CEO Outlook Magazine

Corey Smalley | CEO | The Consultation Institute

Corey Smalley


" For Corey, the core philosophy and belief are that failure is essential to any creative and innovative process. So, he encourages team members to be courageous in their decision-making while embracing the fear of failure. "

Leading with Visionary Leadership

Corey Smalley joined The Consultation Institute (tCI) with a challenging brief to take the company to a new level of commercial and creative success,”says Elizabeth Gammell (tCI Interim Board Chair). Corey has deep-rooted business and ethical values that drive his performance, combined with his ability to envision the company’s future and chart a clear path toward its strategic goals. As the CEO, “Corey Smalley possesses a remarkable set of qualities that have significantly transformed our company. His visionary leadership, strategic thinking, and innovative approach to problem-solving have been instrumental in steering the organization towards growth,” says Karen Fourie (tCI Commercial Director). Moreover, Corey expects those working for him to give their best and, in return, has done much to discover previously hidden talents. He has achieved this by nurturing their untapped potential and forming an advisory board of experts to help mentor and support them. Corey enthusiastically leads from the front, encouraging and reassuring his team, but he is also very good at providing space for them to come up with suggestions. Corey has led the creation of a corporate strategy (out to 2030), along with a clear Purpose, Vision, and set of Values, all of which will enable the Institute to expand the range of services and markets in which the business operates.

The mix of military experience and business acumen means that Corey’s approach to risk is finely attuned. Therefore, he can approach the challenges of executing a demanding strategy and stretch targets with a combination of visionary leadership and the ability to take risks.

Starting with a cultural reset, the transformation that Corey worked to inspire with the Institute has been one that many organizations struggle to get off the ground. He focused on approaching the challenges of change management, specifically concerning cultural change, with openness, transparency, and a genuine curiosity to learn how the culture within the Institute can be understood and improved. “Corey knew going in that the real work associated with DEI was not going to be comfortable and would likely result in many difficult conversations, which he would not be able to shy away from,” explains Katie Allen (DE&I Advisor to tCI). “And, even knowing this, he stepped in confidently and continued to ask questions to truly understand how best to service the current team and associates and those the Institute wanted to engage in the future.”

“This authenticity, courage, honesty, and perseverance have paved the way to creating a workplace culture that values differences, places importance on staff feeling psychologically safe and able to speak up and allows room for uncomfortable conversations. Their culture constantly strives to be a place where people feel they belong and can thrive in their roles” adds Katie Allen (DEI Advisor to Corey). Therefore, despite inheriting a somewhat challenging financial record, the cultural reset and further investment in people, processes, technology, and infrastructure have resulted in a clear upturn in the bottom line and cash flow.

Building with Creativity & Innovation

For Corey, the core philosophy and belief are that failure is essential to any creative and innovative process. So, he encourages team members to be courageous in their decision-making while embracing the fear of failure. “Setting the right conditions has also been key to success over the last two years, where I have worked tirelessly to create an inclusive work environment and a safe space to flourish,” enlightens Corey. “I also saw fit to form a multidisciplinary Creative Team, who push the boundaries of creativity and innovation, while commissioning post-doctoral research projects, which enable the Institute to remain thought leaders in the space of engagement and consultation.” Moreover, building strategic partnerships with like-minded, ambitious organizations is vital to the Institute’s growth strategy. Furthermore, Corey invested in a leadership development programme for the team, which combines practical workshops, 1-to-1 coaching, and a unique challenge engine, which encourages the wider team to think differently, and in turn, has led to the development of a Learning Hub, with fresh content and ideas for the clients and members to benefit from leading to success.

The idea of “success” is interpreted on a very individual and personal level. It can mean different things to different people. In Corey’s experience, “success” evolves, and he has been fortunate enough to experience numerous successes in his career. “From my experience to date, I would emphasize that “one size doesn’t always fit all.” I didn’t have what might be considered a typical upbringing. As a result of modern nomadic childhood, I spent time living in the UK, Europe, and Hong Kong, and by the age of 16 had lived in 10 different houses,” elucidates Corey. “These frequent relocations had a disruptive impact on my academic education, and adversely impacted my exam results. As a result, the opportunity of further education and university did not present themselves. Without a strong academic foundation, my approach to education and training became one of life-long learning and continually upskilling to meet the needs of ever demanding roles – to put this into perspective, I was 45 when I completed my MBA. I believe that this approach, alongside my ability to adapt to new places, cultures and people quickly, (and accepting of continuous change) has enabled me to grasp opportunities and for my career to evolve successfully.”

Building A Great Future

The Consultation Institute has a vision where “We imagine a future where different insights are considered through meaningful dialogue,” and which is underpinned by their company purpose of “Best practice decision making to secure better outcomes for citizens.” Over the last 20 years, the Institute has helped thousands of clients engage and consult more effectively while creating an alumnus of students trained and educated by the Institute. “I am now working to align the experience and insights I have gained through my career, including experience of working cross-sector (both in the UK and internationally), with the two decades of trust, credibility, and industry standing that the Institute has established, to launch additional professional services and training into the international market,” says Corey.

Corey believes whole-heartedly in the value of investing in people. Prioritizing individual and team growth has had a significant impact in enabling the organization and revenue to grow. The Resilient Leadership Elements™ framework (which underpins tCI’s Leadership Development Programme) has focused development in the four crucial elements of Awareness, Clarity of Direction, Resilient Decision-Making, and Leadership Presence.

Collectively, these achievements underscore the profound impact of Corey’s visionary leadership and the Leadership Development Programme on the organization. The transformative journey they have embarked upon has strengthened the team’s capabilities and positioned them for sustained success in the face of evolving challenges. Corey takes pride in seeing everyone grow, and while he is confident in his leadership ability, he is modest enough to admit when he requires further upskilling and support. This makes him a great person to work with.

Over the last 2 years, growth has been achieved organically, yet during the next phase of the Institute’s strategy, growth will also be achieved through M&A. This will allow the Institute to better support the members, clients, and stakeholders.

More recently, the Institute has recognized that robust and resilient leadership is vital for creating an environment where engagement and consultation are meaningful and inclusive and contribute to informed decision-making that benefits whole communities and citizens. So, to the delight of the members and clients, the Institute recently launched a set of co-branded leadership development products and coaching services, which are delivered in a hybrid way to meet the needs of busy professionals. 

Additional concepts that are shortly to launch are a postgraduate university program, additional accredited learning pathways, and new routes to the most senior echelons of the Institute—those being Fellow and Companion.

Karen Fourie, the Institute’s Commercial Director, has witnessed firsthand the positive impact of Corey’s leadership on client satisfaction. Client testimonials consistently express gratitude for their innovative services, which has strengthened client relationships and increased loyalty, positively impacting the Institute’s commercial success.

Corey’s strategic initiatives have resulted in measurable success for the Institute’s commercial endeavors. The revenue growth speaks volumes about the effectiveness of Corey’s vision and decisions. By diversifying their product offerings and embracing calculated risks, the Institute has met and exceeded its commercial targets, demonstrating the tangible benefits of Corey’s transformative approach.

Corey’s forward-looking vision and strategic goals have provided a roadmap for the future commercial success. “As the Commercial Director, I see immense potential in the upcoming projects and expansions he envisions. This proactive approach positions us to capitalise on emerging opportunities, ensuring sustained growth, and reinforcing our reputation as an industry leader in commercial effectiveness,” adds Karen Fourie, the Institute’s Commercial Director.

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