Richard Roberts

Inquiry Lead

Richard leads much of Volans’ analysis and ideation. His role involves leading on the Tomorrow’s Capitalism Inquiry, and contributing to Volans’ thought leadership – developing new ideas, researching, interviewing, authoring white papers and reports – as well as advising business leaders on how to set up for future success.

He writes on a broad range of topics to do with the future of business, climate change and capitalism. He has been published by (among others) Fast Company, Harvard Business Review, The European Business Review and Guardian Sustainable Business.

Following a short stint in political journalism, Richard spent four years at Leaders’ Quest, a social enterprise that specialises in experiential learning and business transformation, before joining Volans in 2016. He has a BA in history from Durham University and a Masters in US history from Oxford, where he specialised in the evolution of progressive political philosophy between 1880 and 1920 – a period when, like today, the future of capitalism hung in the balance and a new social contract between business, society and government was called for.

Outside of work, Richard’s interests include reading, writing, travel, cricket (mostly watching rather than playing these days) and opera (ditto).

Richard’s Superpower: Curiosity

Q. Why do you do what you do?
A. In my teens, I got switched on to some of the big societal challenges we face, including inequality and climate change. Once that happened, I couldn’t do a job that wasn’t about working to address those challenges. I tried once, but I lasted three days.

Q. What does Volans say to you?
A. To me, Volans is about the creativity that flows when you marry curiosity with purpose. The purpose is clear: to enable a future in which 9 billion+ people can live sustainably and prosperously on one planet. The fun bit is figuring out how – and knowing that it’s our job to think the unthinkable.

Q. What brought you here?
A.  I was drawn to the company’s willingness to think big and the spirit of curiosity, humility and integrity that the whole team exudes.

Q. When are you most fulfilled?
A. When I’m able to trigger moments of clarity in others that lead to action.

Q. Where is your centre of gravity: past, present or future?
A. Somewhere between the present and the future. I love history (it’s what I studied at university), but mostly because of what I think it can teach us about the present and the future.