The former NATO Commander and British military chief has served on the front-line and in the corridors of international military power. He speaks about leading small teams as well as large, diverse groups with competing priorities, negotiating and resolving complex problems, working with others as well as the big, global geopolitical and security issues.
Sir Richard Shirreff served as NATO’s Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe, dealing with strategic operations involving military, allied and other governments, NGOs and international organisations. He brings his experience of strategy, negotiation, communication and leadership from this and his military career to the corporate world.
Entering the army after university, Sir Richard commanded operations at every level from platoon (30 men) to division (20,000 men and women) and saw frontline service in the first Gulf War as a tank squadron leader and again in Iraq as a divisional commander. He also served in Northern Ireland, Kosovo and Bosnia, then in a series of less exciting but nevertheless challenging posts in various Army HQs and Whitehall, before finally serving as a four-star general at NATO.
As NATO's Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe Sir Richard worked with governments and organisations to plan and execute campaigns, harness resources and build bridges, intellectually, culturally and practically, in order to support NATO operations. This has meant dealing sensitively with, and creating unity amongst different nations, governments, the humanitarian community and a wide variety of other stakeholders often with competing priorities in order to resolve complex issues.
Sir Richard draws parallels between the worlds of the military and NATO and the business world looking at decision-making, scrutiny, and change management in high-risk, pressurised environments. His time leading soldiers in peacetime, on operations and in combat also gives him an insight into team-building, leadership, communication and motivation in extreme situations. As well as these areas he can also look at the geo-political and security climate as international allegiances shift, separatist movements become multi-national and uncertainty reigns.
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JLA Speakers Breakfast