Matt Barnaby, Working Hard & Doing Good with ImpactBasis


If you haven’t met Matt yet, prick up your ears and get enticed by his contagious energy, compassion, and enthusiasm to facilitate and coach people, teams, and organizations to connect, collaborate, change and develop their capabilities.

The 10.000 hour rule postulates that enough practice makes an expert of anyone – and although Matt had his fair share of training, it’s his innate drive for social impact and personality that make him an A-player in creating solutions to complex problems. 

In his previous life (“a really strange winding road”) Matt initially worked in children’s services with difficult youngsters in the UK who had been excluded from mainstream education. Fast forward 10 years and Matt was asked to join a large consultancy firm to help develop a national training programme, The Step Up To Social Work, which was part of a Government response to a terrible tragedy. Then a few years later he found himself as a principal planner on a financial services banking merger, “completely a fish out of water”. It was at this point that he realised that traditional “linear project management” wasn’t for him.

I was much more interested in collaboration, in working with people to tackle challenges with an attitude of ‘let’s break it down and do something meaningful now rather than next week, or instead of next month.’ Let’s do and learn rather than plan and procrastinate.

Long story short, his drive for social impact steered him back towards public sector consulting where Matt met his colleague Dennis and after working together for 5 years they launched Basis to focus on helping UK public services to tackle messy problems. Basis has since been recognised as a leading consulting firm by clients and peers for 3 years running.

In 2019 with a dream of making a bigger impact in the world, they created ImpactBasis here in The Hague. As Basis’ sibling organization, ImpactBasis (and Matt) collaborates with social purpose organisations such as UNICEF, OECD and REN21 to create virtual events, workshops and conferences where genuine dialogue, connection and outcomes are made possible. “Not only that though, we also roll our sleeves up to help develop capacity and capabilities so that teams and leaders can thrive in this ever-changing world.”


Matt is one of those people you meet, and something sparks. Not only does his energy immediately elevate the mood in the room, but it’s the immediacy and clarity with which he approaches a conversation, a problem, a barrier. 

This translates into his work where he aims to “create spaces to talk to share, to learn to explore, and at the end of it do something because that’s the only thing that matters”. He assesses how best to enable people to collaborate, to really get under the skin of the issue, and come up with potential approaches to respond, testing those responses through experimenting and prototyping.

Every problem and every opportunity is different. I’m never going to be one of those who offer an off-the-shelf product to plug in. Everything must be crafted and tailored to unlock the potential for a positive outcome.

Towards the end of last year, Matt and his colleagues were part of a team alongside partners, ReesMcCann who organized, developed, and delivered the UNHCR Global Alliance conference focusing on child protection. For Matt, this was an emotional piece of work “because that’s where I started – in Children’s Services – it felt like my career had reached a pinnacle. Having gone from being a volunteer youth worker in a small town in the UK to working with such an important organization, across time zones and continents, creating large scale impact and talking about strategies to develop child protection and safeguarding, was a true privilege”. 


Funnily enough, Matt has only been living in The Hague for about 10 months now, but his relationship with the Humanity Hub reaches much further back. Meeting Jill, the Hub’s Managing Director, in 2019 where they shared ideas and talked about working with social purpose in The Hague. He credits those formative conversations with Jill and folks from World Startup with being a big part of what enticed him to move to and work in The Hague. 

Before I joined, I experienced the Hub as being a really open, accepting, welcoming and exciting environment.

In the hope that the pandemic would ease and he could work around people that he had something in common with, Matt still appreciates the acceptance and the community-led programmes that “just feel really quite creative”. Regardless, Matt has worked and collaborated with (and most importantly: helped) a number of the Hub’s members during these strange times, creating that sense of being there – until we can finally all be there, again.

Many thanks, Matt, for taking the time to talk us through your journey. Don’t hesitate to reach out to Matt via LinkedIn, Twitter, or Slack, to find out more about him and his work or simply to say hi!