What have I learned developing teams and taking on tough leadership roles.

Let’s imagine that after years of disciplined study, hard work, learning from mistakes and persevering, you’ve done it – you’ve landed your dream job. The timing is perfect. There’s intense interest just now in your department’s work. Politicians and the public will be watching what you do. You’ve got a big budget and a great team. You’re thrilled. You’re terrified.

So you head to your local bookstore or start searching the web to see what the experts are saying about what makes a leader successful. What you find is an astonishing array of tomes and sites dedicated to the subject. They promise everything from inspiring stories of iconic CEOs who single-handedly turned around failing corporations to the change management wisdom of a fictional mouse. After an hour of browsing through diverse views on the four essential leadership practices, the management model that will make everything fall into place, the ten steps to success, your head is spinning. People have done a lot of thinking about leadership – what to make of it all?

The Public Policy Forum has asked me to set some context for this exploration of ten tough jobs in the public service by providing current perspectives on what makes people most likely to succeed in such roles. What have I learned from my many years of tracking the literature, advising and developing executives and executive teams, and taking on tough leadership roles myself?

The first thing I’ll say is that anyone who truly believes there is a simple recipe for leadership success has not spent much time in a leadership role or watching leaders go about their work. They’ve not had to figure out how to improve service while cutting costs. They haven’t thought about how to keep people energized and positive while giving them tough feedback on their performance. Or telling them some of their colleagues are losing their jobs. They haven’t tried to satisfy multiple stakeholders with conflicting interests while staying true to their personal vision of what’s right. They haven’t experienced the instant shifts from delving into the details of why the budget isn’t balancing, to planning long-term strategy, to delivering a motivational speech to employees, to being grilled at a press conference or by the Board.

I’ve read a lot of books and heard many speeches on leadership in the course of my career, and from most I’ve gleaned at least a few nuggets of insight. The best have provided me useful new ways of thinking about challenges I’ve faced in my role or with my clients. I think the key is to mentally connect what you take away from what you read or hear with an “and” rather than an “or.”

If you track the literature over time, you’ll see the pendulum swings. Someone comes out with a theory that resonates; others are quick to pick up the theme. Warren Bennis, for example, began in the mid- 1980s to explore what distinguishes “leaders” from “managers.” His books were highly influential and continue to provide insight to a new generation of leaders. It was Bennis who wrote: “Managers are people who do things right; leaders are people who do the right thing.” You’ll hear echoes of his thinking throughout much of the literature of the past several decades: The manager administers; the leader innovates. The manager has a short-range view; the leader has a long-range perspective. The manager asks how and when; the leader asks what and why. The manager has his eye on the bottom line; the leader has his eye on the horizon. The manager accepts the status quo; the leader challenges it.

More recently, Henry Mintzberg has argued that the fashion of seeking to distinguish leaders from managers has in reality led to us being “overled and undermanaged.” This is because it’s “easier to muse about the glories of leadership than it is to come to grips with the realities of management.” It may be possible to distinguish leadership and management conceptually, but rarely in practice: “Leadership cannot simply delegate management…we should be seeing managers as leaders, and leadership as management practiced well.”

By putting leadership on a pedestal, we’re shining the spotlight on individual leaders rather than on the community of people who must collaborate to make any organization successful. We’ve created a breeding ground for what the ancient Greeks called “hubris” – the overblown sense of self-importance and entitlement that can drive leaders to lose touch with reality and destroy their organizations. We’ve seen that happen too often in recent years.

Note that in Mintzberg’s thinking, the “and” has replaced the “or”: the best leaders are great leaders and great managers. I would argue that the same principle should be applied to many of the big questions that have preoccupied students of leadership. Are the most effective leaders visionaries or good at managing tactical detail? Are they strategic thinkers or excellent at execution? Are they people-oriented or numbers-driven?

I would say, yes and yes. In my experience the strongest leaders are those who can instantly size up what’s required by a situation and adjust their style appropriately. They are multi-faceted and multiskilled. At the right moment, they engage their teams in exploring the big picture and charting a clear path forward. When they see their teams struggling to execute a critical task along the way, they can roll up their sleeves, identity blockages and figure out how to make progress. When an employee is clearly stressed, they take the time to find out the root cause, coach and support. When someone consistently fails to deliver, they hold him or her accountable and there are consequences – no excuses or turning a blind eye.

