Darren is usually happiest when he is either by the sea, at a live music concert or helping leaders and their organisations become the very best that they can be.
He is a Performance Psychologist who works mostly with leadership teams around the world in the areas of safety, health and wellbeing and has held a variety of operational leadership roles in some of the most challenging and competitive environments in the world.
Hobbies include travel, ocean swimming and live music.
He's an in-demand Keynote Speaker, a creator of innovative and highly acclaimed online learning programs and still delivers groundbreaking live courses that totally change the way leaders, managers and their organisations think, feel and act with regard to safety, health and wellbeing.
He is also the only safety professional in the world who holds an MSc in performance psychology and has extensive operational leadership experience across many different cultures.
My fascination with performance started at an early age with a realisation that some people had this ability to really stand out from the crowd when they performed.
Why was it that some people could become really great at something – and then get even better and better?
My first career lasted nearly 25 years with leadership roles in some of the most competitive and challenging environments in the world.
An unusual epiphany moment led me to consider an alternative career in behavioural safety, safety leadership and performance psychology.
"What would I do if I lost any one of you - How could I possibly replace any one of you?"
At the age of 40, after a successful and highly rewarding first career, I had the opportunity to study and prepare for a totally new career.
I thought I wanted to be a Sport Psychologist and studied towards that aim but as a back up also took the NEBOSH General Certificate and then the Diploma.
I saw a connection. Safety and health was about getting the best performance out of your people everyday and ensuring that they'll WANT to come back and do the same again tomorrow.
Working for a safety consultancy firm in York doing audits, writing reports and delivering compliance training,
I realised that most of this was simply a tick box exercise that rarely encouraged leaders to take action to improve things.
There had to be a better way to get people engaged and actually improve performance.
Alongside my consultancy work, I studied Sports Psychology at The Open University – where I matched sports psychology with safety.
I recognised this was the route to get the best out of people so that they want to come back and keep performing to the best of their ability – but also taking care of themselves, so they could perform again tomorrow.
A Google search for psychology + safety told me I wasn’t the only one who thought that psychology and safety is a better way of doing things... but only a few names popped up.
Maybe this is a thing?
I became inspired by how the core principles of leadership and psychology could really make a difference to safety performance.
Another Google search for behavioural safety and safety leadership courses to complement my NEBOSH studies proved fruitless.
There wasn’t a course or qualification on the market.
It was then that I started to create my own Behavioural Safety Leadership Program which was then formally accredited by IOSH via their Tailored Courses Program.
The course was the first of its kind to gain formal approval of any recognised professional body.
A first major client (Travis Perkins) trialled it with their top 250 leaders (Exec Board, all Managing and Regional Directors across all brands).
After trialling IOSH Managing Safely courses, they wanted something much more that covered behaviours, leadership, human factors and ABC analysis.
Our original IOSH Accredited Behavioural Safety Leadership Programme was the perfect solution.
They loved it. But putting another 2000 leaders and managers through the face-to-face course would take too long.
They wanted me to create an online version of the live program!
I developed my first online programme and had it formally reviewed and accredited through IOSH – much to the delight of Travis Perkins.
Pretty soon, others bought the program online too. Usually experienced safety professionals at first and then small groups of people from the same organisation.
People seemed to like it's informal style and the fact that it could be completed at their own pace and in their own space.
This was nearly 5 years before the Covid pandemic and any lockdowns that prevented live training.
At the start of the Covid Pandemic we had an opportunity to update things and introduce two brand new programs on a much more interactive Learning Platform.
The Behavioural Science for Leadership in Safety program was launched quickly followed by the Performance Psychology for Safety and Health Professionals.
Both again formally accredited by IOSH to give delegates a recognised certificate and a valuable new qualification.
More than 50,000 delegates have been through one version or other of our programs in at least 70 countries – from all corners of the world.
We have plans for ONE more brand new course that will enable many others to deliver our accredited programs within their organisation or to their clientbase.
We'll also be devoting more time to design and deliver whole conference programs to large organisations as well as keynotes.
And one global corporation has also asked us about developing a 3 day Study Retreat for their whole safety team of over 30 people.
That sounds exciting, we're really looking forward to that in 2024!
My interest in performance started when my dad took me to my first live football game at the age of 7. I was fascinated with the players and the dynamics between them and their coach.
It was the same watching athletes at the Olympic Games and then performers at theatres and music venues. Why did some people become really good – and just get better and better?
It’s the same with music. When you think about Bruce Springsteen and Ed Sheeran how is it they have this ability to engage the audience and get everyone dancing – and some performers don’t.
When I started to play sport, I became focused on coaches. Why could some engage us to listen, and inspire us to learn and come back for more? Throughout the first 25-years of my chosen first career, I noticed that it didn’t really matter too much about where you were in the world or even what you were being asked to do, what really mattered was who you were with.
You could find yourself in the most austere of places and most challenging environments but if you had good people around you, if you had a good leader that cares for you, then whatever you’re doing can be really enjoyable and feel meaningful.
In my previous career, safety wasn’t necessarily at the forefront of our minds that often. Like many organisations the emphasis was usually on “getting the job done” usually as ‘best as you can and as quick as you can”.
Occasionally we’d take too many risks and make poor decisions that could have led to tragic incidents. Then came my “safety epiphany moment”. We had a new leader, in an especially competitive and challenging situation who changed the way myself and many others thought and felt about safety and our performance in general.
When our new leader took over, he made it absolutely clear that he expected things to be done differently – he demanded that we take better care of ourselves and our team.
At first, we just carried on doing stuff the same way we had for the previous 15-years and as other leaders expected. The problem was we didn’t believe him that he wanted us to change, so we carried on taking risks.
A couple of days later whilst carrying out an important and hazardous task with my team that really needed to be done quickly, he came up to me and said, ‘what do you think you’re doing’. I got a real dressing down for not taking care of myself or my people.
'What would I do if I lost any one of you, how could I possibly replace any single one of you?’.
People say to me that it takes years to change culture, but this guy came in and changed it pretty much overnight. Culture can change quickly but it depends on two things. Who the leaders are and how badly they want it to change.
The leader that changed me was also an international rugby player, he understood the core principles of performance psychology to motivate people intrinsically. When you combine psychology with leadership in safety, change happens.
You change - Your team changes - And then the culture of your organisation changes to enable sustainable improvements in performance.
I now enjoy helping others create this kind of change I their workplaces.
There are a many different reasons why organisations and delegates come to us.
Here are just a few....
It’s so engaging that you actually want to log back in to continue learning.
I believe all leaders should take the course – it’s extremely insightful.
Fascinating, informative and enlightening. I was really pleased to discover that some of my existing leadership practices are recognised positive techniques.
I’ve been a safety practitioner for more than 20 years and yet this course has given me an insight into new areas.