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Nigel Nicholson

By Rachel Harper

Professor Nigel Nicholson has been a faculty member since 1990 and his roles have included Chairman of the Organisational Behaviour department, Research Dean, member of the Governing Body and Deputy Dean of the School.

From November 2016, he will be part of the team delivering The Sustainable Family Business - a new Executive Education course.


Nigel – please tell us a little about the new course and what it covers…

We are so excited about this long overdue development, for it is a chance to establish our passion for and expertise about family firms in the global executive development market. We take a whole firm view of the family business and in just one week our intensive workshop will give a firm a path to improved “fitness” internally – a healthy culture, governance & relationship, and externally - in terms of stakeholder relationships and positioning in its ecosystem.

Why do you feel it is important and relevant?

Family firms are the backbone of so many economies – large and small – and at their best they outperform all other firms in their class – because of the unique strengths of their cultures. But they are also far too vulnerable to strategic errors, conflicts and splits, and an absence of good governance often fails to protect them from danger. We aim to help them be the best they can
Why is it important for family businesses to have this training?

The course is intensely practical – starting with a diagnostic process and ending with an action plan and follow-up that will allow firms to plan for a sustainable future

Are there any aspects of the course you are partticularly looking forward to?

I’m a psychologist, and for me every business is a people business, so I relish all the areas where get to work with leaders, groups and relationships. I always see the human implications of even the most technical aspects of business. It’s the key to success.

What does your typical work day look like?

I’ve never had a typical day! That’s the joy of my profession – at its best it would include quiet time to write and to read, conversational time in the classroom with business leaders, and learning new ideas from seminars, and good social time with interesting people. Of course the best days also start and end with connecting with family…

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Being a father five times over – so proud of my kids; some of the books I’ve written and innovative programmes I’ve created.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

Carpe diem – seize the day; do it now and don’t regret; love and learn; life is not a rehearsal but a gift. Take it.

Where is your favourite place on campus?

I’ve had so many great conversations with executives in E306 – a peaceful and enlightened flat floor space.

Tell us something surprising about you

I’m a self-taught jazz flautist – I love to improvise against great chord changes, which my computer happily and uncomplainingly provides!

Thanks Nigel and all the best with the new course

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