UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose


The Big Con – How the Consulting Industry Weakens our Economies and Harms Democracy

28 February 2023, 6:45 pm–8:05 pm

The Big Con – How the Consulting Industry Weakens our Economies and Harms Democracy

Join Prof Mariana Mazzucato, IIPP PhD Student Rosie Colington and Editor and Broadcaster Kamal Ahmed to hear a ground-breaking investigation into how the consulting industry has made its way to the heart of our economies, weakening businesses and infantilising governments.

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How To Academy

Professor Mariana Mazzucato is no ordinary economist.

Author of 3 blockbuster books, winner of the Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of  Economic Thought, and heralded as one of the ‘3 most important thinkers about innovation’ (New Republic), ‘one of the 50 most creative people in business’ (Fast Company), and one of the ‘25 leaders shaping the future of capitalism’ (WIRED), she has the ear of policymakers from the WHO to the UN and far beyond.

Now she returns to How To Academy, alongside her brilliant PhD student and political economist Rosie Collington, with a ground-breaking investigation into how the consulting industry stunts innovation, obfuscates corporate and political accountability and impedes our collective mission of halting climate breakdown.

The ‘Big Con’ is possible in today’s economies because of the unique power that consultancies wield through extensive contracts and networks – as advisors, legitimators and outsourcers – and the illusion that they are objective sources of expertise and capacity.

In conversation with former Editorial Director of BBC News, Kamal Ahmed, Mariana and Rosie will expertly debunk the myth that consultancies always add value to the economy. Presenting a wealth of original research, they will argue brilliantly for investment and collective intelligence within all organizations and communities, and for a new system in which public and private sectors work innovatively for the common good.


Where: Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL and online.

When: Tuesdsday 28 February at 18:45pm-20:05 (GMT).


  • Live Event Ticket - Student £7.50 +£0.53 Fee
  • Live Event Ticket £30.00 +£2.13 Fee
  • Live Event Ticket + Book (RRP £25.00) £50.00 +£3.55 Fee
  • Couple's Live Event Ticket + 1 Book £70.00 +£4.97 Fee

Sales end on Feb 28, 2023

About the Speakers

Prof Mariana Mazzucato

Professor in the Economics of Innovation and Public Value, Director, UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose at UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose

Mariana Mazzucato
Mariana Mazzucato (PhD) is Professor in the Economics of Innovation and Public Value at University College London (UCL), where she is Founding Director of the UCL Institute for Innovation & Public Purpose (IIPP). She is winner of international prizes including the Grande Ufficiale Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana in 2021, Italy's highest civilian honour, the 2020 John von Neumann Award, the 2019 All European Academies Madame de Staël Prize for Cultural Values, and 2018 Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought. She was named as one of the '3 most important thinkers about innovation' by The New Republic, one of the 50 most creative people in business in 2020 by Fast Company, and one of the 25 leaders shaping the future of capitalism by WIRED.  

She is the author of three highly-acclaimed books: The Entrepreneurial State: Debunking Public vs. Private Sector Myths (2013), The Value of Everything: Making and Taking in the Global Economy (2018) and most recently Mission Economy: A Moonshot Guide to Changing Capitalism (2021). She advises policymakers around the world on innovation-led inclusive and sustainable growth. Her current roles include being Chair of the World Health Organization's Council on the Economics of Health for All, Co-Chair of the Global Commission on the Economics of Water, a member of the South African President’s Economic Advisory Council, the Scottish Government’s Council of Economic Advisors, the European Space Agency’s High-Level Advisory Group on Human and Robotic Space Exploration for Europe, and the United Nations High-level Advisory Board (HLAB) on Economic and Social Affairs, among others.  More about Prof Mariana Mazzucato

Rosie Collington

PhD student at UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (IIPP)

Rosie Collington
Rosie Collington is a PhD candidate at IIPP, under the supervision of Professor Mariana Mazzucato and Dr Kate Roll. Her research explores the political economy of health innovation and the role of the state in value creation. She holds an MSc in Political Science (International Political Economy) from the University of Copenhagen, during which she also received a grant to study on exchange at the University of California at Berkeley’s School of Public Health. Alongside her studies, she worked at Copenhagen Business School, and at the Center for Medical Science and Technology Studies at the University of Copenhagen as a Research Assistant.

Before joining IIPP in September 2020, she held roles in policy and advocacy at the British Heart Foundation, and most recently as a Researcher for a project led by Professor William Lazonick on pharmaceutical industry financialization, funded by the Institute for New Economic Thinking. She has also worked on a freelance basis with a number of think tanks and advocacy groups, and has written for public audiences in The Guardian, The New Statesman, openDemocracy and elsewhere. She is a Coordinator of the Economics of Innovation Working Group with the Institute for New Economic Thinking’s Young Scholars Initiative. More about Rosie Collington

Kamal Ahmed

Editor-in-Chief and Co-founder, The News Movement at Media Trust

Kamal Ahmed
Before launching The News Movement, Kamal was Editorial Director, BBC News, between 2018 and 2021. He joined the BBC in 2014 as business editor and was promoted to the role of economics editor in December 2015, replacing Robert Peston.

He previously spent four and a half years as business editor of the Sunday Telegraph’s award-winning team, also helping to launch the Telegraph’s annual festival of business for small and medium sized enterprises. Between 2007 and 2009, Kamal was Group Director, Communications, at the Equality and Human Rights Commission. Prior to that, he worked at The Observer as head of news and earlier as the Sunday newspaper’s political editor. Kamal also worked at The Guardian, in roles including Royal Correspondent and Media Editor, and at Scotland on Sunday, where he was chief reporter and deputy news editor. More about Kamal Ahmed