Interview: 5 Mins Focus with Set Designer – Roberta Volpe

Roberta Volpe

Roberta Volpe


Roberta Volpe is a set designer and scenic artist from Italy. She volunteered as the set designer for TEDxWandsworth 2016 and enjoyed it so much, she has now returned for this year’s event. Here, she shares her passion for TEDx, the challenges of set design and what gives her a positive outlook on life.


Why did you get involved?

I find TEDx so inspiring. In only 15-20 minutes, you can learn something new and open your mind to infinite topics.


How has being involved in TEDxWandsworth benefitted you?

Professionally, it has helped me a lot. I am challenged as a designer because I have to create a space that doesn’t distract from the speakers, who are the soul of TEDx.

Personally, I have met lots of wonderful people who I still consider my friends. Everybody has a shared love of TEDx and it is a privilege to be involved.


You have won awards for your set design – could you tell us a little more?

I was the set designer and scenic artist for a musical called On the Twentieth Century and my set came 3rd in The Shinfield Players Scenic Award at the National Operatic Dramatic Art (NODA ) London Awards for 2017.

I think London is the greatest city in which to work in terms of theatre, so to be 3rd is really great and next time I’ll be first!


What sums up happiness for you?

Being in harmony with myself, listening to my inner voice and following what I feel. It is not easy to be honest with ourselves; sometimes we need to be really brave.

I am a Buddhist, which always gives me a positive way of looking at things.


What would your superpower be?

Reading minds. I would love to know what people think and feel. When I was little, I often asked myself if I was the only one that felt fear, or strong emotions. Being able to read minds would help us better understand each other.


Which living person do you most admire, and why?

My mentor, Daisaku Ikeda, is a Buddhist philosopher, educator, author, and anti-nuclear activist. I chose him as a mentor because he makes me believe that peace is possible if we start from ourselves, with what he calls a “human revolution”.


What would you change about the world to make it a better place?

I would avoid definitions of state, nationality and country. We are human beings before anything else – it doesn’t matter where we come from.


What one piece of advice would you give to anyone thinking of volunteering for TEDxWandsworth?

If you love watching TEDx talks, you will love working backstage at a TEDx event even more. Take a leap: it is a great experience to work with people like you and build unforgettable memories.


What’s your favourite memory from last year’s TEDxWandsworth event?

The day of the event. I felt real team spirit, all our effort came together and I felt so proud to be part TEDxWandsworth.

You know that you have helped to build an inspiring experience for other people – what could be better? There was no question that I would get involved again this year.

Interview by Rosy Edwards

Interview: 5 Min Focus with Social Media Manager – Laz Tyrekidis

Laz Tyrekidis

Laz Tyrekidis




When not working wonders on TEDxWandsworth’s social media, Laz Tyrekidis is a Digital Marketing Director, working across both B2B and B2C platforms. Originally from Greece, he began his career running his own online newspaper and holds degrees in Computer Science and Software Engineering.

We caught up with Laz to discuss choosing happiness, seizing the day and playing Cupid…






Hi Laz, what’s your role at TEDxWandsworth?
I am the social media manager of TEDxWandsworth, so I look after all social media marketing channels for the event, with a particular focus on Twitter and Facebook. My role includes direct communication with our audience and distributing content in the spirit of ideas worth spreading.


Why did you get involved?
I have always been interested in supporting my local community and as a big fan of TED talks, TEDxWandsworth was the perfect match. My journey started almost a year ago when I applied as a speaker for the 2016 event and ended up becoming a member of the leadership team.

I hope to bring my experience and background in marketing to the fore, supporting the organisation in growing its network, reach and impact.


You are recognsied as one of the rising stars in the marketing industry. Could you tell us a little about your recent success?
I am the Digital Marketing and Audience Director at a publishing group that specialises in business and consumer magazines, and in the last couple of years I have been lucky enough to have my achievements, and those of my team, recognised across various industry awards.

