Ken Olisa

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Ken Olisa

Kenneth "Ken" Olisa OBE, FRSA, FBCS (born 13 October 1951) is a British businessman and the first black Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London. He founded and led the technology merchant bank Interregnum. He is Past Master of the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists and has served and serves on several boards of philanthropic, educational and regulator organizations.

Early life[edit]

Born in 1951 of a Nigerian father and a British mother, and a native of Nottingham, Olisa's technology career commenced in the 1970s at IBM after he won a scholarship while an undergraduate at Cambridge University, where he studied Natural Sciences and then Social, Political and Management Sciences at Fitzwilliam College.[1]


At IBM he held various posts before joining Wang Laboratories[2] in 1981. Following a period as Marketing Director for Europe, VP of US Marketing and then of Worldwide Marketing based in Boston, he 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.

Olisa 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 he worked at the forefront of the entrepreneur/technology growth cycle that began in the mid-1990s. He was also a principal advisor to, and Director of,, which became one of the UK's few large scale dotcom successes when it was sold to Barry Diller's USA Interactive in 2003. Olisa retired from Interregnum in 2006 and now runs Restoration Partners,[3] an independent boutique technology merchant bank and architects of the Virtual Technology Cluster model.

Olisa has considerable public company board-level experience on both sides of the Atlantic. He was the first British-born black man to serve on the Board of a major UK public company (Reuters) and is currently a non-executive director of Thomson Reuters (where he is a member of the Audit Committee),[4] and also a non-executive director of the Institute of Directors. He was a Director and Chairman 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.[5] Olisa is also Chairman of the Thebes Group and Shaw Trust.[6]

In 2009, The Sunday Times named him Not for Profit Non-Executive Director of the year, and in 2016 he was voted number one in the Powerlist's Top 10 most influential British black people.[7]

In 2015, Her Majesty the Queen appointed him Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London.[8]


Olisa is a Freeman of the City of London; Past 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), for which he received an OBE in 2010; Founder and Chairman of the Powerlist Foundation; Fellow of the British Computer Society (in 2006); Past member of the Government's Women's Enterprise Taskforce; 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. Olisa is also a Patron for School-Home Support (SHS), a charity helping disadvantaged children and young people overcome barriers to education such as poverty, domestic abuse and housing issues.


Honorary titles
Preceded by
Sir David Brewer
Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London


External links[edit]