Business Matters: Five years of ‘Big Picture’ talks from the top

Influential figures from the worlds of industry, commerce, economics, professional coaching and media have been giving their 'tips from the top' as part of the Big Picture seminar series.

Run by the university's Business School, these popular events have covered a wide and fascinating range of topics, appealing not only to Greenwich staff and students, but to the wider public too.

Over the past five years, figures such as Sir John Armitt, Chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authority for London 2012, Dominic Fry, Director of Communications at Marks & Spencer, and Colleen Harris, a former Royal Press Secretary, have been sharing their expert views and first-hand accounts, giving insights into the 'bigger picture' of their own industry or profession.

Around fifty Big Picture events have taken place, attracting several thousand attendees. Seminar subjects have covered entrepreneurship, leadership and management, psychology, branding and reputation, transforming town centres and maximising one's business performance, among many others.

As one of London's leading business schools, we specialise in adding value to people's lives and careers through the power of education, and the Big Picture series has certainly had a key role to play


"As one of London's leading business schools, we specialise in adding value to people's lives and careers through the power of education, and the Big Picture series has certainly had a key role to play," says Jon Sibson, Pro Vice-Chancellor for the Business School.

"The seminars have been a hit with students from day one, giving them a rare opportunity to hear first-hand, personal accounts from those who have achieved extraordinary things in their careers. I'm sure that many of Greenwich's business stars of the future have been inspired by our speakers, and some may well return to share with us the secrets of their own successes, and to show us what lessons have shaped their own careers."

The talks are also one of the ways in which the university plays an important role serving the local community. Throughout the year, Greenwich opens its doors to the public, inviting people in to enjoy its galleries, theatre spaces and concerts, as well as its various public lectures.

From Olympic success to the digital revolution …

Jane Howard, communications and public relations expert

In one of the earliest Big Picture seminars, back in 2012, the Chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authority, Sir John Armitt, gave insights into how the London Games were delivered so successfully. He explained how event production and delivery, project management, marketing, PR, logistics and financial management all had to come together at the right time.

Award-winning communications and public relations expert Jane Howard has shared her expertise on the importance of reputation and branding to corporate success.

Trevor Goul-Wheeker, a Greenwich alumnus who is the Chairman of Blackwell's bookshop, discussed how the 'digital revolution' has created both the biggest threat and opportunity for business so far, and how to stay ahead when rapid change is all around.

Sylvia Marshall, one of the UK's leading entrepreneurs, and also a Greenwich graduate, gave advice on how to launch a business, telling the story of how she made her company,, into a global market leader.

… and from Starbucks to the royals, and the magic of mess

A taste of corporate life at the world's largest coffeehouse company was served up to students by the legal chief of Starbucks UK and Ireland, Adrian Thurston.

Colleen Harris, a communications professional and writer, gave insights from her three decades of devising strategies for government ministers, the royal family and a range of organisations. She has served as Press Secretary to the Prince of Wales, Prince William and Prince Harry, and as a Senior Press Officer to Baroness Thatcher.

Award-winning Guardian writer Zoe Williams gave a talk on activism and journalism, while Myles Downey, one of the UK's leading business coaches, spoke on the concept of 'genius' – and how we can all become one!

Tim Harford, Financial Times

Nic Vine, author, lecturer, project manager and strategist, described how we can all make change happen, either as individuals or in groups. Tim Harford, senior columnist for the Financial Times, recently made the case for leading 'messier lives', and explained why a little mess strengthens our responsiveness, resilience and creativity.

High-profile speakers

Other names to feature in the Big Picture seminar series over the past five years include:

  • Colin Byrne, Chief Executive Officer of global PR agency Weber Shandwick
  • Ian Harwood, City economist
  • Nick Raynsford, former MP
  • Dr Michelle Harrison, government advisor
  • The late Michael Meacher, former MP
  • Andy Parfitt, former Radio 1 Controller and Executive Director for Saatchi & Saatchi
  • Kate Tonge, Head of Marketing and Communications at the College of Policing
  • Peter Day, BBC presenter and reporter
  • Bart Nooteboom, Emeritus Professor of Innovation
  • Christian May, Editor-in-Chief of London newspaper City A.M.

Business School

The university's Business School has a reputation for attracting high-quality academic staff and students from all over the world. It enjoys strong links with industry and has invested heavily in helping its students move into good careers after graduation. This investment includes the Greenwich Employability Passport and the mentoring scheme, both of which are reaping rewards.

Its degree programmes combine expert, energetic teaching with work placements, business simulations and guest lectures. It has a strong research base and a thriving student community. Sector professionals are involved in developing content and teaching on various courses.

The School influences and enhances business policy and practice, with research programmes that focus on eight key areas: social network analysis; supply chain management; political economy; work and employment; organisational behaviour; governance, risk and accountability; public services, and tourism.

Launching careers

Colin Byrne
Colin Byrne, Chief Executive Officer of  Weber Shandwick

The Business School has developed strong relations with companies in the financial centres in London, including those in Canary Wharf, the City and Fenchurch Street. Students enjoy a range of networking, mentoring and internship opportunities, helping to give them the best possible starts to their careers.

Students can also reach out to top employers through the dedicated Business School Employability Office (BSEO). This team focuses on developing employment skills through CV support, interview workshops and guidance with mentors. Students can also network with employers and recruiters at career fairs and other events.

Other public talks at Greenwich

The university attracts leading speakers on a wide range of subjects throughout the year. Many events are free to attend and open to the public.

The current series of talks include the following:

All events are free to attend.

To find out more

To find out more about studying with the Business School:, email or call 020 8331 9000.