Futurist speaker

Tom Cheesewright

Futurist speaker Tom Cheesewright is one of the UK’s leading commentators on technology and tomorrow.

Tom has worked with a huge range of organisations across a variety of markets, to help them to see a clear vision of tomorrow, share that vision and respond with agility.

Tom draws on his experience to create original, compelling talks that are keyed to the experience of the audience but which surprise and shock with unexpected facts and examples.

Tom helps audiences understand the forces that are shaping the future right now. And he points them to clues that they can use to help them see their own futures, personally and for their organisations.


Describe what you were like at school in three words?

Mostly well behaved…

What’s the best thing about Manchester?

Its size. It’s small enough to get your arms around. You can feel like you know the city pretty well. And there’s a tight-knit business community who support each other. But it’s also big. It’s packed with diversity of thought, culture, food, style, music and more. There’s lots to explore and a real sense of vibrancy from that diversity.

What has been your biggest disappointment?

The company who bought my first business going bust. I didn’t look hard enough at their finances. After a year or so of working there I started to get suspicious and left when I couldn’t get answers to my questions. It shut down about a year later owing me a good chunk of money. But worse than the money was the loss of control and then the collapse of what I’d built. It took me months to get over that.

How do you relax?

make things. As a child, I thought I wanted to be an engineer. But I struggled with the maths and the detail at university and found that I loved writing (and talking). Later in life I have come back to engineering and now have a little workshop filled with projects: robots, sensors, radio controlled boats etc. I get the same joy from cooking, which is really just applied science with an edible output.

The soundtrack to your life. Which song?

On a good day, Unfinished Sympathy by Massive Attack. I know, it’s such an obvious choice for someone of my generation. A cliche. But I’ve heard it in so many important contexts in my life from clubs to dinner parties that it is lodged in my brain as an important song. On a bad day, Fade Into You by Mazzy Star.

If you could go back in time, where would you go?

Right now I would have to say The Royal Institution in the age of Faraday and Davy, so the early 1800s. This is where some of our most critical scientific discoveries were made and first demonstrated. I’ve had the pleasure of speaking there a couple of times now and I’m back there next week. Every time it is a huge thrill and a privilege.

What’s your most over-used phrase?

“High frequency change.” Yes, this is a naked plug as it is the title of my first book. But it influences so much of what I do, this shared sense we have that change happens faster now, and the real reasons behind it.

What advice would you give to your 15 year-old self?

“Be prepared to take the wheel.” After your GCSEs you have to take control of your own life for the first time and stop just following the tracks laid down for you by your parents and the system. It comes at a time when most of us are still figuring out who we are. I’m not sure I really nailed that down for at least another ten years. Things have turned out very well and I wouldn’t change anything. But I could have done a lot better academically if I had stepped up and taken responsibility a little earlier.

Roast Dinner or Fish ‘n’ Chips?

Can I have both? I am a glutton. If not, then narrowly the roast dinner.

Rolling Stones or The Beatles?

The Stones every time. Just so much cooler.

Red or Blue?

Dangerous question! But if I’m going to watch football, then they’re usually in white…