Learning & Development Consultancy

At Talking Ape we like to think we are different. Our clients believe we bring a breath of fresh air to the Learning and Development world by creating the learning conditions essential for behaviour change. We work in partnerships with you to bring about real, sustainable, behavioural change. As experts in “Vertical Development” and working in complexity we create psychologically safe “containers” for participants to work on their real-life challenges. We combine experiential learning with the latest insights from psychology and neuroscience to help delegates develop by carrying out “experiments” that develop their mindset, habits and results. We offer a suite of acclaimed, off-the-shelf leadership and management programmes. Alternatively, we can listen deeply to your strategic aims to understand your needs and design interventions that bring about behavioural change. Give us a call.

Our values

All of our programmes can be delivered virtually or face-to-face. Whatever you choose Talking Ape has committed to a set of values around DEI, psychological safety and learning.

  • Build a container. We create an energized, psychologically safe environment based upon trust and openness. Research shows that the ideal learning environment is when we are at the edge of our comfort zone, vulnerable but supported. Learning is about emotions. Emotions cause the brain to release neurotransmitters that aid memory retention. The content of the ‘memory’ will become neurologically associated with the ‘feeling’.. If people trust the facilitator and feel supported, they will stretch themselves.
  • Creation Not Consumption. Knowledge is not something a learner absorbs, but something a learner creates. Participants help find their own conclusions using experiential learning and minimal facilitator input. We use Action Learning Sets to work on real-life issues and expose aspects like “Imposter Syndrome.”
  • Diversity, Equity and inclusion. Please read our DEI commitments. We have a diverse range of facilitators, sensitivity to different cultural perspectives, language, power and openness.
  • It’s about the “before” and “after” not just the workshop. We believe in priming the system with support and a comms strategy. A precourse to set the scene, tasking every participant with a “commitment” and “safe experiments” to ensure they are curious to explore new behaviours and bring about habit change. We follow that up with nudge psychology and support.
  • Credible. We use the latest neuroscience, psychology and scientific models particularly based upon Vertical Development. 
  • Somatic. We believe the body is key to change, we particularly focus on grounding, somatic exercises and mindfulness – a key part of the commitment and some of the exercises.
James Marshall

James Marshall

Founder of Talking Ape

James Marshall is the founder of Talking Ape and the only person ever to work as a Chartered Surveyor and then as a BBC Radio and TV producer!! He spent 11 years at the BBC. (Radio 4′s All In The Mind, Material World & Thinking Allowed, BBC1′s The Human Mind.) Other highlights include interviewing Sir David Attenborough, reading out letters on the John Peel show, book researching for Lord Prof. Robert Winston and directing a helicopter camera. At the BBC he did some facilitation, became a coach and got that change/learning bug. He worked with some of the UK’s most successful training companies working with Apple, Google, Sky, RBS, Novartis and Barclays specialising in leadership and management development skills. He has pioneered a new style of Vertical Development Leadership programme at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, Gather & Gather, Illumina, Zoopla, Bit.Bio and Domainex. He currently coaches on the EMBA programme at Said Business School, Oxford University. He is qualified in most psychometrics but not advising his clients to use the most credible scientifically Lumina Learning. He has a long history of working with young people thorough a mixture of charities including Speakerstrust, ABOB and the Amos Bursery. He supports Everton FC,, loves cold water swimming and has two children (not in any kind of order of importance by the way).

Jo Sandford-Smith

Jo Sandford-Smith

Integrative Coach

I am a qualifed Integral Development Coach with ICF accreditation. This approach regathers and integrates all of a person's talents, experience and abilities to help clients see new possibilities in different areas of their lives.

I work with individuals to understand the stories that they have been living in. With time and a non-judgmental space I work with clients to get a new perspective on how you've been living your life and on your interpretation of the world. Integral Coaching gives people more choice, power and control over their lives. My ultimate goal is to help clients choose to live their lives rather than life live you.

Prior to this, I was a Producer at BBC Radio 4 working both as a broadcast journalist (BBC 5 Live and Sydney Olympics) and as a programme maker of live daily magazines (You And Yours, Woman's Hour and In Touch.)

Nikita Mikhailov

Nikita Mikhailov

Senior Associate

Nikita Mikhailov is a Business Psychologist, a member of the British Psychological Society and the Ambassador of the Association for Business Psychology. Nikita specialises in applying psychology in an occupational setting with the Talking Ape psychometric of choice, Lumina Learning. His clients include Fortune 500 companies in the areas of oil and gas, finance, as well companies in transport, construction, FMCG, aerospace, and tech start-up ventures. He has extensive experience in supporting companies in recruitment and development of talent through the use of psychometrics and coaching.

Olga Vysotska

Olga Vysotska

Senior Associate

Olga is a trilingual international tax adviser and chartered accountant who worked for 10 years with PwC advising HNW entrepreneurs. She left for new challenges setting up her own family consulting business in organisational psychology, and trained in a range of psychometrics,as well as CBT (Compassion Focused Therapy, ACT, Mindfulness and Dialectical Behavioural Therapy). She has worked with Pentland Brands, Cancer Genomics, Prostate Cancer Research and Speedo. Olga is a Trustee of Maternal Mental Health Alliance and applies her values of mindfulness and respect as a trained pre and post natal doula.

Neel

Neel Parti

Senior Associate

Neel is a social care leader, facilitator, changemaker and a creative with over 10 years of experience in the children and families sector. As a qualified social worker he has extensive experience in parent coaching and facilitation. Neel delivers Talking Ape's Workparents: Parenting Our Future Leaders. At the NSPCC, Neel led a national innovation programme called Sharing the Brain Story, which aims to support professionals and families to understand the impacts of early adversity on child brain development. Currently, as the Head of Education at Future Youth Zone, Neel oversees the design and delivery of a Complementary Education Programme for young people at risk of exclusion and Babyzone, which is an exciting new approach to delivering high quality, impactful early years provision. As a facilitator, Neel has supported people on their journeys of self-exploration of their personal leadership styles, whether they are leaders within organisations, communities or within their homes.

Neel is passionate about effecting lasting social change in the world and his approach to this parent leadership offer is a culmination of his work to date, rooted in a whole-person/holistic approach to leadership. "When we are empowered to lead in our homes, we are empowered to lead at work".