Interview: 5 Mins Focus with Curation Manager – Jackie Bennion

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Jackie Bennion is one of TEDxWandsworth’s latest recruits, having joined the leadership team this year to help with speaker curation and writing. Here she, shares her reasons for volunteering, the TED talks she is most likely to send to friends and why Mo Farrah has her admiration. 


Jackie Bennion, Curation & Editorial Content


What inspired you to get involved with TEDxWandsworth?

I spent a long time living in California as a journalist, surrounded by people and ideas that embody TED. I had come across TEDx events, and always appreciated the courage it takes to stand up and present your ideas to a room full of strangers.

It shows the best in human nature to want to share what you’ve learned and make sense of the world. I think if you do it for any other reason, the audience knows it. The wonder that makes up a good TED talk is becoming apparent as I work on the curation side of TEDx Wandsworth. I have more respect than ever for the speakers and the small teams who make TEDx happen all over the world.


How has your involvement benefited you?

I am only a few months into my first season but really enjoying it. The whole effort is centered around creativity – bringing out the best ideas and the best in people. I am inspired, and a little awed by the responsibility.


Which TED talks do you recommend to friends?

I’ve shared and viewed all sorts of TED talks, from biomimicry to procrastination to bitcoin. I’ll often read a book and then search to see if the author has done a TED talk.

I recently sent the Amy Cuddy talk to some friends. There is a moment in it where she chokes up and you do too – it’s that vulnerability of sharing your life experiences while turning them into helpful life lessons for others. The best talks come from a very human authentic place and if people can capture some of the humor in their (mis)adventures, even better.


What sums up happiness for you?

This is impossible to answer. It’s fleeting; grab it every moment you can.


What would your superpower be?

Some magic wand to clear up the political mess we’re in and make politicians (the world over) act as true public servants again – otherwise they’d sprout a giant nose like Pinocchio.


Which living person do you most admire, and why?

I can’t pick one person. I suppose people who excel, who make things look easy but behind what you see there is tremendous commitment and sacrifice and belief. I was awestruck by Mo Farrah this summer. There’s something about sporting excellence that tests every sort of agility.


What advice would you give to anyone considering volunteering for TEDxWandsworth?

Do it.


What are you most looking forward to at this year’s event?

Seeing the speakers on stage and rooting for them all the way.

If you would like to volunteer with TEDxWandsworth, we are seeking to fill roles in graphic design & social media. Email:

Interview by Rosy Edwards

#MeetTheSpeaker – Paula Rowinska

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Paula Rowinska is a PhD student of Mathematics at Planet Earth Centre for Doctoral Training, at Imperial College, London. Her work focuses on climate change and how to make renewable energy more efficient. In 2017, her blog post ‘Blowing in the Wind’ was selected by Science Seeker as one of the best in the scientific field. Hear, she talks about mathematic stereotypes, how we can each do our (small) bit for the planet and why she never slows down.

Paula Rowinska, PhD Student, Imperial College London


How are you preparing for your TEDxWandsworth talk?

I am writing my talk, rewriting it and testing it on my friends and family. It’s really easy to forget that what’s exciting for a mathematician isn’t necessarily the most entertaining thing to talk about at a TEDx event.

How did you come up with the idea for your talk?

Coming up with ideas wasn’t a problem but picking the idea was very difficult…there are way too many cool concepts in maths to fit in 18 minutes.

There are still relatively few women studying mathematics, especially at your level – why do you think that is?

It’s a question I sometimes ask myself. It might be because the stereotypical mathematician is an old, bearded man, probably struggling with serious mental problems – which obviously isn’t the case.

How can we have a positive impact on ecology and sustainability at an individual level?

I’m afraid that having a positive impact isn’t really feasible; not having an excessively negative impact would be great. We should do whatever is acceptable for us, for example, cycle instead of driving, reduce meat consumption, stop buying bottled water… And, most importantly, spread awareness.

Who or what inspires you?

I don’t have to look far: fellow PhD students in maths department of Imperial College. What a group of smart, creative and hardworking people! I’m inspired by their successes as much as the way they deal with their struggles.

Would you describe yourself as an extrovert, or an introvert?

It’s easy to distinguish an extrovert mathematician from an introvert one: the extrovert one stares at someone else’s shoes. I sometimes even dare to look in people’s eyes, so I’m definitely extrovert…

How do you spend your down time?

Whenever I have a free minute, I always manage to find a new task for myself (such as preparing a TEDx talk), so that I don’t have down time again in the foreseeable future.

What one thing would you like to know before you die?

There’s one thing I know a lot about, but I still don’t fully understand it – the concept of infinity. I’d like to be able to say: “Yes, that’s exactly how it works and why it works this way”.

What is your favourite TED or TEDx talk?

More adventures in replying to spam’ and other talks by James Veitch always make me laugh. And think.

Happiness is…

Saying “yes” more often than “no”, so that we never regret not doing something.

Don’t miss Paula and 15 other ‘Truth & Dare’ speakers at TEDxWandsworth on November 25th. Click here for limited tickets.

Interview by Rosy Edwards

#MeetTheSpeaker – Dallas Pounds

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Having trained as a palliative care nurse, Dallas Pounds was appointed CEO of Royal Trinity Hospice in 2013. She was awarded the 2015 ‘Rising Chief Executive Officer’ at the Third Sector Annual Awards in recognition of her leadership and contribution to hospice work. Here, she tells us how she has been preparing for her talk, why death should be considered part of life and the everyday heroes that inspire her in her job.

Dallas Pounds, CEO, Royal Trinity Hospice


How are you preparing for your TEDxWandsworth talk?

