John Ainley

Recognised by HR Magazine as “One of the Most Influential Leaders” of our time, and a deeply trusted advisor, John regularly coaches C-suite-level executives on all facets of their careers, leadership, lives, and overall strategy.  John is frequently cited by his executive peers as one of those exceptionally rare HR executives who truly comprehends what it takes to drive business results in highly uncertain times.

As a recognised global leader, John has had a 30-year commercial, diversely cross-cultural executive career across Engineering, Retail and Financial services.  He has served on the executive committees of: WH Smith plc; Norwich Union plc. and Aviva plc., where, as Global Head of Human Resources, he led the global transformation of the business, and led the HR/people strategy for 50,000 employees across 28 countries.   John has also led through significant outsourcing efforts, as well as large-scale global mergers and acquisitions.

During John’s tenure at Aviva, John is credited with helping the company transform from 31 disparate companies, into a unified global powerhouse, operating under one global brand.  Under John’s leadership 9 major global businesses were sold or closed, restructuring reduced costs by £1.6bn and employee numbers reduced from 57,000 to 36,000. Through this dramatic change employee pride improved to the highest levels ever and Aviva’s operating profits grew to £2.5bn.

One of John’s most significant distinctions is his ability to craft the people strategy that engages leaders and their followers to deliver change and real business results with uncommon agility, pace, resilience, and consistency.
Over the past 10 years, John has partnered deeply with the world’s top executive coaches and thought leaders, honing his signature, deeply authentic approach to helping leaders simultaneously grow and lead exceptional people, purpose, and profit.

A sought-after advisor on and leader in business education, John has sat on the boards of the CIPD and the Centre for Executive Education (CEDEP) at INSEAD, the European business school.  John appreciates and equips leaders for the enormous demands of the senior executive career as well as the pressures of being a NED in publicly quoted and private companies.

John has a degree in Law and is a Companion of the CIPD. He is married to Suzanne and has one son, Adam.  John’s passions outside of the world of work are: Writing; Rugby (Union and League) and travel.

John comments:  “ Over my 30-year senior executive career I have experienced, and guided countless men and women through the highs and lows of being a senior leader.  It’s an energising honor to now funnel all of these lessons learned to help senior leaders to dramatically bolster their performance, enjoyment at work, and overall quality of life”.

Outside of his flourishing practice as a coach and advisor, John serves as a Non-Executive Director and Remuneration committee chair of the West Brom Building Society and a Trustee of the Bloomsbury Festival.