This is not to say that to be a leader you have to be highly skilled in every aspect of what leaders are called on to do. Were that the case, true leaders would be few and far between. I don’t believe in the myth of the heroic leader – the one individual who knows it all and can do it all. The best leaders I’ve seen have both the self-awareness to identify where they are strong and the self-confidence to surround themselves with people who are more competent than they are in areas where they’re weak. In other words, they have the kind of “emotional intelligence” that Daniel Goleman and others have identified as a key characteristic of successful leaders.

They are strict about carving out sufficient time and space for introspection – to be honest with themselves about what’s working and what’s not. They have the courage to seek feedback from others, to hear it with an open mind, and to welcome guidance from trusted advisors. They have the emotional intelligence to understand the impact they’re having on others and others are having on them. They manage conflict and contention toward constructive ends rather than shying away.

While I don’t present these as “the three keys,” I do want to underscore three talents that I think are taking on more importance as we better understand the complexity of dealing with challenges in an increasingly interdependent world.

The first is the ability to build effective teams and optimize their performance. Recognizing that you need people with complementary skills and different knowledge around you is a great first step. Then you need to select the right people for these roles (sternly resisting the natural temptation to hire in your own image) and invest in helping them function effectively together. If you’re extraordinarily lucky, the top-notch individuals with the highly diverse skills and perspectives you need to collaborate on a task will simply gel and get on with the job. More often than not, it will take time and effort for you and the team to build a shared language and common vision of where you’re collectively heading, understand what unique skill each individual brings, uncover the differences in how people think and approach work, surface and align assumptions. Once again, this takes some emotional intelligence on the part of the leader (and all team members) and a great deal of patience.

The second is what Roger Martin in his recent book The Opposable Mind calls “integrative thinking.” Taking his inspiration from novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald’s observation that “the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function” is the sign of a first-rate intelligence, Martin makes the case that this is in fact the starting point for innovation and competitive advantage. He describes how Isadore Sharp, faced with the choice of continuing to build small motels offering intimacy and personal service or large hotels with all the amenities but lacking personal touch – the two dominant models in the industry at the time – used his “opposable mind” to create a new model offering the best of both worlds. The Four Seasons Hotel and Resort brand is today recognized and admired around the globe.

Likewise, when A.G. Lafley became CEO of floundering Procter & Gamble, he was lobbied by two factions with opposing views of the route to success: drastic cost cutting to keep prices competitive or innovation to differentiate P&G with products for which consumers would pay premium prices. He chose both. As Lafley himself puts it: “We weren’t going to win if it was an ‘or.’ Everybody can do ‘or’…You’re not going to win if you are in a trade-off game.”

Note once again the power of the “and.” Faced with complexity, management practice has tended to focus on simplifying by eliminating options, breaking the problem into manageable pieces and putting specialized teams to work at them. The problem with eliminating options out of hand is that you’re probably doing so based on the patterns of thinking and acting that got you into trouble in the first place.

The problem with sending people off to find a solution to a bit of the problem is that the various “bit” solutions may not work well together – or even create greater problems – in the context of the larger system. It was Peter Senge who in 1990 popularized the idea of “systems thinking,” which he called “the art of seeing the forest and the trees.” This is the ability to discern patterns in what could look like chaos, to distinguish root causes from symptoms, to find a plot-line – organizing complexity into a coherent story.

That brings me to the third leadership talent I want to highlight. The primary work of a leader is to communicate. This may fall into the too-obvious-for-words category, but I find that it surprises many people to hear it put that way. Every leader has a degree of accountability to a great variety of stakeholders, whether these be owners, voters, bosses, employees, colleagues, customers, governments, communities, boards. A leader’s success depends on a constant flow of reliable information to and from and among all these groups.

