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David Smith CV

David is a personal and organisational development specialist with over 20 years experience of working in partnership with individuals, teams and organisations to design and facilitate practical interventions aimed at improving performance. He has worked on initiatives involving the clarification of vision and values, team and leadership development, culture and change management for a variety of international businesses. His UK and international consultancy experience includes working with staff at all levels where diversity and cultural differences figure strongly in the design and delivery of development interventions. His way of working is characterised by a partnership approach to problem solving, creative approaches to experiential learning and dynamic interventions such as the use of professional actors in both skills development and awareness raising. Action Learning is an area of particular interest and expertise and has been integral to many recent development initiatives. Expertise includes the design and introduction of action learning programmes within organisations, Set facilitation and the support and development of facilitation skills within the organisation.


  • In addition to my Africa Department research experience with Amnesty International and development work with the Department for International Development (DFID) I have been working with a number of international organisations where understanding cultural differences has a major bearing in their leadership and change development initiatives.
  • For the past six years, in conjunction with ING’s Business School in Holland I have been part of a team involved in the design and delivery of two international change management programmes whose participants are drawn from the Americas, the Far East, Australasia, and Eastern and Western Europe. One programme is aimed at middle/senior managers who have direct responsibility for leading and developing teams. The other is aimed at senior functional managers where leadership is more often exercised through engaging and influencing colleagues across professional and business boundaries. Both take place over five days and are aimed at addressing the current rapid changes taking place in the delivery of financial services worldwide and the complex cultural issues faced by the business in responding to these. Parts of the programme explore the problems that arise from on the one hand the company’s desire to develop a strong corporate culture while at the same time paying attention to cultural differences of their employees, the wider political and social environment they operate in and their customer’s needs and expectations. These sessions aim to raise awareness about cultural differences, by encouraging colleagues to talk about their own culture, share their experiences of working in different cultures and by looking at the main current theoretical research on cultural diversity. Personal insights on leadership styles are explored through MBTI/Birkman Method, participants receive one-to-one coaching and feedback; have facilitated discussions with Board members and practical experience in developing high performing teams operating in multi-cultural environments.
  • In 2006 facilitated in Mexico a version of the ING programme outlined above but specifically tailored to the needs of the CEO and top 30 leaders of ING’s business in that country.
  • Facilitator on fast-track leadership programme with Generali, the Italian insurance business, where issues around the conflict between having a strong corporate culture and respecting cultural differences within their European market are explored.
  • In October 2007 facilitator on a year-long Action Learning programme for clinical leads in a multidisciplinary NHS Cancer Network.
  • Designed and facilitated a number of initiatives for the Forties Pipeline System, a division of BPAmoco. This involved functional teams re-assessing their purpose, roles and priorities, the further development of team working, and the integration of staff from two sites to one. Initially working with the senior leadership team a clear strategic vision of the future was established before then agreeing a communication strategy to keep all employees informed and engaged in these changes. Using a cross sectional steering group to guide and advise the consultant team we used a variety of workshops from as small as eight participants to as large as 50 to explore cultural diversity, fears and concerns and to look at how individuals could take personal responsibility for leading themselves and others through the changes.
  • In 2006 facilitator on development programmes for Audit Teams within the logistics company TNT which develops skills for culturally diverse teams who travel worldwide. These teams need to be seen by their clients to perform well together, are usually working under immense pressure and often have to deliver some difficult messages to senior management in  a culture different to their own.
  • In 2004-2005 designed and delivered a development programme for a newly formed team responsible for establishing a sales and marketing business in the UK for the Japanese pharmaceutical company Takeda. Working initially in a coaching capacity with the Chief Executive and then with his new executive team to clarify the vision, values and strategic direction of the new business. Through a series of workshops the team explored their roles, skill mix, styles of working, interpersonal issues, and cultural differences with the parent organisation. As they expanded from a small team to a larger organisation the issues associated with rapid growth were highlighted and worked on through Greiner’s model of organisational genesis; evolving from growth through creativity where the issues are usually around a crisis of leadership, moving on to growth through direction and a crisis of autonomy, to where they are now, growth through delegation where the critical factor is systems of control.
  • In 2007 designing and delivering workshops for Local Ethics Committees to support and challenge them in developing a team approach. The membership of these committees is drawn from diverse cultural and professional backgrounds. The main focus has been to accelerate their effectiveness as a working team, streamline their processes, and identifying and agreeing robust guidelines for managing a large amount of technical data in a restricted time frame.
  • Designed and facilitated over a fifteen month period a series of workshops for William Grant Distillers Ltd, working with team leaders and shop floor workers in the bottling plants the main focus was around developing their confidence and ability in identifying potential areas for improving the operating procedures in the shift system and then putting together cost effective solutions which they could then present to senior management.
  • In 2007 facilitator on a nine month Action Learning programme in a recently merged Primary Care Trust where cultural differences are a key feature.
  • In 2005 designed and facilitated a number of workshops for AstraZeneca to identify and change behaviours that were preventing multicultural teams become more effective.
  • In 2004-2005 facilitator on an Action Learning based leadership, team and change management programme for the Irish telecom business, Eircom. This programme was designed to support and challenge senior managers in Eircom as they moved from a public to a private sector culture.
  • In 2006-2007 coached a large number of CEO’s and Directors within the NHS during a period of major change.
  • From 1992-2002 joint responsibility for the design and delivery of the management development aspects of the North West’s NHS Management Development Scheme. Working with graduates and potential high flyers from within the service over a two to three year period he ran a highly creative and experiential programme exploring leadership, change management, team working, communication and presentation skills, managing self and staff, strategic thinking, the role of facilitator, and the art of successful negotiation. Participants were supported in their work placements and academic work by regular facilitated action learning sets where current issues were shared, discussed and further actions agreed and implemented. A significant element of the programme was focussed on developing a trainee’s ability in preparing and presenting ideas/case studies/new thinking to senior NHS staff in order to influence decisions around service re-design.
  • Facilitator in October 2007 on a two-day Service Focussed Negotiation skills development workshop for North Tees Primary care College.
  • Designed and delivered an innovative series of programmes for foreign doctors beginning to practice within the UK. Exploring the multi-cultural aspect of British society and the difficulties faced by a doctor coming from another culture in dealing with patients, colleagues and organisational systems and structures the programme aims to raise awareness and develop communication skills.
  • In July 2007 designed and facilitated a two-day development workshop for Consultative Committee Representatives in Total LNG in Yemen.


2006 – present – Associate with the Taylor Clarke Partnership Limited

2005 – present – Principal Director of The Brafferton Group, a management development consultancy

2003 – 2005 – Independent Consultant

1990 – 2003 – Founding partner of the Cumbria based management development consultancy learning partnerships

1986 – 1990 – Senior consultant and Marketing Director, Centre for Leadership and Development Training, Brathay Hall, Cumbria

1980 – 1986 – Researcher in the International Division of Amnesty International, London

1976 – 1980 – York University and SOA

1968 – 1976 – Executive Officer in the plans division of HM Land Registry


  • Trained as a cartographical draughtsman.
  • Bachelor of Arts Degree (Hons.) in Politics, York University.
  • Master of Arts Degree (Hons.) in Southern African History, School of Oriental and African Studies, London.
  • Qualified to use a number of psychometric instruments.
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