Project

Resilient Leadership

Learning from Crisis

As part of our work to make resilience tangible and relevant, every week for four months through the Covid-19 pandemic we are interviewing the same twelve senior decision-makers and professionals for their evolving reflections on what they are encountering. We then distil some of their insights for sharing with the wider public. Seven of the participants are senior executives in significant corporations like Arup, the Lloyd’s Register Group, We Are Optima, SAP, Siemens, the World Bank and WSP, and five are the Chief Resilience Officers of a major city in Europe, Africa, India, Brazil and the US, members of the Global Resilient Cities Network.
In collaboration with

Emerging Insights

Read and listen to Emerging Insights on resilient leadership, distilled from the first eight weeks of interviews with our twelve participants.

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Podcasts

Every week, Peter Willis and Seth Schultz, the Global Executive Director of the Resilience Shift reflect on the insights distilled from conversations with our participants, with occasional perspectives from special guests. Click on the tabs below to listen to podcast episodes with their discussion.

Ep. 20

#20 - Insights from Round 14

The Covid-19 crisis continues, but this phase of our project comes to an end with a final round of weekly insights. Seth and Peter discuss how city leaders continue to grapple with the impact of the Covid-19 crisis, and close out on an optimistic note with responses from our participants to the question, “What gifts has the crisis brought?”

We’re taking the summer off to reflect and recharge and will be back in September with a special series of episodes closing out the Resilient Leadership project. See you then!

Podcast editing by Roman Svidran. Music by Robin Fuzile and Jesse Reiner from the album ‘Unyuko’ (2019)

Ep. 19

#19 - Insights from Round 13

In our penultimate episode with weekly insights, the focus of Seth and Peter’s conversation is our participants’ reflections on showing up as a leader during a crisis, dilemmas around the right level of decentralisation for effective decision-making, and thoughts on how crisis recovery can truly catalyse a transformation.

Podcast editing by Roman Svidran. Music by Robin Fuzile and Jesse Reiner from the album ‘Unyuko’ (2019)

Ep. 18

#18 - Insights from Round 12

This week, Seth and Peter discuss our participants’ reflections on individual attributes that have sustained them through a long crisis, what does transformation really mean and who can help deliver it.

Podcast editing by Roman Svidran. Music by Robin Fuzile and Jesse Reiner from the album ‘Unyuko’ (2019)

Ep. 17

#17 - Insights from Round 11

Our participants’ reflections on personal and institutional blind spots and approaches to address them form the basis of Seth and Peter’s conversation this week. Also, we hear how our corporate participants are grappling with the mixed bag of business prospects presented by this crisis and get a sneak peek into the project team’s process of distilling weekly insights.

Podcast editing by Roman Svidran. Music by Robin Fuzile and Jesse Reiner from the album ‘Unyuko’ (2019)

Ep. 16

#16 - Insights from Round 10

Amid a seemingly endless pandemic, Seth and Peter discuss the implications on crisis management structures and plans in city government and private sector organisations, aspects of human nature that act as barriers to recovery from Covid-19, and some personal reflections from our participants on leadership lessons they’ve picked up along the way.

Podcast editing by Roman Svidran. Music by Robin Fuzile and Jesse Reiner from the album ‘Unyuko’ (2019)

Ep. 15

#15 - Insights from Round 9

Seth and Peter discuss updates – positive and negative – from the crises our participants are grappling with, and leadership traits that help with response, recovery and transformation after a crisis.

Podcast editing by Roman Svidran. Music by Robin Fuzile and Jesse Reiner from the album ‘Unyuko’ (2019)

Ep. 14

#14 - Insights from Round 8

Seth and Peter discuss our participants’ reflections on the impact of the anti-racism protests in the USA on their organisations and countries, a possible return to ‘business as usual’ with respect to Covid-19, and where to look for leadership in the future.

Podcast editing by Roman Svidran. Music by Robin Fuzile and Jesse Reiner from the album ‘Unyuko’ (2019)

Ep. 13

#13 - Insights from Round 7

Seth and Peter resume normal programming with insights from Round 7 of interviews, including reflections on personal and organisational responses to a widening and deepening crisis, how the pandemic is revealing different mechanisms for building and losing trust, and conscious lessons for the future.

Looking for episodes 8-12? Listen to them alongside our Emerging Insights, distilled from 2 months of weekly interviews with our 12 participants.

Podcast editing by Roman Svidran. Music by Robin Fuzile and Jesse Reiner from the album ‘Unyuko’ (2019)

Ep. 7

#7 - Comparing Notes with Lauren Sorkin of the GRCN

Peter speaks to Lauren Sorkin, Acting Executive Director of the Global Resilient Cities Network (GRCN) about their network of 98 Chief Resilience Officers and the work they are doing to build resilience in cities around the world.

Podcast editing by Roman Svidran. Music by Robin Fuzile and Jesse Reiner from the album ‘Unyuko’ (2019)

Ep. 6

#6 - Insights from Round 6

As an unusual summer begins in the northern hemisphere, Seth and Peter discuss Covid-19’s role in revealing existing inequality, picking up early signals of a crisis, stories of expected and unexpected collaborations during the crisis, and letting go.

Podcast editing by Roman Svidran. Music by Robin Fuzile and Jesse Reiner from the album ‘Unyuko’ (2019)

Ep. 5

#5 - Insights from Round 5

Seth and Peter reflect on ‘pre-existing conditions’ and their role in shaping crisis response in cities and organisations. Other topics include how crisis response is shaped – positively and negatively – by the experience during past crises, and bracing for the storm(s).

Podcast editing by Roman Svidran. Music by Robin Fuzile and Jesse Reiner from the album ‘Unyuko’ (2019)

Ep. 4

#4 - Insights from Round 4

This week, Seth and Peter discuss how our participants are managing some of the harsh realities associated with this crisis, both personally and professionally. Other topics include approaches for communication, emerging challenges around re-opening, dilemmas around grasping the opportunity for re-invention, and Peter’s ‘yoga mat’.

Podcast editing by Roman Svidran. Music by Robin Fuzile and Jesse Reiner from the album ‘Unyuko’ (2019)

Ep. 3

#3 - Insights from Round 3

Seth and Peter discuss how city governments and corporations are adapting to uncertainty and the speed of change during this crisis, the difficulties involved in making ‘one size doesn’t fit all’ work, and some emerging lessons for future preparedness.

