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International Centre for Mental Toughness Research & Development

This is a community of circa 25-30 people, balanced between Senior Academics, AQR International staff and Senior Practitioners as well as supporters of the mental toughness concept. The composition is designed to capture a wide range of interests and expertise. These represent each continent and sectors such as education, occupational, health, sport, social mobility etc.

Purpose

Harness the skills, enthusiasm and interest of stakeholders to:

Maintain the integrity of the mental toughness concept.

Maintain the consistency of understanding and applications across the world.

Create a big-picture view of the Mental Toughness concept.

To provide a platform from which the concept and its applications can grow and develop.

Identify where research and development of the concept and, in particular, its applications may be usefully directed and supported.

Develop collaboration between interested parties to create case studies, research papers, approaches and development products.

An important by product will be the establishment of a journal through which both research and robust case studies can be published.

Advisory Board

Our advisory board have been specially selected from leaders in business, education, sport and public services from all across the globe. 

Aisha Al Suwaidi

Aisha Al Suwaidi

CEO of Human Resources Policies Sector, Federal Authority for Government Human Resources

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Currently, Aisha is the Senior HR commissioner in the advisory broad of certification in the American Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) and a Companion (member) in the board of the Institute of leadership and management in the UK; both privileges took place by the nomination of both bodies abroad for the first time for a candidate from the Middle East and North Africa. Previously, Aisha was Director of Women Leadership Development Department and then Director General at Dubai Women Establishment. Before that, Aisha was Head of Career Advice and Guidance Unit at Tanmia – Centre of Career Guidance and Planning. Aisha holds an MA in Leadership Development from Edinburgh Napier University and plans to complete a PhD in Mental Toughness.
Andy Riise

Andy Riise

US Army Lieutenant Colonel (Retired), Leader, Speaker, and Coach

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Originally from Oakdale, CA, Andy is an Eagle Scout, West Point graduate, and former Army Football player. Over his decorated 20+ year military career, Andy led Soldiers in various overseas missions, highlighted by multiple combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan and five years in two elite Special Forces units. His education includes a Bachelor’s degree in Legal Studies and Systems Engineering from West Point and a Masters’s degree in Exercise Psychology with an emphasis on Sport and Performance from Argosy University. In addition, he holds several advanced degree certificates from Stanford University Graduate School of Business and the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business. He’s also a Presidential Leadership Scholar and an Association for Applied Sport Psychology member.  Andy is a highly sought-after speaker, coach, and mental toughness expert. He has over two decades of experience in health and human performance, with a focus on evidence-based best practices in Sport and Performance Psychology. Andy has taught at some of the most prestigious institutions in the country, including West Point’s Center for Enhanced Performance, the US Air Force Academy’s Department of Behavioral Science and Leadership, Texas A&M Coaching Academy, and currently at Sam Houston State University. In addition, he is one of the US Army’s first Master Resilience Trainers and Facilitators and was instrumental in launching both the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness and Holistic Health and Fitness Programs.  He has worked as a Mental Performance Coach with six NFL and three MLB teams, including the Seattle Mariners, Colorado Rockies, and Cincinnati Reds. As a consultant, he’s worked with leaders and teams in business, athletics, law enforcement, and healthcare. His clients include Oracle, Amazon, HubSpot, OpenGov, Kayak/OpenTable, and the University of Pittsburgh Med Center. In addition, he’s published several peer- reviewed articles, research papers, and the two-time best-selling book Deliberate Discomfort: How US Special Operations Forces Overcome Fear and Dare to Win by Getting Comfortable Being Uncomfortable.  He founded Design to Perform, LLC and teaches Police Chiefs and Constables through the Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas (LEMIT). In addition, he’s a triathlete and volunteers as a youth rugby coach and leader in the Boy Scouts of America in Houston, TX. Andy and his wife, Katie, have been married for 20 years and are raising four active children. 
Dana Tudor Tanase

Dana Tudor Tanase

Managing Partner of Creative and Bright

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Dana has over 12 years of experience in team management, telesales, customer care, and 10 years in project management. Her professional evolution highlights the desire for development and continuous learning, as well as the diversification of fields and experiences. 