The information may begin as “data,” but the leader also has a role to play in giving it “meaning”: information that keeps people pulling in the same direction and motivated to get there; information they can put to use to solve problems and seize opportunities; information that creates trust and good-will. Much of what has been published on leadership over the past several decades has focused on leaders in business. This Public Policy Forum study is a welcome addition to our understanding of what’s required of leaders and managers in the public sector.

Although some of the fundamentals are the same, there are unique challenges faced by those brave enough to step into tough jobs like those described here. I encourage you to consider these perspectives on leadership as simply a starting point for your own exploration of what kind of leader it takes to do such jobs well.



Bennis, Warren & Burt Nanus. Leaders: The Strategies for Taking Charge; The Four Keys of Effective Leadership.  New York: Harper & Row, 1985.

Martin, Roger. The Opposable Mind: How Successful Leaders Win Through Integrative Thinking. Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2007.

Mintzberg, Henry. Managing. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler, 2009.

Senge, Peter M. The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of the Learning Organization. New York: Doubleday, 1990.

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Lara Patriquin

Lara is a physician, speaker, and teacher of mindfulness meditation and of Transformative Inquiry in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Her personal quest for well being is informed by her medical studies on the brain and on the nature of thought.

She lectures extensively in the medical and business communities about the value of clear and reliable practices that optimize key functions of the mind. Inspired by her scientific knowledge and extensive contemplative practice, Lara’s clients are able to access a more creative, successful and inspired version of themselves. 

Debrah Wirtzfeld
Debrah Wirtzfeld

Debrah works with senior executive to facilitate organizational change management, including successful individual and team transitions. Working both one-on-one and in group settings, she assists teams in developing their strategic vision, enhancing effective team communication, incorporating best practices in board and management governance practices, including succession planning.

Debrah holds an MD degree from the University of Calgary, an MSc from Memorial University, and an MBA in Executive Management from Royal Roads University. She is a Certified Corporate Director (Rotman School of Management) and experienced facilitator in Crucial Conversations. She also holds a Certificate in Inclusive Leadership from Centennial College. Her most recent position was as the Associate Chief Medical Officer, Physician Diversity, Wellness & Leadership Development, Alberta Health Services.

Debrah is an Adjunct Professor of Surgery with the University of Alberta and has led significant change initiatives across Canada, having practiced in Newfoundland & Labrador, Manitoba, and more recently Alberta. She remains focused on the importance of building diverse and inclusive teams to support major transitions.

As a single parent to two busy sons, Debrah enjoys driving to basketball and football practices. She is a published fiction author and hopes to publish her first work of non-fiction around leadership transitions in the near future.


Elizabeth Bagger

Elizabeth has deep expertise as an adviser specialised in supporting family businesses on their journey towards more harmonious family dynamics, stronger family governance and next generation integration and education.

As the member of a family business and the former Director General of the Institute for Family Business in the UK, she has been involved in the family business field for over 20 years. She also currently serves on the Board of a 6th and 7th-generation UK-based family business and her own family business.

Elizabeth holds a certificate in family business advising from the Family Firm Institute in Boston and is trained as a facilitator and family business advisor. She holds an MA in Post-Colonial Cultures and International Relations and a BA in languages.

Having recently relocated from Europe to Mexico, Elizabeth works globally in English, Spanish and Danish.

Colleen Bastian

Colleen delivers executive coaching, leadership, team, and DEI (diversity, equity, & inclusion) consulting services to global leaders in small, privately owned companies to large Fortune 100 organizations.   She focuses on increasing leadership and team capabilities of leaders to perform at their highest level.

Colleen holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology from The California School of Professional Psychology and a B.S. in Exercise Physiology from The College of Charleston. She is also a professional certified coach (PCC) with the International Coach Federation (ICF).

Prior to becoming an organizational consultant, Colleen was a senior sales professional at Pfizer Inc. Colleen lives in south Florida with her husband and two children.  She is a focused individual and athlete.  She enjoys competing in races and also volunteers to support marginalized communities.


