Charles Irvine

Charles Irvine

Charles is described as ‘a social enabler’ by those who have worked with him, read his words or heard him speak.  

“He is someone who gives people a powerful shock to their imagination and helps them get curious enough to follow their passions.”
“When Charles is speaking you can expect to be inspired; laugh out loud; have a shock to your imagination; be challenged; hear great stories – and receive an injection of common sense. “

Given the diversity of Charles’s experience – he can bring stories and concepts to life.  Areas of expertise include:

  • Strategic Business Consulting
  • Organisational Development and Cultural Change
  • Leadership and Management Development
  • Partnering
  • Team Development & Talent Management
  • Conflict Management and Mediation


Charles grew up in South Africa during the height of apartheid.  He developed his belief in working with conflict for positive outcomes whilst acting as a peace monitor between ANC, Inkata and the army.  In 1996 he left South Africa and went on to build Questions of Difference – a UK based niche consultancy with a turnover of over £1million per year.

Charles works internationally as a strategic business consultant, and has worked with over 30,000 people across 24 countries.  Charles’ focus is on Partnering, Strategic Management and Leadership, Organisational Transformation and Conflict Management.  His innovative approach is informed by his work in South Africa.

Projects range from top-end strategic consultancy to pro bono work. From a £9 billion Public Procurement Programme in the UK and the USA to a Pan African Leadership Programme across 19 African countries and the UK to working with students in Integrated Education in Northern Ireland.

Since founding Questions of Difference, Charles has built a formidable reputation for helping senior management and board members to deliver results by paying attention to the long and short-term outcomes for key stakeholders, including staff, clients and the organisation. Charles’ main business strategy is to work with organisations in a way that builds internal capability and draws on the existing strengths within organisations.  One of his specialities is working with groups of leaders in their own environment where he is able to draw on a unique combination of strategic business consultancy, leadership, project and conflict management, team dynamic and inter-personal communication expertise. Unconventional and passionate are terms often associated with Charles’s style and approach.

In 2006 he published his book ‘Cash in on Conflict’ which introduces the ethos of Partnering – a radical approach to positively exploiting differences between people in organisations, communities and in our daily lives.  Adopting a Partnering attitude means working with the reality that the differences between people can be the greatest source of inspiration for you and for them.  The book demonstrates how to achieve the changes you want to see and at lightning speed – it contains tools and common sense approaches that are easy to apply and stories that bring them to life.

Charles was invited in April 2016 by the London Business School to give a TED talk as part of their Ctrl/Alt/Del TEDx Conference – his focus was “Conflict as a natural resource”.  Backed by his unique experiences, Charles gave a fascinating perspective into conflict and the power of good that can emerge from the unexpected.

As a result of Charles’ experience and cutting edge work in facilitation and Partnering business models, he has been appointed Professor of Transformational Dialogue at the University of Middlesex Business School. His work with Middlesex will aim to drive future thinking on how organisations co-operate for ‘both-gain’ outcomes.

From 2005 to 2007 Charles was Chairman of Peace Direct, a charity that enables grass roots peace building in areas of conflict across the world.

Charles was fortunate to contribute to The Elders Project.  The Project, which was headed by the Nelson Mandela, includes globally respected Elders such as Archbishop Tutu and the Dalai Lama.  Funded by Richard Branson, Peter Gabriel and a group of global entrepreneurs, the aim of the Elders is to bring together a group of individuals who could collectively apply their wisdom and insight to address issues of global significance. Charles facilitated sessions of international philosophers, mathematicians, community elders, academics, politicians and NGOs to create the terms of reference, proposed projects and infrastructure for the group.

Questions of Difference’s clients include organisations such as ACAS, AIB, Amnesty International, AstraZeneca, BT, British Council, Coutts, Cabinet Office, Cadbury, Coloplast, Ebay, FT, Greenpeace, Inland Revenue, Lloyd’s, Lockheed Martin, London Business School, Merseyside Police, Molnlycke Health Care, Post Office, RSA, Royal Bank of Scotland, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Thomson Reuters and VSO.

Conflict as a natural resource | Charles Irvine | TEDxLondonBusinessSchool

Backed by his unique experiences, Charles gives a fascinating perspective into conflict and the power of good that can emerge from the unexpected.

During his time as a peace monitor in South Africa at the height of Apartheid, Charles Irvine developed a belief that conflict has the potential to be our greatest natural resource. Since relocating to the UK in 1996 to build “Questions of Difference”, a niche consultancy, he has gone on to inspire more than 40,000 people as a strategic business consultant in over 30 countries. He is driven by his passion for creating environments where groups of people do extraordinary things.

This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at

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