Dr. Robert Coles

CEO, Roffey Park Institute

Dr Robert Coles is the Chief Executive of Roffey Park Institute. He has been deeply involved with human development over many years, most recently as the Co-Founder and Chair of The Centre for Alternative Leadership & Management - Place of CALM™, an academic research collaboration, think tank and consultancy, created in response to the global financial crisis in 2007/8.

Previously, Robert has built three Executive Education practices and, in addition, was also the European Director for one of the world’s ‘next 4’ global audit and accounting organisations, leading a European organisation of 10,000 people and $1.6 billion in revenues.

Robert’s business background spans the fields of retail, the arts, financial services and HR and OD Consultancy and he has extensive international experience as a Mentor, Coach and Consultant, having worked with clients across Europe, the Middle East, Asia and USA.

Those clients have offered a wonderfully diverse set of challenges, encompassing top team development, major global change programmes, mentoring CEOs and other C-Suite executives, as well as cross-cultural consulting and education. A particular focus over the last decade has been researching and consulting with international joint ventures in the civil engineering and utilities sectors in Europe and USA, using action research to design organisational practices that enable effective and timely delivery of high-value, high-complexity infrastructure projects.

Robert is a graduate of Oxford and Leicester Universities in the UK. His Ph.D. research was in Collaborative & Confucian Leadership, and his post-graduate degrees are in Cross-Cultural HRD, and Organisational Leadership. His continuing research interest is in Collaborative InterCompetence©, exploring collaborative behavioural mechanisms for promoting interdependent leadership and management, using AI tools.

His approach to organisational change is that we should understand ourselves as part of ‘between-person’ social networks. He argues against the individualist, ‘leader as hero’ approach as both outdated and dangerous. Leaders and managers must and can be both inclusive social contributors and champions of business success.