Podcast editing by Roman Svidran. Music by Robin Fuzile and Jesse Reiner from the album ‘Unyuko’ (2019)

Ep. 2

#2 - Insights from Rounds 1 and 2

Seth and Peter reflect on insights from the first two rounds of interviews, including how trust influences decision-making in city government and corporations, and how the crisis reveals different facets of leadership during emergencies.

Podcast editing by Roman Svidran. Music by Robin Fuzile and Jesse Reiner from the album ‘Unyuko’ (2019)

Ep. 1

#1 - What is 'Resilient Leadership' about?

Peter and Seth discuss what inspired the 'Resilient Leadership: Learning from Crisis' project, their reflections on what to expect over the next few weeks, and how this project could add value to our understanding of resilience - both during the Covid-19 crisis as well as long-term.

Learn more about the Learning from Day Zero project referenced in this episode.

Podcast editing by Roman Svidran. Music by Robin Fuzile and Jesse Reiner from the album ‘Unyuko’ (2019)

Available on every major platform

Weekly Insights

The participating decision-makers receive a more detailed summary of the week’s insights and learnings. The ones shared here have been anonymized for public consumption, to allow them to speak freely in their weekly interviews. Click on the links on the left to access insights distilled from each week’s interviews

Resilient Leadership – Round 14: 20 – 24 July 2020

“We find ourselves stripped down to what really matters and the real essentials in life and in business”

“We find ourselves stripped down to what really matters, and the real essentials in life and in business” In the 14th and final round of conversations with our participants, we posed each of them the same question – about what gifts they thought the pandemic had brought in its wake. We acknowledge it may feel somewhat uncomfortable to ...

“We find ourselves stripped down to what really matters, and the real essentials in life and in business”

In the 14th and final round of conversations with our participants, we posed each of them the same question – about what gifts they thought the pandemic had brought in its wake. We acknowledge it may feel somewhat uncomfortable to discuss silver linings of a pandemic that has caused (and will continue to cause) more disruption than most of us could have remotely imagined in late December, when the world first heard about Covid-19. It is also clear that for many of our participants, in particular the Chief Resilience Officers, the frontline of the pandemic response is still very much a full-on occupation.

That said, we felt this was a good time to invite them all to reflect back over the whole of the journey thus far and pick out some of the light that always accompanies times of challenge and darkness. While we asked them to reflect on a personal, organisational and societal level, below we highlight just those insights relating to themselves personally. As the organisational and societal gifts will find a natural home in the other outputs of this project, we felt compelled to provide a space for the more personal gifts from the crisis and shine a spotlight on our participants as people, first and foremost. In that spirit, and with their permission, we have included their names with the quotes below.

New lifestyles and family-time

Barbara: Time with my husband. And once we reached a point where we knew what we had to do, and it was a matter of working virtually, it was possible to actually use the time for thinking. The quiet was incredibly helpful for that. For some the sensory deprivation is torture. For me, it’s opened up a whole new world.

Steve: Getting to see my kids is clearly the upside. They’re in their 20s so you don’t get that much time with them. You kind of see them as fully baked. I’m seeing them work, I’m seeing them engage professionally. You don’t have that many opportunities to do that. That’s been fun, interesting, different.

Peter: I’m getting out for a run more often than I was. It’s less eating on airplanes, less client lunches. I’ve been pleasantly surprised and I’m feeling better for it. I’ve also learned that I can work successfully from home. Maybe this is a generational thing, that working from home always felt like I was cheating. I didn’t feel I was putting in a proper shift.

Mahesh: Health, definitely. I am not very health conscious. My wife does yoga regularly, so I started taking lessons from her. And then I’m an urban planner. For example, when we talk about mobility, we always talk about pollution levels, access, etc. Now, we should talk about the public health and pandemic point of view as well. How can we decentralize housing? From a personal perspective, I think that was a very good learning.

Realizing full leadership potential

Craig: I feel I’ve evolved as a leader. It’s the first crisis I’ve approached with a very deliberate sense of, “What is my role as a leader here and how do I exhibit leadership?” It struck me that this was the leadership moment and now was my time to demonstrate leadership, and I feel I have been able to do that. I love tackling complex things, and despite how hard it has been, I really feel I’ve been able to stretch my legs, intellectually and as a leader, and that is incredibly fulfilling.

Alex: An opportunity to see what’s possible when you lean all the way in (maybe to an unhealthy extent early on!). Then I’ve made closer connections with colleagues – we are now friends, family because of what we’ve gone through. It’s helped remind me what I’m capable of, why I’m here, my decision to take this role. It’s helped me move more confidently in the world, if that makes sense.

New perspectives

Tom: For me it’s been the white privilege thing. I inherently knew it, of course. You’d have to be totally blind not to know it. But I never really thought about it. I never really internalized it. Just the extent of it. And because COVID gave me that extra time where I wasn’t just running around, I had time to think about it. For several days in a row, all I did was just watch the protests and think about it. And because I had more time, I could really reflect on it – what it means to me and how it’s worked in my life, giving me advantages that other people just don’t have.

Adriana: I think a sense of empathy has touched people. They sense a more communal way or a more collective way, a sense of collective empathy.

Elaine: The closeness of strangers. I’ve connected with so many interesting people outside my immediate network, which is bringing new ideas and new things together.

Going back to what is most important in life

Ann: The chance for a deep reflection about what are the most important things in one’s life. I would even say I changed my understanding of the country that I come from, Denmark. I come from a very safe place, a place which takes care of you. I never looked at it like that before.

Hany: It’s enabled me to get rid of a lot of clutter in my life, personally and professionally. Then it’s deepened a lot of relationships that matter the most, because for some reason I found people who I otherwise would have had cursory conversations with, now actually have the time, even quite senior people, to speak and to pay attention and to engage on things. There was a lot of room for people to hide behind the facade of being busy or the need to be somewhere. We take all that away, and there’s a real genuineness that happens with people. And a lot of things that I’ve put in the bucket of ‘nice-to-haves’ or conspicuous consumption, have fallen away. And we find ourselves stripped down to what really matters and the real essentials in life and in business.

Piero: I feel I got the chance to live in a positive way, by going back to the real, concrete needs of life. You get closer to death, because when there is a war, you see death close to you every day. Every day you are afraid that something could happen. When you’re living a comfortable life, you know that death is there, but you never touch it.

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Resilient Leadership – Round 13: 13 – 17 July 2020

“Crises are best managed by the people who are closest to the action. Often the true nature of a crisis is hyper-local, so people close to it solve it.”

