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Biography: Richard Huntingford

Chairman of UTV Media plc; founder of Heart FM; former CEO of Chrysalis plc, and executive chairman of Virgin Radio, Richard Huntingford is one of the UK’s leading media business personalities and an experienced and inspirational business keynote speaker, specialising in entrepreneurial leadership, building new businesses, creating a company culture, motivating staff and management communication.

At Chrysalis, Richard was instrumental in the development of the company from its origins as a cutting-edge indie record label to a global media and entertainment group which, over the years, encompassed a broad range of businesses including radio, music, television, books and digital media. In the process, the company’s stock market value increased over twenty-fold from £15 million to £375 million in a 10 year period.

Specifically, Richard was responsible for creating and implementing the vision and strategy for a new, brand-led radio business capable of challenging the dominant incumbent operators. His market-led strategy combined organic and acquisition-led growth, the corner-stone for which was HEART FM which Richard founded as a green-field start-up in Birmingham in 1994. The station enjoyed immediate success and further HEART stations soon followed, including the flagship HEART 106.2 which, in a short space of time, toppled Capital Radio’s 30 year dominance of the London market-place. Sister brands GALAXY and LBC followed and met with equal success and before long the business had 450 employees delivering revenues of £65 million and profits of £15 million – all generated from an initial investment of £3 million. In July 2007, the business was bought by Global Radio for £170 million.

In September 2007, Richard was appointed Executive Chairman of Virgin Radio with a brief to develop a new business plan to enable the speedy sale of the business for its owner. In this role, he not only had to manage a challenging sale process (due to the economic downturn and the termination of the Virgin brand license from Virgin Enterprises) but also keep management and staff motivated through a very uncertain period. Richard’s business savvy and people skills led to the successful sale of the business in June 2008 to Times of India for £53 million.

Richard is now a seasoned Non-Executive Director and Chairman sitting on a number of public and private company Boards. He is currently Chairman of UTV Media plc (talkSPORT, television and digital media), NED of Creston plc,  (marketing services) and Crown Place VCT plc (venture capital investment), as well as being an investor/mentor in two early-stage businesses in the branded sportswear and digital media sectors. Previously, he was NED of Virgin Mobile plc (2005-6), prior to its acquisition by NTL, and Chairman of Boomerang Plus plc (2008-2012). In addition, he is Chairman of Prince’s Trust Trading Limited, the commercial and events arm of the Prince’s Trust, and a Governor of Radley College.

For further information or to book Richard Huntingford, call us on +44 (0)20 7607 7070 or email info@speakerscorner.co.uk

Interview with Richard Huntingford

Question:

How did the corporate speaking start?

Answer:

Having retired from full-time executive roles, I have been building a portfolio of part-time interests (Non-exec Chairman/Director, consultant/mentor roles) over the past year and it was suggested that I should add Speaking to my portfolio. Having done plenty of speaking in the past in my various CEO roles – and having always enjoyed it – I have jumped at the opportunity to bring some of my 30 year long career learning and experience (warts and all) to a wider audience.

Question:

Can you remember your first speaking engagement?

Answer:

It was at a media industry conference attended by all the seasoned established industry players in 1992, I think, when Chrysalis was just starting to throw its hat in the ring as a potential newcomer to the Radio sector. None of the audience knew who I was and seemed pretty disinterested at the prospect of me telling them anything they didn’t know already. By the end, I think many of them realised that we had some serious plans to disrupt their cosy industry “club”!

Question:

And your last event?

Answer:

Two very different events in the same week. Firstly, a speech on how to build High Performance Teams at the annual senior management conference of a FTSE 100 Property company. Secondly, the key note speech at a Charity Ball for 900 guests which raised £250,000 during the course of the evening.

Question:

Which event has been your favourite and why?

Answer:

Speaking to a radio sales executive conference held at the Royal Society – principally because I had been useless at science at school and therefore took huge pleasure in imagining how appalled my old science teacher would have been at me taking centre-stage at such a hallowed venue.

Question:

If you could speak at any event, past or future, what would it be?

Answer:

Any corporate event being held in Sydney between 3rd and 7th January, 2011 so that I can enjoy England retaining the Ashes at the same time!

Question:

Who would you most like to share a platform with?

Answer:

Bill Clinton

Question:

On average, how many times a year do you speak at corporate events?

Answer:

I hope to speak at a dozen or so events a year.

Question:

Do you use PowerPoint?

Answer:

I’m not a big fan of PowerPoint presentations but can use it if required.

Question:

Are you as happy speaking to 50 as to 1,000 people?

Answer:

Yes – happy with any size audience.

Question:

How do you like to be introduced?

Answer:

Richard Huntingford, former CEO of Chrysalis Group plc and Founder of Heart fm.

Question:

Do you always like to do a briefing call before the event?

Answer:

Yes, essential in my view if I’m to meet expectations and deliver value for the client.

Question:

What are the most asked for topics?

Answer:

Entrepreneurial leadership in a corporate organisation; building new businesses; driving business performance through customer differentiation and superior customer service; creating a culture and leadership ethos to inspire, empower and motivate staff; communication as a leadership tool; Heart FM - a brand-building success story.

Question:

Is your speech interactive with audience participation?

Answer:

I like to take plenty of questions from the audience.

Question:

Do you have any funny/embarrassing speaking anecdotes you care to share?

Answer:

Plenty – more than I’d care to remember, including many from the world of showbiz!

Question:

Your favourite film?

Answer:

Joint favourites: Chariots of Fire; Meet the Fockers

Question:

Favourite book?

Answer:

Joint favourites: The Making of Modern Britain (Andrew Marr); According to the Rolling Stones.

Question:

Favourite holiday destination?

Answer:

Sandy Lane, Barbados.

Question:

What’s your tipple – wine, beer, champagne?

Answer:

Wine – and the occasional vodka and tonic (with a slice of lime, not lemon).

Question:

Country or townie?

Answer:

Townie (in spite of growing up in Suffolk).

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