Gordon D'Silva OBE
If the greatest challenge to private capital in the 21st Century is the unabated rise of global inequality, then the experience of the social entrepreneur is likely to become increasingly valuable for companies that need to invest in the communities they also wish to profit from.
Gordon D'Silva OBE is a leading UK pioneer of social enterprise and social investment business models over the last 25 years who uses his keynotes to help businesses find a balance between profit and purpose.
Gordon was one of the first business figures to develop a capital assets model for charities (i.e. the acquisition and restoration of heritage buildings as a social enterprise catalyst to kick-start inward social investment in support of local neighbourhood regeneration).
Many of the social enterprise business models he innovated, for example the employment-training restaurant Hoxton Apprentice, went on to become a proto-type for many similar initiatives that followed, including Jamie Oliver’s 15 and, the Brigade. Hoxton Apprentice is one of the only Charity-run social enterprise restaurants globally to have won a Michelin Recommendation for five consecutive years.
For well over 25 years, he has worked with a range of business leaders to help come up with connected solutions to perennial societal problems that impede business interest. He has advised the UK Government and, in 2007, they adopted his proposal for a Social Stock Exchange. More recently he joined the board of a publicly listed social investment company that, since its inception in 2014 has raised approximately £160m from institutional investors. He also Chairs The Executive Coaching Consultancy.
Gordon's current focus is to help scale business innovation that is also socially responsible. He draws on his vast knowledge of social enterprise to coach business leaders and train business leaders of the future still in education but with a commitment to combine purpose with profit.
His particular interests are increasingly shaped by the paradox created between an open and connected world working in parallel to an increasingly disconnected and uncertain marketplace. This “new normal” he believes, will require citizens and business leaders to keep pace with the speed of technological change without it destabilizing their intrinsic moral and ethical anchors. The challenge of how we connect private profit with public good, shareholder value with social purpose and sustainable innovation with institutional and individual investment and social investment he believes will be one of the key challenges of our times.
Gordon was Ernst Young’s London Social Entrepreneur of the Year in 2003 and again in 2006 and national Finalist in Orange Mobile’s Entrepreneur of the Year in 2004. He is also a recipient of several honorary academic awards. In 2008 he was named as one of the UK’s top seven social entrepreneurs by the Guardian newspaper and in 2011 he received an OBE for his contribution to social entrepreneurship.
He has worked with many big corporate brands, including: Cisco Systems, Compass Group, Barclays Bank, Marks & Spencer’s and KPMP to name but a few. His strong relationships in the corporate sector illustrate his ability to work to a tailored brief and deliver clear takeaway messages to a specific sector.
His current pro bono portfolio includes business start-up and youth enterprise incubators, Impact Hub in Rome and the Do School in Germany and in New York. He also supported the launch of the International Summer School for Good Business and Social Innovation in Sardinia, Italy. He has a post graduate degree in Counseling Psychology, an honorary doctorate in Business from the University of West London and appointed Visiting Professor for Social Enterprise at the University of Northampton. Passionately European, he has recently set up a base in Brussels to work on the post Brexit arena of finding 21st Century connected solutions for 21st Century disconnected challenges.
Alongside his charity work, Gordon’s passions are now to help inject responsible and sustainable innovation through the boardroom, in business leaders and through young entrepreneur start ups. He coaches and mentors on how to strengthen performance by helping people to thrive in the workplace by dealing with head-on the challenges posed by 21st century business realities.
He is an inspiring speaker keynote speaker sharing in equal parts his successes and failures in the need to find a balance between profit with purpose.