Her management experience correlated with her involvement in training and developing people are found in results and partnerships with some of the largest companies such as: Oracle, IBM, VDF, HP, Siemens, Luxoft, JTI, BAT, etc. 

She is specialised in management and business development, graduating from the courses of Excellence in Management from Asebuss, Master in Multimodal Management, Faculty of European Studies, specialization in Management at Univ. Babes Bolyai. She specializes in Project Management; she has completed courses in PMI and Business Analysis. In regard to people management and negotiation she has graduated the courses “Principles of Master in Negotiation” in Stamford, “AGILE”, “Manager as Coach” and she is a certified trainer in “Process Communication Model ” and “Mental Toughness”. 

Dr Brent MacDonald

Dr Brent MacDonald

Lead Psychologist at Macdonald Psychology Group

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Dr Brent Macdonald is a registered psychologist and educator who has worked with individuals with complex learning needs for over 25 years.  He maintains an active psychological services practice with a focus on counselling and assessment.  He is also a sessional instructor, adjunct associate professor, clinical supervisor, and sought-after public speaker who has appeared on CBC, CTV, Global, CITY TV, and has presented at national and international conferences. Dr Macdonald has served with the Psychologist’s Association of Alberta, the Canadian Psychological Association, the American Psychological Association, among others.   

Dr Macdonald has worked extensively with children, adolescents, young adults, their parents, educators, administrators, and executives in a wide range of contexts including public, private, and charter schools, universities and other post-secondary institutions, corporate teams, and community parent groups. He is a passionate believer in human psychological wellness and the need for public awareness to enhance communities and reduce stigma associated with psychological challenges. 

Dr Josiah Igono

Dr Josiah Igono

President and Chief Performance Strategist for All Things Performance LLC

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Based in Phoenix, Arizona, All Things Performance LLC work across the Education and the Sports sectors specialising in preparing for and improving performance. Josiah Igono is the President and Chief Performance Strategist for All Things Performance LLC, where he helps high-level performers establish foundations and frameworks for a powerful mindset. 

Over the last 15 years, Josiah Igono has been knee-deep in the world of athletics, serving as a Strength Coach, Performance Psychology professional, and as a chaplain. His reach has impacted athletes in the NFL, MLB, and the NCAA. Most recently, he was responsible for the implementation of mental skills programs for professional athletes and coaches for the Texas Rangers as Major League Director of Peak Performance.  

Prior to Texas Rangers, Igono was the Lead Performance Specialist at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, AZ, working directly with the baseball team, along with five other athletic programs. Igono played football for Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University as a defensive back.  

Fascinated by how individuals respond to stressors, Josiah has dedicated years to researching mental toughness and its impact on athletes and high performers. He holds his Doctorate in Performance Psychology and is also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. 

Dr Suzy Green

Dr Suzy Green

Founder & CEO, The Positivity Institute

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Dr Suzy Green is a Clinical and Coaching Psychologist (MAPS) and Founder & CEO of The Positivity Institute, a Sydney-based positively deviant organisation dedicated to the research and application of the science of optimal human functioning in organisations and schools. She is a leader in the complementary fields of Coaching Psychology and Positive Psychology having conducted a world-first study on evidence-based coaching as an Applied Positive Psychology. Suzy has published over twenty academic chapters and peer reviewed journal articles including the Journal of Positive Psychology. She is the co-editor of “Positive Psychology Coaching in Practice” (Green & Palmer, 2018), “Positive Psychology Coaching in the Workplace” (Smith, Boniwell & Green, 2021) and “The Positivity Prescription” (Green, 2019). Suzy lectured on Applied Positive Psychology as a Senior Adjunct Lecturer in the Coaching Psychology Unit, University of Sydney for ten years and is an Honorary Vice President of the International Society for Coaching Psychology. Suzy is an Honorary Visiting Professor at the University of East London and holds Honorary Academic positions at the Centre for Wellbeing Science, University of Melbourne, the Black Dog Institute and she is an Affiliate of the Institute for Well-Being, Cambridge University. Suzy is also a member of the Scientific Advisory Board for Coach Hub, a leading global coaching technology platform. Suzy is an official ambassador for the Starlight Children’s Foundation and she maintains a strong media profile appearing on television, radio and in print. 