I am very proud to have been a finalist in two categories at the British Media Awards 2017 and I was shortlisted for four awards at the PPA Digital Awards 2016, including the Digital Leadership award and Marketeer of the Year.

During that time, I was also invited to be a guest speaker at various marketing conferences such as the Marketing Sherpa Summit in Las Vegas and Internet Marketing Summit in London.


What sums up happiness for you?
Happiness is a choice, not a result. Dance, as though no one is watching; love, as though you have never been hurt before; live, as though heaven is on earth. Carpe Diem.


What advice would you give to anyone considering volunteering for TEDxWandsworth?
TEDx is a big deal – a great initiative that is shaped by the world’s most inspired thinkers coming together to spread and seed ideas that matter. Volunteering for TEDx is a very satisfying experience; our TEDxWandsworth team is like a family, with everyone working on a common goal.

It works so well because each person is involved in a task that they are passionate about. It’s a very collaborative and cooperative environment where everyone is invested in making TEDx the best experience.


You were part of the TEDxWandsworth team in 2016; do you have any stand-out memories from last year’s event?
I won’t forget a story from last year, about two people that met at our event in 2015 and attended TEDxWandsworth as a couple, a year later. There are so many things I love about TEDx, but the way it brings people together is really special.

If you want to join the Social Media Team then please view here.

Interview by Rosy Edwards

TEDx Wandsworth goes to Tooting


Organiser Kay Chauhan reviews TEDxWandsworth’s inaugural Open Mic Pitch Night at The Sound Lounge in Tooting and her travels with TEDx – the sign.

IT was hectic night, not least because we had to dust down the cobwebs from the TEDx sign and lug it across the borough to dress the stage at our inaugural event Open Mic Pitch Night at the SoundLounge in Tooting, this week.

Despite TEDx turning into a bit of a character (pun intended) on the colourful streets of Tooting Broadway, the main attractions of the night were the talented and passionate people of the ‘Brighter Borough’, who came to pitch their 3 minute TEDx Talk ideas in a bid to win a place at our third TEDxWandsworth event this November.

Open Night Pitch Night was the launch of our outreach programme to spread the word about TED and TEDx Talks in the borough, and to provide local people an opportunity to tell us about their ‘idea worth spreading’. The ideas can be about community projects that make a difference in people’s lives, business technology innovation, or an individual with a great personal story that pulls at your heart and soul. (There are up to seven types of talks that would suit the TED platform).

We are fortunate that Wandsworth borough has a high number of business start ups and SMEs, a high density of professionals with young families, a major housing and infrastructure developments, and a dynamic arts and culture scene underpinned by a diverse socio economic demographic. This creates, whether by coincidence or by design, a perfect storm of individuals, organisations and businesses in the forefront of groundbreaking projects in technology and innovation, community action, and insights into the Millennial dream or solutions to 21st century Dystopia. And some of them were standing in front of us.

The standard of pitches were high and topics ranged from the sublime to the downright entertaining – did I tell you that we had a speaking banana on stage? Emma Stroud had us in er..splits when she extolled the virtues of ‘being more banana’ to combat the relentless political mayhem and economic uncertainty, and YouTuber and comedian, Ciaran Callam informed us how he overcame his fears about romantic rejection and mastered the art of successfully approaching 100 women in 50 days. (The singletons in the audience were taking copious notes).

Yvonne Ellis


There were also topics like child abuse, which in general discourse  evokes discomfort and  controversial headlines, but here the pitcher bravely spoke of solutions, justice and empowerment for sex abuse survivors. In another pitch, the speaker challenged the efficacy of conventional medicine and  provided studies to show how ancient medicines provided life saving relief to common ailments.

Anita Chakraburrty

It was a high energy event jam-packed with creativity, passion, and generosity. The Sound  Lounge, a fellow traveller in the not-for-profit world, brings live indie music and talent to the local area, supported TEDxWandsworth to put on its first Open Mic Pitch Night event, and local people took their first brave steps to sharing their idea to the world. And, of course, the time and dedication of our volunteers aka “Actioneers”, helped us to bring TEDxWandsworth to the borough. The team is growing and becoming like our extended family. (Click here, to find out more on how to be a TEDxWandsworth Actioneer).

