Transcend Change is a learning enterprise that helps others help their own organisation move forward in the challenging context of today and inevitable opportunities brought about by tomorrow. Working at the Board and senior Executive level, Transcend Change seeks to resolve top level discontinuities; harmonise organisational activity; refine corporate governance; better ensure the assurance process; encourage cultural understanding and promote best behaviours; the acceptance of change as routine business – evolution, not revolution delivering programme management excellence in challenging, technical and highly regulated environments.

I have found that this is best achieved through a better conversation, be it collective or individual engagement, with the values of collaboration, independence, impartiality and transparency at the heart of all we do.


My time in business, be it in the public, private or third sectors, has exposed the intrinsic link between our people, leadership, risk and governance. Whilst we are all comfortable with the individual elements, there are critical relationships between these 4 fundamental elements of business. Of note, experience has clearly shown that these relationships are not well understood and seldom properly utilised either within organisations or during organisational change.

My participation as a former Force Commander in the Royal Air Force and as a businessman working across all 3 Sectors is that their understanding, associated interactions and dependencies are key to success. Exploiting this knowledge is essential for an Executive, Board Member or Chairman to be effective in role. I would hasten to add that this is not a difficult or ‘dark art’ but rather it is in essence a part of everyday life, of natural evolution, of growth and understanding – you just need to have confidence that you see it for what it is. Join me on a personal journey that reflects on who you are, what you do and how you do it.


Let your identity expose your power as a leader.


Let holistic risk management create the opportunity to make a difference. Let your identity expose your power as a leader.


Let effective governance ensure you set the pace in best practice. Let your identity expose your power as a leader.


I specialise in fixing the unfixable.

Big words. But I love challenges and I love conversations.

It’s all about having a better conversation. As a skilled mediator, this is what I find so fulfilling. Seeing someone start a process of resolution, contentment or understanding simply because they have had a chance to speak with you is overwhelming, and rightly keeps one real. Because a better conversation leads them to solve their own problem, not you solving it for them. The reason is simple – ownership. If they don’t own it, they cannot live it. They would merely be in close formation or associated with the solution, more often than not limping through weary commitments or trying to bolster sagging confidences. But when I apply this principle of ‘’ownership” to every aspect of my client’s challenge, the work gets incredible.

I can give you a long list of what I have done but let me be clear: what I do is not who I am. Who I am informs what I do, and is a golden thread that stitches together this great adventure called life. But my career, whether as a Public Sector Director, CEO, Mediator, or former Senior Officer and a Pilot, forms the wide spectrum of adventures that have engage my mind, knowledge and passions.

I love learning new things; I love doing things better; I love understanding why something works; I love having a better conversation during which both parties can take away nuggets to savour, consider and develop. And I believe that I have always been able to offer my clients the best service because I never tire of developing myself.

Whilst the planet is a closed system, the mind needs to be an open system to be able to recognize the opportunities it has yet to explore!

As one of a very small cadre of business leaders who has gone through the sustainability leadership development programme, I feel prepared to address issues of our future with a keen knowledge of the environment and what we need for our planet. Indeed, one of the models that I developed and use came as a direct product of the pandemic: residents of Venice now see the bottom of the canals swimming with fish– something that hasn’t happened in 120 years. How powerful is that – to see something that hasn’t been witnessed in generations. The key question, both in reality and metaphorically, is how do we get Venice back on its feet without losing sight of the fish in clear water?

It requires a different way of thinking and sensing.

Getting people to bring their own senses to life, neglected or suppressed, is both liberating and inspiring. I’ve spent much time working with Governments and Universities on how we can see and sense things differently.

For me, the prime takeaway of the UK’s General’s Course ( the Higher Command and Staff Course –in effect an MBA++ in 3 months) was TE Lawrence’s ‘king fisher moment’; the ability and agility to be able to strike when you recognize the fleeting opportunity. But we can only do that if we understand sensing; how do we sense things? We don’t ‘see things’ because we haven’t trained our mind to ‘see’ what is there. And having shut down our ability to sense we therefore don’t trust our senses either.

These are a lot of words from me, but as you might by now sense, I love conversations and I am truly excited to discover where my journey will lead me next.


Working with people is without doubt the most important and enjoyable aspect of our job. And it is people that leverage the future.

James C M Johnston


James is a highly experienced Public Sector Director, CEO, former Senior Officer, and pilot with comprehensive technical knowledge, as well as being seen as a professional leader in the business community. Johnston has worked at the heart of Government and in a range of senior Private Sector and operational roles. An experienced executive consultant, he is recognised for strategic leadership, and inspiring people to deliver organisational change and decommissioning success. He is a dynamic and enthusiastic leader, politically astute and a skilled decision maker who can deal with complexity and ambiguity, adapting rapidly to new situations, and effectively managing risk. He understands the environment and the importance of cultures and behaviours within organisations and structures.


James C M Johnston