Category: Perspective

Meet the Team: Roberta



Roberta – Set Designer

Have you taken part in an event like this before?

This is the first time for me. I have to say that as a set designer I mainly work on theatre productions but when I was asked to design the set for TEDx I said yes immediately!

What inspired you to take part in TEDxWandsworth?

I love TED because I think It’s brilliant that in just a few minutes you can get a clear and detailed idea about a specific topic. We really have little time on our hands nowadays and sometimes we get a lot information and words but nothing worthy to remember. TED allows us to learn new things in just a few minutes – I think this is genius!

What technique will you use to make your design interesting?

I think the key is: to get the design to disappear. I strongly believe that a good set is one you don’t notice but at the same time you’d feel the space was empty without it. The soul of the theatre are the actors, while for TED it’s the speakers, so the set must tell a story without distracting the audience from the speaker.

Which TED talk would you say has contributed to your life?

Without any doubt “Do schools kill creativity” by Sir Ken Robinson . It really touched me because I lived that topic. The speaker gave different examples about people that had problems at school when they were little, like short attention span or who were just different in some way. I really related to this story because when I was little and until three years ago I used to stutter very much. So my teachers gave me an IQ test when I was 13. The result was that I was “stupid” and they suggested I go to a short professional course because I wouldn’t be capable of going to university. Thanks to my father I went to Academy of Brera (Italy) where I got a first class honours degree, and I’ve also got an MA with Arena di Verona. That TED talk is absolutely precious for me because I didn’t feel alone.

If you could pick one thing you wish you knew when you were younger what would it be?

“Believe in your dreams because nothing is impossible.” Everybody has a wonderful potential but can only reveal that ourselves. We find many excuses about why we are not able to open that door. We can be the most powerful enemy towards our own selves.

When did you decide that this was the career route you wanted to take? What convinced you?

I studied set design at the Academy of Fine Arts of Brera but I didn’t believe that I could really do this job. So, after university, I applied for an internship at La Scala Theatre – sadly, I wasn’t selected. I thought that was a sign that this job is not meant for me. I found a job as a writer for a national radio station and then as a secretary for a private investigation agency and waitress at the weekend. In 2008, I was depressed because I wasn’t doing what I really loved. But the problem was I didn’t know what I wanted. I am a Buddhist and that helped me to look deep in my life.
I started to challenge myself and reapplied for the internship at La Scala Theatre and this time was chosen. A year later I was Head Set Designer for a production in Manaus, Brazil. My experience was so incredible that I wrote and published a book about my experience: Quando il Brutto Anatroccolo Comincia a Credere. (When the Ugly Duckling begins to Believe). One day I wish to translate it in English.

What is one lesson you had to learn the hard way?

Never ever give up. When you pursue your dream there are many moments where you find lots of reasons to give up, never ever do that. Never go for “plan B” either, we should strive to fulfil our destiny regardless of setbacks, that’s what we’re here to do.

Meet the Team: Jonathan



Jonathan Priest – Speaker Curator

Who am I?

Scriptwriter, speech writer, film director, father, cook, horse rider and TED fanatic.

Why did I join the team?

To use my writing and video production skills to help build an outstanding TEDx event in Wandsworth, and have some fun.

What’s my role at TEDxWandsworth?

Speaker curator, researching and recruiting speakers and helping them turn their big ideas into TED Talks.

What’s my favourite TED Talk?

Hans Rosling: The best stats you’ve ever seen

Meet the Team: Christina



Christina Melidou – Speaker Curator

Why did I join the team?

I am a big fan of TED Talks as they give amazing, inspiring individuals a platform to share their thoughts, achievements and experiences. Looking at the bigger picture, talking about ideas and finding the passion to turn them into action is the only way forward for humanity, especially in turbulent times. I’ve been involved with TEDx Thessaloniki for quite a few years so, when I moved to London, I sought out my local TEDx event and asked whether I could be involved! I encourage all TED fans out there to join their local TEDx community!

What’s my role at TEDx Wandsworth?

I help identify suitable speakers and then I work with speakers to turn their ideas into a talk. Managing to condense a life’s work or a complicated topic into a short, concise, interesting talk can be tricky especially as people nowadays are bombarded with messages all the time.

What’s my favourite TED talk(s)?

Ken Robinson’s “Do schools kill creativity?” is the talk that got me hooked on TED talks.

Bryan Stevenson’s “We need to talk about an injustice” gives a unique insight in the inequalities of the US justice system.

Edward Snowden’s “Here’s how we take back the internet” is a must-see and an indication of the spirit of TED where even controversial personalities can be given a stand if they have an idea worth sharing.

and, finally, Chris Yannou’s “Bringing humanity back into medicine” is a tribute to doctors working in some of the poorest and most dangerous parts of the world.

Meet the Team: Andrew



With just over four weeks to go we (the TEDxWandsworth delivery team) are all getting very excited about how this year’s event is lining up. The speakers have been chosen, the talks are in development, the lanyards have been bought… and we’re now getting down to that exciting point asking between ourselves “what are we forgetting?”

TEDx events don’t just magically happen, although they do have a certain amount of magic happen at them. It’s all possible through the continued efforts of enthusiastic volunteers, supporting local companies and a fairly extensive list of ‘things to do’.

In the upcoming weeks we’ll revitalise this blog to share more about our speakers, the work that goes on in the background and of course share a little more about our fantastic team and how TEDxWandsworth actually gets brought to life.

So sit back, grab a cup of tea and for the next 5 mins read my “Meet The Team” story about how I’m part of TEDxWandsworth 2016.

Who am I?

My names Andrew Ballantine and I’m the Programme Manager for this year’s TEDxWandsworth event – What does that mean…? Lists my friends, lots of lists!

Why did I join the team?

As this is my first year involved with TED – a pleading email to the main organiser Amman Abid asking to be part of the event is a good summary. But the truth comes out of a continued love for TED talks over the last 5-6 years. I am the kind of viewer who puts on a TED video to motivate myself in the morning, or learn something in the evening… or just to distract myself throughout the day.

Either way in the beginning of May (whilst ironically watching a TED talk on “Procrastination”, I had an epiphany – ‘Why don’t I get involved with TED?’

Now deep down inside I knew the Irish part of me could talk for 10 mins on something, but in comparison to TED Talks it’s fair to say – I lacked that ‘Good idea worth sharing’.

So undeterred, I decided to fall back on the skills I possess from my day job as a Project and Change Manager, and contacted the Organisers to see how I could help.

What’s my role at TEDxWandsworth?

As the Programme Manager I’m looking after the overall outline of activities needed to put on the event, ticking off tasks from our plan, and looking forward to making a great event day for all our speakers, sponsors and delegates.

I’m usually benefiting from Amman (the organiser’s) counsel given he managed the event last year, as well as enjoying volunteering for things which were never documented in the job description.

I also have the pleasure of chairing our team meetings which take place either in the virtual world of Skype or in Wandsworth’s own “Queen Adelaide.”

TxW_twitter_image2 skype-call

It’s a fantastic role where I’ve got to meet and work with some great people over the last few months and now very much looking forward to seeing all the parts come together on 5th November.  See you there!

My favourite TED Talks?

1) Inside the mind of a master procrastinator: Tim Urban

2) If I should have a daughter: Sarah Kay

3) Building the perfect guitar: Paul Reed Smith

We’d love to hear what your all-time favourite TED Talk is @tedxwandsworth, and you never know we might even include it in our roster of scheduled talks on the day.