Julian Thompson joins Xynteo to accelerate leadership development

With his background as an organisational psychologist, Julian helps leaders and organisations create productive, purposeful and fulfilling work.

For the past five years he has been working at Ashridge, a humanistic and sustainability-oriented management school. There, he designed and led leadership & organisation development initiatives for senior decision-makers in leading commercial and political systems.

Before this, Julian spent ten years working as a qualitative specialist and facilitator at the global agency, Ipsos MORI. Working with multinationals, NGOs and governments on multi-stakeholder dialogue, corporate social responsibility, public policy and strategy showed him how to design and facilitate effective dialogue, give people a voice and speak truth to power.

He also spent five years at the activist think-tank, The Royal Society for Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA). There, he focused on the circular economy, community development, social enterprise and citizen-centred public services.

“I’ve always been interested in how our worldviews change by what happens when we are brave enough to try to live our values. In my view, this plays a big role in leading a meaningful life.”, says Julian. “In the 21st century, this means creating jobs, goods and services that serve society’s needs within the limits of a finite planet. This is why I’m delighted to be joining Xynteo, as its core mission is to equip pioneering leaders to reinvent growth.”

We are so excited to have Julian join our Xynteo family, accelerating leadership development in the pursuit of reinventing growth.

Get to know what reinventing growth means to him, what connected him to Xynteo and how he thinks innovation can lead on the right path for future-fit growth:

  • What role do you think innovation has as we’re going through such a transformative time?

Innovation is important right now because we are in the midst of a seismic economic, ecological and social transition, which could be very positive or pretty bleak depending on how we play it. It is only through relentless, exuberant and effective innovation that we will run enough experiments to discover how we can set ourselves on the right path.

This applies particularly to things like the energy generation and storage technology we need to rapidly de-carbonise the economy while still keeping the lights on.

However, in other contexts, and especially for those in wealthier countries, I would say it is equally important to nurture a largely forgotten ‘conservation culture’. We have to re-learn how to conserve resources, relish simplicity and unlearn many of the consumption habits and psychological hang-ups that got us here.

  • Xynteo focuses on reinventing growth. What does this mean to you?

For me, firstly at an organisational level, it means enabling businesses to flourish by creating ecological and/or social value as an integral part of their business model. “Growing the business” would in future mean much more than purely commercial growth.

Secondly, for this to work there would need to be change at a systemic level. We need a new economic ‘chemistry set’ that might entail moving to a low growth or post-growth paradigm. At least in some sectors and geographies, so that economic growth is no longer the be-all and end-all of the economic and political system.  Other kinds of growth need to come to the front, such as human wellbeing.

  • What motivated you to join Xynteo at this stage in your career?

Frankly, I am joining Xynteo largely because the scale of the challenges we face in the rapid transition to a thriving, carbon-neutral economy both exhilarates and terrifies me. I have young kids and I want to play whatever part I can in ensuring that their future is one worth living in.

Xynteo excites me because it is suitably (and unapologetically) ambitious and purpose-driven in its mission, pragmatic in its strategy, uniquely diverse and eclectic in its approach – the Xynteo team are delightful people to be around!

  • What else do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?

I am married with four young kids, so most of my non-working time is spent goofing around with the family. We live in London but love being outdoors. Luckily, we live next to Hampstead Heath, so that’s where you’ll usually find me with my family walking, running, biking, swimming, or playing football. Whenever I get a spare moment, I love to play old jazz standards on my tenor saxophone.

To learn more about leadership development, connect with Julian here.