Thanks to a group of energetic and inspired students and parents, Halcyon launched it’s Inspiring Speaker Series last night. We were delighted to boast a full house for our first event! With a great turnout from the whole community our speakers David Benigson and Eric D. Collins, were in conversation about David’s interesting path to founding Signal Media and Eric’s rise through a variety of top name companies in both North American and the UK. The speakers shared a passion for ingenuity and Artificial Intelligence, but their paths started out quite differently.
David, found the traditional British school environment too rigid for him and the learning style not conducive to his needs. Reading English followed by law, his first job in a law firm consisted of mind-numbing tasks. He believed he could do something more imaginative and purposeful.
The idea for Signal Media was born: software that sifts and synthesises information from hundreds of thousands of publications in over 100 languages so companies and individuals can sift through the noise and gather relevant data; creating a unique thumb print for your stories. As any “real start-up” should do, Signal started in a garage in Belsize Park. Now this £7 million start-up caters to clients such as Deloitte and Tungsten.
Born in Alabama to a university professor in the segregated South of the United States, Eric continued to Princeton University followed by a law degree at Harvard Law School. Using his intelligent and thoughtful approach, Eric’s career path broadened to include Sales & Marketing and then Revenue and Distribution. Working for organisations such as Tegic and Swiftkey, who he saw through a very successful acquisition by Microsoft. Now a COO at Touch Surgery and an adviser to up and coming leaders in his field. His and David’s paths crossed and now the two speak almost daily.
Last night, our guests talked about the role of education, success, entrepreneurship and thinking big and digging deep. What kind of people are they looking for in their businesses? Eric: “Coachability - taking feedback on board. I’m looking for people who think about how 1 + 1 can equal 15. It’s not about 1 + 1 = 2.” David, referring to the start up mindset: “I’m not thinking about 10 years ahead. I’m thinking about the next three weeks.“ One recent job applicant asked where David sees the company in five years. For him that was the end of the interview. That’s just not how he thinks. At least not now.
Many thanks to Halcyon’s stupendous parent and student teams who helped to organise this fantastic evening. There are many people to thank, but the lead players this time around were parents Moira Benigson, Josefina Petrus and Karen Rivoire with G12 student Dina organising the film crew and meet and greet team.
A great Halcyon collaboration - all for a good cause - our second floor renovation campaign ‘Learning Reimagined’. Many thanks to all supporters, attendees and, of course, David and Eric.