Core team

Mind Gym is organized around strengths, so everyone gets to do what they are great at every day. Our teams work closely together to deliver for every client and participant.


Octavius Black Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer
Octavius Black is the Co-Founder and CEO of Mind Gym, which he co-founded in 2000. Octavius co-authored Mind Gym’s four books and has written in The Times, Financial Times and The Sunday Telegraph. Octavius co-founded Parent Gym with Joanne Black. Prior to founding Mind Gym, Octavius was a director of the organisational communications consultancy Smythe Dorward Lambert and prior to that he was an analyst at Booz Allen Hamilton. Octavius read Philosophy, Politics and Economics at The Queen’s College, Oxford University.
Joanne Black Non-Executive Board Chair
Joanne Black is the Non-Executive Board Chair at Mind Gym, and a former barrister and parliamentary candidate. Joanne was called to the bar in 1994 and practised as a human rights barrister until 2010. She co-founded Parent Gym in 2009 and joined the Board of Mind Gym in 2011 becoming Non-Executive Chair in 2014. Other previous roles include Vice-Chair of the Fawcett Society and board advisor to Women2Win. Joanne read English Literature at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University.
Sebastian Bailey Co-Founder and Executive Director
Dr. Sebastian Bailey is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Mind Gym. Sebastian has led the development of Mind Gym’s products since its inception, from the portfolio of 90-minute workout to the latest digital eWorkouts. Sebastian conducted the definitive academic research on how to maximise the transfer of learning, which underpins Mind Gym’s proposition. Sebastian co-authored the four Mind Gym books. Sebastian gained a PhD from Bristol University with a thesis entitled “Maximising transfer: How learning translates into action in organisations.”
Richard Steele Chief Financial Officer
Richard Steele joined Mind Gym as Chief Financial Officer in March 2018. From 2012 until January 2018, Richard served as Finance Director of Cook Trading Limited, the frozen ready meal retailer. Prior to this, he was Finance Director at the retailer White Stuff Limited from 2007 to 2012. Richard has also held a variety of finance roles within Principles Retail Limited and Easy Group and started his career at Tate and Lyle plc where he qualified as an accountant and worked for 10 years from 1989.
Baroness Diana "Dido" Mary Harding Independent Non-Executive Director and Senior Independent Director
Baroness Diana "Dido" Mary Harding is Senior Independent Non-Executive Director on the Mind Gym board. Dido is also a non-executive director on The Court of the Bank of England and Chair of the Bank’s Remuneration Committee. Dido was previously Chief Executive of TalkTalk Telecom Group plc from 2010 to May 2017 and prior to that held a variety of senior roles at both J Sainsbury plc and Tesco plc. Dido has also served on the boards of The British Land Company plc and Cheltenham Racecourse. In August 2014, Dido was offered a peerage and sits in the House of Lords as a Conservative peer. She was appointed to the Economic Affairs Committee of the Lords in July 2017. Dido is a trustee of Doteveryone, a think tank which champions responsible technology and she is a member of the UK National Holocaust Foundation Board. Dido became Chair of NHS Improvement on 30 October 2017.
Sally Tilleray Independent Non-Executive Director
Sally Tilleray is Independent Non-Executive Director on the Mind Gym board. Sally has served as Group Chief Operating Officer and Finance Director at Huntsworth plc, the international public relations and healthcare communications group, from 2004 to 2014. Sally is an experienced marketing services agency executive and has been Non-Executive Chairman at Cognito Europe since 2016. In July 2019 she became a Non-Executive Director of NAHL plc, the AIM-listed consumer legal focussed marketing and services business. From 1999 to 2003, she held the role of CFO Europe for Predictive Inc., an IT network consulting business which undertook an IPO on Nasdaq in 2000. Prior to this, she held senior finance positions at Imperial Software, Unique Solutions, Dowty Communications and Sunlight. She started her CIMA qualification at Bayer UK and completed it while working at Schlumberger plc.
David Nelson Non-Executive Director
David Nelson is Non-Executive Director on the Mind Gym board. David qualified as a chartered accountant in 1987 and has been a partner of Dixon Wilson since 1990, serving as Senior Partner from 2008 to 2018. David is a non-executive director of a number of family-owned companies. He is an adviser to UK-based families and their businesses, advising on financial and tax matters 24 in the UK and overseas. He is also a trustee of a number of UK trusts. David is a non-executive director on the board of Daily Mail and General Trust plc (LSE: DMGT) and also sits on the Audit and Risk Committee and Remuneration and Nomination Committee.

