After-dinner speakers - Guto Harri
Guto Harri was born and raised in Cardiff and was educated at Llanhari Comprehensive School before reading Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Queen’s College, Oxford. He then went on to undertake a post-graduate degree in Broadcast Journalism at the Centre for Journalism Studies in his home town of Cardiff.
Guto started his broadcasting career in Welsh-language radio before moving on to work on the S4C news programme ‘Newyddion’ and on a number of historical documentaries for S4C, as well as presenting BBC Wales' main election programme.
Guto then moved into Westminster to cover British politics on network television, becoming a regular presenter on BBC television and radio programmes such as The World at One, The Westminster Hour, Westminster Live, PM, Straight Talk, Hard Talk, Despatch Box and The World This Weekend. He also covered the collapse of communism in Romania, Czechoslavakia and East Germany before reporting on the Gulf War from Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Northern Iraq.
In 2002, Guto became Chief Political Correspondent for the BBC's 24 hour news channel and travelled the world with Tony Blair in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq.
During this time Guto also presented the channel's weekly interview programme, One To One. His first foreign posting was to Rome in 2004, where he covered the Pope, Silvio Berlusconi, the Mafia, Opera, Wine, Business and Sport before moving on, in 2005, to become BBC’s North American Business Correspondent based in New York until June 2007. In that role, Guto travelled to about 30 states and interviewed a number of senior figures in the world of business and economics, including Robert Rubin, Bill Gates, Eric Schmidt, Larry Page, Sir Howard Springer, Bill Ford, Jeffrey Skilling, Conrad Black and Craig Newark amongst others.
After leaving the BBC at the end of 2007, Guto joined London public relations agency, Fleishman-Hillard as a Senior Policy Advisor, through which he worked for Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
In May 2008, Guto was appointed as Communications Director for the Mayor of London Boris Johnson's administration at London City Hall, having once been tipped to take over communications for David Cameron.
Here Guto’s role is to advise the Mayor – whom he met at Oxford University - on communications and to direct media strategy. This simple job description somewhat understates his absolutely pivotal importance. He does a lot of work with outside bodies such as the press, public, national and local government and international organisations. But he also works very closely with the Mayor and all his advisers to enable the dissemination of a consistent message. He is known to be in constant contact with Andy Coulson, David Cameron’s Director of Communications.
Guto Harri is both highly intelligent and utterly lacking in pomposity, a combination that is serving him and the Mayor well.