In Round 13, some of our participants brought the conversation back to decision-making powers and its location. We explored this to some extent early on in Round 5, where we discussed how institutional reluctance of different tiers of government to collaborate is frustrating in normal times, but can have dire consequences in a crisis. In Round 6, w ...

“Crises are best managed by the people who are closest to the action. Often the true nature of a crisis is hyper-local, so people close to it solve it.”

In Round 13, some of our participants brought the conversation back to decision-making powers and its location. We explored this to some extent early on in Round 5, where we discussed how institutional reluctance of different tiers of government to collaborate is frustrating in normal times, but can have dire consequences in a crisis. In Round 6, we touched on the value of making room for others to lead; whether a colleague, team, or organisation. And in Round 11, our conversations highlighted the importance of empowering those with knowledge on the ground, and why it seems so difficult to let go of authority.

It is safe to say that the location of decision-making is emerging as a critical dimension of crisis leadership. How far from the action, from the real-world consequences, should the shots be called? And when is a national or even global decision more effective? Is the world even ready for global decision-making?

One of our participants emphasised the importance of city-led decision-making:
“Even when public health affairs are nationally led, the heavy lifting and the shoulders here come from the municipal governments. (..) Cities are their own spheres of influence and power, and they need to make decisions for themselves because no one else is going to make them for them, or should.”

Sometimes, the unique circumstances of a city might mean that even the municipal scale may be too far from the action, as one participant noted:
“Right now there is a lot of autonomy given to the state and the city to decide what to do. But a lot of health facilities are with the private sector, and it’s really difficult for the city to have the kind of control where you can really serve society”.

Another participant observed that decision-making around the pandemic in their country had indeed been devolved to states and cities during the crisis, but wondered whether something else was driving this devolution: “But this is more, “Who am I going to blame for the health crisis and the economic crisis?.”

As there is a great deal of variation across the institutional fabric and decision-making capabilities between locations and organisations, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to where decision-powers should sit. But might there be some core principles that can be usefully applied in most situations? One participant suggested flexibility is critical, with feedback loops being in place and taken seriously:
“There is absolutely that moment where you need national coordination, when it comes to borders, organising medical supply chains and so on. But you do also need some flexibility within regions, to be able to respond to and provide feedback to national leadership.”

Covid-19 has taught us that, in a crisis, the location of power and decision-making matters much more than usual. Is it possible to determine a ‘right’ balance between central and local control? And if it is possible, can it be agreed in advanced, before crisis strikes? This would be the ideal, and is perhaps the norm in military circles, but in democracies maybe it takes a pandemic to prompt those tough, focused conversations about authority?

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Resilient Leadership – Round 12: 6 – 10 July 2020

“I’m beginning to hear a couple people go, “I’m tired.” I’m thinking, “If you’re not exhilarated by this kind of change, then you may not be the right person for the role that we’ve got you in.”

In the early days of the Covid-19 crisis, several participants had identified the galvanising effect of dealing with a crisis together. This week, participants reflected on the personal attributes which have sustained them or their organizations through a seemingly endless crisis. What has fuelled the crisis management engine over the past months? ...

“I’m beginning to hear a couple people go, “I’m tired.” I’m thinking, “If you’re not exhilarated by this kind of change, then you may not be the right person for the role that we’ve got you in.”

In the early days of the Covid-19 crisis, several participants had identified the galvanising effect of dealing with a crisis together. This week, participants reflected on the personal attributes which have sustained them or their organizations through a seemingly endless crisis. What has fuelled the crisis management engine over the past months? What has spurred excitement, or sparked the energy to keep going? Or, as one participant noted, is having the drive and energy simply a core requirement of crisis leadership?: “You have to be relentless. Crises of this nature are long and hard, and no one else is going to pick up the slack for you. If you neglect it for a couple of days, or a week or two, it’s not like the universe has said, “Right. You as a leader need a break, or to focus elsewhere, so we’ll just keep everything in stasis for you.” You have to be driving it, day in and day out, and it’s very hard to delegate that. You can figure out who your drivers are, but it’s really for you to be keeping up your understanding and your pressure.(..) This was given to me, and I’m going to do it. That is what I mean by ‘it’s relentless’.”

Another participant echoed this sentiment. While a crisis soaks up high volumes of precious fuel, a crisis also provides fuel – fuel for the imagination and creativity: “Stop thinking about change as something we’re going to get through, but something that we have to master, that we have to be good at. I’m beginning to hear a couple people go, “I’m tired.” I’m thinking, “If you’re not exhilarated by this kind of change, then you may not be the right person for the role that we’ve got you in. Maybe we need to look at a different role if you find this exhausting.” My feeling is, get yourself in the mindset that, “This is normal. This isn’t strenuous. It’s not exhausting. I think differently now.” My imagination is a lot more lively in moments like this.”

In a similar vein, a third participant observed that the sustained excitement has opened the mind to a new realm of possibility for long-term change:
“I see us now turning the page to what I imagine to be a new world, or at least thinking about it. And I’m seeing it as an opportunity. I know I’ve been more open-minded, and so has my mayor. She’s been more willing to listen and try new things than I’ve ever seen. I think there’s an opportunity to leverage that excitement.”

This discovery that crisis brings out the best in some people – and may even lead to critical transformations that are impossible under normal circumstances – is not new, but gets forgotten in the gap between crises. Some would argue it’s part of how we became such a successful species in the first place. A larger question now looms, however, in the age of climate change: how to activate these extraordinary capabilities in advance of disaster, so that we gives ourselves the best possible chance of not actually reaching the disaster?

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Resilient Leadership – Round 11: 29 June – 3 July 2020

“When you are dealing with something unknown like this, our human nature is to grasp for a guidebook, where we really should have relied on our local expertise.”

What can we learn about the value of flattening management hierarchies in a crisis and empowering those with knowledge on the ground? In Round 11, several of our participants returned to this question. “When you are dealing with something unknown like this, our human nature is to grasp for a guidebook. We deferred to the medical experts on ma ...

“When you are dealing with something unknown like this, our human nature is to grasp for a guidebook, where we really should have relied on our local expertise.”

What can we learn about the value of flattening management hierarchies in a crisis and empowering those with knowledge on the ground? In Round 11, several of our participants returned to this question.
“When you are dealing with something unknown like this, our human nature is to grasp for a guidebook. We deferred to the medical experts on matters where we really should have relied on our local expertise. (..) We have to remind ourselves that sometimes others are guessing too, and that our local knowledge is just as valid or perhaps more valid.”

