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Keynote Speaker

Matthew Syed

Matthew was England’s top table tennis player for more than a decade. He’s now best known as author of the bestsellers Bouncmatthew syed 2019e, Black Box Thinking  Matthew challenges organisations to avoid institutionalism and open themselves up to change. Feedback should be shared with everybody. Just as the entire aviation industry learns from each aircraft’s black box after an incident, failure should become an opportunity to adapt and grow. That sense of openness can also see innovation and improvements arise from anywhere.

Syed has worked as a commentator for the BBC and Eurosport, and as a journalist for The Times since 1999. He is a regular pundit on radio and television, commentating on sporting, cultural and political issues.

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Matthew Syed is one of the world’s most influential thinkers on the science of high performance. But more than that, he’s a fantastic storyteller. His regular columns in The Times are a testament to his skills in getting to the human heart of a topic, seeing above and beyond the obvious. Sporting achievements are often so much more than just that - they are a triumph over adversity, an example of trial and error, teamwork, self belief, tragedy and endurance – in other words an encapsulation of life itself.

His art of taking a subject and shaking the true story out of it shines through in his award winning books – Bounce and Black Box Thinking and also in his latest book, published this year, ostensibly for children, but in many ways, equally relevant for the adults buying them, You Are Awesome.

Black Box Thinking, which will form the basis of his keynote at our session, is about how to gain an edge in a complex, rapidly changing world. It focuses on how to identify and pursue marginal gains, how to boost creativity, and argues that individuals and organisations can't excel unless they are prepared to learn from their mistakes. It also shines a light on the astonishing psychological biases that can prevent us from reaching our potential.

And it’s a book that’s had a big impact. It was the inspiration behind the creation of the Independent Health Safety Investigation Branch for the NHS, with the hugely important legally protected safe spaces for clinicians to speak up about errors.

His first book, Bounce challenged the wisdom about the primary importance of talent, painting a picture of success that emphasises purposeful practice, mindset and smart risk-taking and is now an international bestseller and used by more than a dozen FTSE100 companies.

And it’s a mindset which ties up perfectly with the ethos of Tradeshift, a rapid-growth and forward-thinking company, that we’re enormously pleased to have as our headline partner this year and who is kindly sponsoring Matthew Syed at the event.

As a sports writer he won Sports Feature Writer of the Year at the SJA Awards in 2008 and Sports Journalist of the Year at the British Press Awards in 2009. His first book, Bounce, was published by HarperCollins in May 2010; it won the 'Best New Writer' category of the British Sports Book Awards

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