Meet the Storytellers

Paul Essery and Frank Nigriello are leading the storytelling initiative that captured the interest of business people in Oxfordshire. The pair have been working together for around four years having developed and led the successful BIG Gig innovation events that run on a monthly basis.

Frank Nigriello is chairman of Oxfordshire Business First and Corporate Affairs Director at Unipart Group, the global manufacturing, logistics and consultancy company. He’s been a journalist, editor and documentary filmmaker, but he saw storytelling in a different light when he ran a training business in Oxford.

“We created online learning and developed corporate universities for large organisations,” he said. “I have a background in psychology, so I was interested to see how purposeful storytelling could be used to accelerate learning, develop confidence, and build trust,” he said.

“I’ve even used storytelling as a training technique when working in China. Although language can be a barrier, telling an illustrative, purposeful story helped to convey complex and sometimes controversial ideas in a compelling way.”

Paul Essery first met Nigriello during the Practical Innovation events that were run by Oxfordshire Business First several years ago. It was from those events that the BIG Gig developed as a new way of helping businesspeople to innovate.

Innovation was nothing new to Essery. He’d been a management consultant and ran several businesses before. Now he’s working with Oxfordshire business people to develop their business growth skills and strategies through his Sales Guru business.

According to Essery, the storytelling initiative has been a natural progression. “I could see that purposeful storytelling could be a practical, highly effective skill in the sales toolkit,” he said.

“But most people I spoke to were really struggling with it. When Frank and I talked about helping people to improve their skills, we decided to use a similar approach to our innovation thinking to help people learn from each other. That’s how the storytelling initiative was born.”

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