College of Economic & Management Sciences

World-renowned expert on business transformation becomes fellow of World Academy

Prof Colin Coulson-Thomas, Unisa alumnus and president of the Institute of Management Services

Unisa alumnus Prof Colin Coulson-Thomas, President of the Institute of Management Services (IMS), has become a fellow of the World Academy of Productivity Science. This fellowship honours those who have made a significant contribution to the world through their promotion of productivity science and practice.

Prof Coulson-Thomas, from rural Cambridgeshire, joins a distinguished group of people (500 in the world) who have committed significant portions of their lives to help raise the living standards of people across the globe through productivity.

Prof Coulson-Thomas has been elected to the World Academy of Productivity Science by virtue of significant and long-lasting contributions to the improvement of quality of work, quality of work life, quality of life and productivity.

He is a fellow of seven chartered bodies and an honoured fellow of the UN-supported Institute for Responsible Leadership. He obtained first-place prizes in the final exams of three professions. Moreover, he holds a Global Excellence Award in Renewable Energy from the Energy and Environment Foundation and obtained a CSR Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2018 CSR Leadership Summit organised by India’s largest CSR network.

His election as a fellow of the World Academy of Productivity Science was welcomed by Dr Andrew Muir, Chairman of the Institute of Management Services, who described him as "a world-renowned expert on business transformation and a champion of the productivity message, particularly in relation to sustainability and the environment."

Prof Coulson-Thomas became the world’s first professor of corporate transformation in 1994 and has always had an interest in directorships, boards and effective corporate governance.

His ties with Unisa are mainly rooted in his interest in public administration, which led him to register for a Master’s in Public Administration and Management with Unisa in 1985. His decision to embark on these studies was largely driven by his positions at the London Borough of Greenwich, the Moorfields Eye Hospital and as Deputy Chairman of the London Electricity Council.

Prof Coulson-Thomas said Unisa was his institution of choice because, at the time, courses in public administration were few compared with what is available today. Distance learning courses in this field were relatively rare, but what Unisa offered meant that he could study while still working.

"Study material arrived as usual by post. Material was very portable and ideal for studying while travelling, especially on train journeys. The supervision of my MPA dissertation was conducted on a national UK public body of interest to me," he said.

"What I learned as a result at Unisa has been very relevant to leadership and governance roles I have had with a variety of organisations and a succession of public appointments," he said. He has worked in over 40 countries, with a focus on African countries and India.

When he is not involved in making preparations for events, contributing to recommendations, assessing dissertations or writing regular articles for publications, he enjoys running along the river bank or walking along cliff paths to unwind.

Prof Coulson-Thomas’s natural curiosity drove him to what he is today. His daily mantra is "adapt, remain relevant, periodically renew, reinvent and repurpose". "Relevance also requires us to relearn when and where appropriate and to keep on learning. I survived several situations in which I might not have expected to live, I am conscious that time is very precious and should be used wisely. Use every moment to have a beneficial impact."

* Information supplied by Prof Coulson-Thomas

Publish date: 2020/02/13