Complex Adaptive Leadership: Embracing Paradox and Uncertainty and Moving Leadership from 1.0 to 4.0

Date: Nov. 25, 2017  13:30-15:00

Venue: Zhejiang University, Zijingang Campus, Li Moxi Building, Zijingang Hall

Speaker: Nick Obolensky

Speaker Biography:


Nick’s key speciality is improving organisational-wide effectiveness and enabling effective change based on a more empowering and effective form of leadership, strategy and change. This role he achieves from a depth of experience of being a practitioner, consultant academic and author. His experience includes:

As a practitioner: a cavalry officer in the British Army where he achieved the rank of Major in his late twenties; the Chief of Staff/Development Director of Gateway/Somerfield, with line responsibility for 12,000 staff , where he also led a team responsible for co-ordinating a major change programme, reporting to the CEO, involving over 45,000 employees in excess of a £1bn budget, as well as being Property Director responsible for £2bn+ of assets; the founder CEO of Tomorrow’s Company Enterprises Limited, responsible for developing an innovative strategy and taking a new philosophy into business; and CEO and Chairman of green energy technology start-ups.

As a consultant: He was an Executive Consultant of Ernst & Young’s Strategy Consulting Group where he both managed strategic projects around the world (including two major bank turnarounds in Hungary and Saudi Arabia, and the first successful privatisation in Poland) and led the Research Associate practice recruiting, managing and mentoring graduates; and the UK Managing Partner of The Vth Dimension Partnership, specialising in innovative process and strategy consulting, leadership development programmes, team building, mass engagement facilitation, strategy development and cultural change.

His academic experience includes: Associate Professor of Leadership at Nyenrode in the Netherlands (Professor of the Year for part time MBA 2002, and full time MBA 2003), Fellow/Programme Director at London Business School’s CMD, Visiting professor of leadership at INSEAD and EHL (Switzerland) and Honorary Fellow at University of Exeter’s Centre for Leadership Studies in the UK. He is currently visiting professor at CEDEP and Thunderbird.

As an author, his various publications include: “Complex Adaptive Leadership –Embracing Paradox and Uncertainty” (best seller by Gower 2010, 2nd ed 2014), “Practical Business Re-engineering –Tools and Techniques for Achieving Effective Change” which has been translated into several languages, (Kogan Page 1993); “Chaos, Leadership and Polyarchy” (Centre for Leadership Studies, University of Exeter, 2008). Other book contributions include: “Management Consultancy –a guide to best practice” where he wrote the chapters on “Strategy Formulation” and “Implementation, and the RSA’s “On work and leadership”.

His education/qualifications include: MBA from IMD (Valedictorian 1988) in Switzerland and a Russian honours degree (2:1) from Durham, UK. He has been a Fellow of the RSA and also of the RGS (having led a number of adventurous/mountaineering expeditions around the world). Professional memberships include the IOD and Fellowship of the IMC, and he is a qualified Chartered Management Consultant (CMC). Sports include skiing, surfing, and scuba.

Nick has taken his thinking around the world to much acclaim for both pubic, private and NGO organisations and is currently building an international network of talented associates.