Principal Coach, Systems Change

Sean is a host and learning practitioner at the School of System Change. Find out more.


I came to Forum from a background as a multi-stakeholder engagement practitioner focusing on collaborative governance, conflict resolution, and on developing adaptive strategies that help us work on interrelated socio-ecological and economic challenges. Simply put, I’ve spent much of my time exploring productive ways for people to come together to make sense of their situations and figure out their next steps.

My work has often had me asking how we can create conducive spaces in contentious contexts comprising diverse experiences, opinions and agendas – and much knowledge -- that foster trusting interpersonal and institutional relationships. I’ve found that by bringing people together in ways that allow us to deepen and expand outlooks, generate ideas and questions, and collectively make decisions based on consent, we can chart our way forward to experiment systematically with different perspectives and possibilities.

My professional experience ranges from facilitating transversal partnerships in the public sector; sustainability consulting for corporate clients; managing a community-based micro-enterprise; designing participatory action-research and evaluation programmes; forming governance structures in informal settlements; and founding a wilderness connection and survival organisation. This progression has opened opportunities to work with multiple people and organisations in an array of contexts, in which I’ve taken on different roles, learning throughout. Along the way, I completed a Master of Philosophy in Inclusive Innovation Studies, which was an interdisciplinary action-research programme integrating theory and practice on themes of systems thinking and design, social entrepreneurship and innovation, and leadership. During this time, I examined how a range of experiential dimensions, contextual factors, and tensions, influence managers’ sustainability decision-making.

Through these experiences, I’ve enjoyed a continuing curiosity to find ways to bridge the gap between strategy and practice by examining how we think, and how we relate and behave both while going about our ordinary everyday activities and also while working on our most pressing and important issues.

I moved to London from South Africa to join Forum’s Cultivate Team in September 2019 as Principal Coach for Systems Change. I’m eager to be part of an organisation committed to learn from its own internal organisational practices so as to be increasingly impactful in the work we do externally in the world.

One of the questions I’m keen to explore at Forum is: What capabilities and enabling contexts do individuals, organisations and collaboratives need to embody and enact, in order to catalyze and sustain structural and transformative systems change?

Dream Project

I’d love to learn more about and work at, the intersection of socio-ecological challenges, conflict and collaboration. I’m interested in how increasing ecosystem degradation, inequality and ideological disconnects between ourselves, each other and from our world, lead to internal and external conflict and polarity. I’m curious how we can work with these differences to develop deeper relationships and collaboratives that bridge ‘bottom-up’ initiatives with enabling ‘top-down’ policies, practices and resources.

These kinds of projects kindle my interest in the importance of working at multiple levels, so we are considering both the structural and transformative elements needed for systems change.

What floats my boat outside of work?

When I’m not at work, what’s important to me is getting my body moving, enjoying a nourishing meal, spending time with friends and family, and wandering through forests and on mountains, meandering along a stream or swimming in the ocean.

Contact Sean