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Rod McCowan

Executive Director, Organizational Change

Senior Faculty: Science of Self, Science of People
Senior Executive Coach

Rod focuses on strategic change, leadership development, and accelerating the development of executives into outstanding strategic change leaders - individually and at scale. With master degrees from Yale (Divinity School), Harvard (Kennedy School), and IE (Business School), Rod's doctoral research focuses on how strategic change leaders can rapidly improve their performance, impact and outcomes in the face of VUCA.

Through his role as a strategic change leadership advisor and executive coach for IPL and Accelerance, Rod leverages both his research and 20 years of experience as a C-suite-level strategic change leader to help clients learn to lead strategic change more effectively. IPL clients he has recently served include Harlem Children’s Zone, The Iclif Leadership and Governance Centre, Shiseido and Unilever. In all three sectors—private, public and social—he led successful, complex, enterprise-wide strategic change efforts, alternating between global CHRO, strategy, and general management roles, domestically and internationally.

Named a White House Fellow by President Bush (41), Rod later led the revitalization of the U.S. Department of Education as a senior political appointee under President Clinton. At Herman Miller, Inc., Hitachi Data Systems Corporation, and VeriSign, Inc., he served as CHRO and restructured and led global organizations that drove strategic change, maximized talent and delivered game-changing improvements in leadership and business performance. Rod currently also serves as an executive coach for Google.

In his spare time, Rod can be found happily immersed in writing his doctoral dissertation, traveling internationally, or blissfully riding his Ducati in Northern California.

Faculty in Action

What Our Clients Say

As Faculty

Rod’s session on making your work a calling was very informative and will definitely help me and my team act differently. I loved the vivid example he provided. The way he presented made the content real to us and made it easy to adapt to our own lives.
Unilever participant
Rod was very well spoken and engaging. His professionalism, knowledge and experience was compelling and impactful.
Unilever participant

What Our Clients Say

As Coach

Rarely have I had the opportunity to work with such a thoughtful and passionate leader. I find Rod to have a unique combination of skills and assets, starting with his strength of listening and facilitating my thinking process to a greater level of clarity, always pushing through a blend of sound advice and questions that force reflection and growth. His wealth of knowledge and experience are givens, but I believe it is his great maturity, sophisticated world view, and an orientation to serve that drives his powerful contributions while building lasting trust and respect.
Mark Murphy, Secretary of Education, Delaware Department of Education
Rod has been a source of both wisdom and pragmatism as an executive coach. His approach reflects his deep and diverse experience across business, government, the social sector, and his study of spirituality. He communicates with warmth, clarity, and confidence - modeling the behaviors he instills. Since first meeting him in 2010, he has been inspiring and conscientious. And his advice remains fresh - I continually draw upon his words, applying them to new situations.
Asha Banker, Founder, Verdant Learning