30 Nov 2018
Spotlight on Isabel Phillips
CEDR would like to extend to Dr Isabel Phillips a huge thank you for her irreplaceable contribution to CEDR's services for over a decade. She has been a wonderful and invaluable consultant, trainer, mediator and member of staff and we wish her all the best for her personally and in her professional future with GIZ.
- Susanne Schuler, Director of Training and Consultancy, CEDR
Who is Dr Isabel Phillips?
By Tracey Fox
As my wonderful colleague and friend Isabel Phillips is about to embark on another new chapter in her life, I was approached by CEDR and asked if I would consider writing a profile about her; to reinforce our recognition of her success as well as our support her ongoing accomplishments. It was one of the quickest “yes” responses I have given in a while. Why so? Well, I have had the pleasure of knowing Isabel since 2003 when she joined CEDR as a full-time employee in the Skills Team. She is a truly amazing individual who has led a life filled with of adventure and achievement.
When I first met Isabel, I (like many others) thought that she was German; based on how she would frequently switch between English and German when speaking, and the way that she constructed her sentences; sub-clauses aplenty and a tendency to leave the verb at the end. We discovered that, although born and raised in the UK, she had spent several years in Germany both working and completing the German vocational qualification in civilian conflict resolution. From there Isabel had gone to Bosnia Hegovinia for 2½ years for Forum Ziviler Friedensdienst e.V. So her communication was a filtering process from German to Croatian/Bosnian/Serbian to English! For those who are not so au fait with FZD, this actually meant that Isabel had spent from 2000 to late 2002 working in a post-war post-communist environment with highly conflictual situations and traumatised locals who were attempting to rebuild their lives and to create civil society.
Perhaps this background was perfect training for the challenges in the corporate environment, with just a few mental adjustments needed for the work with CEDR at Canary Wharf!
A passionate colleague
Her zeal for justice, peace and continuous improvement means that Isabel is not afraid to work with forensic focus, or to speak out for what she believes in even if it may be uncomfortable for her to do so. As I write these words it makes me smile as I recollect examples ranging from diligence and rigour in designing business processes, conflict skills training materials and analysing quantitative and qualitative date for a client’s conflict audit. Early on in our work together, Isabel’s fastidious approach to the nomenclature of a particular administrative was a painful process to implement, but once in place, we were all forever grateful.
An intensive Trainer
I have always admired how much of ‘herself’ Isabel is willing to give when delivering training. Her desire to help others to learn, grown come out of their comfort zone to engage with conflict is astonishing. On one occasion, we were delivering an fishbowl style exercise on active listening; Isabel role-played, whilst I coached the participants who sat around her in a semi-circle. The purpose of the exercise was for the participants to collectively use active listening skills to better understand why the role player was so closed and distressed. Other trainers might have been unnerved by acting for participants who were all former Olympians-turned-leadership-consultants. This did not perturb Isabel from putting on an Oscar-worthy performance with tears, hysterics, and mascara streaming down her face; scolding (in-role) participants which did not respond (in line with the objective) using the necessary active listening skills.
As lead Faculty for CEDR’s internationally acclaimed Isabel brings excitement and enthusiasm to the delivery of this skills-based accreditation programme. As a great storyteller, Isabel will share fascinating stories from her recent mediations (duly anonymised), as well as weaving in the latest academic thinking on mediation, business psychology, or negotiation.
A Trusted Mediator
I have never mediated with Isabel – we do not practice co-mediation at CEDR - but I can speak with conviction that she is a an incredibly competent mediator.
How can I say this? Because Isabel is undeterred by the content of any mediation. Unfortunately, I am not at liberty to convey what I know about the details of her mediation, but as well as the more standard commercial contractual disputes in construction, employment, professional negligence her practice experience includes a wide range of cases where there have been extreme levels of challenge on an emotional or behavioural level.
Isabel excels – it’s that simple
Isabel has an enviable academic record;
- First Class degree
- Distinction for her MA in International Relations
- Distinction in her Postgraduate Diploma in Research Methods, and
- PhD in Mediation “The ADR/CR Divide” (no corrections…of course!)
Her recently completed PhD on the ADR/CR Divide looks at the theory and practice of mediation across the two different fields of mediation in the commercial context and the socio-political context. Her findings relate primarily to the place of mediation as one amongst a range of conflict processes, mediation skills and the ethics of the application of mediation. Whilst naturally available as a full PhD, Isabel promises that the findings will be published in a more digestible form in the not too distant future!
If I were to take the challenge of finding just one word which captures the spirit, energy and style of Isabel it would be…courageous.
“The quality shown by someone who decides to do something difficult or dangerous, even though they may be afraid.”
This word is so apt because the root of courage is “cor”: the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms courage meant “to speak one's mind by telling all one's heart.” Willing to push herself to succeed because of her passions and Isabel is bold and brave with a huge heart!
As Isabel leaves the UK to work in East Africa, we want her to know that she has been a wonderful and valuable consultant/ trainer/mediator/member of staff. We wish her all the best for her personally and in her professional future with GIZ.