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Dr. Robert J. Thomas

Robert J. Thomas is Managing Director of the Accenture Institute for High Performance and Professor of Leadership at the Brandeis University International Business School.  He writes, teaches and consults extensively in the field of leadership and transformational change.

His 2008 book, Crucibles of Leadership:  How to Learn from Experience to Be a Great Leader, was recognized by Harvard’s Rosabeth Kanter as “a guide for aspiring leaders in all walks of life” and by Wharton’s Mike Useem as “an organizational playbook for transforming managers into leaders.” In 2002, he co-authored Geeks and Geezers:  How Era, Values, and Defining Moments Shape Leader with Warren Bennis, a book that explored the motivations and aspirations of leaders in their under the age of 35 and over the age of 70.  It became a BusinessWeek best seller and has since been translated into 11 languages. He has authored or co-authored a total of nine business books.  He regularly publishes in the Harvard Business Review and the Sloan Management Review and has been the subject of feature articles in the Economic Times of India and the Wall Street Journal.

Bob leads the Accenture Institute for High Performance, Accenture’s global “think and act tank” with professional researchers based in Boston, Beijing, London, Mumbai and Sao Paulo.  The Institute provides Accenture with original research and actionable insights on the global political economy and on the latest developments in business practice.  In addition to producing proprietary insights, Institute researchers regularly publish their ideas in top business media and serve as subject matter experts in some of Accenture’s largest and most important consulting engagements.

In his role as a senior executive in Accenture, Bob has worked with top executive groups in Fortune 100 and Global 100 companies to help them become more effective as leadership teams.  He has designed and led leader development programs based on Crucibles of Leadership in organizations as diverse as a global software developer, a national electrical utility, a major research university, and a transnational media company.

In his role as a professor at Brandeis University’s International Business School, Bob teaches courses on the personal and organizational dimensions of leadership to mid-career executives from all over the world and from business, government, the armed forces, and NGOs.  He also maintains his affiliation to MIT through his participation in the Sloan Fellows, the Leaders for Global Operations, and the Greater Boston Executive programs.

An Eagle Scout whose upbringing in Central California left him with a lifelong passion for fast cars and fresh vegetables, he lives in Brookline, Massachusetts, with his wife Rosanna, chair of the Women and Gender Studies Department at Wellesley College, and their daughter, Alyssa.


Presentation: From Captains to Coaches

Abstract: The experiences that teach the deepest leadership lessons rarely announce their arrival and coaches are rarely available in sufficient numbers to meet the demand for learning in the moment. In this brief talk, I discuss an innovative approach taken at India’s Tata Group to train leaders to be highly effective coaches in the context of everyday work.


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