“Often, when the city government presents ideas, it is almost as if it is not in the comprehension of the provincial government that the city would be thinking innovatively about something. It does not compute. It is like a cognitive bias, and perhaps an institutional one.”

“Throughout my work, I have seen there are many people who are really intelligent and are contributing a lot, but may not be at the senior level – often at the junior or mid management level. I call them champions. We need to identify them to achieve our objectives – a single leader cannot do anything.”

For some there is a personal dimension to the way organisations tend to overvalue certain people in certain roles and undervalue others.
“Personally it has been difficult to recognise someone’s authority if they don’t have the qualifications I do and got their position through politics. But I’ve started to work on this mindset, to be more humble, try to identify the reasons why that person is in that position, and how I can put my intellectual ego aside to connect with them.”

“Yes, I’m in power, I can yield a lot of influence and that’s nice. But we who are in those positions can actually have a better impact by stepping aside and empowering other people that come behind us.”

The next crisis will bring us once more into great uncertainty, and when that happens, it’s worth reflecting on who we listen to and what sources of information are actually of greatest value in a given moment. And why do we sometimes find it so difficult to let go of authority, of rightness? Which options are we unconsciously closing off for our organisation as we do this?

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Resilient Leadership – Round 10: 22 – 26 June 2020

“You’ve already lifted a hundred weights, you took a break, and now you have to do it all again – only this time you know how heavy it was.”

While the media has been offering a mixed bag of somewhat optimistic good news stories of countries slowly unlocking, and more worrying items flagging increased case numbers and second peaks, many of our participants in Round 10 pondered how to sustain collective-minded, collaborative energy to keep chipping away, managing and responding to the cri ...

“You’ve already lifted a hundred weights, you took a break, and now you have to do it all again – only this time you know how heavy it was.”

While the media has been offering a mixed bag of somewhat optimistic good news stories of countries slowly unlocking, and more worrying items flagging increased case numbers and second peaks, many of our participants in Round 10 pondered how to sustain collective-minded, collaborative energy to keep chipping away, managing and responding to the crisis. One participant shared: “People are getting tired. Tired of not having any kind of light ahead. Where is the end of this?”

The initial adrenaline having long ago ebbed away, our longing for some sense of normality floods back in. But riding on that returning tide float some other habits that were happily absent in those early days. For example, as one participant put it, “Why are we wasting our time playing the same old political games again?”

How to maintain one’s own and one’s colleagues’ discipline and optimism? Here, surely, is a challenge for leadership – at all levels. The water is turbulent and murky, so we can’t see the bottom, but step forward we must. As one corporate leader put it, emphatically and with a simplicity born of long experience, “The people we are leading are looking for leadership.”

It shouldn’t go unnoticed, however, that the prolonged crisis is taxing on our leaders too. One participant reflected on coming back from a short break: “Personally I found it hard stopping and then having to start again, after taking a few days off. Stepping away allowed me to observe how much and how intensely I’d been working (..) you’ve already lifted a hundred weights, you’ve gotten the chance to break and now I have to do it again?! And you knew how heavy it was and how awful it was when you were starting. It was a surprising challenge. But then, I’d do it all again in a minute, so that was nice.”

Interestingly, some of our participants have been thinking about where a crisis can be deemed to have ended and a new phase begun. It seems helpful to make this delineation, especially as one ponders how to keep teams energised. One corporate leader observed: “A crisis happens when we have a disruption that says: ‘The tools we are using are not sufficient to weather what’s happening.’ We reached the point about three weeks ago on the global level where management decided that the things we can control, we now have under control. So we declared that we are no longer in a crisis.”

While some businesses may be beginning to shift out of crisis mode and into management mode, some of the Chief Resilience Officers are not quite there yet. But one of them did wonder:
“Where do we start to make the transition from crisis leadership to something one could describe as ‘pressurised operations sustained over time’?” and “Back in the day, we anticipated the peak would be a sharp curve that lasted two or three weeks. And now it is longer and flatter. So what is of concern to me is how to manage that longer, harder slog that’s more about stresses on the system than shocks.”

So, in what is turning out to be a very extended type of crisis, can we say that this shift from managing the initial shock to adapting and recovering some kind of equilibrium, even while the source of the crisis is still very much in our midst, is a new and critical leadership challenge? Noting that it shows up just as leaders are themselves in real need of a break.

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Resilient Leadership – Round 9: 15 – 19 June 2020

“In this time of unknowns, we often look for a box to check, a mission. I get it. I just think that mission needs to be repurposed.”

How do we keep the focus on meaningful outcomes, as opposed to somewhat arbitrary targets or numbers that lack relevance without an understanding of our purpose? In Round 9, more than a few of our participants were asking out loud: How are we going to come out of this in a way that truly makes a difference? Making a difference is not only pertinent ...

“In this time of unknowns, we often look for a box to check, a mission. I get it. I just think that mission needs to be repurposed.”

How do we keep the focus on meaningful outcomes, as opposed to somewhat arbitrary targets or numbers that lack relevance without an understanding of our purpose? In Round 9, more than a few of our participants were asking out loud: How are we going to come out of this in a way that truly makes a difference?

Making a difference is not only pertinent to longer term recovery. Sometimes day-to-day decisions during a crisis can be driven by numbers and data that on the surface seem helpful but in reality may ignore – or even exacerbate – the underlying conditions upon which the crisis rests, One Chief Resilience Officer explained: “I see everyone is obsessed with testing numbers, and I get that. We need to test 3,100 people a day in our county in order to re-open the economy, but zeroing in on that and not checking ‘Who is getting tested?’ is how people get left behind. Our leadership is very focused on the numbers, but we need to dig deeper, to find where are they coming from, or what their ethnicity is. I have faith in my leadership that we can get there, but it’s going take some conversation and that is difficult in email or quick meetings.”

In short, the numbers are only as helpful in building resilience as the thinking behind them, which requires a vision and a focus on long-term outcomes. What can sometimes get in the way of achieving these outcomes, as one of our participants noted, is: “…the hamster wheel of how do I get re-elected?” as opposed to bold leadership that says, “No, we’re going to do it differently. What’s it going to take for us to be stronger, better, safer? What do we need to do? What are the policies we need to change?”

