Toby is the co-founder of Social Finance and positive social change-maker based in London!



Say hello!

Hello, I’m Toby – I try to make positive social change happen. I spent the last decade figuring out why it is so hard to change or improve society and building an organisation to support change makers on that journey. Also bringing up two wonderful daughters which has proved equally fun and challenging.

Tell us something you believe people might find controversial…

Data is either going to make our society more open, equal and engaging for all, or it’s going to embed hierarchy and the status quo. We’re the generation that gets to choose, and if we don’t the choice will be made for us.

Reflecting on your past; what are the key moments or breakthroughs that define your life journey so far.

Working in a buddhist monastery when I was 18 taught me that you don’t need material things to be happy. Working in an investment bank taught me rigour and gave me confidence in business. Doing a maths degree showed me how to break my intuition when it was wrong, and how to build a new one. 

Building Social Finance and working across many different social issues has showed me how structural many problems are and that you need to push on a number of places in the system at once in order to make change happen.

Who or what has impacted or inspired the direction of your life the most? Tell us why?

My range of colleagues at Social Finance, and the people I meet trying to address social challenges every day, inspire me and keep me engaged and learning. My old boss in banking, who painfully taught me how to finish things as well as start them. My wife, who is incisive and loving in equal measure. And the girls, who demonstrate that however much you think you know about negotiation, you still have more to learn.

All journeys in life have their ups and downs. Tell us about a time that you felt uncertain about the future. How did you overcome and deal with this situation?

I have never felt more uncertain than I do now. COVID-19, climate change, undermined democracy, shifts of power from west to east. Our planet is impacted by human decisions more now than ever before. Never have we had more need for leadership that is honest and thoughtful. The reasons we don’t have it are structural not individual. We need to act collectively and as communities if we are to regain a sense of control and trust in our lives.

Give us a peek into your everyday life; what inspires and motivates you to do what you do? Why do you do it? What keeps you going?

While I am in many ways fuelled by love and curiosity, I am also fuelled by anger at unfairness and injustice. I keep going because I see progress and because I continue to learn, about myself, about people and about the world around me.

If you could ask The Sense Network to help you to change one thing in the world for the better, what would you change and why?

People are entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts. Bringing people back to reading balanced news and information. Enabling trustworthy and trusted sources could start to rebuild an inclusive connected society.

Inspiration from you to us

Watch Toby’s TED talk: Invest in Social Change. 

Hello World. Put yourself out there…

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