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Interview with Niel Kirk

by | May 5, 2021 | Interviews,

Niel Kirk

Niel Kirk

Bid Director & Team Manager at Telefónica UK

Key Topics:IoT, AI, Smart Cities, Tech for Good, Social Value
Location:Worcester, United Kingdom

I am a business development professional, with 20 years’ experience leading large scale bids for technology opportunities, across the public and private sector, and internationally. Using technology to solve business and societal problems is my passion, making a real difference and improving lives. I have a keen interest in emerging technology and working with startups. I want to achieve a greener future, where the market economy and a thriving natural environment can successfully co-exist. Driving Social Value, we can deliver the triple bottom line meeting social, economic and environmental objectives. I’ve won many complex deals over the last 20 years, delivering technical and business solutions no one thought possible. Clients include European Space Agency, the NHS and a major Rail Infrastructure organisation. I also like to give back. In 2019 I cycled from Madrid to London, to help raise >£50k for NSPCC.

How did you get to become an expert in your key topics?

I have worked in IT and Telecoms for some 23 years, creating solutions that underpin customers’ business strategy and goals. I have always taken a keen interest in emerging technology and marvel at the benefits it can deliver. In recent years working for a large Telco, connectivity has been my focus. Clearly connecting people and things is vital for IoT, smart cities, AI and many other technologies to be effective and realise significant benefits.

What topic areas are you most passionate about?

I’m extremely passionate about Tech for Good and Social Value, particularly how Technology can help resolve the not insignificant societal and environmental problems we face. As we emerge from the pandemic, technology can take on a significant role to help with the recovery from Covid-19, as well as helping deal with huge issue of climate change and the environment which are again coming to the fore.

Which influencers influence you within those key topics?

Influencers who inspire me include Antonio Grasso, Mike Hudema, Mark Jacobson, George Monbiot, Bill McKibben James Anderson (smart cities) and Elon Musk. I love technology particularly as a force for good, making a positive difference to peoples’ lives.

Outside of key topics, who else influences you?

It’s so important in life to try new things and step out of your comfort zone – if you never try you’ll never know. I take inspiration from athletes who do just that, pushing beyond the boundaries, particularly in the cycling and running spheres. These include Lisa Gonzales, Mark Cavendish, Lance Armstrong, Valerie Bloomfield, Geraint Thomas and a plethora of others

How would you describe your offline influence?

My offline influence is gaining real momentum on the back of my online presence. My most recent Podcast was produced with Irish Tech News on Tech for Good. I often engage in networking for instance attending Digital Leaders events, and also Catapult Steering Group and Enterprise Nation sessions. I will be attending several upcoming events on Social Value in the next couple of months (for instance a Roundtable on the journey to NetZero).

What’s your best source of information for getting ahead of a story? What resource do you use to stay ahead of the trend?

I regularly read industry white papers for instance, future of work, or 5G. My sources include Gartner, Ovum, McKinsey and Innovate UK. I occasionally schedule calls with Analysts and other thought leaders, tapping into their latest views and analysis on emerging technology. I also link into other sources, eg TED Talks or taking part in Twitter Spaces conversations.

If a brand wanted to work with you, which activities would you be most interested in collaborating on?

I’d be happy to collaborate on any of these – podcasts, webinars, whitepapers, speaking opportunities, product innovation and video interviews.

What brands have you worked with?

Much of my recent work has been engaging with the UK public sector, for instance the NHS, transport organisations, local government or police forces. In the past I have experience working with major global brands, in the UK and internationally for instance European Space Agency.

Which non-paid activities would you be keen to take part in if the opportunity raised your profile or delivered value to your audience?

I would be keen to provide a quote for content or news article, share or create a social post, speak at an event, online chat, podcast or a webinar. I am also interested in co-creating long form or video content. I would also be open to write a product review.

What are your passions outside of work?

My passions are my family, running and cycling. My three children keep me busy! On a sunny day there’s nothing more I like than to get on two wheels and ride my bike around the Worcestershire countryside. I like raising money for charity too. In 2019 I rode my bike from Madrid to London, to raise funds to support the NSPCC, helping to keep children safe online.

What would be the best way for a brand to contact you?

By mobile: 07933814514