Jessie Zhang

Jessie Zhang

Founder, Managing Director at TalentPole Consulting

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Information coming soon…

Lucy Julian

Lucy Julian

Partner at Deloitte UK

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Lucy is a Partner within Deloitte’s UK practise. As well as being client-facing, Lucy has a passion for talent management and has a Leadership role to drive the Thrive agenda for c2000 employees within Financial Advisory as well as sitting on the UK firm’s Wellbeing Advisory Board.  Mental Toughness assessments and training have been a material investment in the people development journey over recent years and continue to be leveraged to help with both individual and team development. Lucy is a qualified MT Coach and has a keen interest in exploring how MT can be enhanced in conjunction with other talent management initiatives. 

Paul Lyons

Paul Lyons

Leadership and Mental Toughness Expert - AQR Australia New Zealand

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Paul Lyons is an experienced Australian-based mental toughness and leadership practitioner who advises and coaches business owners and leaders and their organisations on making better decisions to achieve happiness, good health and high performance.  

Neither an academic nor psychologist his practical, everyday approach to Mental Toughness comes from an extensive career in business as a founder and leader for over 25 years with two international companies, Michael Page International and Ambition which he co-founded in 1999 and jointly built to be a global ASX listed recruitment group employing 300 people.  

In 2015 he co-founded Mental Toughness Partners, the leading specialist mental toughness and MTQ psychometric company in the southern hemisphere and provides sales and support of AQR International products to coaches, leaders and their organisations throughout Australia, New Zealand and the SE Asia region. 

Toni Molyneux

Toni Molyneux

Business Psychology at AQR International

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Toni is a Business Psychologist at AQR International. Toni holds an MSc in Organisational Psychology from Alliance Manchester Business School and a BSc in Psychology from the University of Chester. Toni has worked with AQR on a variety of project-based roles since 2014. She is currently project lead on a number of development programmes focusing on improving performance, wellbeing and retention of employees and students. She is also responsible for providing a full support service to the users of AQR measures, as well as the delivery of MTQ Licensed User and Master Training Programmes. 

Alessia Mevoli

Alessia Mevoli

Lecturer in Management & Student Development Lead, Faculty of Business & Law, Anglia Ruskin

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Alessia is a lecturer in management studies within the Faculty of Business and Law at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) and specialises in management, organisational behaviour and HR management. Alessia also acts as student development lead for the School of Management looking at developing strategies to close the awards gap and provide strategic support to enhance students’ academic engagement and performance within the school. During her time as a full-time lecturer at ARU, she has been supporting the development of the faculty’s co-curricular portfolio of optional modules for students to take alongside their degree – the ARUCPD program, with the design of a brand-new module on Mental Agility, Flexibility and Adaptability (MAFA) developed around the concept of Mental Toughness. In the MAFA module, students undertake a deep self-awareness journey guided through the 4 components of Mental Toughness: Control, Commitment, Challenge and Confidence to appreciate their default mental response to circumstances and set SMART developmental objectives for improvement based on the results from the MTQ+. On top of this, Alessia is involved in a few consultancy projects where she researches innovative and transformational work solutions and HR, organisational design and learning products for international clients to help people flourish in their work. Alessia is passionate about helping students and working professionals thrive in their professional journeys.” 
Byung Ok Ahn

Byung Ok Ahn

Director of Korea Coaching Association, Managing Director of DongOh Seeds

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A seasoned professional with a keen focus on Mental Toughness, they have left an indelible mark on the field through various impactful initiatives. Demonstrating linguistic versatility, they successfully spearheaded the publication of a Korean translation of “Developing Mental Toughness” in collaboration with a business partner. Committed to knowledge dissemination, their efforts extended to organizing a Speaker Tour alongside Doug S., captivating 450 audiences over 5 days in Korea.