Where short term thinking can hinder societal success, another corporate leader observed a similar loss of the larger objective within organizations: “There is always a concern that the level of commitment of certain teams or team members to their agenda is higher than to the overall agenda, and there are business reasons why that would be the case. Totally understandable. I’m in the position where I do not have to care about the specific focus of various project options, I simply want the best and most ambitious project to proceed.”

We might conclude that a key feature of resilient leadership is the ability to step back, put personal, siloed, or short-term successes aside (a theme we touched on in Round 6), keep laser-focused on the broader mission, and set out the immediate steps that have a good chance of getting us there.

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Resilient Leadership – Round 8: 8 – 12 June 2020

“I’m curious, how might history look back and judge this period and its breakdowns?”

Unsurprisingly, our 8th round of conversations with participants largely turned to the seemingly intractable problems of racial injustice. While the brutal death of George Floyd – and many others before him – took place in the United States, his story travelled far and wide and found resonance with cities and organizations across the world, as ...

“I’m curious, how might history look back and judge this period and its breakdowns?”

Unsurprisingly, our 8th round of conversations with participants largely turned to the seemingly intractable problems of racial injustice. While the brutal death of George Floyd – and many others before him – took place in the United States, his story travelled far and wide and found resonance with cities and organizations across the world, as one participant in a country far from the USA noted: “What happened in the US is also echoing here very strongly and profoundly. There is a discussion now on how racism is infiltrating our culture, our society, and it’s something more structural.”

For many corporations, particularly in the western world, the protests following George Floyd’s killing triggered a moment of awakening to a deep-rooted, systemic problem – albeit, a problem that has always been there and is a daily reality for many. Our leaders are asking themselves what actions their organizations can take to grapple with this issue, yet there arises a question as to why it takes such very public shocks to stimulate this introspection and the genuine desire for a better outcome. And how will they make sure any transformation goes deep enough and is sustained?

Then, as we saw so vividly in the early days of the pandemic, a profound crisis can summon extraordinary energy to fend off disaster and death. But as time goes on, this energy subsides, with the real risk of finding ourselves back at business as usual. This week, one of the CROs noted that there appeared to be a lot more public frustration on display and an unwillingness to follow rules around social distancing or wearing masks in public, perhaps suggesting that people were tired and could not sustain being on ‘high alert’ for months on end. When that fatigue sets in, it seems one of the first things to suffer is the sense of collective spirit.

Will we see a similar drop in the momentum for action created by the anti-racism protests in the USA? What mechanisms can leaders put in place today to ensure accountability and transparency in 6 months’ or 5 years’ time? As one participant put it, referencing climate change inertia, but it could equally have applied to social injustice: “How might history look back and judge this period and its multiple breakdowns?”

Because when it comes to breakdowns and challenges, today’s world faces many and we shouldn’t be surprised when challenges are revealed to be intrinsically interconnected. One participant noted an unintended consequence of the pandemic in relation to the social uprising, for example: “If COVID-19 hadn’t happened, I don’t think people would be out there as much, protesting. More people are out of work, or even working from home, and have more freedom to protest on a daily basis. In that sense, it’s a positive confluence of two crises.”

To learn for resilience, one has to apply a degree of energy and focused attention to reflecting on one’s experience – indeed, providing a structured opportunity for exactly that is the basis for this whole project. But leaders are human, with a propensity to tire from time to time – itself a learning some leaders find hard to digest! And then other crises ride into town, unbidden, even if not entirely unexpected, and demand both action and more learning.

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Resilient Leadership – Round 7: 25 May – 5 June 2020

“Politics always got in the way of the public interest. This time it was completely different. We understood we are all human beings that could be affected – no one was safe. This brought our society together.”

Why is it that, having reflected on trust in Round 2, we find ourselves back on the same issue here in Round 7? Could it be that trust is the very spine holding people, organisations and cities together? How does it work? Some trust is hard-earned, such as staff learning, from many transactions over time, that they can rely on and confide in their ...

“Politics always got in the way of the public interest. This time it was completely different. We understood we are all human beings that could be affected – no one was safe. This brought our society together.”

Why is it that, having reflected on trust in Round 2, we find ourselves back on the same issue here in Round 7? Could it be that trust is the very spine holding people, organisations and cities together? How does it work? Some trust is hard-earned, such as staff learning, from many transactions over time, that they can rely on and confide in their leaders. Another form of trust is born out of necessity. In the early days of the pandemic, little was known about the nature of the risk, other than that it could be fatal. We could not afford the luxury of disagreement, and therefore most people decided to trust that their leaders and went into lockdown with barely a murmur.

But what is true for trust in general is that we have a collective ability to build it and break it down. Where the rules are seen as fair or inevitable, trust likely remains. But when leaders make exceptions for themselves trust can crumble rather quickly. A striking example can be found in the actions of the UK Prime Minister’s chief advisor, Dominic Cummings, who decided to break lockdown rules by travelling across the country multiple times, and in doing so – and being defended for it by his boss – blew a hole in the public’s trust in the government’s management of the crisis.

One Chief Resilience Officer underscored the importance of fairness in building trust: “We have seen such strong collaboration in the city and the state. Before, politics always got in the way of the public interest. This time it was completely different. We understood we are all human beings that could be affected – no one was safe. This brought our society together.”

Another CRO observed that trust between actors in his city has deepened due to extensive collaboration in the past months. “While there were gaps and drawbacks, a lot of trust was built between governments, citizens, and corporates. Many will continue their active involvement beyond the immediate crisis. And through all of this, government now knows who the active players are who can help, and businesses are more aware of how the government operates and what their constraints are.”

Trust and confidence in leadership and colleagues, noted one of the corporate leaders, are not a given, and expiry dates approach as the days go on:“Culturally, the sense of collegiality seems to have survived quite well – it helped that everyone around the world was experiencing the same constraints – but I’m worried that if we had to carry on staying away from the office and each other for much longer, that might start to dissipate. There may be no substitute for simply being together in one place.”

A second corporate leader added yet another perspective, saying that in many ways and in some countries, the thought we were already beyond the expiry date of trust: “The thing that has broken down the most in this pandemic is trust. Trust in the government’s ability to protect and take care of me in a force majeur situation. Trust in the infrastructure that I’m using and it’s resilience. Confidence in supply chains.”

Can we conclude that the presence of trust – or its absence – is a master indicator of likely success in dealing with a crisis? If so, we wonder, where might our levels of trust be in another five weeks’ time? And what mechanisms and behaviors will leaders put in place to keep confidence high?

