Sir Kenneth Olisa’s career started as a salesman at IBM after he won a scholarship whilst studying at Fitzwilliam College, University of Cambridge. Ken would return to the University in 2013 to endow the Olisa Library alongside his wife Julia.
After three years at IBM, he started work at Wang Laboratories where he carried out a number of different roles including the Marketing Director for Europe and then on to the Vice President of US Marketing and then of Worldwide Marketing, based in Boston, and then Senior Vice President and General Manager of Europe, Africa and the Middle East (EAME) located in Brussels. After an unsuccessful management buyout in 1992, he left the company and founded the technology merchant bank Interregum, which he ran until 2006.
Sir Kenneth Olisa OBE – Entrepreneur
He went on to run Restoration Partners, as well as preside as Chairman for a number of companies including Interswitch, Thebes Group, Alitam, Proxcymity, Positive Transformation Initiative, and Independent Audit Limited. He has also served for a number of private companies including BioWisom, Prevx, Independent Audit and Metapraxis.
Sir Kenneth Olisa OBE – Businessman
Ken has immense experience at public company board level for companies based in Europe and further afield. He was the first British-born black man to serve on the board of a major UK public company with Reuters, and is a former non-executive director of Thomson Reuters. He was then a Director and Chairman of the Remuneration Committee of Canada’s largest independent software developer, Open Text Corporation. In 2018, Ken was appointed as the Director on the board of Huawei, a Chinese multinational networking, telecommunications equipment and services company, a post he kept until early 2022.
Sir Kenneth Olisa OBE – Awards and Recognition
Ken’s experience and achievements have granted him many honours and accolades through the years. He was awarded an OBE in 2010, and then a Knighthood by Her Majesty The Queen in 2018 for his services to business and philanthropy.
He was elected as a Fellow of the British Computer Society in 2006, appointed the Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London in 2015, and was awarded honorary doctorates from Kingston University and Nottingham Trent University in 2018 and from the University of Worcester in 2019. He is a Freeman of the City of London, Liveryman and Past Master of the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists. He was an original member of the Postal Services Commission (PostComm) and the Independent Parliamentary Standard Authority (IPSA). In 2021, he was appointed High Bailiff and Searcher of the Sanctuary of Westminster Abbey.
Sir Kenneth Olisa OBE – Charitable Work
As well as his work with industry specialists, Ken has a long list of charities which he supports. He is the President of Thames Reach, a London-based charity working with those suffering from homelessness, a Chairman of the Shaw Trust which helps support people with complex needs find work, is a life fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and the Institute of Directors, works alongside School-Home Support (SHS) which helps disadvantaged children overcome barriers to education such as poverty, the Aleto Foundation which provides significant lifetime opportunities for young people, the Black Cultural Archives which aims to preserve and celebrate the history of people of African descent, and the charity Fore, which funds scale-up initiatives for other charities. He is also the President of London Youth, a member network of over 450 community youth organisations working across London to support young people through their sports, arts, employment and social action programmes and outdoor learning centres.
He was named the Sunday Times Not For Profit Non-Executive Director of the Year in 2009, and was named number 1 in the 2016 Powerlist’s roster of the UK’s most influential black people.
Sir Kenneth Olisa OBE – Speaker, Host & Moderator
He is a prominent man in the world of business and charity and has been the go-to host for several events including the Biz Tech Conference, and the 5th London Faith and Belief Community Awards in 2021.
Ken is one of the most powerful, relevant, and highly rated speakers available today. His masterclass session to senior management entitled ‘what they don’t teach you at business school’ have been celebrated by business leaders from all sectors.