5 Big Questions: GAVIN POOLE


What happens when tech innovation meets education?

What can the military teach us about social mobility?

What is the real legacy of the Olympic Park in Stratford?

In this week’s 5 Big Questions interview we talk to former RAF Commander, government social policy adviser and innovation space creator, GAVIN POOLE.



  • Twitter: @GavinJPoole | @HereEast

Gavin Poole on innovation, 21st century spaces and the real 2012 Olympics legacyKnown for:

  • CEO – Here East
  • Non-Executive Director – Plexal
  • Former Trustee – Scope
  • Former Trustee – The Legacy List
  • Former Executive Director – The Centre For Social Justice
  • Former Private Secretary – Ministry of Defence (UK)
  • Former Commanding Officer – Royal Air Force

The 5 Big Questions:

Measuring change How do you measure the impact of what you do?

Ready for anything - future proofingHow should people/businesses be preparing for the future?

Skills, talent & opportunityHow do we build the workforce we need for that future?

Embedded innovationHow do you use creativity to solve problems?

Bold connections, collaborationHow do you collaborate?

Key quotes:

“Before you know it, our little piece of policy work suddenly became the Modern Day Slavery Act. We did that, that makes huge change.”

On Here East:

“We can be a social change agent, using the power of commercial real estate to change people’s lives.”

“This is a vehicle for social change. A vehicle where we could probably test some of the policy ideas we’ve been working on for the last four-and-a-half years at the CSJ and roll them out into a wider local community around Olympic Park.”

“We’re always looking five years out. That necessitated us to be quite lean from the get-go. In December 2014, whilst we were building these huge buildings on Olympic Park, there were three of us and that was it. But we needed, in 2015, to stand up the organisation because we were going to operationalise part of Here East. So that year we went from three to just under 40. Keep things lean!”

“How were we hedging energy in advance of the Ukraine crisis kicking off? It’s probably a bi-product of my military background. You know it’s the old adage of great plans don’t survive first contact with the enemy. When you join the military they spend over a year just training you on leadership.”

This episode was recorded in August 2022

Interviewer: Richard Freeman for always possible

Editor: CJ Thorpe-Tracey for Lo Fi Arts


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