The Birmingham Leadership Institute team

Core team

Christopher Pietroni

Director of the Birmingham Leadership Institute

Christopher is Professor of Leadership Practice at the University of Birmingham, where he is Director of the Birmingham Leadership Institute.

His work focuses on leadership and change in complex systems with a particular interest in applying and adapting insights from narrative, framing, movement building and adaptive leadership. Working in the UK, US and Europe he leads a number of senior executive and graduate development programmes and post-graduate teaching/Exec Ed as well as consulting widely.

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He is a long-time collaborator with Prof Marshall Ganz and in 2016 was a member of Prof Ron Heifetz’s adaptive leadership teaching team at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Christopher has wide experience directing, designing and leading systems leadership programmes across the public sector including: Senior Civil Service Programme (Civil Service Leadership Academy) Leadership for Change (Systems Leadership Steering Group), Skills for Systems Leadership (PHE), Future Vision (Leadership Centre), C21st Aspiring Directors Programme (University of Birmingham), National Graduate Development Programme for Local Government (University of Birmingham).

Christopher has been a Senior Fellow at the Leadership Centre and a Senior Associate at the Kings Fund. In 2017-18 he was Fellow of Practice at the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford and he received the Lucius N. Littauer Fellowship from the Harvard Kennedy School in 2010.

Christopher Pietroni

Matt Gott

Senior Associate

Matt is a Senior Associate at the Birmingham Leadership Institute. He is Programme Director for a number of national leadership programmes including the Leadership Centre’s flagship Future Vision Programme for Chief Executives and leaders from across the private, public and third sectors and the NHS Aspiring Directors of Nursing programme. He has also designed and led place-based leadership programmes including the Bristol Leadership Challenge and Leading Greater Essex. Matt combines his role in leadership development with consulting to organisations and networks of organisation grappling with complex, systemic challenges.

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Matt is also an advisor to the Innovation Unit, applying disciplined innovation and designpractice to complex problems, for example as a coach in the Department for Education’s Innovation in Social Care Program. And as Lead Expert in Open Innovation for URBACT, an EU body, he facilitated a Europe-wide network of cities embracing the principlesof open innovation. His career in leadership positions within the public sector includes roles as an executive director of a local authority, a director of inspections in a national regulatory body and a civil servant.

Matt Gott

Steve Gulati

Senior Associate, Health Services Management Centre

Steve joined the University of Birmingham’s Health Services Management Centre in September 2019 as a Senior Fellow, having been an Associate since 2010. Prior to joining HSMC, Steve worked in the NHS, ran a consultancy, and started his academic career part-time in 2008, combining work in the NHS and private sector with teaching, lecturing, and service evaluation. During his NHS career, Steve worked at Board/ Head of Service level across acute, primary, community and integrated care around various cities in England, covering acute, mental health and community Trusts as well as primary care organisations.

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Steve’s consultancy experience also includes regulators, government departments, and improvement agencies. With a background in workforce, organisational development and user involvement, his main areas of interest are in organisational behaviour and especially how this links to user experience. He has a special interest in the development of the BAME workforce, both inside health and social care and in wider fields of employment, with a focus on the psycho-social factors that facilitate or inhibit career aspirations and development. Factors of group dynamics, occupational psychology and organisational behaviour in organisations, services and teams, and how this impacts on service user experience, is of particular interest for research and evaluation.

Steve has extensive experience of working on NHS Leadership Academy programmes, including the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson programme, Nye Bevan programme, and on the inaugural Clinical Executive Fast Track Scheme. His speciality is working with executive and mid-level leaders, unlocking potential with a special interest in the development of aspirant BAME leaders and the related specific challenges. He has also coached and mentored individuals and teams across a range of organisations, both public and private. From January 2020, Steve is the Programme Director for the NHS Leadership Academy’s Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Programme.

Steve Gulati

Catherine Mangan

Director of Education, College of Social Sciences

Catherine is the Director of Education for the College of Social Sciences and a Professor of Public Management and Leadership in the Institute of Local Government Studies at the University of Birmingham. She has a background as a policy maker and practitioner in public service and as such as a particular research interest in developing research which can deliver change within the public sector.

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Catherine has a particular research interest in delivering change within the public sector and her areas of interest include theintegration of health and social care, developing the future workforce and leadership of public services. Catherine co-convenes the leadership of public services module for the Department’s Mastersand degree apprenticeship programmes in Public Management and Public Administration and co-convenes programmes on integrating health and social care and international public management. She develops and delivers leadership programmes including the National Graduate Development Programme, the Aspiring Directors of Public Health programme and the Total Leadership programme for aspiring chief executives. She carries out research in social care and in particular the relationship between different parts of the system and how that impacts on outcomes for service users and their families. She is a qualified executive coach and writes regularly for academic journals and the professional press.


Iola Jones

Operations Manager, Birmingham Leadership Institute

Iola joined the University in November 2014 as a recent graduate, working for the College of Life and Environmental Sciences before moving to the College of Social Sciences in October 2017. Iola has held a range of roles, from Programme Administrator to Head of Operations, enjoying leading a range of continuous improvement initiatives and functional teams throughout.

Iola joined the BLI in May 2021 as Head of Operations. Iola has worked as part of the College’s Operational Management Team for four years, building strong relationships with key internal stakeholders and enacting positive change for the College. Iola is in her final year of study for an Executive MBA with Level 7 Senior Leader Degree Apprenticeship, a programme that has helped her enhance skills that she now brings to her role in the BLI. Iola is responsible for leading the BLI’s Professional Services Team, and, alongside Professor Christopher Pietroni, is responsible for the successful delivery of the BLI’s strategy.

Iola Jones

Rhiannon Sharp

Programme and Project Manager, Birmingham Leadership Institute

Rhiannon joined the University in March 2018 and has since broadened her experience at University, College and School level. In October 2020, Rhiannon joined the Birmingham Leadership Institute as Programme and Project Manager.

Rhiannon applies her wide ranging experience in project based activity to manage designated projects across the institute, including liaison with external programme delivery staff to ensure the policies and processes delivered to clients meet the regulatory requirement of the University of Birmingham. Rhiannon is responsible for leading the administrative staff within the Institute to deliver an effective and efficient administrative service for a portfolio of programmes and CPD.

Rhiannon Sharp

Annella Williams

Senior Administrator, Birmingham Leadership Institute

Annella has wide ranging experience as a Personal Assistant and in project and event support. As the Birmingham Leadership Institute (BLI) Senior Administrator, she is responsible for the day to day administration of activities and programmes supporting the BLI.

This includes personal support to the Institute Director and engaging and supporting the project and programme management activities undertaken by the Head of Operations and Programme & Project Manager.

Annella Williams