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INTERVIEW gwen spotlight on g


wen Stirling is the director of organisation develop- ment and transformation at


Berkshire Consultancy Limited. Te L&D consultancy invited her to join the board in September 2014 following a management buy-out. Having run her own organisation development (OD) consultancy successfully, she is working to build a cutting-edge OD practice with the team at Berkshire. Gwen defines organisation de-


velopment as, “creating a healthy and high performing organisation, where strategy is brought to life and individ- uals can thrive and bring their best”. Gwen completed an MBA at


Ashridge Business School in 2000, returning again in 2011 to complete an MSc. in organisational change. She invests regularly in her professional development and is currently undergo- ing training in systemic constellations. Gwen entered the OD field


through a commercial career in retail sales and operations, working her way from store management to her final role as head of UK Operations for Body Shop International. Trough- out her career Gwen’s been known as someone who is a catalyst for getting


10 | june 2016 |


Gwen Stirling tells TJ about her passion for organisational development


things started and ‘sorting things out’ to transform performance. Gwen left Body Shop to become a


stirling ❝


full-time MBA student, launching her own change management consultancy at the end of her studies. After volun- teering for a three-month expedition in Namibia with Raleigh Internation- al, the renowned youth development charity, she ended up staying four years as the country director, before returning to the UK and consultancy in 2006. Tese rich experiences sowed the seeds of her current OD practice. Gwen’s consulting philosophy is


“changing organisations, one conversa- tion at a time”. She believes there are not enough good quality conversations held at work, and by changing what we talk about and the way we talk about it, we can change organisations. She approaches her OD consult-


ing work as “an informed, practical guide”, working alongside her clients on their transformation journey.


Why training and how did you start?


Helping others learn through different kinds of training has been a part of my life from a young age. As a teenager I was a coach and trainer at my school


gym club and I had early ambitions to train as a PE teacher. Training others has featured throughout the different ca- reers I’ve had, although now I wouldn’t class myself as a trainer, my work is more facilitating, guiding, and orchestrating. In my early consulting I thought


I was a change management expert, ‘telling’ people everything I knew. I cringe when thinking of those training


I believed change could be managed and controlled and followed a set plan where things were unfrozen, changed, and refrozen.


sessions and my directive approach. I believed change could be managed and controlled, and followed a set plan based on Kurt Lewin’s work, where things were ‘unfrozen, changed and refrozen’. Now, my approach is very different.


Trough my experiences and research I realise those leading change need to embrace a more participative approach


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