TEDxWandsworth Actioneers

As the last pitcher exited stage right, the organisers were left with the difficult task of deciding which pitchers and Tedx Talk ideas would make it on the TED Red Circle at the TEDxWandsworth this November. All will be revealed to the successful pitchers and general public in the weeks ahead. So watch this space.

After an evening of pitches, bent bananas and connectivity, the majority of the audience stayed for some tub-thumping Country Folk & Blues music by outstanding young artists Katy Hurt and American Sonia Leigh.

All in all, it was an unforgettable night, and one which will stay with me till TEDxWandsworth’s main event in November. As for Tedx – the sign, after it’s Tooting debut, it is back in storage closer to home until the main event. (Any Actioneers with muscles are positively invited to apply).

Article by Kay Chauhan

TEDxWandsworth Open Mic night: the countdown begins


With three days to go before the TEDxWandsworth Open Mic night, we find out how some of the pitchers are preparing.


Why do you want to give a talk at TEDxWandsworth?

I believe my vision is worth sharing, with others who are open to exploring new possibilities, and I believe what I have to offer can improve peoples’ lives.

Have you ever done something like this before?

I have done public speaking before but never in this capacity or dynamic.

What are you doing to prepare?

In between working and being a wife and mother, I am practicing my pitch constantly using my stopwatch to time it! I have also been reading the book TED Talks by Chris Anderson that Amman (co-founder of TEDxWandsworth) recommended on how to prepare.  I have also been researching on the Internet.

Can you sum up your idea in one sentence?

Supportive empowerment for survivors of sexual abuse, through peer support and education.



Why do you want to give a talk at TEDxWandsworth?

As a Wandsworth resident I wanted to share my idea locally first before I take it global. I believe it is important to represent our community and there are so many fabulous things going on in Wandsworth – I wanted to contribute to that.

Having a TEDx that represents our borough, and so much more, was too exciting for me to not want to be involved.

Have you ever done something like this before?

I speak and MC at quite a lot of events; I am also a comedy performer so the stage is a comfortable place for me. That said, standing up and sharing my idea with the world is a new experience – exciting and a little scary!

What are you doing to prepare?

I have to prepare my outfit…all will become clear on the day, but it’s not easy being a banana and looking good.

I also have to do a little bit of research – there are a few facts I want to add to my idea. Then it is all about practice, practice, practice.

Can you sum up your idea in one sentence?

It’s time to spread more fun and joy in the world.



Why do you want to give a talk at TEDxWandsworth?

My employees have been begging me to do this for ages and they feel I have something useful to say. My area of research is related to my job, which is in Wandsworth, so it may be something of interest to local people.

Have you ever done something like this before?

Not at all.

What are you doing to prepare?

I met with a friend to go through the talk, I’ve looked at some TED talks and I’m doing a rehearsal.

Can you sum up your idea in one sentence?

Hunger isn’t just a third world issue.



Why do you want to give a talk at TEDxWandsworth?

I believe public speaking is challenging for many people and I’m not an exception, but I love ‘outside-the-box’ experiences. The main reason is to share my idea about recycling in art.

Have you ever done something like this before?

I gave a 10-minute talk about my art career a couple years ago at University College London, and recently did a similar talk to this one at Hackstock Beyond at The Trampery in Old Street.

What are you doing to prepare?

I’ve written and worked on the 3-minute text, rehearsing it over and over again in my free time. I’ve recorded and listened to it and I’m planning to film myself and watch it.

Can you sum up your idea in one sentence?

Helping our planet by changing our view of unwanted daily objects, therefore giving them a second life.


If these ideas have inspired you to pitch your ‘idea worth spreading’, then email at with a few lines about your idea to book your slot. There are now only few slots remaining.


Interviews by Rosy Edwards