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Robert Ashton - Robert Ashton. Norwich, Norfolk, GB

Robert Ashton

Big Society Advisor, Business Author and Consultant | Robert Ashton

Norwich, Norfolk, UNITED KINGDOM

A challenging speaker with a unique style. Every presentation is different, reflecting the needs of the event.







Robert Ashton helps individuals, organisations and communities achieve greater social impact through economic self-sufficiency. He is a best-selling business author, experienced charity trustee and creative social entrepreneur.

He is driven by a strong sense of social justice; addicted to the passion that drives ordinary people to do extraordinary things for the benefit of others, as well as themselves.
He finds himself compelled to help them succeed, then shares their experiences in ways that encourage others to follow their example.

Robert is challenging conference speaker, attacking complacency and challenging perceptions. He campaigned for the establishment of Norfolk Community Foundation, now a major local grant maker. He speaks from experience; from the heart and moves people to reflect on and often change their own lives.

His current project workload includes setting up a development trust to kick start a stalled urban regeneration project; developing a new way to fund building new school; brokering a public/third sector partnership that will improve palliative care services and affordable, factory-built community shops.

Robert is also Chief Executive of Swarm Apprenticeships Ltd, a social business he founded to help small businesses benefit from the energy and talent of enterprising young people.

Industry Expertise (10)


Health and Wellness

Health Care - Services

Corporate Leadership

Business Services

Corporate Training

Agriculture and Farming

Writing and Editing

Public Relations and Communications


Areas of Expertise (7)


Big Society

Social Enterprise

Mental Health




Event Appearances (18)


RunCoCo Beyond Conference  University of Oxford, Oxford



Developing the Workforce  Assembly Rooms, Norwich



Big Society GTX – Oiling the wheels of social change  OxfordJam, The Jam Factory, Oxford



Big Lottery Funding East  The Maltings, Ely



National Outdoor Events Association Convention 2011  The Holiday Inn, Birmingham



Norfolk & Waveney Mental Health Partnership Recovery Team Away Day  Attleborough Business Centre, Attleborough



Community Housing Cymru Housing Management & Maintenance Conference   Metropole Hotel, Llandrindod, Wells



Managing Tomorrow's Company  Lord Ashcroft Business School, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge



CIC's at The Forum - Your Society in Action  The Forum, Norwich



UK Council on Deafness Big Society, Big Opportunity? Conference  The Resource Centre, London


Community Sustainability

Empower Sustainability Conference  Liberty Stadium, Swansea


Entrepreneurship as an agent for social change

"Learning from Experience/Successful Projects"   Romania


Social enteprise in action

The Challenges the Sector Faces in its Future Operating Environment  University of Wolverhampton


Social Enterprise and Philanthropy

TEDxCCN  The Forum, Norwich


Localism: Community Assets at a local level

CIH South East Conference & Exhibition  Hilton Metropole Hotel, Brighton


Looking to the Future

CIH The Midlands Annual Conference, Exhibition & Regional Gala Dinner  Ramada, Sutton Coldfield


Social Impact = Profit

CMI Eastern Region Conference   Haycock Hotel, Peterborough


Seven Steps to Social Enterprise

Collaborative Communities conference  Parc y Scarlets, Llanelli


Sample Talks (5)

Networking for Success

Are you a networking wallflower? Do you nervously scan the room, but never manage to connect with the right people? Does a trip to the dentist hold more appeal than getting your teeth into a business breakfast? If so, this session is for you. In a safe, non-threatening environment, you and the rest of the group will; grow your confidence, learn and practice some simple techniques and discover your networking talent. You’ll even make new contacts! Robert will allow a period of time after his workshop to receive questions from attendees and allow them to network amongst each other.

Why social enterprises are tomorrow's enterprises

A fast moving, light hearted, practical session that highlights how many of the shortcomings of today's 'for profit' business model create real, immediate opportunities for those developing a social enterprise. Target audience: Social entrepreneurs, charity CEOs and Trustees wanting to build a social enterprise. Also entrepreneurs keen to become more socially responsible. What will it cover? • Why social enterprise is going to continue to grow and customer appeal; • Understanding what business you're in and who your real customers are; • A reality check on how clear your vision is and how deliverable the goals are; • Why success needs both passion and practicality, and how to balance the two; • How to avoid trying to be what you're not and how to build partnerships; • 10 top tips for today's successful social enterprise.

Understanding Big Society

It's a term you can't really get away from and yet so many people are not quite sure what Big Society actually is. Robert helps participants to look beyond the jargon to discover their Big Society opportunity. Banish cynicism and eliminate fear. Let Robert inspire your people to become part of the future.

Enterprise for Charities

Public spending cuts, individual budgets and a growing demand for services mean that charities have to become more enterprising. But how do you reconcile commerce with compassion and money with mission? Robert has helped countless charities become more enterprising without compromising their values. Hear about how he did it and find out how you can do it too.

How to Start Your Business

Most start a business because their career is not delivering the opportunities they deserve. Robert will give you an insight into the realities of starting and growing a business. He speaks from experience when he says; ‘starting a business is like having a baby; terrifying and exhilarating all at the same time.’ Join him and turn your dream into reality. These sessions are based around Robert's bestselling business book, "How to Start Your Own Business", a second edition of which will be released in 2012.



  • Keynote
  • Panelist
  • Workshop Leader
  • Host/MC
  • Author Appearance


500 to 5000 *Will consider certain engagements for no fee