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OD Conference speaker – Linda Holbeche

Linda Holbeche will be one of the keynote speakers at Roffey Park Institute’s upcoming OD Conference occurring on the 26th – 27th of October 2023. She comes armed with a wealth of varied sector experience, which includes co-authoring the must-read book, ‘Organization Development – A practitioner’s guide for OD and HR’ with the globally renowned Mee-Yan Cheung and being a former influential employee at Roffey Park Institute – which she regards as “a spiritual home,” – in conducting the annual Management Agenda research surveys.

At the Conference, Linda will be focusing on how OD can help organisations transition from turbulence to sustainability by developing contextual and strategically driven agility and resilience. She seeks to encourage participants to recognise that this transition relies on not only the acknowledgment but also the understanding of the impacts that internal and external factors have upon organisations. Linda regards Roffey Park as a “spiritual home,”

Linda Holbeche smiling

Linda’s Journey

Linda told us that she had “been into OD for quite a while without actually realising it.” Her professional career first began in publishing, before she found herself in a teaching position – a career she would re-enter through the OD lens – before moving to the Financial Services Cooperation American Express in the 80s.

She explained that whilst at American Express, she became struck at the contrast between the intention of the Cooperation, to be healthy and resilient, and how their reaction to a challenge had led to a largely demoralised staff body and several redundancies. This encouraged Linda to ask, how can we better align business and people’s needs, and how can organisations better handle change?

Whilst working for American Express, Linda became intrigued by Roffey Park Institute’s Advanced Diploma in People and OD. So much so that she successfully applied for a role at Roffey Park to teach the Diploma and in the following year, the Master’s programme. This was Linda’s first explicit interaction with OD which opened the door to numerous significant opportunities and theories.

During her thirteen years at Roffey Park, Linda was a key figure in the running of the annual Management Agenda research survey. This was where Roffey Park Institute reached out and connected with clients from their portfolio and issued them survey questions to help identify trends in the workplace.

“We were not just looking for the bad news,” Linda reassured us. The surveys were a means of building strong relationships with clients by enabling Roffey Park to better understand their needs. Linda believes that because it was “done with the spirit to inform, energise, and provide some clues for people to become more effective,” it focused more on the positive application of change. 

After her tenure at Roffey Park had come to an end, Linda went on to work for The Work Foundation as a director of leadership and consultancy, and then eventually held a position at CIPD. The former experience “whetted my appetite for policy,” Linda said. She believes that the interception between OD and policy is an unexplored avenue for OD consultants which has huge potential – both for consultants and the betterment of people.

Linda and OD

Linda’s interest in OD originated from a curiosity as to how people experience change, and this original interest has evidently influenced her talk at the Conference – which she has titled ‘Beyond Turbulence.’ Linda’s talk will focus on how to create sustainable changes, in every sense of the word.

She wants to encourage participants to explore external trends, like economic and political turbulence, alongside internal trends, for example how the development of AI may impact the workplace and workforce, to better understand that now is “a rich time for OD to be able to make a difference.”

For those who are questioning what the new drivers of the new world may be, what the new ‘normal’ organisation looks like, and how we can create a sense of common purpose whilst still being flexible, then Linda’s talk is for you. Much like the participants, Linda is excited about attending as many sessions as she can, whilst also participating in conversations with attendees that “are always really fascinating,” to her.

Come join the stretching conversations surrounding OD at Roffey Park Institute’s upcoming conference.

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