Former Sotheby’s MD to head Portsmouth University business centre 20 Sep 2013

The University of Portsmouth Business School’s new Centre for Strategy and Leadership will be headed by a former managing director of Sotheby’s Institute of Art.

Professor James McCalman, who took up his post this month, says he is looking forward to using his leadership experience in the arts in his new role as director of the centre, where he hopes to encourage new and creative thinking about what it means to lead in the world today.

He said: “If you look at the most successful business organisations they are wholly characterised by creativity in one way or another – Apple and Google are classic illustrations.

“The creative sector is also business savvy – you don’t get to be Sotheby’s or Christies without knowing how to practise business acumen. Whether it’s the arts or the media there are always elements of entrepreneurialism.

“I am looking forward to creating a centre that explores the practical realities facing leaders when making strategic change in their organisations. I’m also keen that the centre operates in the ‘here and now’ of academic research but is down-to-earth and practical enough to be readily accessible to all.

“My time at Sotheby’s taught me that leadership was about fostering and encouraging people’s creative potential and then getting out of their way to let them get on with it!”

Born and bred in Glasgow, Professor McCalman has been MBA Director at the Universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde as well as Ashridge Business School before moving to senior leadership roles in the private and charitable sectors.

He said: “Moving out of mainstream academia into the arts and charitable worlds has taught me a great deal about how leadership is very sector specific. Knowing the context of the organisation and people you lead is vital to promoting major strategic change.”

At Sotheby’s, one of the leading providers of postgraduate education in art and business, Professor McCalman significantly increased student numbers as well as opening new campuses in New York and Singapore.

“Moving to Sotheby’s came at a great time for me; I wanted to be the leader of an organisation that was going to do big things and to put into practice what I thought leadership was all about.

“It’s important for anyone who wants to talk about theory and practice to have their own war stories.”

Professor McCalman’s most recent post was as Chief Executive of the Windsor Leadership Trust, a charity delivering senior leadership development programmes to the private, public, military and charitable sectors at Windsor Castle.

He is also author of four books and numerous journal articles, mostly related to organisational behaviour and change.

Professor Gioia Pescetto, Dean of Portsmouth Business School, said: “We are very much looking forward to working with Professor McCalman. He brings a wealth of experience in higher education and executive training to the School. His innovative and user-focused approach to research fits in well with the School’s and University’s ethos.”

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