Toni Kent is a professional speaker, compere and writer who has the rare combination of 25+ years IT sector experience and the ability to entertain audiences with honest, humorous insights into social mobility, life as a working parent and corporate culture. She specialises in providing keynote speaking, panel hosting and event MC duties to organisations across the technology, professional services and education sectors where she is valued for her high-energy, highly-relatable style. When combined with her skills as a stand-up, audiences frequently remark on her refreshing and memorable delivery. Keynote clients have included the likes of Amazon Web Services, KPMG, Microsoft, PWC and Enterprise Group. She has also been the proud host of the UK Social Mobility Awards 2021 and 2023, the PRIME Commitment 10th Anniversary Conference and the Zen Partner Conference.
Alongside speaking, hosting and stand up, Toni is the author of four books and a writer of editorial on the topic of social mobility and women in tech. She is also a respected podcast host, co-host and sought-after guest. As well as using her own voice, Toni has been a trusted ghost-writer to senior leaders in the technology industry who want to project a more humorous, human, voice both online and on-stage.
Toni has worked in, and alongside the technology industry for 25 years – a time during which she went from assisting in early wireless networking infrastructure deals through to managing some of the UK’s largest partner relationships at Microsoft where she spent 10 years learning the intricacies of how one of the world’s largest corporates operates. Following this, she went on to spend a further 10 years creating content for senior leaders at organisations including IBM, TD Synnex, Brightcove, VMware and Progress Software. From ghost-writing thought-leadership articles through to hosting partner conferences and webinars on sustainability in computing, Toni maintains a keen understanding of the commercial and cultural landscape of this exciting industry.
Social Mobility Expertise
Toni was born into a working class family in Basingstoke. The eldest of four children, she and her family lived on a large council estate and she can vividly recollect the impact of redundancy and right-to-buy on the lives of those around her during the ‘70s and ‘80s. When Toni was 14, her father died – an event that left the family reliant on benefits. In the four years that followed, Toni scraped her GCSEs and was a birthing partner to her mother, twice. Living in an environment that social services described as “chaotic and neglectful”, Toni decided that she wanted a different life than what was predicted for her. Today, thanks to a second chance at education, positive female role models and a career in IT, Toni finds herself in what could be described as a “middle-class bubble” and it’s not always comfortable. Using her writer’s eye and comic timing, Toni helps bring to life the challenges and opportunities that exist for organisations to advance an important and highly topical conversation.
Learn how to adjust your mindset, flip fear on its head and embrace change in this motivational keynote that offers clear, practical tips that are easy to remember and can be immediately actioned. Attendees will learn Toni’s C.H.A.N.G.E method which is a valuable tool for when you’re facing a difficult decision or struggling to overcome negative self-speak. Includes optional pdf worksheet as an audience takeaway.
Learn the true story of what it takes to overcome the multiple barriers that people from low socio-economic backgrounds face as Toni shares her story of breaking cycles and making it in the corporate world before finding her feet in comedy. This talk is a must for any organisation looking to take social mobility seriously and includes clear directions on the steps you can take. Includes a rap finale which never fails to surprise and delight audiences.
How do you build a corporate career without going to university? Or make it in the world of tech when you don’t code? Can you sell thousands of books when you don’t have a publisher? Or make money from stand-up when you’ve not been on television? Toni shares her insights from a career spent defying multiple odds to achieve uncommon success. Via highly-relatable examples, and an ‘ask me anything’ Q&A, Toni lifts the lid on common misconceptions and inspires audiences to take action.
When you get to mid-life, all the chickens come home to roost…. So how can you maintain good mental health and build the resilience you need? In this keynote, Toni shares her tips and insights on how small actions, honest conversations and good daily habits can help you navigate this challenging life-stage. This includes examining how to prioritise your own wellbeing when you’re part of a ‘sandwich generation’, resisting the pull of advertisers, and feeling at home in your own skin.
When you feel like society has determined that you only belong in ‘certain spaces’, it can be hard to step up and find the courage to ask for what you want. In this talk, Toni shares how we can begin to take up space and feel comfortable in any setting – regardless of what we’ve been conditioned to believe. From voicing ambitions to taking those first steps, Toni uses her experiences of being a woman from a low socio-economic background who has built a career in some of the biggest organisations and on huge stages to inspire people to live the life they want.
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