Margaret Heffernan

Business Author, Financial Times and Huffington Post Columnist, Mentor and TED Speaker

The maverick business thinker showing business how to navigate uncertainty and overcome their blind spots


Margaret Heffernan is a charismatic and authoritative speaker who takes little at face value and regularly challenges received wisdom. With an unerring ability to highlight the talent that often lies underutilised in organisations, this five-time CEO and six-time author consistently questions common business practices in ways and from angles that never fail to surprise. Her aim? To show organisations how to ‘get out of their own way’ and release the talent already in their ranks.  

Originally a producer for the BBC, Margaret moved to the US in the 1980s where she became a renowned media executive through her work at The Learning Company, Standard & Poor’s, and others. To date she has written six books.

 Her latest, Uncharted: How to Map the Future Together, invites us to adapt to a world in which uncertainty is now the default rather than the exception. It could not be more timely as Covid19, Brexit, AI and other volatile forces bring unprecedented disruption to lives and businesses across the globe. 

Among her other roles, Margaret is a Professor of Practice at the University of Bath, Lead Faculty for the Forward Institute’s Responsible Leadership Programme and, through Merryck & Co., she mentors CEOs and senior executives of major global organizations. She also writes for the Financial Times and Huffington Post.

She was shortlisted for a Thinkers50 Strategy Thinking Award in September 2021.


Disruption:  Uncertainty is the ‘new normal’.  

With business’ ability to predict accurately being increasingly curtailed by myriad disruptive forces (such as Covid19, AI, climate change) leaders need to understand that uncertainty is here to stay. In this powerful keynote, Margaret illustrates the tools and approaches leaders need to adopt in order to navigate the ‘new normal’ with confidence and purpose.  

Leadership:  The Future of Leadership. 

Leaders used to run their organizations with a 3 step process: forecast/plan/execute–and for decades, it worked well enough. But now that the future is uncertain, stakeholders demand participation, transparency and long-term thinking, which crucially, feels harder than ever. In an age of ambiguity and anxiety, what are the crucial skills and characteristics that leaders must have? What is their relationship to experts, to stakeholders, to the world at large. Where will we find such leaders and what kind of development will they require?

Business Strategy:  The End of Efficiency. 

Since the Industrial Revolution, people and processes have been managed for efficiency: bigger, faster, cheaper. Technology optimises for efficiency too. It is the watchword of management everywhere.

But while efficiency delivers tangible benefits in complicated environments, it plays havoc with complex ones. Being able to distinguish the difference between the two, knowing when efficiency is safe and when it’s dangerous, has never been more critical. Get it wrong and companies risk spending too much, amplifying endemic risks or missing huge opportunities to innovate. In today’s organizations, being too efficient is as dangerous as being spendthrift. How can you tell when efficiency is your friendor a foe?


You may want to go deeper with your audience. Masterclasses can be tailored and developed to suit your audience needs, be it a 90-minute Masterclass, a half-day or full-day workshop or a full online or face-to-face programme. Please contact one of our expert team to discuss.

The Uncharted Journey
CEO, TED speaker and business thinker Margaret Heffernan has designed this Masterclass in collaboration with Personally Speaking based on her latest book Uncharted: How to Map the Future Together.





“Margaret delivered a colourful and engaging masterclass to a sold out session here in the IMI. She discussed how deceptively small measures can have a disproportionate impact on building a strong, sustainable organisational culture. Here at the IMI, we look at successful events on the number of fronts and audience participation is key. The Q&A session with Margaret was our best yet.” – David Magee, IMI

“Margaret was brilliant, very approachable and positive. Plus, she delivered an incredible presentation. Please pass along our appreciation, along with her average score from the audience:  8.82/10 – amazing score & great presentation. Very inspiring!” Excellence Summit

“Margaret was fabulous, a great storyteller with practical tips.  She was one of the highest rated speakers of the event.” LINKAGE (USA)

“We owe YOU a huge thank you. Your session was definitely the highlight of the day – everyone was so engaged and then talking about it at the drinks later on having received their books – inspiring stuff. We were very pleased with how the day went.” PWC (London)

“Your presentation was excellent, very well received by the teams, at all levels. I personally loved it. It very much resonated with me, and everyone could take something back to their day to day life, reflect and hopefully make some changes that would be beneficial to all. During all the many presentations we had at L@L, every single GSK presenter from Legal referred to your presentation! Thanks again. It was a pleasure to listen to you.” SK (London)

“As you can tell from the attached evaluation summary, those in the room were really engaged.  They benefitted from not only from the stories you shared, but also those you encouraged in the room from each other.  Everyone was able to take something away to use and develop back at their organisations and Trusts.  I couldn’t have asked for more from a masterclass.” KKS ACADEMY

“Margaret’s contribution at our annual strategic offsite was outstanding – we could not have wished for a more thought provoking and insightful presentation. We had expected that she would hit some of the topics that we have built our change initiatives around – but little did we expect that our approaches would be this close. Our colleagues who were there also agreed with the majority rating her session as the one of the most valuable of our offsite.” – Allianz Global Investors

“The feedback for Margaret was fantastic, delegates really got a lot out of what she said, and how she said it! Content was fantastic, I think that Margaret related to the brief really well but crucially brought the fantastic external perspective that we were looking for. When it came to the panel I think that Margaret was a brilliant asset and brought a huge amount to the table.” Aisling Lewis, MPD Leader, Procter & Gamble

“I was chatting to a couple of chief executives at the end of the conference, and both unprompted commented that yours was the most stimulating session, and the one that got them thinking the most.” – Joe Simpson, Principal Strategic Advisor, Local Government Association

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