In the domain of assessment, they established AQR Korea and conducted over 600 MTQPLUS tests, showcasing a dedication to understanding and enhancing mental toughness. Their role in Learning and Development included organizing two Licensed User Training sessions in Korea, contributing to the development of 34 licensed users. Actively engaging in continuous learning, they participated in Mental Toughness workshops in Manchester (2019) and Shanghai (2020). Currently, they are immersed in crafting a compelling article exploring the relationship between mental toughness, adaptability to change, and sustainable performance, with a focus on the mediating effect of a sense of ownership.

Their professional journey, predominantly within global MNCs in Korea, spans over a decade of overseas experiences in the USA, Singapore, and Malaysia. Serving as a director across diverse industries—pharmaceuticals, car parts’ manufacturing, F&B, seeds, and crop protection agent manufacturing—they bring a unique and holistic perspective to their coaching role. Actively contributing to the Korea Coaching Association as a director and licensed coach, they are dedicated to advancing mental toughness in both theory and practice.

Doug Strycharczyk

Doug Strycharczyk

CEO of AQR International

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Doug is the CEO of AQR International – Founded in 1989, AQR is now recognised as one of the most innovative test publishers in the world working in more than 80 countries. AQR has established its reputation as a thought leader in mental toughness. Doug has worked with Professor Peter Clough and Dr John Perry for 25+ years to define Mental Toughness and to create the world’s leading measure of Mental Toughness, the MTQ. 

He is co-author of the leading text on the concept and its applications – Developing Mental Toughness (Kogan Page 2015).  

Doug is now recognised as a leading authority on the application of the framework to the worlds of work, education, social mobility and coaching. He speaks regularly at major conferences and events on the importance of Mental Toughness in improving wellbeing, agility, performance and managing aspirations.  

Dr Helen St Clair Thompson

Dr Helen St Clair Thompson

Reader in Psychology at Newcastle University

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Helen St Clair-Thompson is a Reader in Psychology at Newcastle University. She has several teaching and leadership responsibilities, including being the Director of Education for Psychology. When time allows, she maintains a scholarly interest in mental toughness, particularly its role in educational settings. She has published work concerned with the role of mental toughness in both school and university settings, and along with undergraduate and postgraduate students has also published work on the role of mental toughness in mental health and wellbeing. Helen is keen on developing collaborations and contributing to projects that further develop our understanding of the mental toughness concept across a range of settings.

Dr Kostas Papageorgiou

Dr Kostas Papageorgiou

Lecturer in Psychology at Queen’s University Belfast

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Dr Kostas Papageorgiou is a lecturer at Queens University Belfast where he has established the InteRRaCt Lab, which collaborates closely with AQR International as well as Peter Clough and John Perry. He is also Associate Professor in Personality Psychology at Tomsk State University in Russia. His interests include understanding the biological factors that contribute to differences in mental toughness. His most recent work has identified the connections between the 4Cs Mental Toughness Concept and the Big 5 personality model. Kostas has also carried out pioneering work to re-examine the so-called Dark Triad and Mental Toughness – particularly on the relationship between Subclinical Narcissism and Mental Toughness. This is bringing new and very relevant insights into our understanding of leadership.  

Fadi Al Attas

Fadi Al Attas

Executive Director of Al Tafaouq Al Elmi

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Fadi is the Executive Director of Al Tafaouq Al Elmi, a training and consulting provider that has been established in 2004 in Abu Dhabi. He is also a Board of Trustees Member at Ajyal International School and a Regional Director for the Global Innovation Institute MENA Center. Prior to that, he was the head of recruitment services at the Abu Dhabi University Knowledge Group. He has over 13 years of progressive experience in leading, mentoring, and coaching teams and individuals as well as supporting organizations in designing, implementing and driving individual and group assessment, business innovation and corporate training. 

Successfully established a credible partnership with the Global Innovation Institute & AQR International that resulted in becoming one of the first providers to delivered innovation certifications and Mental Toughness assessments in the Arabic language.  