Beth Corcoran

Beth Corcoran works with clients in the area of business consulting and coaching with a focus on organizational development and human resources. Based in Toronto, Canada, she works with leaders helping them solve challenges in the area of leadership, strategy, management development and organizational performance. As an executive coach, Beth works with the C-suite, VP’s and Directors, facilitating growth, development and insight for leaders both one-on-one and in group coaching settings. Beth also teaches Business Ethics at Trent University and post-graduate Organizational Behaviour at the Centre for Business at George Brown College.

Beth holds a Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) from Queen’s University (Kingston), a Master of Arts (Psychology) from the Adler University (Chicago), and a CHRL designation. In addition, she has attended Harvard Business School (Cambridge) Executive Education, is an Adler International Institute trained coach and is certified in The Birkman Method Assessment Tool. She is completing her Ph.D. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology at Adler University.

Beth has served many organizations in both governance roles and as a hands-on volunteer. She enjoys travel, tennis and running. Beth’s long distance running took her to the Boston Marathon in 2005, which she ran with her husband Jon. Jon and Beth reside in Toronto with their two school aged daughters.


Liz Bernhard

Liz has more than 25 years of experience as a business psychologist helping organizations grow and achieve results by making the right talent decisions globally. A trusted talent advisor with a global mindset, Liz makes strong and lasting connections with her clients.

After completing her M.A. and PhD in Counseling Psychology at Northwestern University, Liz started her career in private practice in São Paulo, Brazil. She moved to the consulting world after seeing the profound and dynamic impact of this work on individuals and organizations. She is invigorated by helping leaders gain insight into their skills and deepen their ability to leverage their own and others’ talents to increase effectiveness.

Liz specializes in talent selection, coaching and development. She has worked globally across a variety of industries, including private equity, banking, consulting, consumer products, manufacturing, energy, media, and mining.

Liz has Canadian and US citizenship and lives in Vancouver BC.  


John A. Rogener

John Rogener has 30 years of global experience working in Fortune 500 firms in the talent development and coaching space. He is also a certified executive coach and has coached clients in the financial services, retail, not-for-profit and higher education sectors. This broad exposure of understanding human behavior in a variety of business settings gives him a unique perspective into the challenges executives face, and it enables him to identify sustainable solutions to address those challenges.

He has served as an adjunct professor at Rutgers University Center for Management Development, and also at New York University for 14 years where he was granted their prestigious Award for Teaching Excellence. 

John has a BA, an MA/Advanced Graduate Studies (Counseling) and received his coach certification via New York University. John is a member of the National Association for Talent Development (ATD) and is President Emeritus and member of the Association for Training and Development, NYC chapter. John is a recognized honoree for the New Jersey Governor’s Jefferson Award for Public Service.


Jane Brydges

Jane has over twenty years of management experience working with large companies to support their global leadership in the development and execution of enterprise-wide initiatives. With a primary focus on strategic projects, Jane works with organizations in both public and private sectors to assist them through corporate and operational transformations to achieve greater success, guide them through challenging times, or accelerate initiatives to capitalize on opportunities.

As a senior executive advisor with extensive international experience, Jane has provided executive level thought leadership and strategic consulting in organization restructuring, digital transformation, human resources management, technology and process design, change management, and organization development. She has a proven ability to direct global program initiatives designed to improve operations, impact business objectives and or maximize overall organization productivity/efficiency to ensure growth and process improvements. Her qualifications and experience enable her to deliver strategic solutions and advice on the selection, development and execution of transformative business initiatives.

Jane sits on the Board of Governors of Bishop’s University and is an active member of the Board of Directors at the Rideau Club in Ottawa.


Katrina Barclay

Katrina founded and ran a successful brick-and-mortar and e-commerce business for 10 years. Her contributions in business and the community led to her becoming a FortyUnder40 recipient in Ottawa, Canada in 2016. Before pivoting to business, Katrina had a career in journalism, working for such organizations as the CBC in Canada, and the BBC in London, UK.

A skilled communicator, Katrina holds a B.A. in communications from the University of Calgary and an M.A. in media studies from Westminster University, London, UK. She also completed an M.B.A at the Telfer School of Management, University of Ottawa.

Katrina sits on the Board of Helping with Furniture, an award-winning not-for-profit.

In addition to her consulting responsibilities, Katrina holds the position of VP Operations for GPA.