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Resilient Leadership – Round 6: 18 – 22 May 2020

“When you’re immersed in lockdown, everywhere you look, the world is experiencing the same thing. There is a sense of solidarity. But then a portion of the world moves on from that to a different version and its stories are different. Do you still have this feeling of global solidarity and connection?”

In our sixth round of conversations some of our participants pondered the value of making room for others to lead. We are in a long crisis. Leaders’ ability to respond decisively and swiftly in the early phases has been shown everywhere to be critical to establishing public and stakeholder trust. Now, as we settle in to a more complex, multi- ...

“When you’re immersed in lockdown, everywhere you look, the world is experiencing the same thing. There is a sense of solidarity. But then a portion of the world moves on from that to a different version and its stories are different. Do you still have this feeling of global solidarity and connection?”

In our sixth round of conversations some of our participants pondered the value of making room for others to lead. We are in a long crisis. Leaders’ ability to respond decisively and swiftly in the early phases has been shown everywhere to be critical to establishing public and stakeholder trust. Now, as we settle in to a more complex, multi-faceted phase, it can be helpful for all concerned if a wider spectrum of team members steps up to help hold the reins. Having experienced that strong urge to lean forward and lead from the front, this week our participants talked of the importance of taking a step back.

Examples came from both corporations and cities. One corporate leader shared how recognising when to let others lead and ensuring they felt empowered to do so has been an important part of their mission over the past months. And with letting others lead comes letting go. A Chief Resilience Officer, referring to transferring responsibility for a critical testing programme they’d set up from scratch to a higher tier of government to manage, added: “My strong temptation is to devote some energy to helping them make a success of it. But there is other work I need to focus on. It is important for me to trust and let go.” Followed by: “If you are really about getting the work done, you don’t have to get the praise.”

When investing in letting go and sharing responsibilities, it is rewarding to see others stepping up to the challenge. One Chief Resilience Officer praised the work done by local NGOs who have deep relationships with communities on the ground. The partnership arrangements formed between government and NGOs prior to the pandemic are proving instrumental during the crisis, as well-founded NGOs are usually more agile and responsive on the ground than government is able to be.

Some hard dilemmas surfaced around the mounting fiscal challenges many nations and cities are facing. Whereas some development banks have shown willingness to delay interest rate payments for the next months, they realise that if they do this their bond rating will probably be downgraded regardless, making it more expensive to borrow from them in the future.

Moreover, is funding support based on debt an adequate way to fight the fiscal battle? Take Small Island Developing States, for example. They’ve been painfully aware for many years of the costs they face in adapting to climate change and rising sea levels, so are already nervous of taking on any more debt. “Now layer a health crisis on top of that,” observed one of our participants, “and an economic collapse from the loss of tourism – what does that mean for recovery?” In our big cities the picture is not much different. As one of our Chief Resilience Officers put it, “We have lost a lot of revenue already over the hard lockdown period, yet we have big expenditures that we’re expected to lay out. This is focusing our minds on how sustainable that is. Those are the very hard realities of management.”

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Resilient Leadership – Round 5: 11 – 15 May 2020

“It made me think, are we actually learning? I’m not sure whether people are actually taking the time to rethink and let go of what they have believed for 40-50 years, and create space for new thinking”

In Round 5 our conversations with participants turned to how the pandemic, like any crisis, shines a spotlight on the pre-existing condition of our critical systems (teams, organizations, cities or society at large). The light in Covid-19’s case is particularly strong, but its light shines neutrally. What it reveals, however, can be suprising ...

“It made me think, are we actually learning? I’m not sure whether people are actually taking the time to rethink and let go of what they have believed for 40-50 years, and create space for new thinking”

In Round 5 our conversations with participants turned to how the pandemic, like any crisis, shines a spotlight on the pre-existing condition of our critical systems (teams, organizations, cities or society at large). The light in Covid-19’s case is particularly strong, but its light shines neutrally. What it reveals, however, can be suprising strength or troubling weakness.

To start with the weakness, a few examples. One city Chief Resilience Officer explained, perhaps unsurprisingly, how deprivation or wealth inequality in cities is certainly not a new or unique issue. It has always been there but the crisis makes it so much more obvious, and: “If you don’t deal with the realities of those distributions of social and economic problems, it becomes a vulnerability for your city’s overall resilience.”

Another CRO expressed shock at how historic bureaucratic hostilities between different tiers of government are severely impeding their city’s ability to provide and fund much needed testing facilities. “It’s not a personal thing. It’s well-meaning people in a fractured system.” Such institutional reluctance to collaborate may be a source of irritation in normal times and seem not worth the trouble of repairing, but in a pandemic it can have truly dire consequences.

Another of the CROs shared how institutionalised norms regarding marriage and what constitutes a family, founded in the nation’s dominant religious culture, effectively marginalises whole sections of the population during lockdown, as their choice as to whom they may lock down with is curtailed by regulation. Will such biases be allowed to remain undisturbed as we come out of this?

By contrast, the Covid spotlight is illuminating some striking pre-existing strengths. One participant, a native of Denmark but working in the US, shared how the Danish government had, from the outset, urged all Danes to return home and be taken care of there. “That was an eye-opener: ‘This country takes care of its citizens!’ And our universal healthcare system makes you feel safe. I can see the huge difference. I feel safe here, I am not hurrying back to the US.”

At risk of stating the obvious, our conversations this week reminded us in a tangible way that an external threat like a virus or natural disaster never arrives to find a clean slate. The health and resilience of the human and human-made systems it meets will determine its destructive power. This sharp lesson seems so clear in the heat of the working-out of a crisis. The maturity of our leadership may be what decides whether we remember it and build back stronger in the aftermath.

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Resilient Leadership – Round 4: 4 – 8 May 2020

“I don’t think anybody’s got a crystal ball on the shape of the recovery.”

In Round 4 of weekly conversations with our participants, many spoke about the challenge of using a crisis as a moment for re-invention. There is no shortage of a sense of urgency from our city and corporate leaders to start shaping the future now, using this unique period in time as a critical window of opportunity for transformation. The transfor ...

“I don’t think anybody’s got a crystal ball on the shape of the recovery.”

In Round 4 of weekly conversations with our participants, many spoke about the challenge of using a crisis as a moment for re-invention. There is no shortage of a sense of urgency from our city and corporate leaders to start shaping the future now, using this unique period in time as a critical window of opportunity for transformation.

