Stephen spent 26 years in leadership and management roles in both publishing and logistics industries, including eight as Managing Director. 

His academic interest in senior strategic leadership grew out of this journey.

With so much executive leadership 'still a mystery', and the acknowledgement that 'old-style leadership' contributed to the 2008 economic crash, he joined the University of Huddersfield Business School academic staff to pursue PhD research as a non-disciplinarian. This is broadly in the area of senior, strategic and 'thought leadership'. And with a desire to stand back from the dominant ideas of leadership, with their reliance on traditional theoretical models, and instead scan the post-2008 leadership context: from the ‘art of leadership’, to its language, politics, and philosophies, that together evolve high performing leaders. Much of his engagement across West Yorkshire involved opening up dialogue, nurturing deeper engagement in boardrooms, with a focus on long-term value. Stephen says much of this was not complex, but often involved rediscovering the 'capacity to hold a strategic conversation' about what was 'ultimately important' to the business. He also led multi-stakeholder open space events in support of regional development, inviting building shared agendas. He points out that much of strategic development remains 'top down'. This still limits fundamental grassroots engagement and can destroy significant value. Future enquiry should continue to focus on the building of shared commitment. In time this reduces the costs of leadership and management, creating new capacity in both organisations and their communities.

Stephen returned to Carlisle last year, joining the University of Cumbria team, with a commitment to engage strategic leadership needs in Cumbria and the North West. And now the long-term business recovery from the effects of the 2020 Recession. 

Qualifications and memberships

PhD (Lancaster)

Executive MBA (Lancaster) 

PGCert(Mgt) (Open)

PCPD (Huddersfield)




2012 - University of Huddersfield Teaching and Learning Institute: ‘Inspirational Teaching’.

Academic and research interests

PhD: Late-modern voices of Leader-Self: Towards a Bakhtinian hermeneutic of senior-leadership interiority and orthodox purpose

An interdisciplinary study drawing on the scholarship of Mikhail Bakhtin and Zygmunt Bauman to examine ‘senior leadership voices’ and their relationship with orthodox notions of purpose in late-modern globalisation. 

As globalisation shifts during period of late-capitalism notions of strategy, purpose and progress are also adjusting for senior leaders. Working with senior leaders research considers new notions of value-creating strategic purpose. This includes considering how strategic value is maintained in a boardroom environment. 

Research supervision

Strategic leadership

Executive leadership

Global leadership

Strategic change



Reflexive methodologies


2020 - 'A 21-point starter list for maintaining your business during Covid-19 crisis'. In: University of Cumbria <>

2020 - 'How to develop shrewd senior leaders who will address northern Britain's productivity challenge'. In: University of Cumbria <>

2020 - 'Leadership at the heart of the new Institute of Business, Industry and Leadership'. In: University of Cumbria <>

2019 - ‘A new voice for northern leadership in the 4th industrial age: picking up from where the Northern Leadership Academy left off’. In: University of Huddersfield Research Festival, University of Huddersfield, 8-10 January 2019.

2018 - ‘Discursive Process of Leadership: A Leadership Dialogue and Bakhtinian Approach to Leadership Learning’. In: 10th Developing Leadership Capacity Conference (DLCC), University of West of England, Bristol, 12-13 July 2018, with Reynolds, K.

2016 - ‘Is it really so bad to have a business mogul as president?’ The Conversation. ISSN 2044-5032

2016 - ‘It's politics - but not as we know it’ News & Star, pp. 10-10 with Brown, J.

2016 - UK Resilience: A Question of Governance: University of Huddersfield.

2016 - ‘Outline working proposal: Cumbria River Catchments Authority’. In: Cumbria Floods Partnership, 22 April 2016, Hallmark Hotel, Carlisle, Cumbria, UK.

2016 - ‘Strategic Overview and Journey to Full Protection’. In: Floods Meeting: Fighting for a Safe City, 4 April 2016, Crown and Mitre Hotel, central Carlisle.

2016 - ‘Our future city’ Carlisle Living, pp. 42-45. ISSN 9771758 207119 with Vaughan, G., Young, S., Sier, A., Chalmers, D. and Ashcroft, K.

2016 - (2016) ‘The floods: Where do we go from here?’ Cumbria Life, pp. 34-36. ISSN 9771354162119.

2012 - Resistant Self in Leadership: A Hermeneutical Conundrum. In: Northern Leadership Academy Conference 2012, 19 June 2012, Durham Business School.

2011 - Leadership and Self in Modern and Contemporary Literature: Should leadership Thought Re-conceive Self Through Literature Discourse and Representations? In: British Academy of Management BAM 2011, (full paper) 13-15 September 2011, Birmingham, UK.

2011 - Revelation, Verisimilitude and ‘Drama’ in Modern Strategic Leadership. In: University of Cumbria Doctoral Colloquium, 7 July 2011, University of Cumbria, Lancaster Campus.

2011 - Co-produced Autoethnography in Leadership Research - Methods at the Margins. In: University of Huddersfield Research Festival, 28 March 2011, 28 March 2011, University of Huddersfield.

2011 - Co-produced Autoethnography in Leadership Research (poster). In: University of Huddersfield Research Festival, 28 March 2011.

2010 - Leadership and Existentialism: Building a Groundwork, University of Cumbria Doctoral Colloquium, 14 July 2010, University of Cumbria, Lancaster Campus.

2010 - Opening Space to the Community: Action Learning at a Community Level, Action Learning: Research and Practice, ISSN 1476-7333, 7:1, pages 111 – 116 with Gold, J.; Cuthbert, M.; Young, S.; Doyle, P.

2008 - The Possibility of Possibilities: Skills to Grow a Career in Computing and Business, Liberecke Informaticke Forum, Sbornik Konference, ISBN 978-80-7372-408-5 pages 110- 123, with Wraith, P.