Thinkers50 in 50 Seconds with Deborah Rowland

Deborah Rowland is a former PepsiCo and BBC Worldwide executive and author of the forthcoming book, Still Moving, which offers a unique new approach to leading change.  She took our 50 second interview test.

What book are you currently reading?

Country Girl – A memoir by Edna O’Brien. I have an affinity with all Irish writers I guess and love hearing the life stories behind their writing.

How do you describe what you do?

I bring thought leadership, systemic insight, in-the-field experience, deep empathy and an inner stillness to leaders so that they can face the challenges of leading major change more wisely and more effortlessly – leading to not only successful change outcomes but also more human workplaces and engaged societies.

Who or what is your biggest inspiration?

My dad. He joined what was then the Post Office Savings Bank straight out of school as a clerk and worked his way up to become the Chief Welfare Officer (CPO these days…) of what became the UK Government’s Department of National Savings. At age 88 he still brings wisdom and encouragement to my work, no doubt based on his continued ability to transcend partisan views and act for the good of the whole.

What does success look like?

Leaders who have accessed their inner core in order to act with outer courage and conviction. Vibrant, dedicated and aligned teams. Workplaces that are agile, open and truthful. Deborah having learned more about herself, her edge and the meaning of gratitude.

What is your competitive advantage?

I bring a unique combination of cognitive capacity/theoretical rigour with deep practical expertise and experience. It’s rare to combine groundbreaking research, IQ and well-honed systemic perception with strong EQ and an instinct to know exactly what to do.

How do you keep your thinking fresh?

I enjoy interacting with and contributing to the academic management field and generally surround myself with bright passionate people whose thinking (and being) I greatly admire. I used to read a ton of books. These days, you catch me either on annual silent working retreats or striding the cliffs of the Cornish coast where most of my original thinking arises.

How much time do you spend travelling?

Too much

What is the secret of a great presentation?

Deep empathy with your audience and their contexts, fears and deepest wishes. Bringing your own story, insights and resources to meet this.

What advice would you give to anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?

Work on what’s inside yourself first. My capacity to both lead big change well myself, and coach others to lead change, was catapulted forward when I addressed my own ‘origin story’ (of adoption) and how it showed up in the present. Sorting out my inner life got me into a sharper, cleaner and more courageous connection to my life’s work.

What is your next goal?

I don’t tend to set goals. But I’d like to see my latest book, Still Moving: How To Lead Mindful Change, make a difference in the world as boy do we need more skilful change leadership in our institutions, nations and the planet right now.

Describe yourself in three words.

Pioneer. Perceptive. Generous

Share this article:

Subscribe to our newsletter to keep up to date with the latest and greatest ideas in business, management, and thought leadership.

*mandatory field

Thinkers50 will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide news, updates, and marketing. Please confirm that you agree to have us contact you by clicking below:

You can change your mind at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the footer of any email you receive from us, or by contacting us at . We will treat your information with respect. For more information about our privacy practices please visit our website. By clicking below, you agree that we may process your information in accordance with these terms.

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices here.

Privacy Policy Update

Thinkers50 Limited has updated its Privacy Policy on 28 March 2024 with several amendments and additions to the previous version, to fully incorporate to the text information required by current applicable date protection regulation. Processing of the personal data of Thinkers50’s customers, potential customers and other stakeholders has not been changed essentially, but the texts have been clarified and amended to give more detailed information of the processing activities.

Thinkers50 Awards Gala 2023

Join us in celebration of the best in business and management thinking.