Dr Laura Watkins


Laura has been researching and working in the field of personal and organisational performance for over 20 years. Her early neuroscience research looked at how the brain makes complex decisions and manages change. She then spent six years at McKinsey & Co as a strategy and organisation consultant, and co-founded McKinsey & Co's leadership practice in Europe. She co-founded The Cognitas Group in 2008 in order to help leaders thrive, perform, and build powerful organisations.

Client work

Laura works as a partner to CEOs and other senior executives to drive the change they are seeking in their teams and organisations. She brings transparency and structure to help teams get aligned on what they are trying to achieve and address roadblocks. She provides support and encouragement to help clients have honest conversations and repair trust. She gets into the mechanics of how individual leaders, teams and organisations operate day-to-day, to make sure that people are using their time well and making decisions productively. She is the lead faculty and programme director for several long-running leadership programmes for senior executives. Laura is known for being determined to help her clients get the result they seek and for challenging with a smile. Her clients say she “brings something special to every meeting, particularly in how she engages with very senior people” and “has a great capacity to bring structure out of confusion”.

Laura has worked all over the world, with dozens of multi-national teams and organisations. She works in English and French.

Background and other interests

Laura has a PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience from Cambridge and an MA in Physiology and Psychology from Oxford. She’s a voracious learner and has trained in many individual and group development techniques.

She is passionate about education and career access for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Until recently she was Chair of Governors at Haverstock School in North London and she has worked with many other education organisations.

In her spare time, Laura loves running, hiking, winter sports, flying trapeze and learning languages (currently Italian). She’s writing a novel on the side, and works for a few weeks each winter as a ski teacher for the Swiss Ski School.