Leadership team

Octavius Black Chief Executive Officer
Octavius Black is CEO of Mind Gym which he co-founded in his kitchen on 01/01/01. Octavius writes extensively in the Financial Times, Times, Sunday Telegraph and City AM, and has co-authored four books. He also leads Mind Gym’s CSR programme, Parent Gym, which delivers free parenting programmes in socially challenged areas across the UK.
Sebastian Bailey, PhD. President
Sebastian Bailey is a thought-leader, Co-Founder and President of Mind Gym where he consults on the future of learning for global organisations. Sebastian holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology with Cognitive Science from the University College of London and a PhD from the University of Bristol, where his thesis focused on how to maximise the transfer of learning in organisations.
Wei-Li Chong President, Americas
Wei-Li Chong joins from KinderCare, the US's largest provider of childcare and early learning services, where he was appointed President with responsibility for c. 30,000 employees having previously been EVP for HR. As a member of the Executive Team, Wei-Li led the cultural turnaround and people strategy which has been credited to transforming the business and delivering record results. Prior to joining KinderCare, Wei-Li was SVP, Human Resources at Ann Inc, the women's retailer known primarily for its brand Ann Taylor. At both companies, Wei-Li brought in Mind Gym as a strategic partner to deliver cultural change that drove a turnaround in business performance.
Elaine Safier Chief Digital Officer
Across her career, in both large corporates and start-ups, Elaine has been leading businesses where emerging technologies create new consumer and media opportunities. She joined Mind Gym in 2019 to take up the challenge of transforming and expanding our digital offer. Elaine was previously the Chief Commercial and Operating Officer - Digital Channels at HSBC where she was in charge of the digital leadership team at one of the largest global banks in the world. She has an MBA and BSc in Economics from the Wharton School. She is passionate about increasing the role of women leaders in business, government, and society overall and believes that diverse leadership, teams, and organisations are the real key to success in our ever more complicated world.
Richard Steele Chief Financial Officer
Richard Steele joined Mind Gym as Chief Financial Officer in March 2018. From 2012 until January 2018, Richard served as Finance Director of Cook Trading Limited, the frozen ready meal retailer. Prior to this, he was Finance Director at the retailer White Stuff Limited from 2007 to 2012. Richard has also held a variety of finance roles within Principles Retail Limited and Easy Group and started his career at Tate and Lyle plc where he qualified as an accountant and worked for 10 years from 1989.
Desi Kimmins Chief Commercial Officer - EMEA
Drawing on 20 years of professional experience consulting with leaders and organizations, Desi Kimmins is Chief Commercial Officer for Mind Gym based in the firm's London office. She oversees all of Mind Gym’s client relationships across EMEA & APAC, managing the commercial team, client services team, and solutions strategy for these regions. Prior to joining Mind Gym, Desi took on the following roles: Senior Partner and Head of Leadership Development EMEA at Korn Ferry - the global organizational consulting firm – where she was responsible for: Leadership Development, Top Team Development, Executive Coaching and the firms Diversity & Inclusion practice (with a strong focus on building the female talent pipeline)., International Client Director at Mannaz Global Leadership Development, in London, where she was responsible for a portfolio of large multinational Fortune 500 clients., Head of Leadership Development, Talent Management and Talent Acquisition at ING Investment Management Europe, based in the Netherlands. She completed her MBTI, Insights, Hogan, Real Drives, PPA, Firo B, KFLA , KFALP and viaEDGE certifications, and also holds various project management certifications. Desi earned a master’s degree in social and organizational psychology from Leiden University, The Netherlands. She is fluent in English, French, and Dutch.
Ryan Boughan Chief Commercial Officer - Americas
Ryan Boughan has been with Mind Gym since 2011 and his experience of growing our client base helps inform Mind Gym’s strategy on marketing, recruiting and retention, solution support and design, and the prioritisation and launch of new products and points of view in the marketplace. Ryan is the Executive Sponsor on many of Mind Gym’s largest and most complex client accounts working in partnership with the management team and senior sales team to oversee and broaden our client relationships across the globe.
Claire Poll General Counsel
Claire joined Mind Gym as General Counsel in January 2019. Prior to that Claire was a director and General Counsel of a Biotec startup responsible for the strategic planning of the company transitioning from an R&D entity into production. Claire has over 25 years’ experience as a lawyer specialising in intellectual property, working in private practice in New York and as a managing partner of Hobson Audley in the City before joining Barclays as Head of Group IP where she set up the IP worldwide governance framework.
Mark Dickinson-Keen Chief People Officer
Mark Dickinson-Keen joined Mind Gym as Interim Chief People Officer in April 2020. Prior to joining he spent 10 years with TalkTalk where he held a number of people roles, most latterly as Chief People Officer. Mark held a number of people roles prior to TalkTalk including in the Financial Services and Retail industries.

Academic board

Elaine Fox Professor of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford
Michelle Ryan Professor of Social and Organizational Psychology at the University of Exeter and Professor of Diversity at the University of Groningen, Netherlands
Robert Bor Professor, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, and Co-Director of Dynamic Change Consultants Ltd
Janet Reibstein Professor in the School of Psychology, University of Exeter
Guy Claxton Visiting Professor of Education, Kings College London and Emeritus Professor of the Learning Sciences, University of Winchester
Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, Ph.D Professor of Business Psychology, University College London and CEO, Hogan Assessment Systems
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