Stephen Scanlan

Stephen Scanlan is a senior HR/Talent professional who has held senior HR roles with Deloitte, Macquarie Bank, Tangerine Bank and Dentons, the world’s largest law firm. Stephen also worked in Human Capital consulting for KPMG and Development Dimensions International. Stephen brings functional depth in human resources and change management to GPA with industry depth in financial services, real estate, private equity, insurance and legal.

He has done client work with a range of organizations including Aviva Canada, Manitoba Blue Cross, Manitoba Ministry of Health, Capstone Infrastructure, Biome Renewables and Shikatani Lacroix.


Claudio Silvestri

Claudio has over 30 years of experience successfully leading large, complex and transformational initiatives for a variety of organizations within the Information Technology and Aviation industries.  He is known for his inspirational approach in creating alignment and organizational support to successfully achieve valuable and important outcomes through the use of technology.

Claudio is a recognized IT leader and was named Canadian CIO of The Year by the Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC) in recognition of his leadership and vision in leading digital, cloud and mobile technology transformations.

Claudio also brings significant experience in Cyber Security specifically as it relates to governance, maturity, Board level oversight and risk management. He led the establishment of an international consortium on Cyber Security in the Aviation industry to help develop standards and leading practices to improve the safety and security for Air Navigation Service Providers.

Claudio is a member of the Ottawa Hospital Board of Governors and serves on the Audit and Finance Committee. He is a past member of the Board of Directors at the Canadian Cyber Threat Exchange (CCTX) which is a national organization that serves the Canadian industry by helping them collaborate to reduce cyber security risk. He is also the past President and Chair of Christie Lake Kids which is an Ottawa-based not-for-profit organization serving disadvantaged youth in the Ottawa valley region. 


Colleen Bastian

Colleen delivers executive coaching, leadership, team, and DEI (diversity, equity, & inclusion) consulting services to global leaders in small, privately owned companies to large Fortune 100 organizations.   She focuses on increasing leadership and team capabilities of leaders to perform at their highest level. 

Colleen holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology from The California School of Professional Psychology and a B.S. in Exercise Physiology from The College of Charleston. She is also a professional certified coach (PCC) with the International Coach Federation (ICF).

Prior to becoming an organizational consultant, Colleen was a senior sales professional at Pfizer Inc. Colleen lives in south Florida with her husband and two children.  She is a focused individual and athlete.  She enjoys competing in races and also volunteers to support marginalized communities. 


Sharon Israel

Sharon holds a Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, a Master of Public Administration and Graduate Certificate in Personnel Management and Labor Relations. She is an experienced leader, coach, mentor, instructor, and teacher. She has successfully coached individuals in all levels of leadership.

Sharon created and delivered training and development programs in the areas of leadership, conflict resolution, management, teamwork, creative problem-solving, active listening, performance appraisal, workplace ethics, organizational health and stress management, and resiliency. She has extensive experience in talent management and selection systems as well as multi-faceted management assessment centers. She serves on the Board of Directors for three non-profit organizations in the field of reading education, dyslexia, and literacy.


Hartley Stern

Hartley has held significant health care leadership positions over a 30 year period in Universities, Cancer Systems, and Hospital Systems, in Ontario and Quebec, and most recently in the Canadian Medical Liability System (CMPA). He has forged strong relationships with governments in most provinces but most significantly in Quebec while CEO of the Jewish General Hospital and with Provincial Ministries of Health and Regulators to improve the safety and quality of care in the majority of Canadian jurisdictions whilst CEO of the CMPA.

He has also driven major improvements in quality and safety using (but not limited to): compelling articulation of vision and strategy; major refinements in data acquisition and analysis; and innovative partnerships.


Hilary Becker

Hilary Becker is an Associate Professor of Accounting at the Sprott School of Business, Carleton University in Ottawa. He holds a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) and Certified General Accountant (CGA) designation in addition to a PhD and MBA.