I’ve spent lots of time reflecting on the topic and deciding what key messages I want to convey. I’ve read, watched TED talks, made notes, written drafts, talked with colleagues and family and generally reconnected with a subject that is always close to my heart and part of my working life. The title of the day, ‘Truth and Dare’, has been good to work with.


How did you come up with the idea for your talk?

Death and dying is such a broad subject so chatting with Amman [Abid, TEDxWandsworth co-organiser] and others about their perspective was key.


End of life care is still a subject many people don’t want to consider. Why is it important that we think about it?

The truth is that we all die but equally, death feels very theoretical until we are faced with it as a reality. Not daring to talk about it and make plans for this certainty, either for ourselves or someone we are close to, means that so much is left to chance. In turn, this places a great burden on those bereaved, or speaking on behalf of someone without capacity. Coping with the complexities of decision making at a time of huge emotional and physical challenge can adversely affect how we grieve. We need to take back ownership of death, and accept it is a part of living.


What was your path into Palliative Care?

I am a nurse by training and very early on in my career I was drawn to care for those facing death and those close to them. I found it a great privilege to be allowed into someone’s life as it reached its end, and wanted to make a difference to the person dying and those left bereaved. I believe a positive experience of someone dying can be life affirming for the living.


Who or what inspires you?

I am inspired everyday by the people I work with and those we care for. Everyday someone shows immense courage or love or compassion, has an incredible tale to tell, or overcomes a challenge.


Would you describe yourself as an extrovert, or an introvert?

I guess I’m extrovert because I love being with people, learning from them and sharing with them.


How do you spend your down time?

Down time for me is a mix of busy family and friend activities and quiet walks with my camera, preferable near to water of some sort. I love watching movies, good food and wine.


What one thing would you like to know before you die?

That my children are happy and healthy – and of course that they know my wishes!


What is your favourite TED or TEDx talk?

I have lots I like but I think my favourite is B J Miller, ‘What really matters at the end of life’. He really is inspirational and talks sense for me.


Happiness is…

Knowing you are cared about and having people to care about in return.

Don’t miss Dallas and 15 other ‘Truth & Dare’ speakers at TEDxWandsworth on November 25th. Click here for limited tickets.

Interview by Rosy Edwards

#MeetTheSpeaker – Jane Amelia Harries

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Jane A. Harries, Training Consultant, Presenter and Adventurer



Having qualified as a solicitor and subsequently a chartered tax advisor, Jane Harries traversed the globe in her work as a tax specialist, conducting training courses on topics as diverse as tax technology, risk compliance, and legislative changes. She is now the founder of her own training consultancy and in her spare time, she coach triathletes, has qualified for the 2017 Ironman 70.3 World Championships and recently completed the 2017 Marathon des Sables, a seven day, 237 kms, self-supporting race in the Sahara desert. Here, she tells TEDxWandsworth about empowering people, the problem with ‘winning’ and the joy of the great outdoors.









How are you preparing for your TEDxWandsworth talk?

I read a lot of articles on issues such as empowerment, leadership and change management as part of my work.  Now when reading those articles I’m thinking not just about work scenarios, but how those issues impact upon our personal life.  


How did you come up with the idea for your talk?

I’m passionate about helping people achieve their goals. I want people to succeed, so I’ve set up a training consultancy, to help organisations and people be the best they can be, by ensuring the right training, is delivered to the right people at the right time.  

Success is so often labeled as winning yet there can only be one winner. Does that mean the rest of us are failures?  It depends on the context, but in general, absolutely not. We can come second, mid field or even last, and still be a winner who holds their head up high, if we’ve given it our all.

Hopefully my talk will inspire at least one person to go out and pursue a goal they’ve been putting off. It doesn’t matter how big or small that goal is, what matters is that people don’t give up, that they give themselves a chance to achieve their goal.


Ultrarunning is the ultimate act of endurance. Can anyone take it up?

My aim in any event I do, is to make both the start line and finish line. Not being last is a bonus.  

Part of the beauty of doing long distance events is that the countryside is so magical – and being slow means I get to spend more time enjoying the scenery. With making the finish line my only aim, I can stop and take loads of photos along the way.  

If I can do it, almost anyone can. Just let your body adapt over a period of time, so you can enjoy the whole journey and don’t accidentally break your body by doing too much, too soon. Long distance hiking is another option if people don’t want to run. In fact, I’m definitely more of a hiker than a runner.


How much of the sport is physical and how much is mental?    

For me it’s 50:50. There’s no point in being mega fit (not that I’ve ever been there), if you can’t cope with bad weather, or mud, or heat, or whatever. Likewise, there’s no point in being mentally strong if you’re unfit and can’t cope with the distance, the gradient, or fail to make the cut off times.


Who or what inspires you?

Two friends, who are Australian (I lived in Melbourne for a few years). Both have endured a lot of ill health but rather than give up, they have truly embraced life and really make the most of it.   


Would you describe yourself as an extrovert, or an introvert?

It depends on the situation.


How do you spend your down time?

Down time!  Ha ha… I recently started a business, so between that, upskilling myself and training, there’s not been much downtime this year. Like most people I love spending time with family and friends.  My big indulgence is hiking with my Labrador, particularly if there’s a coffee shop or an ice cream stall at the end.


What one thing would you like to know before you die?

That the glass ceiling is no more and that there really is equality of opportunity for men and women worldwide.


What is your favourite TED talk?

So many of them are brilliant and have inspired me so it wouldn’t be fair to pick one. I’d probably veer towards something to do with bullying and how it impacts mental health, because it’s such an underrated issue. 


Happiness is…

A sunny day hiking in the great outdoors, followed by a good meal with family or friends, whilst my Labrador dozes contentedly by my feet. 

Don’t miss Jane and 15 other ‘Truth & Dare’ speakers at TEDxWandsworth on November 25th. Click here for limited tickets.

Interview by Rosy Edwards