An Interview with Liam Halligan
How did the corporate speaking start?
I started out in journalism on The Economist and then The Financial Times. I lived and worked in Russia during the mid-1990s, then moved back to the UK. It was only when I started at Channel Four News in 1999, though, that I came into the "public eye" if you like. I was at Channel Four News for 7 years, covering economics and business, during which period I also made quite a few "Dispatches" documentaries and began writing my "Economics Agenda" column in The Sunday Telegraph. I guess the demand for me to engage in public speaking stemmed from the on-screen TV career, but was bolstered by the fact that I developed a reputation as an independent-minded commentator on economic affairs - and somebody who could make economics "come to life". I left full-time journalism in 2006 and joined Prosperity Capital Management - an extremely interesting asset management company focused on Russia/CIS. I carried on writing my Telegraph column, though, which means I am still regularly asked to appear on TV/radio and to fulfil public speaking engagements.
Can you remember your first speaking engagement?
Wow! That's some time ago. I remember when I started at the FT, I was asked to go on a late-night panel show discussing New Labour (who were then still in opposition), and their relationship with the City of London. I really enjoyed it as the discussion was on the cusp of economics, politics and business - which is where I feel most at home, bridging these three subject areas. It was the first time I had been on national UK television, I think, but I instantly felt comfortable in a live studio, despite the tension and the bright lights.
And your last event?
I recently had the honour of hosting the main economics panel at the OECD's 50th anniversary summit in Paris. The panel line-up was superb - including some of the world's leading policy makers, from Europe, the US, India, Russia and Brazil. Panel discussions at international summits are often dull, with participants just going through the motions and very little audience participation. I have to say that this was one of the most stimulating panels I have ever been involved with - not least because it took place at a very important time for the global economy.
Which event has been your favourite and why?
I have only ever accepted public speaking engagements that I think I will enjoy, facing an audience I will learn from. This is particularly the case today - seeing as I have a very busy schedule and currently spend most of my time outside the UK. One of the most rewarding engagements I ever had was to speak to to the West Midlands branch of the Confederation of British Industry. I ended up hearing a great deal about the experiences of genuine entrepreneurs, engaged in a wide range of activities and employing dozens, in some cases hundreds of people. I made contacts that I retain and value to this day. In my view, good economics commentators have to keep their feet on the ground, and stay in touch with the "real economy", not just spend their time talking with Treasury officials or studying rows of statistics.