Hilary has worked as an analyst with DuPont Inc., and has consulted with Board of Directors, management and on projects for the World Wildlife Fund, the MacArthur Foundation, AFNI, Mosaid, Merck-Schering Plough, Canada Blood Services, Canadian Dental Association, Ottawa Festivals, Global Affairs Canada and CGA Ontario, among others, in areas of Blue Ocean Strategy, Performance Management, Balanced Scorecard, Tourism and Financial Literacy. Hilary is certified in Blue Ocean Strategy by the Blue Ocean Strategy Network (INSEAD University, France) and has served on the National Board of Directors for CGA Canada as the Ontario representative for 7 years ending as Vice Chair, CGA Canada prior to the merger of the accounting professions in Canada.


Carey Stevens

Carey holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and has completed the Executive Program in Human Resources Management from University of Toronto, Rottman School of Business. He is also a Certified Fitness Instructor.

Carey has over 45 years of experience in behavioral psychotherapy, business and family mediation and forensic assessments and over 25 years of experience in the execution of large, complex business transformations. His guiding philosophy is to integrate psychological principles with innovative management practices that resolve both complex organizational challenges and result in sustainable personal changes. Carey’s unique history of blending psychological and business insights coupled with his hands-on style has provided his clients with deeper and more insightful executive coaching, transformational change management, talent management, and career transition within a business transformation environment.

Carey has provided coaching and leadership development services for individuals and several Fortune One Hundred corporations in Canada, United States, Europe, and Asia Pacific. Carey prides himself on being a builder of teams and a developer of people.


Sandra Bertoli

Sandra is located in London, England. Her role with GPA is as a talent management consultant and executive coach. Her strength is to support professionals in identifying their potential and developing it in accordance with their aspirations. Sandra treats each project as unique and combines relevant assessment, coaching and development methods to achieve the specific goal of the individual and teams.

An Organisational Psychologist, Sandra started her career in the banking industry with UBS. She held various Management Development then High Potential Management roles at local and international levels.  She moved into the consulting world 17 years ago. Her activities focus on talent identification, assessment, individual and team coaching, leadership development as well as training fellow consultants in the use of assessment methodologies and psychometrics.

Sandra has international experience having lived and worked in Switzerland, Singapore, Paris, Brussels and London covering global assignments.  

In addition to banking, Sandra has extensive experience in the automotive industry, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals and professional services.

Sandra holds a BSc in Organisational Psychology and a diploma in Executive Coaching from the Academy of Executive Coaching in London. She is accredited in the Solution Focused methodology and in several psychometric tools (Hudson suite, Wave, OPQ, etc.). Sandra is also an in-house trainer for SHL’s psychometric tools.

Sandra is fluent in English, French and Italian.


Marc Prine

Known for his dynamic professional style and analytical approach, Marc thrives on using data and analytics to take an objective perspective to improving human performance. His key areas of focus include working with organizations to integrate empirically supported methodologies into the management of human capital. His expertise is on optimizing the selection, development, engagement, retention, and leadership due diligence of employees through use of people analytics, assessment, and psychology.

Marc has over twelve years of consulting experience working with organizations from financial services, technology, life sciences, manufacturing and both federal and local government. Marc earned his Ph.D. in Business Psychology from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, M.A. from West Chester University of Pennsylvania and undergraduate degree from Temple University. He is an adjunct professor in statistics and his work has been published in the Huffington Post, Forbes, and Fast Company.


Melissa Warner

Melissa holds a Ph.D. in Industrial/ Organizational Psychology and a certificate in the Neuroscience of Business from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She has assessed and coached business leaders for over 19 years and held a leadership role at Canadian Tire Corporation, developing and overseeing executive assessments and leadership development programs. Melissa has extensive experience drawing on neuroscience, psychology, and business, to help leaders in various sectors and business functions. She has contributed to the academic body of research through publication in books, peer-reviewed journals, and conference presentations.

In addition to consulting with GPA, Melissa is a Professor in the School of Global Business Management at Seneca College, where she teaches training and development, leadership, and human resources. In addition, Melissa sits on the advisory committee for Specialisterne, helping organizations obtain business results through neurodiversity. Her style of consulting is customized, results-driven, and measurement/results-focused.    


