With over 30 years’ corporate experience in hospitality, retail pharmaceuticals, FMCG, distribution and aerospace, David is widely considered to be one of the world’s leading HR practitioners and is a respected thought leader, business communicator, and government advisor.
Prior to founding OrgShakers in 2020, David was a Global Chief People Officer credited as one of the key leaders in delivering a historic business turnaround. In doing so, he is one of very few HR leaders to have had the opportunity to deliver a truly global Cultural Transformation program at pace and at scale.
A proven ‘disrupter’, David combines hard data and personal intuition to challenge established thinking and ways of working. In 2014, he shared his prediction in the Financial Times, that within a decade, major global economies would be facing labor shortages on a scale which would impact business growth – a ‘workforce cliff’. This disruptive insight afforded progressive employers the time to prepare for what became a reality.
‘David is just one of the best HR people I’ve run into.
He has great insight into the business and great instincts on what HR can do to help.”’
Dave Ulrich, Rensis Likert Professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business
For four consecutive years David was voted ‘Most Influential Practitioner’ by HR Magazine, receiving their lifetime achievement award in 2012. He was also the first HR professional to be named ‘Business Communicator of the Year’ by the Institute of Internal Communications – a title previously awarded to leading business figures such as Body Shop founder Anita Roddick, and Virgin founder Richard Branson.
‘Business Matters. Business Success Matters. But above all, it’s a matter of people.’
David Fairhurst, from his 2009 book ‘Words for the “Whys”’
David earned his bachelor’s degree at Lancaster University and his master’s degree at Manchester Metropolitan University Business School which has recognized his ongoing contribution as a Visiting Professor with an Honorary Doctorate in Business Administration. He also holds an Honorary Doctorate in Business Administration from Middlesex University.
In 2011, David was appointed by the UK government to act as a Commissioner for the Commission for Employment and Skills – a role he held until the change of government in May 2015. Previously he had served as a Fellow of the Sunningdale Institute; a virtual academy of leading academics and thought leaders created to advise and advance public service. He has also advised officials and politicians at both the European Commission and the European Parliament.
David is a Chartered Companion of the UK’s Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development – their highest honor – where he served for four years as Vice President of Learning, Training and Development. He is also a Fellow of the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) whose mission to “create the conditions for the enlightened thinking and collaborative action needed to address today’s most pressing social challenges”. In the USA he graduated as a Fellow of the prestigious CEO Perspectives program.
Born in 1968 in Wigan – an industrial town in the Northwest of England – David grew up as part of a family of retailers, and amongst his earliest memories are “helping out” in his grandfather’s grocery store. He is married and has four children. He also recently became a proud grandfather.