Baroness Eliza Manningham-Buller
Former Director General,
The ascent of Eliza Manningham-Buller’s career to its peak is colourful and impressive. As a keynote speaker whose professional background lies in Britain’s Security Service, the content she delivers is rich with insights into security, terrorism and leadership. As its former Director General, Eliza sat at the helm of MI5 from 2002 until her retirement in 2007. During that turbulent time, she guided and transformed the organization in the wake of 9/11 and the mounting threat from Al-Qaeda: as well as doubling its size and opening eight new offices, she revolutionized its approach to the development of its staff by setting up a training academy. In her speeches, she draws on her experience operating in extraordinarily high pressure environments to advise on how leaders can be transparent and open to criticism while retaining a confident vision and strategy for the future. Adjustments such as taking responsibility, giving praise and using humour can make all the difference to your team. Eliza’s main work has been in international and domestic counter-terrorism. Since joining in 1974 (following a stint as a teacher), she took the reins of MI5’s investigation into the Lockerbie bombing by Libya in 1988 and set up Britain’s intelligence effort against the Provisional IRA after serving in Washington during the first Gulf war. In the early 1980s, she was one of only five people who knew that Oleg Gordievsky, the deputy head of the KGB at the Soviet embassy in London, was actually a double agent. After being promoted to the board, she was eventually entrusted with the enormous responsibility of Irish terrorism, which included surveillance, finance and IT, and technical issues. Eliza’s impressive undertaking led her to become Deputy Director General in charge of intelligence operations in 1997. Eliza is a cross-bench Peer and a Governor of the Wellcome Trust, one of the world’s largest non-governmental fund providers for scientific research. She also delivered the prestigious BBC Reith Lectures, alongside the Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Armed with the gravitas and knowledge of a prosperous and unique career, Eliza galvanizes business leaders to engage in honest dialogue and to invest in their employees if their organisations are to prosper even during the tensest of times.