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In the era of The Great Re-invention: Step forward APTA-UITP Rail Conference keynote Rishad Tobaccowala

  • North America
  • Communication
  • Urban mobility

Every good event needs a good keynote speaker

As we continue to gather virtually and miss that immediate reaction from in the room, our digital events don’t just need a good keynote…they need a great one! 

Step forward Rishad Tobaccowala, keynote speaker for the upcoming APTA-UITP Rail Conference (online, 8-9 June 2021) 

Across our two-day programme, industry experts will discuss the future of the rail sector in an era of ongoing and incoming change.

So how do we best begin those discussions? What do we need to say to set the right tone and direction? By inviting the man who helps companies transform and thrive.

Best-selling author. Acclaimed speaker. Respected adviser.

We are living in the era of “The Great Re-invention” and Rishad’s key skill is getting people to see, think and feel differently so their companies can grow, learn and develop.

As the author of the best-selling book “Restoring the Soul of Business: Staying Human in the Age of Data” – cited as perhaps the best recent book on stakeholder capitalism by the Economist – Rishad helps people, companies and teams reinvent themselves to remain relevant in changing times.

And as we all know, the world of urban mobility is living through the greatest change in decades.

Author, speaker, adviser…introducing Rishad Tobaccowala

With forty years of experience, including serving as Chief Strategy and Growth Officer of the Publicis Groupe, an 80,000 strong employee firm dedicated to delivering marketing and business transformation, Rishad has spoken to a range of industries, offering his expert input to help drive their future direction.

From technology (Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn), to media (The New York Times, Conde Nast, Univision), to blue chip firms (Walmart, P&G, Bayer), to industry associations…Rishad also shares his expertise as a guest lecturer at both The University of Chicago and Northwestern University.

Named by BusinessWeek as one of the top leaders for his pioneering innovation, Rishad has been dubbed by TIME magazine as one of the five “Marketing Innovators”. He also is chairman of The Tobaccowala Foundation, which helps over 10,000 people gain better access to health and education in India.

With an impressive CV and a proven track record for inspiring change, UITP and APTA are delighted to be welcoming Rishad to our digital stage! 

We all strive to remain relevant in these changing times…but how do we transform for the future? 

Rishad will deliver his keynote speech on Day 1 of our Rail Conference, following the opening remarks. This will then lead  in to a packed two-day programme featuring high-level speakers and a topical programme for the ages. Find out more about this year’s key themes and sessions in our launch news! 

Before our Rail Conference hears from Rishad, we invited him to sit-down with us for a (virtual) chat to get his thoughts and views on his career, unleashing talent across sectors and why the journey itself is often the destination…



Our question and answer session with Rishad!

Q: Hello Rishad, it’s great to have you address the APTA & UITP Rail Conference as our Keynote Speaker. Can you give us a teaser as to what our audience can expect from your speech?

A: People listening to my talk can expect to think, see and feel differently about the future and their role in it.  They will gain actionable ideas on how best to adapt to change and how to grow themselves as leaders in transformative times.

Q:You’ve spoken to a range of industries throughout your career, from tech to media, to blue chip firms and industry associations. Are there similarities to the responses you see? Or is it the variety of audience engagement that makes the difference?

A: There are far more similarities than there are differences because the common factor is people. I speak about the future, about change, about leadership and about growing yourself. And while each industry or community faces specific issues at heart, most challenges are about people. As someone said everything is easy but people come in the way…

Q: You work closely with the leadership of many international companies to unleash the potential of their talent. With passengers as our focus, public transport is people-driven. How do we make sure to stay connected to those who keep the world of urban mobility moving?

A: There are three ways to do so. First is to listen to them and observe how their customers, which are passengers, are behaving. The second is to take them ideas, insights and inspiration on how they can enhance the passenger experience or make their own jobs more meaningful. Finally, recognise that people watch what you do more than what you say and so are you learning and building your skills yourself? This makes you more authentic and credible.

Q: The coronavirus pandemic has changed many international sectors, public transport among them. Events such as our Rail Conference allow us to engage on what the future can, and should, look like. We are in the era of ‘The Great Re-invention’, how do you envision our cities developing as we move forward?

A: I do not believe there will be a new normal but a re-invented tomorrow since over the past 15 months everybody has gone through an economic, social and health crisis and have been stuck in place for long periods of time. People are asking what is the role of the office, how much and far does one need to travel and they also realise that a lot of what they took for granted was special.

Therefore we expect cities to continue to thrive but be re-invented to incorporate the reality that there will be less need for space for offices but a hunger to meet people at concerts, museums and restaurants. So cities will likely become more greener, younger people will move downtown but these downtowns may be all over the US versus just concentrated in a few cities.

Q: And finally, to give our readers a little bit more of an insight in to you…author, speaker, adviser. What would you be doing with your life if you didn’t have the career you are known for? 

I always wanted to be a teacher and or a writer but four decades ago, beginning in India, these were not careers that one could support a family. So I went into business but over the years I used communication skills of writing and presenting to satisfy my need to write and teach. A couple of years ago I moved full time to writing and speaking and have had a successful best-selling book, a widely read newsletter and present all over the world at conferences and also teach at many schools as a guest lecturer. I have been very lucky in both my journey and the destination, which reminds one that the journey is often the destination… 

Thank you to Rishad for his time and words! 

Interesting in hearing more from our keynote speaker?

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