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April 15, 2019 / Sian Moore

In Memory of Professor David Gray

D GRAY Profilesize 500x500 (002)Professor David Gray, who died on 7 March 2019 far too young at the age of 66, was a distinguished researcher in the field of management learning, who was always keen to disseminate his ideas amongst professional practitioners, and committed to mentoring and supporting younger scholars.

David joined the University of Greenwich in 2012 as Professor of Leadership and Organisational Behaviour, after 22 years at the University of Surrey. He founded the Leadership and Organisational Behaviour research group, bringing focus and energy to an area which had previously been neglected. David led by example, raised the aspirations of the nascent group, and was critical in attracting new researchers to join. The group now forms a thriving part of the Centre for Research in Employment and Work.

He had already worked with Greenwich colleagues earlier in his career, including Ken Marsh, Stuart Bradley and Malcolm Ryan.  He led several EU-funded education, teacher training and lifelong learning projects from c. 1997-208, and in 2006-09 won SEEDA funding for the Leadership Academy, inviting Jill Jameson from Education to be part of this.  He was greatly valued by Education colleagues and students for his knowledgeable, diligent, supportive approach.

In his time at Greenwich from 2012 onwards David built on his body of work in management learning to focus specifically on coaching and mentoring, most recently looking at the professional identity of coaches with Barry Curnow and Catherine Farrant, funded by a grant from the University.  David was in demand as a professional adviser to several of the professional coaching associations and in 2017 this led to the 6th European Mentoring and Coaching Council Research Conference being held at Greenwich.  With funding from the law firm Kingston Smith, and in collaboration with Professor Mark Saunders from the University of Birmingham, he opened up a new seam of research on Small and Medium Enterprises, investigating triggers for their success.  The extent of his research network was apparent from the number of eminent scholars who attended his funeral, including Mark Saunders who gave a tribute.

While David was very successful in publishing in top journals, he was always keen to have a wider impact on professional practitioners too, an example being his book, A Critical Introduction to Coaching and Mentoring, co-authored with Bob Garvey in 2016. David also made a significant contribution to teaching and learning, notably through his successful textbooks on research methods, Doing Research in the Real World and Doing Research in the Business World.

David played an important part in developing the PhD community at Greenwich, in two separate ways. He was an encouraging but exacting supervisor, and supervised Dr Joanna Molyn’s doctoral studies which looked at mentoring in the context of students rather than managers. They went on to  win a research grant from the Institute of Coaching at Harvard Medical School/McLean Hospital to investigate the effectiveness of coaching in increasing students’ resilience, goal attainment and wellbeing in a longitudinal RCT study, the first of this type . David had a wider impact too on the PhD community by chairing the Research Degrees Committee in the Business Faculty for 5 years, overseeing the progress of PhD students with fairness and rigour.

David was an engaging colleague, full of energy and with a wide range of interests, especially history. He was an excellent golfer, though – typically- never satisfied with his own performances. Lowering his handicap fell only slightly below increasing his H Index on his list of priorities. Above all, he was a kind and generous man, and many of his colleagues will be grateful for the unobtrusively offered help he gave them.

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