A native of Nottingham, Ken’s technology career commenced in the 1970s at IBM having won a scholarship while an undergraduate at Cambridge. At IBM he held various posts before joining Wang Laboratories in 1981. Following a period as Marketing Director for Europe, VP of US Marketing and then of Worldwide Marketing based in Boston, Ken was appointed Senior VP and General Manager of Europe, Africa and the Middle East (EAME) located in Brussels. He led the team which restored the EAME operation to profitability, following which he launched an unsuccessful MBO resulting in his departure in 1992!
Ken then founded Interregnum, the technology merchant bank leading it through its early growth; its entry into, and exit from, a joint venture with BDO Stoy Hayward; the AIM IPO in 2000; and the tricky years that followed the collapse of the dotcom boom.
At Interregnum, Ken worked at the forefront of the entrepreneur/technology growth cycle that began in the mid 1990s. As well as serving on the boards of many of Interregnum’s investments and advisory clients, Ken notched up some interesting firsts, including chairing the UK’s first publicly listed Internet Service Provider (ISP), Voss Net, on its admission to AIM and holding a similar position on the Board of DMATEK, the first Israeli technology company to be listed on the junior exchange. He was also a principal advisor to, and Director of, uDate.com which became one of the UK’s few large scale dotcom successes when it was sold to Barry Diller’s USA Interactive in 2003. Ken retired from Interregnum in 2006 and now runs Restoration Partners an independent, boutique technology merchant bank.
Ken was the first British-born black man to serve on the Board of a major UK public company (Reuters) and is currently a Director of Thomson Reuters (where he is a member of the Audit Committee). He was also a Director (and Chair of the Remuneration Committee) of Canada’s largest independent software developer, Open Text Corporation. More recently, he served as a Non Executive Director of Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation (ENRC) from 2007. He also serves on the Board of, or is an adviser to, several privately held and innovative companies including the UK’s leading corporate governance advisor, Independent Audit.
A believer in the Victorian ethos that successful commerce is the fuel of public service, Ken is a Freeman of the City of London; Deputy Master of the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists; a Director of the Thomson Reuters Foundation; Chairman of Thames Reach (a charity working to shelter and resettle the homeless in London); founding Chairman of the Powerlist Foundation; a Vice President of the British Computer Society and a past member of the Government’s Women’s Enterprise Taskforce. He was also a Governor of the Peabody Trust for a decade and a NED of the West Lambeth NHS Trust for three and a half years. His experience of regulation is substantial. He has been a regulatee of the FSA since 1993 and a start-up regulator twice; first as an inaugural Postal Services Commissioner from 2001 to 2004 and more recently as a Board member of IPSA, the body charged with managing MPs’ expenses, pay and pensions.
Ken’s knowledge and experience of businesses from the largest to the smallest, combined with his passion for, and knowledge of, technology and his willingness to speak his mind makes him much in demand as a public speaker and he has been widely recognised. He is past winner of the BVCA/Real Deals Private Equity Personality of the Year Award and of the Sunday Times UK Not for Profit Non Executive Director of the year. He appears in the UK’s top 10 most influential black men in the Powerlist 2012 and was recently named in Computer Weekly’s UK Tech 50 list of most influential people in UK IT and was the highest laced financial adviser in the list.
In 2010 he was awarded an OBE for his services to the homeless of London and he is an honorary Fellow of his old college, Fitzwilliam, Cambridge. On a more personal level, as a former IBM scholar at Cambridge, and reflecting a lifelong passion for information technology and education, Ken, and his wife Julia, donated money to build the new Library and IT centre at Fitzwilliam College, to be named after the Olisas.
A keen skier and a bad golfer, Ken is also the Chairman of the BBA, a new company currently fundraising “to do to British Basketball what Packer did to cricket.”
Ken married Julia in 1976 and they have two adult daughters; Elinor and Auriol.