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Gary Reed

Gary is a Leadership Coach with experience as a senior leader in HE. He is creator of 'The Leadership Tree', a model developed from his own experience as an introverted leader and his work with existing, aspiring and reluctant leaders across higher education and healthcare. Gary specialises in helping clients to discover their leadership mindset without losing their integrity.
Advance HE
Job Title

Gary has over 20 years’ experience in Higher Education; 10 as a management academic at Loughborough University and 10 as Director of Research, Business & Innovation at Aberystwyth University. Gary’s early career started in the telecommunications industry before retraining as a secondary school teacher, which led him to lecturing in Further Education before his higher education roles.


Find out more about Advance HE One-to-One Executive Coaching services.

Coaching experience

Gary naturally adopted a coaching leadership style in his leadership roles and has coached / mentored a number of senior leaders in higher education when he was also a senior leader.  Since undertaking the Academy of Executive Coaching’s Practitioner Diploma in Executive Coaching, he has coached a number of middle and senior managers in universities, both as an Executive Coaching and a 360 Feedback coach. Please see testimonials below.

Gary is a member of the International Coach Federation and adheres to their Code of Ethics.


Gary’s main industry sector focus and experience is higher education. Gary enjoys coaching men and women, but has found that his own personal imposter syndrome journey is particularly helpful to female clients. Gary is happy to discuss your coaching requirements.

Coaching style, approach and influences

Gary has an emergent style of coaching that integrates many aspect of the Co-Active coaching model; Gary responds to the needs of the coachee in each session through powerful listening and by utilising a range of creative tools and techniques, including from the world of Gestalt, to help a coachee reach their desired potential. Gary is a whole person centred coach in that he believes that all aspects of a coachee’s life have an influence on their ability and performance at work. Gary’s underpinning ethos is that coachees are equipped with the resources and ability to achieve their aspirations and his role is to help them access and utilise these. Gary is very comfortable with his own vulnerability, he has emotional integrity and is very authentic. Gary’s style is calm, engaging and attentive which creates a safe and secure environment for a coachee to explore and develop themselves. Gary practices mindfulness and over the years has consciously developed a grounded state i.e. being present, focussed in the moment, calm and resourceful. An important aspect of coaching is to be challenged, and Gary does this gently by utilising his intuition to raise observations, challenges, and creative coaching techniques to help the coachee explore more deeply with their thoughts and feelings.

Examples of issues explored in a coaching session with Gary:

  • Organisational Leadership
  • Thriving through a restructure; creating impact and influence 
  • Gaining clarity over career direction 
  • Personal Leadership skills development
  • Gaining clarity in role, in terms of
  • Defining the function of the role and of a department, especially when operating in a leadership vacuum
  • Focussing an academic portfolio for career direction 
  • Change management 
  • Strategic thinking 
  • Managing people and the relationship with direct reports and managers  
  • Managing up
  • Achieving work-life balance
  • Personal resilience, imposter syndrome and self confidence
  • Personal motivation 
  • 360° diagnostic feedback and the development of ongoing leadership development plans  

Professional background

Gary has worked in Higher Education (HE) for 20 years; 10 years as a management academic and 10 years, until March 2018, in senior management as Director Research, Business & Innovation at Aberystwyth University. Gary is passionate about developing people in leadership and research, and has been involved in the development and delivery of the Welsh Crucible ‘future research leaders’ programme since in inception in 2011, and established a researcher development programme at Aberystwyth University. Gary was appointed to the REF Equality & Diversity Advisory Panel in May 2017, and completed 3 years as external examiner at Loughborough University School of Business & Economics in 2017.

Gary’s most recent Higher Education role was Director of Research, Business & Innovation (RB&I) at Aberystwyth University, where he managed five functional mangers with a total team of c.45 people, at its largest, covering research development; business development and technology transfer; RB&I project management, and REF. Gary was responsible for a portfolio of c. £80M of active research and enterprise projects.

Gary was the REF2014 Manager for the University’s submission. He undertook this role whilst simultaneously leading the merging and restructure of the Research Office and Enterprise Office. The merger was held up as an exemplar of how to manage change and merge two departments efficiently, effectively and with minimum service impact or staff dissatisfaction.

Gary has also led three successful HR Excellence in Research Awards, and was one of the leads in Aberystwyth University’s first Athena Swan submission. Gary’s academic experience covers the educational range: as a qualified secondary school teacher, a business and management lecturer in Further Education and 10 years’ experience at Loughborough University as a management academic with a research portfolio and Director of Research experience; programme directorship experience and boundary spanning leadership primarily with Ford Motor Company but also other industrial partners. Gary undertook a range of consultancy assignments with companies such as Toyota, Inchcape. In 2007 Gary moved to Aberystwyth University to lead leading the £10.9M HEFCW funded Research & Enterprise Partnership with Bangor University. The Partnership established four joint research centres and collaborative research and enterprise support unit. The five year programme delivered 550% of its additional research income target of £11M. During this period Gary also took on the project management of the HEFCW funded £4M Climate Change Consortium of Wales, and the c.£50M HEFCW, BBSRC and University funded Biosciences, Environment & Agriculture Alliance.   Gary remains as Head of the Aberystwyth and Bangor Universities’ Strategic Alliance Office, which evolved from the original Alliance and now includes collaboration in research and enterprise; collaborative and shared services, welsh language and welsh medium; the North and Mid Wales Centre of Teaching Education; and Learning & Teaching.

Gary’s career started with the telecommunications industry in sales and marketing before he returned to university to qualify as a school teacher.

Qualifications and accreditations

  • Practitioner Diploma in Executive Coaching
  • Accredited as an Associate Executive Coach by the Academy of Executive Coaching.
  • Real World 360 Feedback accredited coach
  • Leadership Foundation Executive Leaders Programme
  • BEd.(Hons) Business Education
  • Gary is also a published business & management academic

Case Studies

  1. Gary coached a Director of a professional service who was feeling overwhelmed by the arrival of a new Vice Chancellor and an associated restructure, which was impacting on her personal well-being. Her immediate thoughts were to develop an exit plan from her role. Through the coaching we identified some of the drivers of reaction to the changing environment, and used a number of creative tools, including Gestalt chair work and Values in Action, to develop strategies for influencing upwards and across the institution to build support for her plans and her role. She become more confident, more focussed and we also worked on her personal leadership skills in relation to leading her team, which empowered her to delegate and do more leading.
  2. Gary coached an academic who was at a cross roads in their career, which combined with dissatisfaction in her personal life was impacting on her work and personal well-being.


“My coaching sessions with Gary came at a point in my professional life when I was feeling both stuck and stressed. Everything felt negative: I wasn’t enjoying my job, I didn’t know if I was good at it, but I had no idea what I could to do instead. The work I’ve done with Gary gave me the space to nurture some faith in my own skills and abilities, and the confidence that I needed to make a leap into the unknown. Opportunities are now opening up for me and I am feeling positive about my future.” Senior Lecturer

“Gary’s coaching sessions made a fundamental difference to my professional and personal effectiveness in my role during a time of considerable change and challenge. It was especially helpful to develop the goals for our programme together and to have opportunity to work through my practical approaches to real time issues as well to also think more widely about my career. Gary’s support and active listening and use of techniques such as role play [Gestalt Chair Work] have been especially important in helping me ‘recalibrate’ my thinking on my priorities and professional development after a period when I had to cover staff vacancies and respond to changes of key peer work relationships. I would commend him very strongly to anyone considering coaching”.  Head of Professional Service