The transformation can take different guises, as there is no certainty on what the length and nature of recovery from this crisis looks like. Participants shared both tactical actions, such as ensuring new public infrastructure has a dual use, or decentralizing services to respond with more flexibility in a crisis, as well as long-term strategies to take account of the changed nature of global supply chains.

As far as stimulus and cash injections go, it hasn’t gone unnoticed in our conversations that there are parallels to be drawn with the financial crisis of 2008-9 – and hard lessons to be learned. Back then bail-out and stimulus packages came with few strings attached to bring economies rapidly back to their previous state, so the opportunity to push for a greener, more sustainable economy slipped away. Will it be different this time?

“The real risk is, 10 years from now – or even two years from now – they’re going to be writing the same obituary of the billions of dollars that went out the door. We could have, should have, etc. Just like 2008 and 2009. Well, we didn’t get it done, and therefore we lost the decade. And given that this is the final decade in which we can do things in a more cost effective manner to address climate, it comes back to, can’t we get out of our box and just really push very hard or think a bit more creatively?” And, that leaders should not wait any longer: “It’s a bit of a time crunch that we’re facing. I think it’s weeks that we have.”

If this crisis forces a moment for reinvention, are those currently not in crisis-mode (or to a lesser extent) missing out on this opportunity? As one city Chief Resilience Officer mused: “You might think Sweden were lucky because they didn’t lock down. But on the other hand, they also maybe lost the opportunity to rethink themselves in general, like we now have to do.”

Finally, despite looking to the future, several participants were also facing some very real, immediate consequences of the pandemic. Corporate leaders shared their concerns about having to lay off staff amid the possibility of having lost whole areas of business into the future where sectors like aviation and hospitality had collapsed. At the same time they were finding planning beyond the next few weeks extremely difficult as uncertainties proliferated. Meanwhile some cities in the global South, learning from those ahead of them, are planning for significant ‘excess deaths’. Those engaged in such ‘fatalities management’ well ahead of time are realizing there is inevitably a big difference between planning for dark possibilities and having them arrive at one’s doorstep: “It’s very difficult to get everyone focused on the crisis when you are discussing theoretically what is going to happen in the future…until that day arrives, and you realize, heck, it’s here!”

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Resilient Leadership – Round 3: 27 April – 1 May 2020

“While it has been incredibly taxing on me personally, physically, it has been the most fulfilling eight weeks of my life. It is a crazy time, but I feel particularly prepared and honoured to have a direct impact.”

This week our cohort was joined by a further two business leaders and three Chief Resilience Officers, strategic thinkers who are involved in the direct pandemic response or longer-term recovery in their respective cities. Witnessing the impacts of the pandemic on the ground takes its toll, but, as one of our participants reflected: “I get ex ...

“While it has been incredibly taxing on me personally, physically, it has been the most fulfilling eight weeks of my life. It is a crazy time, but I feel particularly prepared and honoured to have a direct impact.”

This week our cohort was joined by a further two business leaders and three Chief Resilience Officers, strategic thinkers who are involved in the direct pandemic response or longer-term recovery in their respective cities. Witnessing the impacts of the pandemic on the ground takes its toll, but, as one of our participants reflected: “I get excited with the ability to figure something out, to the point where I am really targeted to make this work.”

Nearly two months into the pandemic that is occupying leaders globally, it is perhaps no surprise that this week some participants shared reflections on how their personal and psychological resilience is both a source of strength and is being put to the test.

For example, three of the participants have in the past few weeks been required to set up, from scratch: a dynamic organisational structure that’s flexible enough to meet the crisis; an public thought leadership platform and a set of socially-inclusive testing sites, all under tremendous time pressure and with a chronic shortage of solid certainties. In each case they reported a sense of amazement at how much they and their teams had been able to create in an absurdly short period. Some likened it to being in a start-up, where the need is clear, a motivating goal is set and then one’s days are filled with overcoming obstacles and changing assumptions as new information floods in. You act, you learn, you adapt, and you act again. Velocity is all.

Support for this highly entrepreneurial approach in a pandemic comes in a short YouTube clip from 16 March of Dr Michael Ryan (Executive Director at WHO Health Emergencies Programme) when he offered the following insights based on his experience of multiple Ebola outbreaks: “Be fast, have no regrets. If you need to be right before you move, you will never win. Speed trumps perfection. The greatest error is to be paralysed by the fear of failure.”

Much of the discussion this week turned around the challenge of re-opening one’s business or city after a lengthy lockdown. What emerged was a sense that, whereas persuading everyone to lock down and self-isolate involved a simple instruction and could be achieved relatively easily, asking people to come out of their safe homes and re-enter their workplaces was meeting a much more varied response. Our leaders have uniformly opted to consult with staff and communities, but the challenge of accommodating the variety of their concerns and preferences into a practical plan for re-opening is enormous, and may well test the early sense that ‘we’re all in this together’.

Legal aspects of re-opening are also coming to the fore. Cities take their lead – and a stream of new regulations – from national government. Yet the unintended consequences of these are felt, and have to be dealt with, at local level, often without adequate prior discussion with national government, or indeed resources. On the private sector side, what is the company’s legal liability if it re-opens a site and, despite best efforts, an employee contracts Covi-19? One thing is becoming clear: the brands and reputations of cities as well as companies are being revealed and tested against the toughest standard – that of their stakeholders’ need for care and protection.

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Resilient Leadership – Round 2: 20-24 April 2020

“We can’t know every single piece of the puzzle, but at least we have to have a very good sense of what those pieces look like, how we will make them fit together as much as possible, before committing ourselves to any level of public communication.”

This was a hard-won lesson, shared by one of our participants. It addresses the impossibility of creating and sticking to a comprehensive plan in such fast-unfolding times, while recognizing that one’s public (staff or citizens) will be yearning for at least some certainty. So don’t make promises if you aren’t pretty sure you can ...

“We can’t know every single piece of the puzzle, but at least we have to have a very good sense of what those pieces look like, how we will make them fit together as much as possible, before committing ourselves to any level of public communication.”

This was a hard-won lesson, shared by one of our participants. It addresses the impossibility of creating and sticking to a comprehensive plan in such fast-unfolding times, while recognizing that one’s public (staff or citizens) will be yearning for at least some certainty. So don’t make promises if you aren’t pretty sure you can back them up.