Marina Ivanoff

Marina is a consultant and an Executive Coach specialized in helping individuals and teams reach their full potential. She brings a breadth of experience in human capital optimization, strategy and change management. Her industry experience ranges from FMCG, transport, pharmaceutical, public entities and financial institutions.

In the first part of her career, Marina held regional and global, operational and strategic HR roles with Griffith Laboratories, Coca-Cola Enterprises and DHL Express.

In the last 15 years, she has worked as a Leadership Consultant focusing on talent assessment, executive coaching, and leadership development. Her expertise spans leadership program development and design, facilitation, talent assessment, individual and team coaching.

In addition to consulting, Marina is a tutor at INSEAD for strategy and leadership programs and a co-founder of Acteva Stars, a boutique accelerator for start-ups.

Having lived and worked across Europe and the US, she is currently based in Singapore and has been working throughout the Asia Pacific Region for the last 10 years.

Marina holds a degree in mathematics and a Master’s degree in Individual and Organisational Psychology from INSEAD. She holds an advanced diploma in coaching from the Academy of Executive Coaching and is a certified coach (PCC) from the International Coach Federation. She is also a Practitioner Systemic Team Coach from GTCI.  She is an NLP Senior Practitioner and is accredited in several globally recognized tools (MBTI, Hogan, etc.).
She holds a certificate in Business Strategy and Financial Performance from INSEAD.

Marina speaks French and English fluently.


Jon Donald

Jon received his M.B.A. in International Management from the Asia-Pacific International Institute.

Jon is a recognized leader in designing and implementing organizational change.  He is an expert in organizational re-design, change management, business communication, and the development and execution of change strategy. He has extensive international experience in training delivery, alternate service sourcing & governance, program development & review, performance assessment, and strategic policy and planning.

With over 23 years’ practice in consulting, Jon has extensive experience with multinational corporations, NGOs, government-owned corporations, and the public sector. Rated in the top 1% of change management experts on LinkedIn Canada, Jon co-designed and delivered an in-house organizational change strategy for a global consultancy. He has also designed and delivered change management education and training at the post-secondary level.

Jon has served on boards and advisory councils for organizations involved with youth mentorship, cancer research, and amateur sports.


Gerald Pulvermacher

Gerry has been advising companies throughout North America for almost 50 years. Additionally, he has led 5 different consultancies including being Senior Partner and Global Practice Director of 4 lines of service (Change Leadership, Human Capital, Learning and Organization Performance) at Deloitte Consulting, was President of Oliver Wyman Delta (Canada), Managing Partner of PSS Consulting and Co-lead of PulvermacherFirth (acquired by the Hudson Highland Corporation, a publicly traded company listed on NASDAQ).

He has consulted to central banks, pension funds, multi-faceted real estate companies, oil & gas producers, pipeline companies, airports, professional services firms, lottery corporations, family businesses in such sectors as automobile dealerships and home healthcare, crown corporations and hospitals. He has sat on the Boards of hospitals, high tech companies and community services organizations. MacLean’s Magazine labeled Gerry as one of Canada’s “management gurus”. He has lectured in the business program of Queen’s University School of Business and the University of Ottawa’s Telfer School of Family Business. As a dual citizen, Gerry’s clients can be found both in Canada and the USA.


Marion Weiler

Marion Weiler serves as an Executive Advisor, Growth Strategist, and Branding Expert. She advises and guides businesses and leaders on how to create new levels of brand loyalty internally and externally based on a culture of teamwork and collaboration with a view to achieving high impact and sustainable growth.

As a global citizen and former Senior Executive working and supporting industry-leading global brands such as Sotheby’s International Realty, BMW and IBM, serving on executive boards and leading multi-million dollar business divisions, teams and projects, Marion has gained valuable insight into what works and what doesn’t across industries.

She has a deep understanding of the opportunities and challenges businesses and leaders face as they navigate through the complexities of corporate environments, particularly complex when dealing with intercultural differences and sensitivities. At the core of her success is her talent for understanding people, and  bridging gaps and putting puzzle pieces together to recognize strengths in team members and leaders. She is also experienced at structuring organizations and teams on an international scale.