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TEDxLBS co-chairs

TEDxLBS 2016 takes place on 29 April at the Royal Geographical Society in London. We discuss this year's event with co-chairs Sarah Durlacher, Shyam Seshadri and Tarana Shivdasani.


For those that don’t know, could you give a brief overview about TEDxLBS, and what it’s about?

TEDxLBS is an entirely student-run TEDx event. This is our 6th year, and we’re expecting over 600 attendees. We want to bring together bright minds to give talks that are idea-focused, and that span a wide range of subjects to foster learning, inspiration and wonder. It’s all about provoking conversations that matter, and to do that we engage diverse people from all over the world to share their ideas. That’s how you end up with an actress talking about her battle with alcoholism and a composer talking about creative AI (artificial intelligence) all under one roof!


What goes into planning a TEDxLBS event?

The short answer is it takes everything you’ve got! The three of us started planning this, well, the day after the last conference, which was April 2015. There is a lot of work that goes into TEDxLBS so it can be perfect on the day: from building partnerships to pursuing and working with the best speakers to branding and coordinating every minute detail on the day. We have a team of 19 people today and we’ll have an army of volunteers who will help us on the day of the event. It’s big, it can be messy, but it is certainly rewarding and a lot of fun!


CTRL ALT DEL is an excellent concept – how did you think of it?

The theme is a great example of teamwork at its best. Each year the theme is hotly debated—it shapes what speakers we pursue, what ideas we help spread, which partners fit best, etc. We wanted our theme to be one that makes you stop and think; a theme that piques your curiosity, so to speak. We use 'Ctrl Alt Del’ every day to log into our computers, to bring up task manager and even to fight off the dreaded ‘blue screen of death’, but we think Ctrl Alt Del is so much more than that. We want our audience to stop and think about different systems of life, work or society that need a reset, need a new beginning and to start the conversation about ideas of what that would look like. So, Ctrl Alt Del your expectations and make room for new ideas about transformation, innovation and achievement.


What’s the most challenging thing you’ve had to overcome so far?

Our theme has been the most challenging so far. It was a challenge for us to get it right - we want people to think past the typical things that come to mind when they think Ctrl Alt Del and think in a broader sense, what the theme means to them not just during the day of the conference, but in their own life, in their own sphere of influence.


There’s some fantastic speakers this year – which talks are you personally looking forward to?

Sarah – I am most excited about Evan McMullin, who has served for 10 years as an undercover Operations Officer with the CIA. Who wouldn’t be exited to listen to a talk from someone from the CIA! On top of that, he will be talking to us about why society and governments keep vowing “never again” to genocide, why it keeps happening. Evan will encourage us as individuals and leaders of companies to press Ctrl Alt Del on our thoughts about genocide and give us insights on how to make a difference.
Tarana – It’s definitely a hard choice, but I’d have to go with Ed Rex, a composer and entrepreneur who is going to talk about whether computers can be creative. His topic forces you to rethink or Ctrl Alt Del (see what I did there?!) your understanding of creativity, and whether it is truly an innately human function. In short, lots of food for thought about how AI can transform our lives, yet again.

Shyam – I’m really excited about Daniel Robaczewski’s talk (Daniel is an LBS student in the MiM cohort) and will reset our understanding and expectation on Hypnosis. I knew very little about hypnosis and most of it was, I have to say, rather negative :). This, in my mind, again exemplifies the Ctrl Alt Del theme – Daniel will show us why Hypnosis is not black magic or a dark art, and how it can have real and practical applications in today’s world.


Thanks guys - it's looking to be an excellent conference! If you'd like to be interviewed for Life@LBS, get in touch!

Don't forget, we have 2 student and 2 general tickets up for grabs on Twitter!