In this round, we welcomed three Chief Resilience Officers to our virtual panel of participants. Perhaps not surprisingly, in Round 2 our conversations often turned to the matter of trust. It appeared in two different guises. First, in relation to the taxing question ‘When and how do we re-open our organisation / offices?’ This is now on every leader’s mind and there is no template to follow. In most countries where a re-opening of the economy is being actively discussed, there remains a high level of risk and uncertainty, not only about the possibility of a second wave of infection, but also about the degree to which people will trust that it is safe to venture onto public transport, into public spaces and back into their places of work. While our participants are working out the best way to do this, their employees are at least appreciating being asked for their opinions on what would work for them.

The other dimension of trust is broader and more obvious – trust in one’s leadership. There can be no better test of leadership than a pandemic. We can see how national political leaders around the world are revealing their true values; the same is true in the city administrations and companies represented in our project. Uncertainty is endemic, and uncertainty breeds fear. So how to reduce fear in one’s staff and organisation, so as to remain highly functional?

It helps if one has been through crisis before and can recall the roller-coaster of emotions that can be set in motion when leading in a crisis. As one participant, reluctant veteran of a major crisis not long ago said,

“it has helped to know that, when there’s cause for great apprehension or trepidation, these are not unusual feelings to experience. I have a wellspring of experiences to draw from, not just mentally and managerially, but also emotionally, of what it’s like to be in charge in a crisis.”

Can one learn this without having to go through the fire? Perhaps not. And yet there are well understood lessons in crisis management, most of which seem to have been thinly distributed in normal management training.

Finally, we discussed the enormous stimulus packages being put together by governments around the world. They represent a rare, high-impact moment which could determine which way an economy/society will function going forward. What assumptions about the economy and about priorities will inform the way the money is distributed?

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Resilient Leadership – Round 1: 13-17 April 2020

“Everything un-gels at a time like this” – and being un-gelled, presents the management of any large organisation with novel challenges as well as rare opportunities to leap forward.

We kicked off Round 1 of the ‘Resilient Leadership’  interviews last week with most of the world in lockdown amidst the Covid-19 pandemic and concerns about the long-term impacts of the crisis on society and economies around the world. In Round 1, we spoke to four participants who are helping lead their organisations’ response to ...

“Everything un-gels at a time like this” – and being un-gelled, presents the management of any large organisation with novel challenges as well as rare opportunities to leap forward.

We kicked off Round 1 of the ‘Resilient Leadership’  interviews last week with most of the world in lockdown amidst the Covid-19 pandemic and concerns about the long-term impacts of the crisis on society and economies around the world. In Round 1, we spoke to four participants who are helping lead their organisations’ response to the crisis. All of them have been involved in those responses for over 8 weeks – some as far back as mid-January when the crisis emerged. Reflecting on their experience thus far, they shared several meaningful insights on aspects of good leadership and management that were helping them navigate the crisis. Here are a few.

Good leadership in a crisis actually begins before the crisis itself. A management team that has already developed high degree of mutual trust before going into the crisis can respond more efficiently, moving past politeness and siloed self-interest to a frank sharing of their immediate needs, held within a mature understanding of the concerns and needs of other parts of the business.

All participants noted that a crisis requires new ways of managing people. Good managers will provide flexibility for staff to do what they need to do and will stay in touch with their people. Recognising that times like this sort the good managers from the bad, leaders can challenge their managers while providing them support e.g. providing different ways of reducing staff costs without resorting to redundancies. Paradoxically, many people respond best if they are given hard problems to solve during a crisis, as it can channel adrenalin, provide a sense of clear purpose and reduce anxiety.

One of the highest tasks of leadership, we heard, may be to provide one’s people with a narrative that describes simply where we are on this uncertain journey and where we must focus our attention in this particular phase. Now, for instance, may be a time for focusing on digging in, establishing new routines, putting one step in front of the other and supporting team mates to do the same.

Finally, several reflections from participants improved on the adage ‘crisis is opportunity’ with the caveat that crises can only help achieve long-term goals for the organisation if a sufficient vision for the organisation is already in place. There is clearly an art to holding strongly in mind the organisation’s values and long-term strategic vision at the same time as responding in the moment to every new development in the crisis. Both must be in play if the big opportunities to leap forward are to be spotted and seized.

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Participants

The insights you are reading and listening to on this page have been distilled from weekly interviews with the same twelve participants. We are grateful to our participants for taking time out of their busy schedules every week, and sharing their personal reflections and thoughts through this trying time. Please note that they do this in their own capacity, not as a spokesperson on behalf of their organisation.


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We have curated a selection of our existing resources that should be of use in responding to the current crisis. These can be viewed here.

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Project Team

Peter Willis

Peter Willis
Project Lead

Originally from the UK, Peter has spent 25 years in Cape Town teaching, facilitating and advising at executive and board level on strategic issues of sustainability. Previously Africa Director of the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, he facilitates strategic conversation through Conversations that Count and the Cape Town Drought Response Learning Initiative, among others.

siddharth nadkarny

Siddharth Nadkarny
Senior Consultant, Resilience Shift

Siddharth is a strategic urban planner with a focus on building capacity within local government institutions to improve the wellbeing and resilience of urban populations. Siddharth brings insights from over 10 years’ experience working with city governments and non-governmental organisations across South Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America. 

Femke Gubbels
Urban Resilience Consultant, Global Resilient Cities Network

Femke’s work focuses on urban resilience, delivering multi-sectoral urban programmes and integrated city strategies across Europe and the Middle East. Her academic research concentrates on urban climate adaptation and environmental inequalities in Tanzania, the Philippines, and Canada. She holds a distinction level MSc in Urbanisation and Development from the London School of Economics.

Shivani Ghai
Analyst, Resilience Shift

Shivani holds a BSc in Aerospace Engineering from Texas A&M University and an MBA from the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business. Formerly an Engineering Consultant in the Energy Sector, Shivani now uses her project management and data analytics skills combined with her passion for social development to head up Vitrus Consulting. She also serves as the Director at the Research and Analytics Unit at the Centre for Analytics & Behaviour Change.

Jenny Soderbergh
Analyst & Artist, Resilience Shift

Jenny has a background in designing and facilitating strategic conversations through corporate innovation “labs”. She is passionate about the intersection of business, design, and social purpose and is currently pursuing a social innovation master’s degree at the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business. She also specializes in creatively bringing complex ideas, processes, and conversations to life through visual summaries.

Roman Svidran
Communications Specialist, Resilience Shift

Roman’s expertise is in visual communications, working across multiple channels including brand identity, video and graphic design. He actively works as one of Resilience Shift’s brand champions and has experience and interest in communications for global development and sustainability.