Forward-thinking and focused professional holding a Master’s degree in Strategic Human Resources Management from the University of Wollongong in Dubai, and a Bachelor of Business Administration from the American University in Dubai. A certified Level A & B in Occupational Testing and Personality Assessment, certified in the use of Mental Toughness measure, and hold a Level 4 BTEC Professional Diploma in Careers Advice and Counselling. 

Joanne Turley

Joanne Turley

People & Performance Consultant - ARK Consultancy

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Information coming soon…

MK Lee

MK Lee

GC Biopharma, HR Team leader

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Meet Ms. MK Lee, a seasoned HR professional with 15 years of experience in HRD. Currently, she leads a team of HR experts at one of the major pharmaceutical companies in Korea. Her team focuses on recruitment, assessment center, and education center. Ms. Lee has also made notable contributions to the field of HR, including co-translating “Developing Mental Toughness” into Korean and publishing an academic article titled “Effect of Employees’ Mental Toughness on Organizational Commitment and Job Satisfaction: Mediating Effect of Psychological Well-Being” in the Administrative Sciences Journal in May 2023. With her impressive achievements, we believe Ms. Lee’s work will spark interest in the importance of mental toughness in the workplace. 

Professor Peter Clough

Professor Peter Clough

Technical Director at AQR International

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Whilst at the University of Hull, Peter initiated a programme of work which led to the development of the 4Cs framework of Mental Toughness – published in 2002 and now comfortably the most widely adopted description of Mental Toughness globally. Since that time, he has collaborated with researchers all over the world to examine the concept further and to identify links to important aspects of work and life – his name appears on around 50 peer-reviewed papers. 

By inclination an applied psychologist, his work has always focused on real-world issues. In recent times, together with long term collaborator Doug Strycharczyk, Peter has been instrumental in taking the Mental Toughness concept to the next level. 

Zoe Sweet

Zoe Sweet

Divisional Director Organisational Effectiveness, People Group - Ministry of Justice

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Zoe Sweet is the Divisional Director Organisational Effectiveness, People Group, at the Ministry of Justice. This MoJ Centre of Expertise drives system-wide effectiveness through the use of organisational development, design, improvement and behaviour change. With over 20 years of experience in people and organisational development in the public and private sector, Zoe has a particular interest in leadership and its relationships with resilience and mental toughness. An experienced practitioner, Zoe is completing a doctorate on leadership experiences of mental toughness. An Advisory Board member for ‘Community Gateway’, a Cardiff University initiative working with community groups to share expertise to achieve common public goals, Zoe is keen on how we connect research, practice and community. Zoe has represented Wales at the Behavioural Exchange Conference at Harvard University and spoken at the Organisational Development Network Europe (ODNE) and the Chartered Institute of Professional Development (CIPD) UK National Conferences. A member and reviewer for the British Academy of Management (BAM) and a published contributing author, mostly notably ‘Developing Resilient Organizations (Kogan Page, 2014), ‘Developing Mental Toughness’ (Kogan Page, 2015) and most recently ‘Public Value – Purpose, Passion and Perseverance: creating public value through public sector leadership’ (Routledge, 2019).  

Andrew Stotter-Brooks

Andrew Stotter-Brooks

Chief Learner @ Weird Human

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Craig Hamer

Craig Hamer

Founder & CEO of The Performance Culture

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Specialising in organisational performance and transformation, Craig has a varied career covering charities, the corporate world and running his own £45m+ turnover business. Craig started his corporate career worked in the UK Board at Vodafone, managing strategically critical change projects. Following this, he spent a short time in the ‘Global Transformation Practice’ of PA Consulting, before moving into the Automotive Retail sector. 

Since 2016 he has been helping organisations address some of their biggest performance challenges. In just 4 years he has amassed an impressive client list working with organisations such as JaguarLandRover, BAe Systems, Mazars and ITV. Craig is a Mental Toughness Master Trainer and runs organisational mental toughness programmes in a number of client organisations such as Deloitte Consulting and Suzuki UK.  

