Kemi Phillips

Event Director

I am a learning consultant for businesses. I have worked in general HR and over the last 15 years I have specialised in learning and development, managing different teams but now I work as a self-employed consultant doing 6-9 month contracts in different places.

I decided to get involved with TEDxFolkestone as a way to meet like minded people and learn new skills.  I have only been living in Folkestone for just over a year so I felt it would be a great way to get involved with the local community.

On a practical level, I was ready to buy my first home and London, where I originate from, is very expensive.  I love the seaside, so that was a must and I was also looking for a place that had a great community vibe, which I could feel part of and be at one with.  However I still needed to have easy access to London so I could go back to visit all my friends and family.  Folkestone ticked all these boxes for me.

Any girly song instantly cheers me up, think along the lines of Cyndi Lauper or Aretha Franklin – something that you can put on in your car, turn the volume right up and have a good singalong with all your mates.  I also love songs that can transport you back to different memories from the past, pop it on and instantly you can go back in your mind to where you first heard the tune.

I love any underdog stories or people achieving amazing feats against all odds. I am massively inspired by books that I have read about climbing Everest or the first expeditions to the North and South Pole. People like Edmund Hillary and Roald Amundsen are truly inspirational to me.

Five favourite books or films?

So I have chosen a mixture and my first choice is a book called Sophie’s Choice by William Styron.  During the book Sophie has a choice and faces a terrible dilemma and whilst it’s not an easy read and can be horrific at times, it is an extremely interesting and well written book.

My next choice of book is Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury – I did English Literature for my first degree and specialised in dystopian fiction, this book was on my reading list.

My next choice is Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks – it’s just a really great book.  My fourth choice is The English Patient, both the film and the book as they are equally as good.  I really enjoyed it’s concept of fate and luck, it’s so sad and moving.  My last choice is an old film that me and my siblings watched many times, Club Paradise.  We spent many hours giggling at this film and even today it’s one of those films that we put on when we all get together at Christmas and scream and howl, just like when we were younger – it’s a real bonding moment as no one else understands why we find it so funny.

Who would be on your dream dinner party list?

I tried to think of someone really wise and of all the people in history that you could invite to a dinner party, I choose Michael McIntyre.  I am sure I could have chosen a more influential person but I decided that I would just love to laugh constantly.

What is the worst Christmas (or birthday) present you ever received? And why?

I am part Nigerian and my parents separated when we were younger which meant that we spent every other Christmas in Nigeria with my large family.  One particular year when I was 11 years old my aunt brought all eighteen of us a roll on deodorant each, even the 4 and 5 years olds!! Still to this day, it is the worst present I have ever received.

What is your Secret claim to fame’?

My secret claim to fame is that I have flown in a private jet eight times!  A previous wealthy boyfriend had more money than sense and I spent a rather wild and extravagant year living between South Africa and Nigeria – it is as great as it looks but I wouldn’t go back to that lifestyle now!

What would be your Desert Island Discs?

So I would choose the following:

  • Fallen by Lauren Wood – reminds me of watching Pretty Women when I was younger
  • Rise Up by David Guetta & Yves LaRock – it’s a really great dance track and it reminds me of a particular summer where me and my friends played it over and over again.
  • I Wanna Dance With Somebody by Whitney Houston – this was my first LP album
  • Nothing Compares 2U by Sinead O’Connor – this would be my feeling sorry for myself track because I’m all alone on a desert island.
  • Primavera by Ludovico Einaudi – this a beautiful and delicate piano track that I feel would be a great soundtrack to me staring out into the distance looking wistful.

What’s your favourite TEDx talk and why?

I love lots of the talks but this one particular talk is very simple and I keep going back to it time and time again as it is a great mantra for me personally and it is called ‘Life Advice from the Slowest Mammal on Earth’- which is a Sloth. The talk is essentially on how to live your life as a Sloth – taking your time every now and again.