Alongside his consulting commitments Craig also teaches undergraduate and MBA degree programmes in the areas of Operations Management and Organisational Strategy at Leeds Business School, and is currently researching a PhD investigating the relationship between Strategy, Leadership and Mental Toughness. 

Dr Alia Al Serkal

Dr Alia Al Serkal

Vice President People Learning & Growth, Du, Dubai

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Information coming…

Dr John Perry

Dr John Perry

Associate Professor in Sport and Exercise Psychology at University of Limerick

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For several years John has been a core member of the team which has continued the development of the mental toughness concept and has been central to the work carried out to establish the reliability of the concept. John has published many papers on Mental Toughness often in collaboration with Peter Clough and Kostas Papageorgiou. John has also led the exploration of specific aspects of Mental Toughness and a variety of applications – including new insights into understanding stress management, directed forgetting, etc all of which have direct implication for practitioners. 

Dr Peter Sewell

Dr Peter Sewell

CPsychol FHEA

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After training as an Occupational Psychologist in the UK Government Employment Service, he has since worked as a careers consultant at the Universities of Westminster, Bradford, and Huddersfield and completed his Ph.D. in Psychology while working as a Senior Lecturer in Employability & Entrepreneurship at the University of Central Lancashire.  He has worked with both the higher education and business sectors in China for over ten years, during which he was also the postgraduate Careers Manager at Lancaster University Management School. Currently he is School Employability Manager and Principle Lecturer at Nottingham Business School and Associate Consultant with AQR International. 

Floyd Spence

Floyd Spence

High Performance Coach & Motivational Speaker

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Information coming soon…

Lia Zalums

Lia Zalums

Professional Leadership Performance Coach - Lifeology

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Information coming soon…

Oktawia Hryp

Oktawia Hryp

Business Trainer and Licensed MTQ Consultant

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A sociologist by education and a master’s degree in human resource management. Business trainer with over ten years of experience in working with groups, teams and individual development activities. He works mainly with business and companies in various industries, focusing on the development of soft skills with an emphasis on personal effectiveness. 

Her curiosity about personal effectiveness led her to the idea of mental toughness a few years ago. Initially, she explored the subject herself by reading articles and publicly available materials, and finally decided to become an official MTQ licensed user. 

Currently, she passionately explores the subject of mental toughness, looking for links with soft skills and ways to develop personal effectiveness based on mental toughness. 

Sylwia Rybak

Sylwia Rybak

Head of AQR Polska

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Sylwia heads up AQR’s operations in Poland and Central Europe. She is a seasoned professional who has expertise in a variety of sectors and functions including project management, people development and HR.

Sylwia’s main areas of expertise are positive psychology, mental toughness, resilience, and mental well-being. She conducts workshops, seminars, lectures, and coaching sessions with individual clients in these areas.  She also conducts training on AQR’s psychometrics products and development programmes She is also a lecturer and supervisor of postgraduate studies “Positive psychology – building well-being and overcoming crises” at Merito University in Warsaw.

Zoltán Csigás

Zoltán Csigás

Associate Partner of Innovators

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By background, I am a psychologist. I have acquired my MA at ELTE Budapest, Hungary. In my professional career, I took up different consulting roles. Started in PR, then HR and talent management. After a few years there, I became an organizational development consultant, and later the research director of a well-known Hungarian OD consulting company. Besides training and consulting I developed a strong interest in coaching which became my primary professional interest these days. I hold a Master Practitioner coach award from EMCC – European Mentoring and Coaching Council. My interest in research and psychology as a science stayed with me and has been driving my activities for a long time too. I have contributed to the founding of a recognized coaching school, and then held the role of International Vice-President of Research at EMCC for three years. Currently, I am a partner in an OD consulting formation: Innovators. I am AQR’s Territory Partner for Hungary supporting and growing the local community of licensed users. Besides the professional background, I bring the experience of running similar developments with other tools to our partnership. I am happily married, raising two small kids in central Hungary, just outside of Budapest. 

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